Watches, jewellery, lavish houses, luxury cars, designer sunglasses, and exclusive gym memberships – millions of North Americans whip out the plastic to buy these items even when they can’t afford them. Why? Do you suppose it is because they need them? I suspect not. It probably has more to do with the fact that they want to belong to a club filled with those who do have the money to live in luxury. In other words, these items are status symbols.
As it turns out, to keep up with the latest, ultimate status symbol, you are going to have to think long and hard before you leap. Kids; a lot of kids is today’s ultimate status symbol according to well known psychologist and author, Wednesday Martin.
The New York based PhD. just recently released her latest book, Primates of Park Avenue. It’s an in depth look into the lives of the mothers who live in her Upper East Side neighbourhood. Specifically, Martin dives into their social behaviour and family life. What she notices is a trend that is happening not only in New York City, but also in other communities across North America.
When Martin first moved to the Upper East Side she didn’t give much thought to how many children people had; however, over time she realized that just like 40 became the new 30 and 50 became the new 40; when it came to kids – three was the new two, then four was the new three. Pretty soon, “Five was no longer crazy or religious –it just meant you were rich,” Martin recently said.
Considering how expensive it is to raise a big family, it makes sense that more kids equals – status symbol. In a place like New York City, nannies, private school and summer camp are standard expenses so it may not seem like a fair assessment. Yet, social experts say it is expensive to raise kids anywhere. In the United States, government statistics place the average cost of raising one child at just under $250,000. As a matter of interest that figure would likely double if you lived in Manhattan. In Canada, the average cost to raise one child from birth to age 18 is set at around $245,000.
Beyond 18 is a different story. There is always the high cost of post-secondary education to consider. When parents can’t afford to foot that bill, their kids get saddled with debt from student loans, which ultimately means they have less money to start their own families (when they are old enough) since they are focused on paying back what they owe.
So if status is really important to you, think hard about what symbol might actually mean something to you in the long run. If the ultimate symbol (kids) is on your list, you just might have to pass on that cottage, speedboat or the luxury cars.
Also, keep in mind that often we focus too much on what we stand to lose, instead of all that we have already gained in our lives.