How To Deal When You're The Poorest Rich Person In Your Clique

by Christie Grimm · September 7, 2016

    It's a funny world. Sometimes plebeians of modest make find themselves palling around with those of more elite ilk - to whom credit cards have no limit, bills are of no consequence, and "tap or still?" is a joke, not a real question. 

    Whether your friend was born with wealth up the nose, or came to it in some oh-so millennial, entrepreneurial, look-at-me-I-made-an-App fashion, the transaction of friendship turns into a slightly more difficult slope to navigate when the parties involved sit divided by an impenetrable first class iron curtain.

    So what's an aspiring upper-middle class youth socializing beyond his or her means to do? Check your non-privilege, and learn how to properly navigate some of the larger issues that will arise in your life as the poorest person in the group. 

    Splitting the check. 

    It may not have been your idea to order that six hundred dollar bottle of wine for the table - but hey, if you pull up a glass, you'd just as well better be ready to put up a card. Should your friends be overly kind or thoughtful with their cost covering tendencies, still, that you should never indulge in anything you wouldn't ultimately be willing to swipe some plastic for is an indispensable attitude to possess. The moment such financial generosity is expected, it's time to take a real long look in that selfie chances are you're taking at the moment, and check yourself.

    So what to do when you're not about to order the Dover Sole, nor are you three glasses of wine deep thinking about another? Abstinence doesn't have to be a kill joy. There are plenty of ways to non-partake and save fun face amongst a group of revelers. Now that's not to say that at every meal you must color yourself as the classic poor person, feigning hunger due to an empty wallet. 

    If it's a group dinner, you can just as well order an appetizer, one or two sides, or ask someone if they'd like to share an entree - socially speaking, people hate coming off in a hungry hungry hippo sort of light, so chances are if you ask loud enough, and in a waifish, laissez-faire way, you'll have them cornered to say yes.

    If it's just a table for two catch up with your good friend, and the Rockefeller throws out a place where the waiters make more a year than you do, there is no shame at all in proposing a more budget friendly spot. If Muffy's not completely daft, she'll get the hint and keep in mind for next time.

    Home Away From Home

    Opportunism breeds expectation and kills graciousness. When the keys to a friend's weekend house are tossed your way, there's always a gratefully uncomfortable moment. Because of course, multi-home owners never end there with their kindness. For but of course, you should use the car to drive about town. And if you don't eat all of the food in the house, why, who will? Oh - and don't worry about cleaning anything up, the housekeeper comes on Monday. When a person's generosity is so unyielding, it can almost be too convincing. No matter how insistent or genuine a friend's generosity may be, never fall victim to mi casa es su casa syndrome. Because in reality, "make yourself at home" actually translates to "this is not your home."

    True, unchecked comfort will be the death of you my friend. And perhaps, the death of your friendship. As your Instagram begins to tell the tale of your stolen, fake life of luxury - penthouse views, impeccable furnishings, expensive silly art, anything-but-continental breakfast spreads.

    And at the end of the day, don't forget, even the richest of the rich are delightfully cheap in their own way. Here today, gone tomorrow. And as quickly as they may lend out  their luxuries to you, they may feel taken advantage of by your lack of thank you card, or the way you just left the towels by the pool, or ate all of the eggs in the refrigerator.


    What to do when everyone's going in on that villa, or splitting the cost of that private boat around the Mediterranean? We admit, time's are rough when ungodly likable Instagram moments are on the table.

    When it comes to international jaunts, there is slightly less wiggle room. Booking a seat in coach while your group is waited on in first class? Wel,l that is literally the least big deal. So if that's the extent of your separate but equal segregation, count yourself lucky and calm down.

    If the flight alone is more than your savings, or you can't swing staying in the same place as your friends, and have no luck in getting anyone to bite on sharing a room, you may have to just accept your fate. Make your poor bed and lay in it.

    Sometimes, aforementioned overly generous souls may hear of your misfortune, and offer themselves up as your Victorian benefactor. But remember, Great Expectations, Great Complications. Allowing other people to pay for you is a pretty wordy contract to enter into. Even if it may seem no strings attached, before accepting, or denying, you'd best ask yourself where the line is. When them picking up one or two coffees turned into you being a 'Kept Companion.'

    Obviously, not to be the case in every scenario - still, it's a valid thought to keep in mind. After all, why would your friend pay for you? Is your company that invaluable? Do they feel badly for you? Are they looking for someone to keep on call? Is there some sort of Rumpelstiltskin clause that will cost you your first born child? Is this a Rich White Girl's Burden kind of thing?

    If you're not entirely sold on the answer, or too overwhelmed by the question, it may prove too complicated and chancy a deal to enter. 

    Unlike that front row seat to see Beyonce, or that helicopter ride back from the Hamptons, or that permanent ticket as professional Plus One come gala season, accepting an all-inclusive, expenses paid international voyage is likely too much for your friendship to handle long term.

    If you remember nothing else, remember this, that no matter how enticing an offer it may be, you can't afford free.

    [Photos via @derekblasberg]