The Rich Life is about earning and spending money to live the life you want, and forgetting all the rest. Last week, we spoke with a freelance copywriter who boosted her income by 50% by hiring a nanny.
Today, we talk to one Texas couple who spends roughly $36,000 / year on luxury services to look at how they built a Rich Life for their family — and the stigma experience as a result.
HARD NUMBERS AND FACTS
- Who: Jonathan and Shannon
- Children: 4 (ages 1 – 6)
- Cost of childcare: $2,600 / month (includes nannies, day care, and preschool)
- Cost of maid/cleaner: $100 / biweekly
- Cost of lawn care: $100 / biweekly
- Profession: Own and operate a CPA firm and meal prep business
- Income: ~$300,000
Why do you invest in these luxury services?
JOHN: We view our time differently than a lot of people do. We outsource things to buy back our time. We have four kids, and the beauty of having a nanny, or maid, or lawn service, or meal prep is that we don’t lack any quality time with them. We see them for many hours a day because I don’t need to do things like mow the lawn and Shannon doesn’t have to worry about cleaning the house.
SHANNON: We even have our groceries delivered to us! By automating as much as we can, we get to spend more time with the family and on our businesses. Everything that doesn’t fall under that, we avoid.
JOHN: And when you do it, you carve out significant hours of your week towards quality time with your family. We think that’s a precious commodity. We don’t get a ton of time with our kids. They’re going to be up and gone before we know it. I can either spend that time mowing the lawn or I can pay someone else to do it and spend that hour with my kids.
What kind of stigma, if any, have you experienced because of this?
JOHN: We live in the South. So our parents and a lot of our peers live in traditional households — women stay at home to clean and cook. That sort of thing. Shannon deals with the social pressures around it. She’s a part of mom groups and things through church, where a lot of the moms are stay-at-home, so it can be tough.
SHANNON: It’s harder to connect with other women. We have nannies and we have a chef who preps our meals each week. So the way we handle money is so much different from our friends.
How does it feel to see that your lifestyle is so different?
SHANNON: When people ask, I feel embarrassed about it. The cultural environment we’re in is such that it’s essentially my job to raise the kids and cook the meals — but we have a nanny and meal prep business that does that! I feel like it’s different. People don’t really get it.
JOHN: I think friends and family sometimes think that the wheels are going to fall off eventually. Like, “How can you sustain this?”
SHANNON: They wonder where the money comes from — but they don’t realize it frees us to build our company and earn more because we’re not mowing our lawn or grocery shopping. That’s what we’re trying to focus on.
JOHN: The financial reality for some people is that they don’t have the money for things like a nanny or food prep. So when we say something like, “Why don’t we all go out to eat!” it’s not the reality of the situation. It makes you just not want to talk about it, invite people out, or do things. You just don’t know their situation!
That sounds like it can be very lonely.
SHANNON: It can be. I’m actually a part of a women’s business owner organization. That’s been a really good outlet for me because there aren’t a lot of women running companies in general. And the group of women almost feel like a support group for me. Last month I went, I felt very encouraged to be with people who understand where I’m coming from.
JOHN: Our lifestyle has led to countless moments where I’ve put my foot in my mouth too. I remember once we signed our kid up for a soccer league that cost about $75 per kid. I was talking to another family and asked if they signed their kid up. They told me that they were going to have their kid doing something else, so I said, “Why don’t you just do both?”
What I didn’t realize — and Shannon revealed to me later — was that the family couldn’t afford to do both those activities.
What kind of pushback have you received from your lifestyle, if any?
JOHN: I know Shannon has gotten comments from her family members in the past like, “You don’t see your kids enough.” Honestly, it might not be the same as other families, but she gets to spend a lot of quality time with our kids.
SHANNON: It’s just that it looks different than what they think it should look like. The perception is because I run my business, I have no time to spend with my children.
Since we have [these services], our routine is every evening we spend quality time together as a family. We also have a few hours with them every morning. It’s not my calling to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. So this is a good mix that works for the family and me.
JOHN: We’ve got close friends and family who think we’re crazy because of the way we live our life. For us, though, it’s not abnormal to work seven days a week raising four kids, six and under. We did the hard work early on so we can afford the life we have now.
Have friends ever commented on it?
SHANNON: I’ll hear the occasional backhanded comment every once in a while like, “Oh, that must be so nice to have a meal-prep company or a maid.” I remember once there was going to be a party at one of my kids’ schools. One of the moms made a comment about how all of the moms were setting up the party but I wasn’t because I was working. I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be backhanded or not. [laughs]
JOHN: Or if they ask us to bake cupcakes or something for class. We would just buy the cupcakes. Some people like to take the time to make it themselves. We choose not to. Our attitude is that we’re not the best bakers in town — but we know someone who is.
SHANNON: I love my kids, and I want to give them all the things they love too. But it’s just not a good way to spend my time … and that’s something I feel judged about.
How frustrating is that?
SHANNON: It can be very frustrating. But I also feel comfortable just making those decisions because it works for us. It’s different than what works for other families and I completely respect that. I think it’s wonderful that other moms want to do all those things. There’s no judgment from me. Every family does what works for them.
JOHN: Once you start putting a value on your time, like us, some of this stuff like the pre-prepped meals can end up saving you a boat load of money too. Especially when we took a look at our grocery bills and accounted for our time spent working instead.
Sometimes the things we perceive to be luxury services are a better use of time and money — and that’s completely worth it to us.