Categories

This family spends $36,000 / year on luxury services — here’s why.

“When people ask, I feel embarrassed about it.”

Tony Tran

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.

Do you know your actual earning potential?

Get started with the Earning Potential quiz. Get a custom report based on your unique strengths, and discover how to start making extra money — in as little as an hour.

Start The Quiz

Takes 3 min

14 Comments

 
  1. 狗哈德森

    nice to know 很高兴知道

  2. SAM

    Shannon – you're not alone! My husband and I also both work full time in relatively high earning careers and we have a small army of people who make our lives possible. He gets absolutely no judgement about it, but I constantly get comments… especially from my mom. I think she sees my career and lifestyle as a repudiation of her own choices, which were more domestically-oriented than mine. But the way I see it, I get to do what I love at work and spend quality time with my kids at home instead of doing laundry or cleaning the house. It's no more my job to do those things than it is my husband's. Anyway, just a few words of encouragement. Keep on crushing it!

  3. Lauren

    This was interesting, especially since I had never considered childcare to be a luxury service!

    After years of trying to save as much money as possible, my husband and I have just turned the corner in evaluating the value of our time this way as well. What really helped me was finding a group of likeminded women who have made similar choices. It might be easier for me since I’m in a traditional profession (lawyer) that lends itself to the creation of affinity groups (e.g., lawyer moms).

    One woman’s advice that really struck me was to separate the work of being a mom and the role of being a mom and outsource the former as much as you want and are financially able to. I think that really helped clarify, in my mind, how I should be spending my parenting time.

    • Elizabeth

      Lauren – I had the same reaction, but I think it is having a nanny that is considered a luxury service, as opposed to just typical day care. I'm just guessing here- but with them being in a lower cost area of the country, they might be able to pay half that cost if they had an outside the home day care setting.

      I love your framework of "work of being a mom" versus "role of being a mom." I'm all about outsourcing the work. Just not outsourcing the hugs. Sounds like you have things figured out. 🙂

  4. John Abbott

    To me, it is so SAD that people, especially FAMILY, are SO judgemental of OUR choices! The so called American Dream IS to be rich and famous and do your own thing! So, don't let the naysayers get you down! As a Christian, with several businesses, I get flak from a LOT of my fellow church members! They SAY I work too much, but yet THEY are the ones who are always BROKE and complaining, and PRAYING for God to bless them! Kind of doubleminded if you ask me! I say ENJOY! Don't judge others, but also don't LET their judgement of you STOP you from doing what you do! God bless!

    • Ebere

      👏🏽 Thank you.

  5. Zahra

    How much does it cost for the chef/meal prep? That wasn't listed in the hard numbers section. I'm interested in getting something like that integrated into my life. Thanks for the candid conversation!

  6. Melanie Adcock

    I think that is wonderful. I get the "it must be nice" comments at times and I just agree. It is nice. I don't have kids but I'd rather use my time to do enjoyable things not cleaning the house or grocery shopping. I also automate what I can. I use meal prep services four days of the week. We outsource yard work as well. Life is too short to worry about what others think.

  7. Sylvia

    Thank you for sharing. I think you are crushing it as a family and setting a wonderful example for your kids, where they can see that a rich life doesn't mean doing things "like everyone else" but arranging your days and life around what's important to you! These conscious choices that you're making and getting push back for will seed these lessons into your children effortlessly.

    Special shout-out to Shannon, not sure why women/moms seem to bear the brunt of the criticism in these types of situations, but not everyone can run a successful business and also prioritize their family like you do! It's sad that people feel the need to say negative things, but I think it says more about their lack of understanding (and, possibly, coming from a place of envy) than about you. You worked hard to make this life a possibility, and I commend you two for that. Hopefully you can win over the naysayers, especially in your faith community, with your generosity and grace.

  8. lynn

    I don't understand the judgment. I'd expect if you have a full time business you'd have to outsource a lot. Kudos to them, they are blessed to have a big family and to have the means to take care of them and everything else.

  9. caro

    The point about spending money on stuff you value is good. This situation, though, had an equal amount of foot in mouth disease.

    It's a hard to be sympathetic to a couple who suffers from comments by people who don't understand their lifestyles and then dishes it out by making clueless comments about other peoples' lifestyles. In a country where the average income is around $57,000, how can this couple be so ridiculously unaware that others cannot afford everything this couple can while making $300,000?

    • pdxprincess

      My thoughts exactly! They seem a little bit socially clueless.

  10. Clifford

    Maybe your luxury is insane. Who cares?
    Let’s get one thing clear: Luxury doesn’t have to mean a $50,000 dog house or a gaudy fur coat. YOU choose what luxury means to you.

    Ramit wrote that in his article about spending 50k a year on luxury services.

    I had to laugh out loud because we actually spent 35k on our dog house.

    I get a lot of hate because we have a house cleaner, lawn service and the fact that I retired at 42. People just going to hate no matter what you do in life. I worked very hard to get to this point in my life. When a family or friends ask way I waste money on lawn care. I ask them what's their time worth? It takes 3 hours to mow and trim my yard. I pay $100 four times a month. My time is worth more than that.

    Y'all are doing great, block out the noise and keep moving forward.

  11. Sam

    I have a different take on it. While I applaud the 'system' that was created to use the time efficiently, I am focusing on the folks who give free advise on what should the working mother do or don't do.

    I agree with keeping the noise out from friends and other folks who try to make you guilty. However, some folks may be referring to the bond that is lost by employing nannies, for example. The kid will have great memory of his/her childhood in the hands of nannies and may miss nanny more than the mother. The tender bonding with the infant or toddler and small nuances between the mom/dad and the kid is missed.

    Outsourcing non-kid stuff makes sense (laundry, lawn moving etc.). Spending time with kids (more attention) and missing maternal satisfaction is something friends and neighbors frown upon. This discussion is debatable and sometimes gets mixed up with other priorities.

Post a Comment

*