Rich people are no stranger to nonchalantly dropping the wildest stories into conversations, blissfully unaware of just how unrelatable – and honestly, a little alienating – their childhood anecdotes can be.
Moaning about their family butler not ironing the creases into their trousers properly, reminiscing on their trust-funded gap year in Vietnam or missing their family horse while they’re studying at uni – your well-off, so-called friends will really look you in the eyes and expect you to understand the unimaginable, leaving you to confront the depths of your own relative poverty.
Below are 17 tales of the wildest things people have casually said to their less minted mates, revealing just how huge financial disparities in friendship can get.
1) “I was pre-drinking with two friends at art school before we headed out and we were talking about the best places to buy booze. I was giving tips on the cheapest places I’ve found wine when one of my friends said, ‘I just got it from the pool.’ I genuinely thought ‘The Pool’ was the name of a bar, so I stupidly asked where that was and if we could add it to a pub crawl. She said, ‘No, my parent’s pool bar is full of booze so I just grab a few bottles from there.’ I didn’t even think people had pools in England.” – Molly Young, 24
2) “I’ve never felt as poor as when I did a short ceramics course at an art school and people wouldn’t talk to me after I said I was from Bexley. It was really weird. Everyone was so affluent and one girl said, ‘I don’t know why everyone doesn’t have a kiln at home when they’re so affordable.’ They’re literally like £15,000.
“It seemed like everyone else who went there was constantly skiing, for some reason? They would go on skiing holidays three or four times a year and ask you if you were doing the same, as if that’s a casual question to ask. I soon found out that my friend has several houses across Europe and an actual yacht. I was like, ‘oh fuck, I’m shit poor’. I don’t even think I’m that poor. I do have some financial privileges. But at the same time, I was like, ‘what the fuck, wow’.” – Sophie Walker, 24
3) “I pretty much found out I was poor when I was in primary school. There was a school trip to New York City in secondary school. Everyone was able to go on the trip except for me. For my mum, paying that much for a trip was out of the question.” – Molly Davies, 28
4) “When I was 18 I started a band with two of my friends. It wasn’t a big deal, just a bit of fun. We uploaded tracks to Soundcloud and made silly music videos for YouTube. Then one of our mutuals offered to be our manager. We were like ‘yeah alright’, thinking she was dicking about… but it turned out she was serious. We went to her house and it was practically a mansion – in Zone 1 of London as well! Then she started telling us about the money she could front to get us started (it was a lot), but casually said in the same sentence that she’d never worked a day in her life. She had a huge trust fund and was just willing to part with a chunk to invest in a band that, honestly, wasn’t even that good.” – George Badham, 27
5) “When I was in college, my classmates were talking about where they were going travelling and I told someone I didn’t have a passport, because I’ve not been abroad. My rich friend asked, in shock: ‘What do you mean you don’t have a passport?’ I had to explain to him that you aren’t born with a passport, and international travelling isn’t something every family does. They were really surprised I hadn’t been anywhere.” – Michael Benjamin, 29
6) “I was in a cafe with my friends and we were talking about where we’re from. I go to a Russell Group uni – and I’m the first of my family to go to a university – I kinda always expected that the people around me would be better off financially. My friend was telling me about the alpaca farm her neighbour owns and the instruments she plays. That’s when I kinda had the ‘oh shit, I’m poor’ moment! That’s a very different reality to what I’m used to, coming from a family with five siblings all living in a cramped little house.
“We were also talking about student finance – this was when I realised that it’s a lot more normal than I thought it was for people’s parents to pay their rent for them. The maintenance loan is merely spending money for a lot of our mutual friends! And they called me ‘lucky’ for getting the maximum student loan, which is a bit of a strange one, really.” – Phoebe Snedker, 21
7) “I’d been at university for a term and I was heading towards the end of my loan, some friends and I went to Bill’s [a restaurant chain] for a classmate’s birthday. I had a panic attack before going because I couldn’t afford it. But I didn’t want to just not turn up, so I bought a side as my meal and asked for tap water. My friends were shouting, ‘No, we’ve ordered wine for the table, it’s fine! Just have a glass!’
“They all had starters, mains and desserts. At the end, they decided to split the bill equally and it cost me about £30 for a plate of olives, tap water, and a glass of wine I didn’t want. When I argued, they said, ‘Sometimes you have to pay money to have a nice time with your friends.’ I was like, erm, not if it means I can’t afford pasta anymore?” – Tammy Quinn, 23
8) “I was travelling in New Zealand with a friend and this was a huge once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip I’d been saving towards for ages. While we were there, we got to talking about the school trips we went on.
“I listed off every school trip I could remember, most of which were your standard for state high schools – if they did happen to be abroad, it would be somewhere bleak in France and also weirdly expensive, considering you sleep in tired hostels with hundreds of other children.
“At that moment, this friend turns to me and asks if this is one term’s worth of trips. It was every trip I’d ever been on. He didn’t see how absolutely batshit an assumption that was. He then proceeded to list the trips he’d been on with his school, which included trips to South Africa and sports trips in the United States. Basically, if you could have booked it on STA Travel, his school hosted it.
“It was definitely one of those moments of realising that my ‘normal’ was so far from some others normal, and that goes both ways. Made for an awkward journey in the van as well, especially as I realised the trip wouldn’t be as big a deal for him as it was for me.” – John Harley, 25
9) “I went to this girl in my class’s house while I was in college and she had an entirely separate fridge just for fizzy pop. What the fuck? Her fridge that the food was in also had an ice dispenser, like an American [one]. That’s affluent status. If that wasn’t bad enough, we headed outside to find she had a sauna in her garden!” – Dave Peters, 23
10) “I had a friend come round to my house when I was a kid. We were baking a cake and she asked, ‘where’s your pantry with all the other bits?’ That, my friends, was the day I learned what a pantry was.” – Mary Everley, 23
11) “Me and my friends had just graduated from university – this is the time when you’re all fighting to find jobs and somewhere to live and all that stuff. As a side note to a whole other conversation, my friend let me know she was dropping £2,000 on a horse. A whole horse. While unemployed.
“It was hard to hide my shock. When she clocked it, she said: “Oh don’t worry I have £40,000 in inheritance for a house and a car and stuff.” During this same time period, she had actually described herself as ‘broke’.” – Ellen Edwards, 24
12) “When I was in primary school, I was invited to a classmate’s birthday party (only because the whole class was invited). We were only nine years old, yet her parents rented out an entire nightclub and hired security to guard the room where the presents were – and there was a ridiculous amount of them.
“The theme turned out to be ‘silver’. All the food was silver. The decor was silver. The nine-year-old birthday girl had bleached platinum hair for the night and wore a silver mini dress with matching platforms. I went and sat in a corner as I didn’t have any friends and didn’t feel like I fit in there. When I got back home I asked my mum if we were poor and she just awkwardly went ‘yeah, kinda’.” – Lucie Carpenter, 25
13) “I’ve been looking for houses for a while so I can move out of my parent’s house and it seemed like all of my friends were buying houses left, right and centre. I thought I was really bad at saving but it turns out they all had secret trust funds and family money to spend on a deposit.” – Hannah Van De Peer, 23
14) “I studied art history and law, which means I have been caught off guard by secretly wealthy people close to a million times. The same students would go off on holiday all summer while I worked in the library pretty much round the clock, partly so I use its air conditioning for free.
“The most surprising moment with these students for me, when I realised how poor I was in comparison, was when we were talking about why we got into art history. So many of them had been inspired by their grandparents because they had extremely valuable art collections. These students were casually growing up next to famous works. They appeared to live on my level, but they grew up like that and had no awareness of the luxury of it. And their parents paid for regular Botox and cosmetic dentistry like it was an important health need.” – Melanie Hayes, 35
15) “I went to a house party in the student accommodation for Oxford University when I went to visit my friend who was studying there. I might be exaggerating but I’m pretty sure everyone was wearing a North Face coat except for me.” – Emma Stiller, 31
16) “When I was 13, I went to my friend’s birthday party. I was already feeling awkward about the party because I went to the boys’ school in our town while she went to the girls’ school and that meant we hadn’t met each other’s school friends yet. I wanted to make a good impression – I asked my parents to get something for me to take to the party, as you do. All my mum could afford was a card. She picked out one with animals on it, explaining, “She likes animals, so this will be thoughtful.’
“I kind of knew that it wasn’t enough to give as a birthday gift but the animal theory made sense. When I got to the party, everyone’s parents had got her big presents and I got side-eyed left right and centre for handing over this little Clintons card. Eleven years later, her family still brings it up and laughs about it.
“My friend will even jokingly say, ‘Remember when you didn’t even bother to get me a birthday present and just gave me a card with a turkey on it?’ I guess everyone thought it was lazy, not because I was poor.” – Lydon Colston, 24
17) “I was unpacking my first food shop at university and my rich flatmate said ‘Oh, you went to Tesco? I’m guessing none of that is organic then?’ We didn’t make friends.” – Cortney Smith, 26