Reader Andrea pointed out this New York Times article from yesterday, which I missed while I was traveling:
It's Not So Easy Being Less Rich
The wealthy don’t generally speak publicly about their finances, in good times or bad. It’s in poor taste, for one, and their employers could fire them for talking even a little. But people who provide services to the wealthy — lawyers, art advisers, personal trainers and hairstylists — say they are getting an earful about their clients’ financial anxieties.Yep, no matter how large your means are, you have to live within them. When you consider that many wealthy people may live off the income from investments, they are actually more vulnerable, in some ways, to economic downturns than those of us who merely work for a living! Of course, "vulnerable" is a relative term: as the article says, few people will feel sorry for anyone whose idea of economizing is to downgrade their private jet!
Interviews with the people who actually see the bank statements, like divorce lawyers and lenders, say their clients are definitely living on less than they did a year ago, regardless of how expansive the definition of “less” may be. Hairstylists and private jet rental companies say the wealthy are cutting back on luxuries like $350 highlights and $10,000-an-hour jet rentals. Even nutritionists and personal trainers notice a problem. The wealthy are eating more and gaining weight because of the stress.
These financial problems — if they can be called that — will hardly elicit tears from the rest of us. But in those gilded living rooms, there is a quiet nervousness about keeping up appearances.