Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Paycheck Envy

In each of the past two days I have had lunch with law school colleagues. Each has done well for himself and seem pretty content.

James is a partner in his firm already. Okay, so his dad's a founding partner, so there may be a slight upper hand there, but still, he's a partner. He's married and living in Annapolis. Talk about a hellish commute. She doesn't really work right now. I can only imagine how much a house in Annapolis costs, on top of the fact that he's supporting a spouse who brings in no income.

Aaron, who was married by the time we started law school, is now divorced. He's moved around from Wisconsin somewhere to Chicago and now is back in DC. He's with a big firm here which is undoubtedly paying him quite well, because he had a $40 lunch. (Mine was $8, plus a $2 cup of tea.) Oh, and did I mention he's selling his 2BR/2BA condo in Georgetown because he bought a bigger place near Eastern Market? (See this previous post about how I've actually looked at houses in the Eastern Market area -- and can't possibly afford them.)

A few weeks ago, my friend Mira held her 35th birthday party at a swanky restaurant downtown. She rented out the "party room" in the back area of the bar, with a full open bar and hors d'ouvres circulating regularly (though perhaps not as regularly as they should have been given the aforementioned full open bar). I can't imagine how much such a party would cost. But seeing as I spent $80 there for dinner the one time I've been, reserving a room can't be cheap.

How is it that I've somehow managed to surround myself with people who all earn more than I do? They seem to have decent lives, they do very well for themselves, they probably have more saved up than I've ever seen attached to my name, and I barely have a cushion should I lose my job tomorrow.

Okay okay, yes, I should be happy that I make a decent living for myself and I'm not starving and own my condo (small that it is), but Aaron's talking about how he's invested $150K of his own money to start some housing construction business in Houston and is looking for investors. If I had $150K of my own ... heck I don't know what I'd do with it, but starting up a whole new business probably isn't want I'd be doing.

Even my other friends who aren't big-shot lawyers seem to earn more than I do. These are people who decline European vacations not because they don't have the money to plop down, but because they don't want to take the vacation time. These are people who think weekend jaunts cross-continent are fun. These are people whose idea of bargain hunting is finding lodging in Tahoe for under $1000. These are people with more frequent flier miles to their names than I accumulated flying back and forth from Philadelphia to Hawai'i for college breaks.

I was born into a middle-class family. We never had all that much money. They say you can't miss what you never had, but you know what? You sure can covet what you never had. I suppose it's cleaner for all involved to instead call it "setting a goal." My goal is to somehow or another accumulate more wealth. Without compromising my social life or my personal beliefs.

Wish me luck.


p.p. said...

Welcome to my world.

Oh, about your "About" section, I've probably been sitting next to you for a while, but I have been too much of an ass to say, hi.


Dennis! said...

Wow, what a small blogging world. Peter, I've actually seen your blog before. I forget why I hit on to it -- I think it started at Stephanie's blog, and you're linked there somewhere. (I don't know Stephanie; I stumbled across her blog.)

Congrats on passing the bar! Welcome to the world of law school debt.

Rik said...

I like your blog,it's interesting to read.
Keep writing :)
[My blog][avatars and funny stuff]

p.p. said...

Dennis, Thanks. Yeah, the loans are about to pounce on me very soon. Oh, how I enjoyed the days of money (loans) on demand.