amazing lifestyle

How Do My Friends Afford Their Amazing Lifestyles?

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Is it just me, or do you also feel like other people have better lives than yours?

Based on their updates on social media, it seems like everyone is sporting new outfits, buying new houses, updating home decor, getting new toys, traveling to new places, enjoying nice food at fancy restaurants…

And your sad self wonders, how do my friends afford their lifestyle? What else do I need to do to afford those nice things in my life?

This article is all about guessing how and where other people get the money to afford their amazing-looking lifestyles. I’ve racked my brains thinking of all the possible ways. Here they are, in 6 categories:

How do my friends afford their lifestyle? Listing out where they funds may come from

They money may come…

#1 – From work and investments

  1. They earn a good income from their day jobs (whether salaried or self-employed)
  2. They side hustle and earn side income(s) from second, maybe even third jobs
  3. They earn passive incomes through property rentals, websites, etc
  4. Received a big bonus from work
  5. From profits they made from various investments (legit ones like stocks IPO, or even from hodling crypto, not skim cepat kaya)

No surprises here. Many of us work and invest our money. When I see someone living an amazing lifestyle, I immediately assume they get good incomes.

But not always. I have to remind myself that the money could come from other channels. For example, perhaps the only reason they could afford their lifestyles is because they have..

#2 – From their parents/family, who are supporting them financially

  1. They still get pocket money and allowances
  2. They live at home so they don’t have to pay rent or mortgage
  3. Maybe they get subsidies in the form of food/groceries, internet, petrol/transportation, childcare services, etc

Not shaming anyone, btw. Getting financial support – directly or indirectly – is common in our Asian society. Everything’s cool if everyone’s happy with the arrangement.

Alright, moving on to other sources of funds..

#3 – From others (aka the money ain’t theirs)

  1. They stole the money (bad, obv)
  2. Received bribe money
  3. It’s from PTPTN
  4. Could be scholarship money
  5. They took a personal loan
  6. They maxed out their credit cards
  7. It’s their partner’s/spouse’s money
  8. They have rich AND generous relatives
  9. They have rich AND generous friends
  10. They have a sugar mommy /daddy
  11. Festival money and/or treats – Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Christmas, etc
  12. Other people celebrating their life event – birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, pregnancy, etc

In this category are the people or organisations who may be funding some of these amazing-looking lifestyles. Except for festivals and life event celebrations, you never know if they actually fund their lifestyles through loose ethics, bad decisions or take advantage of people in their life (whether willingly or unwillingly).

(Side note: Just in case you *are* stuck in a debt situation yourself, you can refer to this article to get out of debt: The Ultimate, No-Guilt Guide to Paying Off Your Debt)

Next possible source of funds is..

#4 – From a lucky financial windfall

  1. There’s a chance they won the lottery
  2. Or someone in their family passed away and they inherited some money
  3. Or they’re trust fund babies
  4. Won a contest
  5. Got lucky from trading (for people who do it on the side. For people doing trading as main income, this falls under day job)

This category is kind of fun and I admit I am envious. How lucky!

Except for winning a contest, I wouldn’t tell many people about luck-based financial windfalls – it would attract the wrong kind of attention, especially if it’s a big amount!

And last but not least, they could also get the funds..

#5 – From specific situations

  1. They are bloggers/Instagrammers who promote certain brands (whether paid or unpaid)
  2. They get the perks from work (especially all the traveling they get to do as part of their job!)
  3. Their startup got funded
  4. Just sold off personal belonging on secondhand platforms
  5. A friend/relative/acquaintance paid back borrowed money
  6. Refund money (from tax? From returned products/services?)
  7. They got those products/services at severely discounted prices

All of them are possibilities, no? You just never know!


#6 – They faked their amazing lifestyles

That huge stack of money? That flashy car? Those jewelry? All free, courtesy of Google Images. For whatever reason – most likely to gain status – they faked it all.

I think I covered all, if not most of the sources of funds a person could possibly have. It came up to 32! When I started this list, I didn’t realise there would be this many possible sources!

(And I’m sure I missed out some possible sources, too. Comment if you know any more!)

Where do we go from here? A few thoughts..

Don’t be too quick to assume

I realised that I hated seeing all this humble-bragging, ‘look how well I’m doing financially’ posts because I assume their lives are better than mine.

Maybe yes. Maybe no. 

I’m allowing social media to get to me

These negative feelings that I have – jealousy, envy of other people’s better-looking life – they’re all side effects from using social media, isn’t it?

I know even the most polished Instagram feeds are run by people who must have their bad days, too. I know everything’s curated. I know everyone shows only the best version of themselves online. Heck, I do this too.

Resisting ‘wants’ takes mental effort

Novelty is the spice of life, or so the saying goes. It’s human nature to never be content with what you have. You’ll always want to seek out new, exciting things.

I have to understand that it’s OK to want things I don’t need, on one condition – make these indulgences few and far between. I think this is the perfect middle ground between ‘treat yo self’ and ‘adulting’.

On one hand, what good is money if it can’t make me happy? On the other hand, I need to not give in to every single temptation that comes my way, for the sake of future me.

Last words

I have so many things I’m not happy with in my financial life, you have no idea. But here’s the thing – you don’t know this, only I do, because I hide it from everyone. I don’t want anyone to think I’m a loser.

Maybe its the same with everyone else. We all want to look good to others. We want other people to think we’re successful. That’s why we post only the nice parts of our lives, and rarely the bad, embarrassing parts.

How do we go about this? Two ways I can think of: (1) start posting more ‘real’, not-necessarily-nice stuff that happens to me. You know, the struggles. Or simply (2) Use less social media.

Sorry if this post seems kind of rambly. I tried hard to make sense of how I’m feeling, without resorting to shaming others over their spending pattern. But at the same time, I realise that what I feel is totally common, and it’s up to me to rise above the negativity.

Idk, does this post even makes sense to you? How does YOUR social media feed make you feel? Do you even wonder things like how do my friends afford their lifestyle? Let me know in the comments section.

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  1. It’s a sign that we are developing! Haha.
    I think the beauty (or ugly) side of capitalism is that everyone can be well-off-enough within 20-25 yrs of financial planning but it’s doesn’t mean filthy rich. For every flashy thing one can show, there are some things that they want but had to let go because they already buy this. And the more equal is the distribution in the society, the more one will feel like others are richer cos they have something you wanted but opt not to buy it. But that’s better than having 99.9% of the people can’t afford anything and 0.1% having everything. My two cents.

    1. Hey Lyn,
      That’s an interesting viewpoint. I don’t agree that ‘oh this culture is better than the other alternative’ narrative, it sounds like an excuse to justify succumbing to marketing & sales strategies and living beyond ones’ means.

  2. Hey Suraya!

    Yep, I can definitely relate to how you’re feeling, and am generally not a fan of social media because of this.

    I just chalk things up to personal choices, knowing that not everyone who looks rich is necessarily rich. Likewise, there are some very wealthy among us who don’t ‘look the part’ but aren’t bothered by it one bit because they don’t see a need to impress anyone with things.

    Who cares? Only those who’re obsessed with keeping up with Joneses at the expense of their financial health. To me, this is a futile race of ‘mine’s-bigger-and-better-than-yours’ that never ends because there is no finish line.

    It does bother me though, when people start judging or deciding how they want to treat others based on how much money and/or stuff they have.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Hi Michele,

      Thanks for swinging by 🙂

      You’re exactly right. There’s no finish line. And I hate the consumerism culture and general wastefulness that goes along with it!

  3. Hi Suraya!

    Your post resonates with me as well. A lot of times, when I saw my friends or people I follow on IG bought something and shared their purchases on instagram, I would be like “Where the heck these guys get their money from???”

    But then, one day I came across a thread on Cari forum. In the thread, people were sharing about the things their friends bought or what they bought, where they bought it, they also shared about the different variant of a particular designer handbags – the thread was more like a gossip girl kind of thread, very gossipy, stress reliever type of thread. And then one time someone – kind of a party pooper in the thread because everyone was talking about shopping – posted about how she got to know her friend had 2 credit cards for shopping – one credit card SPECIFICALLY to buy from fashion valet and zalora, while the other one to buy expensive scarves (not going to name the brand but you know which local brand) and at the time I was reading it, she shared that her friend told her she had credit card debt up to MYR20k. And she shared that her friend didn’t feel there was anything wrong having that kind of behaviour and lifestyle and proudly showed off her purchases on instagram. Around the same time I read the thread, someone I know on IG sold off her expensive scarves because she needed the extra money to pay her car.

    After stumbling around all these, I felt like they were some kind of a sign to me to always keep myself in mind that whatever people show on instagram or FB is just for show and people show what others like to see. I told my husband about this too, and he told me that rich people won’t tell/show others how rich they are because they are busy building wealth, takde masa nak show off lol which makes sense la jugak kan. But then, easier said than done, kan? So since then, I reduce my time on SocMed. Like people said, what you don’t know won’t hurt you, or in this case, won’t make you jealous lol

    1. Hi Nys,

      Thanks for sharing the story. RM20k is… wow. Oh goodness, I hope that person will be able to sort her finances out before the mess gets out of hand.

      I’ve drastically reduced my time on Instagram. Last time, I thought of being more active there, build followers all. But it was affecting my mental health until like this lah. Glad I get to make an article out of it though ahahah

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