Why the rich don't hang out with the poor

My parents brought me up to think that rich people are snobbish and look down on poor people. My parents tried to keep me away from the rich people by sending me to a "neighbourhood" secondary school although my PSLE results could have gotten me into any school in Singapore. I didn't encounter any rich, snobbish schoolmates. The ones who lived in big houses or swanky condominiums didn't behave any differently from the ones who lived in tiny HDB flats. I didn't encounter rich, snobbish schoolmates in junior college and university either. I felt that the rich kids (those to drive cars or were driven to school) were as pleasant and cordial as those who took the bus to school. The unpleasant kids were not the rich ones but those who thought of themselves as smarter than everyone else.

As I encountered more people, I realised that the snobbish people are usually not the wealthy ones who earned their own money but the mildly well-off, those who inherited/may inherit money or married "up". And poor people can also be snobbish and behave as if the whole world owes them something.

The real reason why poor people usually don't hang out with rich people is that the poor cannot keep up with the lifestyles of the rich. I wouldn't spend $100 on a meal just to hang out with a friend (except for weddings...). The rich may not actually look down on the poor for being unable or unwilling to fork out $100 for a meal, but they just don't understand why the poor wouldn't - in the same way that the poor can't understand why the rich would spend $100 on a meal.

A rich friend commented that I was ngiao to take a bus home instead of a taxi. I'm sure he didn't say it to hurt my feelings but it was honestly what he thought. Unlike him, I don't have the luxury of a rich dad to fall back on should I need money. What I spend to feed myself for a month is what he spends in an hour at a KTV. And what he spends at a KTV for a year could be what some other rich guy loses at a casino in an hour!

A diver who has rich parents expressed how upset she was about the diminishing marine life caused by global warming. Little did she expect that I would blame the rich - with their big cars and 24x7 air-conditioned homes - for global warming.

The difference in opinions and the value of money between the rich and the poor is wide.

So it's not that the rich look down on and don't want to hang out with the poor, but that the poor may think it isn't worth the money and effort to overcome differences in opinions (e.g. being called ngiao) to hang out with the rich.


David said...


An interesting post that touches most everone.

I grew up in a modest middle class neighbourhood.

My wife and I live in a middle class city. As Yu-Kym states even trying to keep up with the real rich is a waste of resources for most of us. I cannot afford a $500,000 + home, and cannot afford a vacation home.

Why bankrupt oneself to chase after status for the sake of just having something similar to rich people?

BTW your diver friend need not worry about climate change. Human kind almost always gets these things wrong. In the 1970s climate gurus were predicting the next ice age. The weather forecast rarely get the next 7 day right, so how can anyone place trust in a forecast for the next 10, 25 or 50 years.

The Earth's orbital precession and solar output affect climate far more than us little humans.

If she is concerned, she should travel less, her parents can install high efficency air-con, drive electric or hybrid cars.

They would user fewer resources, and that is worthwhile.


Christians are supposed to not merely endure change, not even to
profit by it, but to cause it.

-- Henry Emerson Fosdick

Anonymous said...

The world's full of hypocrisy!

When we have, we say all the right things. When we dont have, we do just the opposite.

curious cat

sch said...

Nice post and food for thought. Here is what I observe. Rich people get richer because they hang around the rich. Poor people get poorer because the hang around the poor. Some poor become rich because they hang around the rich and learn the habits of the rich. The only few rich who became poor were those who where handed the money on a silver platter.

Maybe tough for some to swallow... but that's my observation!

Junjie said...

Another reason - some poor people expect the rich to pay for everything. If a rich person suggests a simple lunch at Macs when going out with someone with a welfare mindset("you're rich, so you OUGHT to pay for me"), be prepared for lots of bad feelings to follow! :)

Anonymous said...

Dont bank on getting richer by hanging around the rich. Coz you almost always hear of those who get richer in this way but those rich who go bankrupt together, you almost always never hear of their disappearing act in silent shame and suffering.

And yes this is true, poor people get poorer because they hang around the poor.

I sure dont thing some poor get to be rich because they learnt the habits of the rich! I think it's more likely they are cursing themselves everyday for their poverty and live in envy every moment, not ever making any effort to uplift their lives in a meaningful way lol

And the only rich who became poor were idiots and there are plenty of them around, just that again you dont hear as often of their downfall unless they are known to the public.

The essential element in all these is what one has up there in your head. Rich or poor, silver or wooden spoon, good luck or arse luck, whoever one hangs out with, if you dont have it sufficiently up there, you are done for sooner or later.

curious cat

Anonymous said...

Rich or poor, if one hangs out with idiots, ppl who are lazy, ppl with a welfare mindset expecting good fortunes to come their way without putting in a respectable amount of blood, sweat and tears to uplift their lives.....then one is an idiot too, if not greater.

If one wants to succeed in life, one needs a good brain to know who to associate with and who to stay faraway from. keke

curious cat

David said...



As you mention, one can associate with idiots both rich and poor.

Many rich squander much wealth by trying to hard to impress others.

Many poor fail to improve financial status because they are always chasing, (and purchasing) what they percieve to be status symbols.

Expecting to become wealthy by simply associating with wealthy people is pure folly!


It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not.

~Author Unknown

Li Jing said...

I heard this one and love it, "Poor people are poor because they spend money they don't have, to buy things they don't need, to impress people who don't care!"

How true!


Anonymous said...


I do envy (perhaps admire is a better word) you for your wealth of wisdom. There are not many of your kind in this world.

Ppl who listen to your wise words will definitely emerge the better in their lives.

curious cat

Anonymous said...

Wahhh Li Jing,

that is a good one! I will remember that. Thanks for sharing.

curious cat

David said...


Thank you!

If I do possess any wisdom, at times I still doubt this very much, I acquired such wisdom from making many, many, many, many, many, many and many more mistakes.

Did I fail to mention that I often get things wrong?


Nature decrees that we do not exceed the speed of light. All other impossibilities are optional.

~Robert Brault,

Anonymous said...


You are too modest. hehe

We all get things wrong. The difference is that those who succeed gets only the little things wrong and also far fewer major things wrong. And of course they do get most things right especially the big things. lol

And when things do go wrong, there is also the difference between knowing what to do to put things right again and what not to do to make things worse. lol

curious cat