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A $40,000 annual clothing budget?

Bundle: The very rich actually are very different.

By Janet Paskin Feb 25, 2010 12:14PM

From "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" to "Cribs," there is something fascinating about the excesses of rich people. I will never in my life have a movie theater in my house, nor will I spend $1,000 for a night in a hotel suite, nor will I ever carry a Birkin bag. To me, the people who do these things might as well be aliens. And yet, when given the chance to look behind a Hollywood mogul's knit platinum curtains, I'll always peek.

Data from Bundle let me look at just how much money rich people are spending -- and where. Yes, people making $125,000 and up -- Bundle's highest income category -- spend more money on everything. A lot more, in fact, on everything from utilities and gas (rich people drive more?!) to the more obvious stuff like clothes, hobbies, travel and restaurants. They're buying more food, from more expensive stores. That Whole Foods bill adds up to a grocery bill that's 77% higher than the average American household's.


And those are just average wealthy people, many of whom face the same concerns -- saving for retirement and college, budgeting for vacations, teaching kids about money -- that the less affluent have.


The super-rich are another category entirely, for which it's instructive to look at the shopping habits of people living in Greenwich, Conn., known as a haven for hedge fund managers (and the solid green color in the graphic below). The average -- average! -- resident of Greenwich spends $584 per month on clothes, or roughly $7,000 per year. But the top spenders in the playground of the rich and fancy spend half that much -- $3,593 -- in a month. Over the course of a year, that's a $43,000 clothing budget.


Where they spend, too, is a world apart. Top merchants in super-wealthy enclaves include Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomindales, and for bargains, the J. Crew Outlet; for the rest of us, Target, Sam's Club and Wal-Mart top the list. In tony Los Gatos, Calif., residents buy groceries at Whole Foods; the rest of the state shops at Vons and Ralph's. And, oh, the pets are pampered: In Rye, N.Y., Fifi and Fido run up a $200 monthly tab -- more than four times as much as the average New York state pet owner.

In the best of times, numbers like these are staggering. I still like looking at them. Meanwhile, over at Bundle, we're consoling our less-rich selves by reliving past bargains and dreaming of future deals. And, occasionally, we're seeing how the other half lives.

Am I alone in my voyeurism? Or do you find the lifestyles of the rich intriguing? Inspiring? Or just depressing?

Related reading at Bundle:

Editor's note: Janet Paskin is Bundle's managing editor. She will report back regularly to MSN Money about spending trends and how America spends and saves. She can be reached at

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