How to tell if you are affluent

When I was little I wasn't sure who was rich and who wasn't, but upon seeing a can of whipped cream at a friend' house this week, it hit me that canned whipped cream used to be one of my determining factors of wealth.

Yes, having a can of aerated whipped cream in your fridge meant you were doing very well to young Buttle.

By comparison, in our house we never had whipped cream, "it's full of crap and sugar Melinda, put it back" Mum would say whenever I tried to sneak a can into the trolley.

Whipped cream was only one indicator of an affluent lifestyle.

I've collated my full list, if you had internal stairs or a rumpus room, I assumed you were on the big bucks.

There's a few stranger items that will indicate you’re rich.
There's a few stranger items that will indicate you’re rich.


My family day care mum Joy, had both these things, imagine that, internal stairs leading to a second living room, I could only dream of such luxury in my pre-adolescent brain.

Mel Buttle. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Mel Buttle. Picture: Mark Cranitch

Joy's second living room was tiled and upstairs was carpeted, multiple floor coverings also meant that you were on good dough too.

Of course the more things you had the richer you were.

My Aunty Margaret had two living rooms and a front door intercom.

It was like nothing I'd ever seen before, you could press a button and speak to people inside the house!

This was like something out of a Bond movie to me. Keeping in mind this was the 80s and the most modern technology I'd come across at this juncture was a dot matrix printer and a CD player.

Wealth to me as a kid was having two cars, also I thought you were rich if you had a van, as by my logic at the time, it's a big car, therefore more valuable.

A sunroof in your car would truly knock my socks off too.

A car with an electric sunroof was a sure sign that I'd ingratiated myself with the who's who of suburban Brisbane.

I was also impressed by having a big tub of ice-cream, as I was an only child mum would only ever get the smaller sizes, so if I spotted a big 2L tub in your freezer, I'd assume you had the sort of money that allowed for the type of holiday that rich people went on, camping.

I thought camping was the domain of the elite, we only ever went to Bribie Island or my Nanna's house in Bankstown, so camping was truly the big league to me.

I have of course updated my ideas on wealth.

I know you've got money if when asked what you do, it's played down, with answers like, "I make sure the mine site has all the logistics so its operation is running smoothly".

Ka-ching baby! If you give a sentence as an answer about your job instead of just your title, expect me to be checking your fridge door for a can of whipped cream.




Originally published as Mel Buttle: How to tell you are affluent