Why are all my friends poor? Well, the elementary school I went to is located between two neighbourhoods: one is filled with run down, cheap and ugly townhomes/apartments and the other is filled with middle class single family homes. I live in the middle class neighbourhood, my friends live in the poor neighbourhood. When I attended elementary it just so happened that my neighbourhood was full of retirees, my family was literally the only ones with a kid in the whole area. All the kids who attended my elementary school lived in the poor neighbourhood. This is where I met all my friends, and that's why they are all poor.
Now most of the retirees have either died or moved to a nursing/retirement home, so more families with kids have moved in to my neighbourhood. I lived here at the "wrong time" between generations. So my friends sort of grew up thinking I was rich, and I half believed that too when I was a kid because I was the wealthiest one out all my peers.
This strange economic situation was a big part of my upbringing. But my house isn't a "palace." It's a plain, 1950's red brick two story home that's been well taken care of but not super renovated. We don't have a pool, we can't afford to renovate the kitchen even though it REALLY needs it and we can't afford more than two $15,000 to $30,000 cars. My parents are also amazing with money. The reason we seem richer than we actually are is because we save, invest, save and save some more. We are all minimalists, I buy my clothes from thrift stores and my parents have owned the same clothes for my whole life. We don't really eat out that often, only on special occasions. We don't buy unnecessary gifts for Christmas or birthdays, only chocolate and one or two items that we really appreciate. We are a data free household too, our phone plans are like $10-$40 a month. We never really go shopping outside of the grocery store. It is my parent's way with money that allows us to make big purchases like my car, amazing vacations, a Great Dane, my apple products and my education. "Live within your means" - we live by this.
In short, we spend much, much less that we make. Hell, I have saved $4,000 in my savings account and I've never had a formal job in my life. My only job has been walking dogs and I've had it for just 4 months.
My friends, on the other hand, spend money like they are rich. They have unlimited data/text plans, they love clothes shopping at the mall and go all out for Christmas and birthdays. Their families spend all of what they make. They work all the time and spend all their money on shopping yet they struggle to pay rent... Neither my friends or their parents have any savings at all. All that spending and nothing to show for it.
It's a difference of higher salary and smart money habits vs low salary and bad money habits that makes me seem rich, if that makes sense.