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The wealthiest households, generally considered 1 per cent to 2 per cent of the population, “tend to spend even if taxes are going up,” economist Diane Swonk says.”They don’t tend to pull back as much on holiday spending as other households do, because they’ve got money.”
Edwina Rogers, 48, would be put on the higher end of the economic strata, and has spent several thousand dollars on Christmas gifts for her two kids, ages 10 and 13.
But after going through a two-and-a-half year divorce that left her with nearly $2 million in legal bills and living on just one income instead of two, she’s making some changes.
“I’ve had to lower my standards,” she says.
She and her ex-husband are selling their 15,000-square-foot home here, and she’s renting a 6,000 square-foot home in Bethesda, Md. She was interviewed as she was sorting through holiday ornaments, which — along with nine artificial trees — were part of a day-long arbitration about the division of Christmas decorations.
She worries about how she’ll be able to continue supporting her sister and mother, who she’s been helping out financially.
“I was able to help them because (my ex-husband) was paying the mortgage,” she says.
She’s also found herself buying lavish Christmas gifts for two kids to try to offset guilt she feels from the divorce. Both have asked for mini refrigerators and microwaves for their downsized rooms in her new home. Her son, 13, is also getting a dirt bike, and her daughter, 10, will get a MacBook Air and electric scooter.
Rogers won’t disclose her exact income, but says she earns “north of $100,000” a year as executive director of the Secular Coalition for America and by lobbying and consulting. That’s more than many Americans, but easily on par with many lobbyists in the nation’s capitol.
Still, Rogers says she’s cut back on gifts for everyone other than her children. She used to buy for extended family, co-workers and her kids’ teachers. She’s trying to sell her Maserati because of the high repair costs, which will leave her with a 9-year-old Honda Pilot SUV. She’s also dealing with $500 a month in medical care for her kids, who were both born prematurely and have mild learning disabilities and other issues.
She says she’s a little relieved at downsizing her life. Her children are looking forward to smaller rooms in the Bethesda house because their current ones are “not really kid-friendly,” she says. And, “a house like this — there’s like 2,000 light bulbs, and 100 are out at any given time.”
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