生活 - 专栏


Shawn Tully 2019年11月04日


这两人不是“高薪未富者”。那些人会坐二等舱,这样才能供两个孩子上私立学校。图片来源:Getty Images

在金融危机之前,笔者坐在庄严的时代生活大厦(Time & Life Building)的办公室里,绞尽脑汁地为新涌现出来的一批千禧一代的高收入者起个缩写名。该群体的特点在于,即使家里有两个能挣钱的人,合计收入很高,但他们要面对高额的税费和他们认为的必要支出,以至于他们从未富有过,将来也很难富有起来。



不过情况也许不一样了。你可以想象我在曼哈顿闹市区的健身俱乐部(这里有许多“高薪未富者”在保持体型)里骑着动感单车时的惊讶之情。和往常一样,我这个婴儿潮一代的人,以我很多X世代和Y世代同事所谓的“睡眠速度”踩着踏板。随后,阅读架上放着的《纽约邮报》(New York Post)的头版,却让我骑得像旁边单车上的X世代一样迅速。这个小报左上角的栏目调侃道“年薪10万美元的穷人,看看‘高薪未富者’吧”。我迅速把报纸翻到第35版,看到了另一个时尚标题“噢Instagram,我会富有吗?可怜的家伙!”“可怜的家伙”成了《纽约邮报》(和我)对“高薪未富者”的挖苦性描述。






Just psrior to the financial crisis, this writer was sitting in Fortune’s offices in the venerable Time & Life Building trying to coin an acronym for a new class of affluent millennials. The concept was that even though this cohort of two-earner families make big combined salaries, they’re faced with such big outlays for taxes and expenses they deem essential that they’ll never, ever become wealthy.

Then the label hit me—no playing with words, no striving for rhymes. The flash reminded me of what Winston Churchill called “lightning across the brain.” “They’re the HENRY’s, the High Earners Not Rich Yet,” I crowed out loud. And that’s how the HENRYs became the subject, the heroes really, of my November 27, 2008 story, “Look Who Pays for the Bailout,” referring to new tax increases proposed by the incoming Obama Administration.

That kind of thunderous illumination, I must add, rarely strikes. And though experts in intervening years occasionally borrowed the term, it didn’t get the generation-defining traction I’d hoped for.

Maybe that’s changing. Imagine my surprise today while mounting the exercise bike at my health club in downtown Manhattan, where lots of HENRYs stay in shape. As usual, this Baby Boomer was pedaling at a pace my Gen-Y and Gen-X co-workers might call “slumber speed.” Then, the front page of the New York Post, poised on the reading stand, got me pumping like the Gen-Xer on the next bike. The headline in the tabloid’s upper-left quadrant teased, “Poor on $100K, Meet the H.E.N.R.Y.s.” Speed-thumbing to the piece on page 35, I encountered a second, hipper headline, “Oh Instagram, When Will I Be Rich? Poor Things!” The “Poor Things” being the Post’s satirical characterization of the (or my) HENRYs.

The piece chronicles how an attorney, age 32, making “six figures” lives from paycheck to paycheck, and how single millennials earning between $100,000 and $250,000 are folks whose “taste for luxury—and pressure to keep up with their well-heeled buds on social media—has some HENRYs feeling more strapped than stacked.”

It’s a great story. But my piece approached their plight differently. I was writing about families with combined total incomes $250,000 to $500,000 a year and a couple of children, a demo that many politicians characterized as “rich.” In fact, the term “rich” refers to your net worth, the nest egg consisting of your cash savings in bank accounts, stocks and bonds, plus the equity in your house, not your income. I found that these well-paid families shoulder such high burdens covering the mortgages payments and taxes on their suburban colonials and tudors, the big take from federal and state levies, and the $20,000 or so they save to send two kids to private colleges a decade or two for now, that they will never generate savings sufficient enough to retire remotely “rich.”

In the ensuing decade, times have only gotten tougher for this hard working group. They’re not investment bankers or CEOs or CFOs, they’re the auditors, assistant treasurers, hometown attorneys and upper-middle managers that power America’s economy. They enjoy a nice lifestyle and no one should feel sorry for them, but they’ll never be rich. In fact, I suggested in my story that a more appropriate title might be Gallic version HENRIs, for “high earners, not rich indefinitely.”

The Post story did mention that “the term was first coined in a 2003 Fortune magazine article,” which I appreciated (even though the story appeared in 2008). It didn’t mention my name. Hey, no problem. The Post may help to launch the HENRYs as mini-cultural phenomenon. In a way, I’ve been anointed as an honorary millennial. Suddenly, I feel younger. A spinning class may be next.