21-year-old Maria Rimmer has always been pampered since the day she was borned. Originally from Russia and now residing in the United Kingdom, Maria has access to endless cash to splurge on luxuries that many people can only dream of.
The daughter of a Russian multi-millionaire lives in a three-bedroom penthouse with her 8-month-old baby daughter Sandra and her husband along with their maid, nanny, and cook.
However, everything changed when Maria decided to see how the other part of the world lives like in a reality show called “Rich Kids Go Skint”.
In the reality show, Maria had the chance to stay with a low-income family, the Bouzguandas in their council estate home in Croydon for a week.
Compared to Maria whose five-star lifestyle usually sets her back around £8,000 (US$10,000) month, the Bouzguandas have to survive on just £650 (US$850) per month with only £50 (US$65) on food for their family of four.
Unlike the couple, Maria had never heard of benefits or even charity shops before she met the family.
The Russian student currently has a collection of designer handbags worth £70,000 (US$91,731).
That does not include a £34,000 (US$44,555) Birkin handbag, a £1,000 (US$1,310) Dolce and Gabbana dress and an £800 (US$1,048) Stella McCartney top in her vast wardrobe.
“I usually spend around £4,000 (US$5,249) to £5,000 (US$6,562) a month but that’s cutting down, Last year I spent around £8,000 (US$10,499) to £9,000 (US$11,811) a month,” Maria said.
“I go on holiday four or five times a year. If the whole family goes skiing, it will cost around £50,000 (US$65,620) for 10 days.”
Maria who currently studies Geology in England went to an exclusive boarding school in Switzerland before enrolling in a US high school.
Used to live a luxury lifestyle, Maria also wants her baby daughter to have the finest of everything just like when she was younger.
“I like my baby to have the best things that are out there, the most exclusive, the most expensive. I got my first Chanel bag when I was five-years-old. I like to keep that tradition going. I like her to have the best things as well,” she told The Star.
“I can’t wait till she can actually hold on to something so I can get her first Chanel bag.”
“As a child I basically got everything I wanted,” she continued.
“I didn’t know there was such a word as no. My parents worked hard for me to have all the best things in life and now my husband works hard for me and my daughter, so why not have them?”
Meanwhile, Becky and Hama can only afford to buy their children’s clothes from charity shops. The couple have two children; Madhi, 4, and Alfie, 18 months old.
According to 23-year-old Becky who is a stay-at-home mother, the couple often has to forgo their needs for the sake of their children. “We do have to go without essentials just so the kids can have what they need to get through the month,” she said.
“We’ll just have something small to make the food last longer.”
The Bouzguandas’ humble lifestyle proves to be an eye-opening for Maria who was stunned when she learned about how much the family has to survive on per month.
“I just feel how easy it is for me. I always sit and nag about how hard it is having a kid and studying and now I realize my life is heaven,” Maria reflected on her experience staying with the Bouzguandas.
“I’m going to be more responsible as I know the money I basically throw away could mean so much to somebody. It’s very eye-opening to me,” she added.
“The amounts I think are small and don’t matter really do matter.”
In exchange for the once-in-a-lifetime experience, Maria later offered to pay for the family’s flights to Tunisia to visit their relatives.
In spite of the stark contrast of their lifestyles, both Maria and Becky have remained in touch with each other and even planned to organize a play date for both of their children in the future.