Author Topic: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you  (Read 6359 times)

dinkhelpneeded

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Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« on: November 26, 2016, 10:04:07 AM »
Hi!

I'm posting this in an attempt to understand my husband who grew up poor.

He is a highly motivated, ambitious person but also highly materialistic, since he had nothing growing up.

- He has had multiple instances of being embarrassed by his home in a bad neighborhood
- He had had no real friends growing up - partly to protect himself from becoming like the others in his low income community and partly because he was embarrassed by his situation
- His family never owned an automobile of any kind till he was in university
- He strongly needs the validation of a fancy home and a fancy car and any attempt at trying to tell him it's not "worth it" doesn't go down well because to him - it is worth it!
- He is truly pained by the events in his past and I want him to have some measure of "social acceptance" from a nice car or house but we can't agree on "nice" because he now wants to one-up everyone he knows.

How do I try to rationalize an MMM+ lifestyle (I call it MMM+ because it's moderate but not too extreme) to such a person? We are close to being financially independent but his need for lifestyle inflation and "social one-upping" to prove he's made it in life, could kill us.


GueroKC

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2016, 10:17:14 AM »
I grew up relatively poor. We were lower middle class, but had a few instances where my dad lost his job when were were on food stamps and the like.

I definitely have some lingering issues from my childhood from being made fun of for not having much money. Part of me wants to buy a nice, expensive new truck and drive around back home to show my former schoolmates that I've "made it". Pretty silly.

IMO, the best way to help your husband overcome his materialist needs is to surround yourselves with those who have a similar value system to your own.
I work at a software company where I would be embarrassed to show up with a fancy new truck, despite the fact that my co-workers and I all make enough to easily afford one. There are several mustachians in the group, and most of us drive beat-up ol' clunkers.

We're social primates. No matter how strong one's convictions, we end up absorbing the values of those around us. Best of luck.


doneby35

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2016, 10:35:36 AM »
I completely understand because I used to be exactly what you described.
I grew up in a war torn 3rd world country where a poor person in the united states would be considered rich. I had nothing, my family had nothing, you get so used to death, destruction and poverty that you become numb to it all.
I came to the states at the age of 25. I started working, got my first paycheck and i thought "wow, i've never seen this much money before, what the hell am i supposed to do with it"...
I also thought, everything is so fancy and beautiful in the states, and i can finally have nice things after all those years of having nothing.

This is what happened before I found this site.
1. I purchased a very nice 300k house in a very nice neighborhood.
2. I purchased a very nice 20k car that I didn't have a need for.
3. I purchased nice things and spend money un-necessarily and try to compete with richer people.

Then I found Mr Money Mustache a few months ago and my whole life was changed.
1. I sold the 300k house and purchased a 150k house that i can comfortably pay off before the age of 35.
2. I sold the 20k car.
3. I do not feel the need to purchased shiny things and compete with others anymore.
4. I feel so relieved and happy now.

My spouse had tried to convince me to change my habits but I didn't understand until I actually found this website and started reading all of the articles posted.

Bakari

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2016, 10:35:51 AM »
I grew up poor.
I know people who grew up poor and are used to not having luxury and so still don't seek it, and others like your husband.
I know people who grew up middle class and above for whom status is very important and other's who never needed it.

I honestly don't think growing up poor or rich or anything else has any bearing what-so-ever on what you are describing.

A greater feeling of needing security, maybe.  A different standard of expectation of what counts as deprivation, certainly.

But the need for social status is just something that varies by the individual.  How one grew up is just a rationalization (at least in the cases that manifest in what you described).


We were on section 8, food stamps, wic, afdc, and still lived in the crappy, scary part of town, in one of the worst cities in America for poverty and crime (at the time - I actually moved back here recently, but it has improved by an order of magnitude!).
We usually (not always) had a car, but it frequently didn't work.  Some of my earliest memories involve being stranded random places because the car broke down (again).

All the families around were the same, so I took everything as it was for granted.  We were never hungry or homeless, so it never occurred to me we were supposedly "poor".  There were kids at school who cared about the brand of shoes people wore, but I was never particularly interested in those people, mainly because they were usually stupid. 

It never even occurred to me as a possibility until, I think, college, that anyone who wasn't "rich" would ever even consider buying a new car.  Like, not just not from the classified ads or a parking lot "for sale" sign, but not even just from a (used) car dealer, but actually new new, like from a factory or whatever.  Rich people buy cars, and then when they upgrade, everyone else buys the old one.  Obviously. Right?

Growing up poor made getting to early retirement much much easier, because my standards for "basic necessity" were just the literal basic necessities - clean water, healthy food, some form of shelter - and I saw everything else as a bonus to make life more fun if I happened to be able to afford it.  As a young adult I lived in an RV, rode my bike everywhere, and my TV was a 5 inch black and white set with an analog tuner.  To this day I've never owned a car (or truck or van) less than 20 years old, and there average is closer to 30.  Still never purchased a pocket computer ("smart" "phone").

I have friends (and a wife) who grew up in large houses in the hills, new cars, afterschool music and sports lessons and a computer in the house when my school still had one computer for the entire school, who today are 100% on board with frugality and living small and efficient.
We have friends (and ex-friends) who drive Mercedes SUVs in the (snow free) city, or make comments like "you couldn't pay me to live in that house" (about a house larger and in a nicer neighborhood than ours) - and who are constantly worrying about making ends meet each month, due to living in the nicest house they can afford, eating out regularly, and the cost of childcare that lets them work 2 full-time jobs, in order to afford...

You get the idea.
Point is, this isn't a ex-poverty issue.
It is an untamed mammoth issue:

http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/06/taming-mammoth-let-peoples-opinions-run-life.html


mountains_o_mustaches

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2016, 11:03:17 AM »
I also grew up poor and fell into the consumerism trap initially.  The thing is that when you have very little money having (and spending) more money does increase happiness, but only to a point.  And it's that last clause that I had to realize.  When I was growing up and we didn't have money for food, school clothes, etc. that lack of money really hurt and caused me to feel bad.  Once I grew up and had my own money it felt amazing to be able to buy what I wanted for groceries, clothes, housing, etc.  And some of that wasn't the temporary consumerist "high" that MMM talks about - it was true happiness of not having to scrimp and save, worry about paying the bills, or being without.  The problem is that once those needs are met doing more buying doesn't continue to increase happiness and can actually lead to decreased happiness (due to debt, etc.).  Once I realized what a trap credit cards were that helped reign me in. 

Some things to discuss with your SO:
1) Validate that not having sucked and that buying initially feels really good (not just in the short term) when you're coming from a place of deficit.  This is real and saying that stuff doesn't buy happiness isn't true for people in poverty.  Trust me - being able to afford groceries every week and not be hungry or worry if there will be groceries next week was (and still is) happiness.
2) Talk about this as a u-curve, that spending only increases happiness to a point.  That point is usually that all of your basic needs are met + a little extra (money for hobbies, favorite meals, etc.) and that after that happiness not only doesn't increase, but declines due to pressures of debt and needing to work.  I'm sure he can understand that living paycheck to paycheck isn't happiness.  That was one of my goals when I started to make money on my own - I never wanted to be anxiously waiting on my next paycheck ever again - that's also happiness.
3) Once basic needs are met, happiness often comes from experiences and so focusing spending on that is a way to maximize cost-happiness ratio.  Even though I hated scrimping and saving, I still try to maximize what I can get for my money, so at least for me this is a compelling argument.
4) Focus on financial freedom rather than saving or cutting spending - I think anyone (rich or poor) wants to imagine a life where they don't HAVE to work.

Good luck!

MikeMoeJackB

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2016, 12:34:32 PM »

How do I try to rationalize an MMM+ lifestyle (I call it MMM+ because it's moderate but not too extreme) to such a person? We are close to being financially independent but his need for lifestyle inflation and "social one-upping" to prove he's made it in life, could kill us.

This resonates a lot with me because its a similar issue my wife and I struggle with.  My parents grew up poor and her parents grew up poor, but there's one difference: my parents raised my family very frugally (on the socio-economic scale=poor, but we never felt that way) and my wife grew up upper middle class her whole life, but made smart decisions along the way.

Now if you know about my situ then I'm really no one to be giving advice.  Regardless, what we've tried to do to turn our lives around is to blend both of our perspectives: living efficient and frugal, but buying quality things that matter. 

Another perspective that my wife and I agree upon these days is to spend heavily on experiences and not material items.  Why not convince him to redirect all that wasted money on experiences that enrich your lives together (vacations, skills y'all can learn together, maybe a side hustle)? This can benefit both of you in several ways: it may be a leveraging point that you can use to espouse the benefits of saving for financial freedom, etc. (e.g. retirement is one long vacay with the one you love, learning to cook together will save you a lot of money and you eat well, or retiring to do the job you love that started as a side hustle). Idk just some ideas.

Anyway, just some brainstorming on my end involves trying to find ways to invest in the assets you already have. Choose a highly resellable house that money can be invested in and then sold for profit.  Then he has a baller ass house that he bought AND fixed up AND THEN sold for a crazy gain.  OK, he wants a huge truck or baller car.  Why not look into a Tesla? Sure its a lot, but the gas savings may be worth it AND he will be envy of everyone on the block.  That's what he wants right?

Honestly, it just takes time until you see the obvious benefits. I was introduced to ERE and MMM years ago and thought it was hogwash at first.  If I can come around and my wife is slowly (finally) coming around, then he can come around.

mm1970

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2016, 12:47:51 PM »
Quote
I grew up poor.
I know people who grew up poor and are used to not having luxury and so still don't seek it, and others like your husband.
I know people who grew up middle class and above for whom status is very important and other's who never needed it.

I honestly don't think growing up poor or rich or anything else has any bearing what-so-ever on what you are describing.

A greater feeling of needing security, maybe.  A different standard of expectation of what counts as deprivation, certainly.

But the need for social status is just something that varies by the individual.  How one grew up is just a rationalization (at least in the cases that manifest in what you described).

Pretty much this, from Bakari.

I grew up rural poor.  For the most part, everyone around me was also poor, but to varying degrees.  I'd put us in the bottom 1/4 locally.  So there were people in my area that were even poorer.  It wasn't until high school that I met people who were more middle class/ upper middle. Who actually went on vacation, and sometimes by plane.

I'm the 8th of 9 children. For the most part, we can be characterized by:
thrift
hard work
bootstraps

A lot of that is upbringing.  My dad was born in 1926, lived through the depression, was in WWII, and was a hard, distant man.  When I was in my 20s he gifted me his copy of Walden.  "Suck it up" is the family motto, I think (too much so - there is often a distinct lack of empathy).

Some of it is hard times.  My dad's 1st wife died young (in her 20s, during surgery), leaving him with 6 children, aged 11 years down to 6 months.  After a year of difficulty in "getting by" the result was that the babies (twins) were given up for adoption and the eldest became "mom".  She burned a lot of food.  She recently explained to me how kind, how loving, how understanding he was after their mother died - and she herself said "the way he was with you, he wasn't with us, because he couldn't be".  A side I never knew when he was alive.

Also, my dad was laid off in the early 80s, resulting job was low paid, no benefits, and he was in his 50s.  So tight times got even tighter.  I never wore anything that wasn't a hand me down.  We gardened. 

When my parents divorced my mom and I lived in a drafty trailer and often had about 16 cents left for 10 days until the next paycheck.  If it weren't for family dropping off government cheese, it could have been really bad (but we were happy).

So, nine kids, all frugal right?  Nope.

Sis (#4) has always spent a bit more than she earned.  Not crazy, but likes the good life.  She was the youngest in the family when my parents married.
Bro (#9) is a spender and always has been.  I cannot identify if it's his personality - or if it's because he stayed with dad after the divorce. When my dad's paycheck was slashed to 1/3 of it's prior in the 1980s, he complained that mom "cut his allowance".  I have to wonder if that affected my brother at all.  For my brother it's vehicles.  His wife it's shopping.

How 2 of the 9 felt deprived, and the rest took it as reality or a challenge?  I don't know. 

I am very financially conservative and I really need security. That's how it all affected me.

Bakari

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2016, 02:25:02 PM »
Unfortunately, "experiences", "security" and "happiness" can't be shown off to the neighbors

MissPiggy

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2016, 02:00:50 AM »
Hi fellow Mustachians!

I understand the need to feel socially accepted by those who are of a higher social standing or income bracket than others. I didn't grow up poor however went to a school and university surrounded by people who earned significantly more than my family and enjoyed many luxuries. My parents who came from working-class backgrounds and grew up post WW2 were frugal and very cautious about money. As a result I often felt poor and others viewed us as such.

This feeling of being less worthy than my peers stayed with me until the GFC hit - many families which had a glamorous lifestyle where actually debt-ridden and lost their houses and assets. In short, I realised that while my family did not have the glamorous lifestyle but prioritised real wealth over superficial expressions of wealth.

My partner grew up under very hard circumstances, lived in poverty and many times hand-to-mouth. In adulthood became very successful but I find he has the need to constantly one-up others. My frugality and lifestyle differences has at times caused conflict between us.

My advice is:
- Emphasise that many 'wealthy' peers are superficially wealthy i.e. they are highly mortgaged and indebted and their lifestyle is funded by credit.
- Tell him to read the book 'Stop Acting Rich... and start living like a Millionaire' by Thomas J Stanley. It perfectly articulates and backs up with data the difference between the wealthy and 'wannabe' wealthy.
- Ask him whether he gains value from these material possessions or whether it is a way to socially one-up others. If he removed himself from his social circle would he still value the purchases or lifestyle? Poverty is relative to others wealth or poverty.
- Note that it's his journey more than yours. Does he like the materialistic lifestyle because he wants to show others he has successfully moved up from his upbringing or does he enjoy it because he wants to reward himself?

If he doesn't want to change his lifestyle, how would this affect you and your relationship?

mwulff

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2016, 02:59:15 AM »
Hi yourself :)...

My wife and I both grew up poor. We were both lucky that poor in this country doesn't mean that you don't have food. But we both never had the newest and fancy clothes until later in life when our parents due to some lucky breaks became respectively lower and upper middle-class.

But it has affected our lives more than we may be ready to accept. Since we both have had successful careers we are constantly trying to balance the feel-good of having new things with our long term goal of being frugal and hitting a FIRE target.

Here is what we do right:

1. Bought a small house in a safe cheap area.
2. Do most of our renovations ourselves.
3. Have no shopping habits. We buy clothes, shoes and necessities when we must not a moment sooner.
4. Ride electric bikes to work, about 16 miles each day.
5. Our life is very minimalist in general so we don't buy stuff a lot.
6. We save a lot of money every month (40%+ savings rate)
7. No cable tv and in general no subscribtions.

What we do "wrong":

1. We own one big very very fancy car (no other cars in our household).
2. We take nice vacations
3. I collect wine, not ultra expensive stuff, but nice $10-$50 bottles.
4. We like to play computer games and have 1 very nice gaming pc to share between us.
5. We prefer quality and will often buy a more expensive option if it means getting a better product
6. I love well made watches and collect them, but I have set a hard limit of only 1 expensive watch ever in my lifetime.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we balance consumption with a frugal lifestyle. We wanted a fancy car, the consequence was that we can only have one.

My opinion is that it's important to have the discussion about what luxuries are important to you as a couple. Decide that luxury X, Y and Z are ok, while A, B and C are not. It's ok to have some luxuries in life, just be aware of what the opportunity cost is for each luxury item is.

You might want to ask DH about wanting to be safe. Since we grew up poor we have a strong desire to never, ever be poor again. This has lead us to a course where we live a lifestyle way below our means because it means that we can be safe even if we lose both our jobs at the same time.

Try talking about balancing luxury with safety. Where perfect safety is defined as a FIRE-type situation.

WackyTomato

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2016, 03:16:19 AM »
Unfortunately, "experiences", "security" and "happiness" can't be shown off to the neighbors

Fuck the neighbours.

Sounds harsh?  Not really.  The sooner you free yourself from your desire for acceptance / validation, etc. the better.

havregryn

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2016, 04:49:01 AM »
I grew up poor by automatism, as I grew up in ex-Yugoslavia in the 90s (so, war, international isolation, inflation, you name it, even if my family wasn't among the worst off still by any acceptable contemporary definition we were all poor, period).
When I got my first job and a relatively decent salary for the context I treated myself to some ridiculous stuff I had been craving, such as fancy hand cremes and private pilates lessons (but, in retrospect it's obvious I was craving it as I was led to believe it had to come with the young urban working woman lifestyle). It took maybe a few months to get over it and realize I value security a lot more than any of that and I started saving.
Now that we have really high income by any standards (not just eastern European) I sometimes spend money on stupid shit but always in relation to it somehow making me happy at least there and then and always in moderation relative to our total income. I.e. I get silly and spend a 100€ on something completely pointless but I'd never spend a 1000.

But I totally get your husband as my entire home country is like you describe and only the wealth you can show to your neighbors counts. I don't know if you can change him though as I really know only the two types coming from back home, people like me, who learned to be frugal and value security more than showing off and people who value being able to have material things. I've never met a convert.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2016, 05:23:11 AM »
I have two perspectives. My own, and one of my best friends.

I grew up pretty darn poor.  My parents came here from a soviet block country just months before I was born. Their degrees didn't mean anything here and my dad went to work at a laundromat while my mom was pregnant with me. My parents shared a 3 bedroom apartment with 3 other families in an unsafe neighborhood in NYC during the 80's. After I was born my dad got a job working as a helper for a cabinetmaker. He worked 80 hour weeks to provide for our family. While we always had food, and the lights never got turned off, growing up was interesting.

I grew up on reduced lunch, always wore hand me down clothes, lived in a small apartment till high school, shared a room with my younger brother,  started working at 12 years old (and have pretty much worked full time for nearly 18 years now).

By the time I was in HS, my dad had built his own custom furniture business up, still working long hours, but being able to buy a modest house in a nicer area in the NYC suburbs. My parents never showed wealth, though by the time I was in college they had paid off their house. Now they are what I would consider middle class/borderline upper middle class.

Growing up like this taught me about hard work, about saving money, and about appreciating what we did have. It motivated me to always think about tomorrow, and as soon as I could learn about investing and personal finance I started socking away a decent chunk of my income, that eventually led me to these forums over two years ago and the rest is history ( continued in my journal).

The other perspective is one of my best friends. He grew up to a loving family, with 8 kids. His dad had 3 from a previous marriage and 5 with his mother. They relied heavily on social programs for food and housing. Very much like my family, they had their basic needs covered one way or another. My friends siblings grew up with varying levels of professional success and he ended up smack in the middle.

He hasn't been "poor" in quite some time, being a nurse, and married to a full time social worker, they earn 2X the median US household income. However, the way they talk about money, you would think they are barely putting food on the table. Why is this? Every penny my friend makes he feels entitled to spend. His upbringing conditioned him to spend money on anything he didn't have growing up. Every day there is a ups package at his doorstep, containing some junk ebay purchase, or impulsive groupon goods order. He is the type of guy that at first snowfall will walk into Sears and finance the highest model snowblower they have, simply because he can. He cares very much about image, making sure he flashes cash, and what he believes to be impressive possessions every chance he gets.

He is a very good friend, and I've had heart to hearts about finances with him in the past. There is no changing his mindset. The concept of saving for tomorrow just doesn't click for him. He is very fortunate this his wife is an only child, whose parents help them tremendously, providing free childcare during the week, giving them a downpayment for their house, and likely bankrolling many of their mistakes past, present, and future. His wife gets frustrated, and often confides to my SO, but so far little to no progress has been made in their finances for the better.   

chasesfish

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2016, 06:30:24 AM »
I grew up poor.  Not 3rd world poor, but poorest kid at a higher income high school.

I felt like I needed stuff, career validation, ect.   Over time, that has become valuing the security of having money and not having to work.  I've also found it getting me into the trap of "one more year" and enjoying a job that comes with status.   I have to pull that plug soon, there's only so many years one can give to a company and we only get to be on this earth once.




human

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2016, 06:41:47 AM »
I grew up pretty poor, my brother and I were raised by my Dad. He never made more than 30k I bet. I started reading Maxim Gorky and Marx in high school and became a socialist. Now I think I'm more bourgeois boheme, I've always thought a consumption lifestyle was awful. Instead my money was spent on travel and partying, end result was the same though no money to show for a decade at a great paying job.

I had some of the same experiences as your husband. Somehow I was always in the "advanced classes" in elementary school and junior high and inevitably the stupid teacher in home room would ask all the kids to explain what their parents did. This always got laughs when it came time for me to speak. Everyone else was the kid of an engineer, doctor, teacher (they make a ton of money in certain cities in Ontario) etc.

At first I was ashamed of my background, then I grew to be ashamed of this shame and embraced socialism for a while.

It looks like your husband's reaction was the opposite of mine. I started noticing that I was straying into consumerist consumption and the FIRE goal is great for keeping me centred.

Zamboni

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2016, 07:09:31 AM »
I grew up relatively poor (by US standards) and bought into the consumer sucker lifestyle for awhile. Then I realized I was never going to have any money saved if I kept it up. More importantly I realized that the "nice" item I had spent a lot of money on -- our giant house -- was really just a ball and chain. We had become "house poor."

My best advice is to get him interested in growing his retirement accounts as the ultimate status symbol. Can you get him interested in reading this website?

good luck!

No Name Guy

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2016, 10:20:33 AM »
Lower middle class, at times, but not poor.  What I have is less about about that though:

I recall other threads talking about the seemingly irrational behavior in poor neighborhoods, where people spend what little they have on trite luxury goods in a vain attempt to show they're "not poor like the rest of the losers in this 'hood".  It sounds like a similar phenomena is going on here.

OP - talk to your SO.  Find out what it will take for them to say "enough".  Don't judge while having those conversations - have them be their version of the Lotto Fantasy thread.  Have them define "enough" in concrete terms - it could be a new "Insert Fancy Pants Brand" car every year.  It could be "X" number of vacations per year....overseas.....in business class.  It could be....who knows......find out.  Some is just fantasy talk, some is real.  Is there a bound to this?  In my lotto fantasy, where the winnings are throwing off 2-5 mil / year, I couldn't see spending more than a few hundred k / year on myself and SO (which includes months of international business class travel).  I'd give away the rest to charity.   Once you really "get" what they're after, you'll know where to start.  In fact, you could eventually get them to write out, in detail, what their vision for this "satisfied" state is. 

Find out not only your SO's vision for what is "enough" but what their plan is to get there.

You state:
Quote
He is a highly motivated, ambitious person but also highly materialistic, since he had nothing growing up.

Not to be harsh but:  Do they have the goods, so to speak, to back up that ambition?  We all know about the highly motivated person growing up thinking they'll be a pro sports star or a famous singer / actress who simply doesn't have the talent to get there.  If they think they'll be the next Bill Gates / Warren Buffet of money, that's not realistic.  Or are they shooting for  a 150k / year job by 35 & a couple mil in the bank by 50?  If their goals / ambition fit with their actual talent and realistic opportunity, that's something different.  If goals / ambition are disconnected from actual talent and prospect, well....not sure what to do but perhaps suggesting a "phased" approach - If this level of achievement is reached, then this level of material is justified (just insure, as you negotiate this later in the conversations, and it is a negotiation, that the savings rate is ALWAYS going up with each level of achievement).

Once you get though these conversations and really understand where they're coming from, you might then be able to drag in a semi-MMM direction.

In parallel, have the same conversations where you describe YOUR vision of "enough" or your vision of your future financial state - like a paid for home.  Like a time schedule where you have XX years of spending in income producing investments (2 years from now, 1 year of spending invested, 5 years from now 5 years spending invested, etc, etc, etc).   After all, a fat bank balance can't be flashed....ok, check that, it CAN be flashed, you can point out.  It also happens by spending less than you make.  It's the subtle way to show off.   

Rambling....but well, hope it's something.

snogirl

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2016, 10:35:06 AM »
I grew up poor, went to college on a scholarship, joined the military at age 22.
For a long time I blew through lots of $$$. I made more than all my family members combined. I played the big shot but worked 3 jobs to pursue the american dream (ha), lived above my means for was not taught nor listened to anyone (well except my superiors on occasion ).
In 2007, I retired Army & still was looking outside myself for validation & happiness.
In 2014, I hit bottom, found MMM along with a bunch of other blogs, books & a good therapist.
Three years later, I'm FIRE. Yes, finally at age 56, I can say without a doubt that I am enough & no longer have to prove anything to anyone. I'm not that kid anymore from the wrong side of the tracks. My life is full and am grateful. Gratitude is my #1 focus. I might not have everything I want, but I certainly have everything I need.

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« Last Edit: November 27, 2016, 10:37:05 AM by snogirl »

frugaldrummer

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2016, 03:04:50 PM »
My boyfriend didn't grow up poor, but due to terrible addiction problems as an adult, never accumulated anything. He made surprisingly good money, but would regularly relapse and lose everything.  So in some ways, his adult life was similar to the experience of many poor people - you better get while the getting is good, because you never know when it all might get taken away.

Boyfriend is now 6 years sober and doing great. But he definitely went through a period of irresponsible spending. Now that he realizes it's not all going to fall apart tomorrow, and he really has more than he needs, he is starting to focus a little more on saving for the future.  But he does still have more expensive tastes than I do. I realize that I am comfortable enough in my secure economic status, that I don't fear anyone mistakenly thinking I'm poor. But to him, driving  a beater car or having a cheap cell phone makes him feel as if he's sliding back downhill into poverty.

He's learning slowly by seeing my example. We'll probably never be on exactly the same page, but he's still learning lessons in his 50's that I learned in my 20's.

Larsg

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2016, 11:43:22 AM »
yes, grew up very poor here and one deep rooted perspective I held for a long time was that it was a privilege to just be able to participate in all the things...ALL THE THINGS that most people participated. Through the eyes of a child that can mean we get up, we don't worry about food for breakfast, my mom or someone packs my lunch, I don't have to wait in the poor line at school where you then get labeled as "less than." It means having your binders, books, backpack all shiny and new at the beginning of the year along with your new schools cloths. It means being able to participate in sports and clubs without worrying about who will take you, how you will pay for the uniforms or  the gas money to get to practice every day. It means being able to participate in some of the outside activities that kids do, like skiing, skating, playing tennis, whatever or where'ver you live. Those things for kids require support and money. When I was young, I could never do those things unless I could find a job to earn the money and often I did. But that allowed for nothing else. One thing kids often do together socially as they participate in these events is then eat together. Pizza after home games, mcdonalds on the way home from a track meet. Imagine your whole life as a kid, never being able to eat while others are eating and too embarrassed to accept a hand out from anyone. It took all I had to pull myself up from that and now I make more than a harvard graduate my age. I've done well but I reveled in the fact that I could buy whatever I needed whenever I needed it for a long time. ERE of any kind was not something I would have ever considered because I would almost do anything - ANYTHING - to never feel the shutter of feeling less than ever again. But for me, finally I came around and realized the error of all of my material ways...I came to it before I found all of these forums where I was simply searching for deeper meaning in what I do and the relationship to what I have materially - trying to align and be more authentic as the pretty things are meaningless unless you feel some joy and satisfaction in how you earned it. I have also taught my kids far better than I was taught. I grew up in a world of lack at the bottom of the pyramid...like one pair of shoes per year that my feet would outgrow by midyear and there was no money or social connection for help to get a larger pair. When you finally afford shoes on your own, unless someone teaches you better, you want whatever shoes you want when you want them...anyway, it's been a hard road and he may never come around as I have friends that grew up in the same boat I did and they will never give up working until they die. If they are able to provide their family any sense of security and comfort they consider that a life well spent. This is a tough one...Looking back, I wished I had gone to talk to someone about these overwhelming feelings (don't have them now) but for most of my adult life you could not have pried me away from my job with anything, it would have been unimaginable. Talking to someone can help him explore meaning, money, and self worth beyond the identity that is caught up in the job and the material world. Good luck to you.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 11:50:57 AM by Larsg »

Runrooster

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2016, 06:20:14 PM »
I didn't grow up poor but I thought I did because we had various rules and limitations.  It took a long time to realize I'm not deprived or try to make up for it.  I could be FI if I was comfortable moving to a worse neighborhood.  But I remember crime and noise and racism.  Which can happen anywhere but I feel buffered here.  I'd work an extra 20 years to live where I like my neighbors. I think MMM puts a lot of unpaid time into his house(s). 

libertarian4321

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2016, 02:19:56 AM »
I grew up poor, and didn't want to stay that way, so I've been frugal as an adult.

I'd rather be a multi-millionaire and look poor, than be poor and look like a multi-millionaire.

I could have blown money on status symbols, but I'd still be poor.  Yeah, I'd have fancy stuff, but there are a lot of people who live in big houses and drive fancy cars who couldn't scrape together $1k for an emergency if their life depended on it.

You know, people with good incomes, a lot of consumer crap, and are in debt up to their eyeballs.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2016, 06:28:05 AM »
Chiming in as growing up poor. I recognise a lot of the issues with wanting to feel like you've 'made it'. When I found MMM, I found more security in having a stache rather than shiny things for show. It took time though.

Gin1984

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2016, 08:44:05 AM »
I did not grow up poor but my mom did and there are a lot of actions she takes not to feel poor.  Since I help her with her finances that has created some issues.  I have learned to let her think about a new fiscal idea.  It normally takes almost five years for her to be comfortable as an example I mentioned a Roth five years before she was willing to open one even with $25 at our local credit union.  But she did get there.  It takes time to acclimate to the ideas. So maybe you need to continue looking at houses, focusing on why the cheaper house is better (less to clean, better area etc), not cost.  It may mean you won't be financially independent as quick but I doubt it will mean it will kill you.

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Bakari

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2016, 09:15:43 AM »
I grew up poor, and didn't want to stay that way, so I've been frugal as an adult.

I'd rather be a multi-millionaire and look poor, than be poor and look like a multi-millionaire.

I could have blown money on status symbols, but I'd still be poor.  Yeah, I'd have fancy stuff, but there are a lot of people who live in big houses and drive fancy cars who couldn't scrape together $1k for an emergency if their life depended on it.

You know, people with good incomes, a lot of consumer crap, and are in debt up to their eyeballs.


+1, this.
For some people it makes you want to not look poor, but for others it makes you want to actually not BE poor, and those two outlook lead to exactly opposite choices.


I think the thing to emphasis to someone who has never thought about it is the difference between those two.
That way, if they choose to keep wasting money on status symbols, at least then it is a conscious choice, and not just reactionary

marcela

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2016, 12:00:45 PM »
I wouldn't say that I grew up poor, but the numbers would probably show that I did.  At 26, I was the highest earner in my family at 38,000 a year. My parents live on less than that. I was lucky in that my family was frugal and we were able to project a very middle-class/ upper middle class lifestyle so I didn't have the same consumerist drive your partner is experiencing.
Instead of consumerist status symbols though, I find myself proving that I've "made it" by giving back to my parents. I cover their meals when we go out together, buy things they need around the house, and pay for trips. If I totaled it up this year, I probably have spent over $1,000 on such things, approximately 5% of my yearly spending.

meghan88

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #26 on: December 05, 2016, 05:06:07 PM »
Did you read http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-convert-your-so-to-mmm-in-50-awesome-steps/ ?

And maybe tell him to think long and hard about this Dave Ramsey quote:

“We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like.”

mozar

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #27 on: December 05, 2016, 08:44:56 PM »
I grew up upper middle class but I thought I was poor because of the poor financial mistakes my parents made. My mother spent a lot of the child support on substances. My dad sent my mother 2k a month in child support which is crazy, but my mother took advantage of that and never made more than 10k a year until I was in high school. So I went to private school and had cable but not enough food to eat. I used to watch my mom tear up checks from her parents while I was starving.

I was so terrified of being hungry again that when I did finally get a good job that I didn't want to spend money. But I still thought I had to spend it all. I thought it was a requirement because I had never heard of saving money before. I literally thought that companies would be angry with me and come after me somehow if I didn't spend money. So I was paranoid a lot. It wasn't until I came to this website that I realized I was allowed to keep it. So you have no idea what's going on in people's heads. Our culture is so ridiculous, it will take awhile.

southern granny

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #28 on: December 05, 2016, 09:33:21 PM »
Yes, I grew up poor.  Then when I was 13, my Mom decided to improve our situation by getting married to an alcoholic.  He made good money when he worked, but that wasn't very often.  My shoes and clothes were bought for durability not style, so I was teased in school.  I was completely out on my own when I was 17.  It had the opposite effect on me than your husband.   After moving at least once every two years for my whole childhood, I just wanted to feel safe and settled.  I got married at 18.  We bought a house the next year.  Three bedroom, one bath.  We still live in the same house.  I wanted our house paid off more than I wanted to buy stuff.  I wanted a decent savings account for security.   We are solid middle class.  I am very happy with my life.  A lot of my happiness and contentment  has to do with our faith and our church. 

TryingtoFIREinLAnow

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #29 on: December 06, 2016, 11:40:40 AM »
I grew up on the poorer side, not lacking for food, but embarrassed to bring friends home to our small apartment in a town where everyone had a freestanding home.  My mother had grown up upper middle class, and finding herself raising two children on a teacher's salary, she inadvertantly made me very aware of her worries and how tight money was.

I'm surprised that more people didn't respond similarly to Mozar  - having known what it was like to be right on the edge throughout my childhood, I can't seem to shake that feeling despite being in my thirties, married, and with a career that is fairly stable and makes decent money.  I can't stop obsessing over budgeting and saving, I find it very difficult to spend money, even on valid expenses, I'm always worried, I check Mint and Vanguard way too many times a day and generally go to bed knowing my net worth to the dollar....
   
I always thought this was the logical outcome of growing up worrying about your parents worrying about money, but I guess it manifests in different ways for different people.....

Not sure which is better.....

intirb

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #30 on: December 06, 2016, 02:17:34 PM »
I was so terrified of being hungry again that when I did finally get a good job that I didn't want to spend money.

I'm surprised that more people didn't respond similarly to Mozar  - having known what it was like to be right on the edge throughout my childhood, I can't seem to shake that feeling despite being in my thirties, married, and with a career that is fairly stable and makes decent money.  I can't stop obsessing over budgeting and saving, I find it very difficult to spend money, even on valid expenses, I'm always worried, I check Mint and Vanguard way too many times a day and generally go to bed knowing my net worth to the dollar....
   
I always thought this was the logical outcome of growing up worrying about your parents worrying about money, but I guess it manifests in different ways for different people.....

Not sure which is better.....


Just adding my voice here.  My family started out really poor, but we slowly worked our way into the middle class as my father's career advanced.  Still, I never shook the feeling of guilt at buying something for myself.  My mother loved to spend money (a product of her impoverished upbringing), but since we didn't have it, she would often use the "needs" of her children as an excuse to splurge (school supplies, clothing, etc).  Cue the inevitable fight between my parents when we got home..

Like mozar, it took me a weirdly long time to figure out how to save money once I started making it.  I knew I didn't want to spend it, but I wasn't really sure where else it was supposed to go.  It wasn't until I found the Personal Finance subreddit that I learned about things like emergency funds.  I will never forget the huge sigh of relief I felt when I'd saved up six months of expenses - truly miraculous.  I'm a little more liberal about spending money now, but the feelings of insecurity and guilt are definitely still there.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Did you grow up poor? I want to hear from you
« Reply #31 on: December 07, 2016, 12:10:43 PM »
Both me and my DW grew up on the lower end (basic needs met but not destitute) and started working when we were really young to be able to buy our own stuff and have "go out" money.  We are similar in many regards, have worked hard and grown our careers. 

But a key difference is:
Me - I always wanted to save so I never had to worry, be in a situation that someone could control or own, or losing what I never had.
Her - Believed she deserved stuff because of hard work and having never had it. 

Opposite ends, both are reasonable and we make it work but when you think it is hard on you as the MMM'r when you are spending a bit more than you desire/planned to remember it is hard on them as a non-MMM'r as they feel like (and are) giving up stuff that they may want - compromise is key when more than you one person.

Its always ongoing with the most current episode centered around how much to spend on xmas for the little ones.