Author Topic: Do your friends, coworkers, family, etc. think you are struggling financially?  (Read 3192 times)

MrGville

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My wife and I are young (mid-20s), we have decent salaries and save about 60-65% of of income.  Most of our friends/siblings are going on lots of weekend trips, eating out everyday, buying houses that are a stretch for their incomes, etc.  Some of my wife's friends have made somewhat rude comments to her about us not being good with money if we can't afford to go out to eat all the time or buy a house or a nicer car.  We always say that we are comfortable with our lifestyle, but its funny to think that it's assumed that because we don't do something, we can't afford it.  Getting lectured about money by someone who spends most of theirs is frustrating, but it'll be entertaining to see everyone's reaction once we retire in our early 40s!
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ixtap

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Most know where/ what industry my husband works in, so they just think we are weird.

Many think we are depriving ourselves with our lifestyle choices. Others insist that we can have our dreams because we don't have kids. We answer questions, but mostly we just assure family we are fine and get on with our lives. We are satisfied with our lives and it doesn't make much difference to us what people with different values/priorities think of our choices.

kayvent

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A few people know that I have an asinine income. Mainly because my ex gets to see my tax return every year. She blabbers about it to dismiss her responsibility to pay child support.

In general, I don’t think my friends and family contemplate my financial situation. I think my dear mother is oblivious that I make about 4x what she makes. For those who are close to me, including my beloved mom, I think they see me as a bit frugal. Perhaps some of them out of necessity, others out of preference.

FLBiker

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Maybe people that encounter us casually (ie some sort of service provider or neighbor) but friends / coworkers / family all know what our jobs are.  Our incomes certainly aren't astronomical, but even people who don't know exactly what we make would know we make more than enough to live.  I don't think anyone would attribute our spending decisions to lack of resources.  This is probably helped, too, by the fact that folks know we're Buddhist, environmentalist, etc.

SimpleCycle

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I'm not sure anyone except our families has really thought about it/done the math.  It's becoming more obvious as we grow older and more of our friends attain the trappings of upper middle class life - nice apartments, nicer cars, nannies, expensive kids activities, etc. - and we do not.

Millennialworkerbee

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My in-laws definitely think we are in worse shape than we are. Like you we are young (but maybe a few years ahead of you at 27). We passed our first goal of having 1 times our salary in savings this year, so I just laugh at those comments now!

Sometimes we did have FOMO with events, but we had a kid and that pretty much eliminated our social life anyway :)

AMandM

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Almost everyone we know or are related to has a higher income than we do.  It's one of the side-effects of being a one-philosopher's-income family. (Once had an awkward conversation with a lawyer friend that revealed his secretary made what my husband does!)  Some of our more spendypants relatives think we're cheap, but most of our circle are pretty frugal so I don't think any of them believe we're in trouble financially.

bacchi

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The SO's parents think we're in financial trouble. They know I'm lazy about work/career and they positively balked when we mentioned the ~30 credit cards we have from churning (they didn't get the concept). They thought it was because we were floating debt on all of the cards.

My parents worry because I've been "unemployed" for so long. I've stopped explaining FIRE to them.

Helvegen

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No. I think we fly under the radar either way at this point. No one thinks we are rolling in cash, but no one thinks that we are two seconds from homelessness either. Nobody cares. :)

RidetheRain

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My parents seem to flip back and forth over how they think I'm doing.

When I tell them that I can't visit more than once or twice a year (5-hour plane trip) they assume it's because I'm poor and ask if I need funds. This is especially true when they hint that my brother comes to visit all the time (2hr drive).

When I talk about work and maybe quitting, they argue that the company is so good to me and that I'll never find a job that pays so well again.

It's all about context. My coworkers think I'm just cheap. I wear the same cable knit sweater at my desk every day because the a/c is so freaking cold. I get weird looks when I leave it on my chair at the end of the day. Someone asked once why I don't have more colors to "spice up my day"
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TravelJunkyQC

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My immediate family, as well as my partner's, knows that we're very frugal by nature and not because we're struggling. I think my partner's family thought we were worse off than we actually are... until we bought our land recently. I think they understood at that point.

My close friends are also aware that we're just saving up for the future and that's where our priorities lie.

Coworkers either a) think we're weirdly and unnecessarily frugal, or b) think I'm supporting my partner because he's doing his PhD. Either way, meh, whatever.

TheAnonOne

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Short Answer: No


Longer Answer:
No, I don't run around saying "I have $500,000 at 27!!!!!" but I don't really hide every detail about it either. If it somehow comes up I won't hide the fact that we are debt free besides a 60k mortgage. (on a 160k property)

I have a small townhouse, 2 cars (Volt and a Corvette), and 1 motorcycle. So vehicularly we are not frugal, even if our main car was a cheap, used, electric car. However, our house and spending habits are reasonably frugal, with a yearly spending around $40k

So no, I outwardly look like a reasonably successful millennial, which fits the bill. However, I COULD upgrade my lifestyle about 5 times over, so I still feel frugal.

CindyBS

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Yes, and it has become a little awkward.

I stayed home with our kids for a long time and then went back to work in a mom job so I could be home more for my son who has multiple disabilities.   We never inflated our lifestyle and just invested all my income. 

Last year, he got cancer and I had to quit working completely (he's doing a lot better but still not able to go to school so I cannot start working again.)

Anyway, the part that is awkward is that everyone wants to give us some money - which is very nice and generous, but really not needed.  People are shocked we don't have a go fund me.  I try to play it off like " well, you know we can't go on vacations or go out to eat, so we have that money and we have really good insurance  and a local charity send us grocery/gas gift cards, etc."  "we're ok now, but if I really feel like we need something we'll ask"

But at a certain point, especially close friends must realize that we lived well below our means and/or have a lot of money. 

Zikoris

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Only my in-laws, and that puzzles me because we're very open with them about income, net worth, and savings rate. They acted like we must be on the verge of bankruptcy when we downsized from a one bedroom apartment to a studio a few years ago. I think most of his extended family are baffled by our lifestyle choices. They've stopped asking us when we're going to get drivers licenses, at least, along with asking my boyfriend when he's going to go back to school to pursue a real career (he has a fine arts degree).
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acroy

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my co-workers do sometimes.
they hear we are 1 income 7 kids and their eyes get wiiiide. wow you must be stone broke!
I vacillate telling them yeah, I have to ride my bicycle to work and can't afford cable tv. And telling them nah, kids don't eat that much, we dumpster dive @ kroger, shop only at thrift stores, so I can pay for my car habit. the truth is somewhere in between :)
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DS

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Some common questions/comments:

"Are you ok?" (When I get the less expensive beer instead of craft)

"Do you know where you work?" (As if that should equate to spending more $)

"You have a job!" (Because a job is something that has to be permanent anyway so may as well get 'er spent)

Fun times.

BlueMR2

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Yes, and I passively encourage it...

Some know better, some figured it out themselves a long time ago...

Tom Bri

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Heck, my WIFE thinks we are struggling financially, with a few hundred thou in 'the bank', no debt, no mortgage, fully paid off house in nice suburb.
One earner family (me), two kids in college and me too, and a job that pays about 50K/yr. But the kids pay for their own school, mostly, with scholarships, and my company pays for mine.
I'd retire tomorrow if my wife wasn't terrified of starving in old age. I don't mind working much, so it's no problem to keep going a few more years.

FIREySkyline

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As some have noted above, they tend to think:

1. I'm obsessive because I watch every purchase
2. I'm sacrificing quality of life by not spending money on frivolous junk and biking
3. I can only spend less because I don't have kids
4. If I weren't married, they'd also throw in because I'm single, but instead it's that I'm "lucky" because I'm not married to someone who can refrain from blowing money

But I love being right, and I can't wait until I'm done with the office for good and they're still working -- and most of my coworkers are 15-35 years older than I am.

SwordGuy

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Someone seeing me get out of my 16 year old car that's covered in hail storm damage, in ratty jeans and t-shirt that are covered in paint splotches, might make that assumption.   Especially if I've been working hard on one of our rehab projects because I'll also be dirty.

But anyone who knows us well, or who has been to our home, would realize we have a lot of really nice things.  They just aren't the same kind of really nice things that most people have.  But that wouldn't tell them whether we're up to our eyeballs in debt or really well off.

If they pay attention to the financial tips that I share, and realize we own 6 different houses, they would make a very definitive conclusion.



Ynari

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A little bit. Our closest friends make twice the amount we do, and they sometimes wonder at how we manage. But then I'm the one yelling at *them* to fund their 401k and IRA.

We are also known to travel internationally and buy circus equipment, so "it's not in the budget" mixed with my vehemence and openness about personal finance usually gets the point across that it's a choice. And then they either back off or get on board when I start lecturing them. xP

yodella

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We had an interesting situation a couple years ago when my husband lost his job suddenly, when I was already between jobs (by choice). He was unemployed for a short period (maybe six weeks), and his mother repeatedly asked us if we were okay, if we needed to borrow money, etc. We kept telling her we were fine but I still don't think she actually believed it. I mean, no one likes to lose their income, but at the time there was over $100k in the bank and our expenses were (and still are) low enough that we could have lived off savings for several years.

She and her husband are quite low-income and have always struggled with money, so I think the idea of a job loss not throwing our lives into financial chaos was a foreign concept.

AccidentialMustache

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I'm actively trying to infect my coworkers with the cult of MMM and it seems to be working. So no, they think I'm just the guy to ask how to build wealth. Nobody in my company really drives a flashy car. I'm not sure what my parents or in-laws think. My sense is they think we're being silly about the whole matter... but know us well enough to realize we're probably serious about it and able to follow through.

Bicycle_B

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I have a relative who thinks I will be homeless soon. 

Older person here (early 50s), honest with family about being fired from job a few years ago, no real work since.  Minimally FI - likely to last a lifetime without costing anyone money but not a big enough stash to convince skeptics I am bulletproof.  Worried Relative figures that my "laziness" in Not Finding A Job means that I am preparing to mooch off him.  Communication on this matter is...unresolved.

Dicey

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Completely different POV here. Of course, I was playing the game long before Pete invented it, because...I'm old, lol. And tricky.  My skill was always to look like I was wealthier than I actually was. Thrift store clothes, consignment store furniture, garage/yard/estate sale deals, a company car, roommates, good DIY skills, home cooking, and more belied the fact that I was saving my ass off. It was a fun game. Now, my spending doesn't matter, but I still do these things for fun. Well, except the company car is no longer. Nowadays, no company, ergo, no company car. Sweet!

One brother was wise to me. His hunch was proved correct when his loan on his new house fell through at the last minute. I transferred the entire purchase amount into his account the next day. The deal closed, he got his mortgage (after firing the mortgage broker), and I got my money back, all in less than two weeks.
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Spiffsome

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My family used to worry about us financially, because we bought a small car second-hand and have old furniture. They stopped worrying when we went to America for a month on holiday.

kayvent

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As some have noted above, they tend to think:

1. I'm obsessive because I watch every purchase
2. I'm sacrificing quality of life by not spending money on frivolous junk and biking
3. I can only spend less because I don't have kids
4. If I weren't married, they'd also throw in because I'm single, but instead it's that I'm "lucky" because I'm not married to someone who can refrain from blowing money

But I love being right, and I can't wait until I'm done with the office for good and they're still working -- and most of my coworkers are 15-35 years older than I am.

I’ve had one guy at work repeatedly say the same thing about me except he mentions a mortgage.

Freedomin5

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I think we just confuse SO's family, as in, "They live in China and it's a poor country so their salaries must be horrible! But they are in good professions, so they must make a lot of money! But they don't take vacation so they must be poor! But they have a rental property so they must be rich! Arrggghh!"

My side of the family is totally aware of our finances since they help us file our taxes each year.

I don't think our coworkers and friends think we struggle financially because our jobs have so many perks (free housing, free flights, lots of holiday, cost of living allowance) so we look pretty well off even though we didn't pay for a lot of the trappings of wealth.

DS

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As some have noted above, they tend to think:

1. I'm obsessive because I watch every purchase
2. I'm sacrificing quality of life by not spending money on frivolous junk and biking
3. I can only spend less because I don't have kids
4. If I weren't married, they'd also throw in because I'm single, but instead it's that I'm "lucky" because I'm not married to someone who can refrain from blowing money

But I love being right, and I can't wait until I'm done with the office for good and they're still working -- and most of my coworkers are 15-35 years older than I am.

I’ve had one guy at work repeatedly say the same thing about me except he mentions a mortgage.

This is the worst! "Do it now while you can. All goes out the window when you get married and have kids." - Why is that, again? Haha.

MrThatsDifferent

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The opposite: everyone thinks we’re richer than we are. We spent years spending and not saving. Now we’re saving. In 5 years perception will match reality when we retire, even though I don’t give a shit about what anyone else thinks anymore.

StarBright

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My family knows what we make and vacillate between thinking that we are overly frugal but also being thankful that we never need money (unlike my sibling, many cousins, aunts, uncles, etc).

DH's family used to think we were frugal because my husband is a prof and they assumed that all college professors made over 200k a year. Now they know what he makes and think we are very poor because they live in a very HCOL area and don't know people who make less than 100k a year/aren't living on an inheritance.

Coworkers that I've worked with for 10+ years know that we are careful with our money (and have even come to me for advice which is lovely). Casual friends assume we are poor because we live in a bougie, spendy area.

I'm feeling pretty good about knowing we'll be able to retire, hopefully pay for our kids college, and if things work out well, we'll also be able to jump start retirement savings for our kids (and maybe even grandkids).

rubybeth

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Probably. Only my parents and sister really know how much we are saving. We have struggled to find a house in our preferred price range to be able to continue saving and retire early. I heard a somewhat snarky comment from someone recently regarding our house hunt--I asked where someone else's new house was, because I might have seen it in my listing search results, and the comment, "Oh, it was around $200,000!" like I couldn't possibly have seen a listing on the internet for that house. I said, "Well, I look at a lot of different things, and we looked at another house in that same neighborhood." ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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ketchup

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My coworkers mostly realize that I'm doing just fine, some amusingly so.  I once facetiously implied to a certain coworker (who thinks my frugality means I'm hilariously wealthy) that I owned the new apartment building going up a block from work (24-unit super fancypants apartments) and he believed me for about five minutes.

JustGettingStarted1980

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Yes, and it has become a little awkward.

I stayed home with our kids for a long time and then went back to work in a mom job so I could be home more for my son who has multiple disabilities.   We never inflated our lifestyle and just invested all my income. 

Last year, he got cancer and I had to quit working completely (he's doing a lot better but still not able to go to school so I cannot start working again.)

Anyway, the part that is awkward is that everyone wants to give us some money - which is very nice and generous, but really not needed.  People are shocked we don't have a go fund me.  I try to play it off like " well, you know we can't go on vacations or go out to eat, so we have that money and we have really good insurance  and a local charity send us grocery/gas gift cards, etc."  "we're ok now, but if I really feel like we need something we'll ask"

But at a certain point, especially close friends must realize that we lived well below our means and/or have a lot of money.

This post wins the thread. THIS is what money is truly for. Hats off to you!!!
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 04:53:05 PM by JustGettingStarted1980 »

jamesbond007

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Never thought about it. But, now that you raised that thought, my friends and co-workers might be thinking that I am borderline broke. Each time my friends propose us go out and eat, I tell them that I have only $7 left in my restaurant budget of $50 for the month and I ask them to wait till the next month. LOL. They often ask, what? $50? for 2 people? That's it? What do you eat? hahaha.
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LadyMustache

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The opposite: everyone thinks we’re richer than we are. We spent years spending and not saving. Now we’re saving. In 5 years perception will match reality when we retire, even though I don’t give a shit about what anyone else thinks anymore.

Exactly the same here, which is depressing. It means we are thought stingy if we don't pay for my  in-laws when we eat out or if we ever comment on the cost of childcare/visiting (a $6000 trans-Atlantic trip. Both our families believe that as my husband works for a bank, we must be loaded. My in-laws think we have replenishing pots of gold 🤑 I wish we had found Mustachianism 20 years ago.

Evgenia

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Yes, they do, and we achieved FIRE at 38 and have over $1m not counting the house. Pre FIRE, people thought we were struggling because we didn't waste money, and in San Francisco (like much of U.S. Consumerlandia) wasting money is just normal. Neither of us owned a car for nearly a decade, we lived in a rent-controlled tiny apartment for far longer than we needed to, we didn't eat out constantly or buy a ton of $15 cocktails, etc. Our typical annual spending was $32k pre FIRE and it's the same now. But, two San Franciscans with six-figure salaries each typically do not spend (nor AIM to spend) $32k/year.

I think "struggle" is the only frame many people can imagine, so they just find ways to explain us into that. I think it's gotten worse since we achieved FIRE but opt not to tell most people (fewer than a handful of people have any idea of our financial situation). They see "self-employed" and thus "not busy enough" and thus "struggling."

They also see our laundry on the line, garden, Costco brand goods, etc. and make little remarks here and there. I just smile and emit little platitudes like "How much more could we possibly need?" but, as Sweet Husband pointed out one evening, he thinks that just makes me sound like a martyr or something. You can't win!
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formerlydivorcedmom

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My (divorced) parents thought I was broke.  Dad wised up quickly; when I was 24 and called to ask his advice about buying my first house, he asked if I had a 20% downpayment ($36k).  I said yes.  He laughed and said I was probably better qualified to give advice than he was.

My mother was constantly trying to give me money, for years, especially after I got divorced. I finally shared my true financial picture - I made as much money as she did, much earlier in my career, and I've been a pretty good saver.  She stopped sticking gas money in my purse when I went to visit after that.

Both my parents retired early (55-58).  They survived a months-long strike (no income for ANY member of my extended family) when I was a kid, and my mom didn't graduate from college until she was in her 30s. I was always amused that they thought I somehow missed the whole "live-below-your-means" and "save for a rainy day" lessons.
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StarBright

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My (divorced) parents thought I was broke.  Dad wised up quickly; when I was 24 and called to ask his advice about buying my first house, he asked if I had a 20% downpayment ($36k).  I said yes.  He laughed and said I was probably better qualified to give advice than he was.

My mother was constantly trying to give me money, for years, especially after I got divorced. I finally shared my true financial picture - I made as much money as she did, much earlier in my career, and I've been a pretty good saver.  She stopped sticking gas money in my purse when I went to visit after that.

Both my parents retired early (55-58).  They survived a months-long strike (no income for ANY member of my extended family) when I was a kid, and my mom didn't graduate from college until she was in her 30s. I was always amused that they thought I somehow missed the whole "live-below-your-means" and "save for a rainy day" lessons.

that is lovely!