Author Topic: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor  (Read 4136 times)

BOP Mustache

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Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« on: January 16, 2020, 04:11:29 PM »
A big part of the FIRE movement is frugality, no surprises there.

The more we cost cut and get frugal to reach financial goals, the more my wife and I have got ourselves into a poor persons mentality and putting on this persona that we are poor (even though we earn good incomes but just save a lot).

Have you noticed yourself being the same? Is feeling like a poor person giving you benefit or causing harm?

seemsright

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2020, 05:37:46 PM »
No. IMO you are going two far two fast. Slow down.

Just today I was talking a very good friend. Who helps run the family farm. Her second kid just went to college, her first kid is just about done with college. This lady thinks buying the most expensive things means the best quality. She was saying the yield from the farm was way below normal and her trees (they grow filberts) are having blight so next year does not look good. Oh and the way the accounting is set up she does not get paid. She does not understand numbers. She never had to learn, money has always been there. She has been a SAHM for 22 years. She is looking at going back to work. Lets just say they are stressed.

Were we are living very happy on very little we live on 1/3 and save 2/3 and it is no big deal. We have everything we want and need. There is no feeling like we are poor because we choose to cook our own meals or drive a 15 year old vehicle. We could drive anything we want. We could live in any house we want. The house we have is just fine because we choose it.

This MMM lifestyle is about choice. Not living with out. I choose to enjoy the freedom that living on less brings me. 

ixtap

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2020, 05:59:59 PM »
What do you mean by a poor person's mentality?

Are you stressed because you don't know how you are going to pay for basics with your budget?

Do you spend windfalls with abandon because you don't know how else you are ever going to do anything fun?

Do you refuse to spend your hard earned money on anything that could improve yourself because what's the point, you aren't going to get ahead anyway?

Is it the new agey, you aren't exuding the right energy to  attract wealth?

Or are you just starting to feel like maybe you gave up too much and starting to question your new budget?

studentloanobliterator

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2020, 06:29:49 PM »
I feel this a bit - but I feel like it's important to know where to draw the line.

I've been "worry about how I'm going to buy food" broke. That situation changes your mindset. It makes you stressed all the time. It affects your health. Et cetera. If you're feeling like this, stop, and reduce your savings rate so that you can breath.

Nowadays I'm doing much better financially. I want to FIRE so I'm trying to keep my spending low/savings high. Sometimes I go too far with pretending I'm broke, and I just end up being a cheapskate.

I think that the ideal spending rate (and corresponding mentality) is somewhere just above thinking like you're poor. that way you're comfortable, but still saving. The problem is I'm not sure where to draw that line.

frugs

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2020, 07:11:19 PM »
It's all about your mindset. If you see it as depriving yourself, then you will feel 'poor'. It's important not to look at being frugal as being deprived. I think maybe your lifestyle has changed and your mindset hasn't fully adjusted. Living only with what you need does not make you 'poor'.

Bernard

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2020, 07:35:51 PM »
"Seeing the light" and becoming frugal is a mental process. Instead of trying to find happiness in accumulating things, we conditioned ourselves in finding happiness in what we have, and in the simpler things in life. However . . . I believe that this mindset can turn into an unhealthy extreme. For example, there are folks here on this board (and elsewhere) whose NW is in the mid-to high 7 figures. The Wealthy Accountant's NW is north of $12,5M, yet he still buys clunkers with salvage title from the insurance company in order to spend as little as possible on a set of wheels, and is as frugal in other areas as well. Once you have reached a NW where you cannot spend your money anymore in your lifetime, I feel not being able to allow yourself to spend a bit more is as bad as a nicotine or alcohol dependency. After decades of being frugal, some folks can't get off that trip anymore. I remember the story of an old lady who lived off SS and the food neighbors brought her, yet after she passed, it turned out that she had close to a half million dollars in her pillow! Not healthy.

GuitarStv

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2020, 07:47:08 PM »
I may be cheap as fuck, but never feel poor.  Live well, but well within your means.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2020, 07:56:36 PM »
I've been thinking a lot lately about anchoring. It is more difficult for someone used to spending, say, $100k per year to start living on $50k than it is for someone who has always lived on $50k to just continue doing that. The mere experience of spending money like a consumer-sucka creates a baseline in our minds that is hard to undo.

There are more examples.

*Friends of mine with more SUV seats than they have family members say they couldn't possibly drive my Honda Fit. Having never owned a Ford Expedition or Chevy Tahoe, I'm not bothered by the insufficient empty space in my car.
*Try moving from a home with a large walk-in closet to a home with 1940's size closets. This closet size was the norm for generations.
*If you have ever believed you were an immortal soul, an existential panic can ensue when you can no longer believe that. However for people who never believed that, life is what it is and that's fine.
*If you grew up eating fast food for dinner 3-4 nights a week, like way too many kids do, it seems perfectly normal to eat fast food most days as a teen/adult. It is hard to accept that this is a horrible habit and a very abnormal, artificial thing to do. It's similar if Coca Cola has always been your way of dealing with thirst.

The mind hack is to keep reminding yourself that your life experiences have set an unreasonable baseline expectation.

Monerexia

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2020, 07:57:14 PM »
Most people, myself included for years, have no clue how poor they are. Now that I have some actual money instead of the appearance of money with poverty underneath, I feel--and am--much richer.

nirodha

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2020, 08:32:54 PM »
I look poor. I can't be bothered to concern myself with putting on an appearance, at this point in my life. I might go to the store in athletic shorts, an ill fitting t-shirt, and uncombed hair. I mostly want to be left alone, and it works great. Though staff in the liquor store can be annoying. They constantly ask if I need help. Watching me, I presume.

When dressing up means pants with pockets, even family thinks money is tight. I am 100% ok with that. There's no benefit to them knowing I'm the wealthiest person in the room.

It's much better if people think I can't afford their level of status, than if they know I think their fancy life is a waste of energy.

ender

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2020, 09:09:31 PM »
I've been thinking a lot lately about anchoring. It is more difficult for someone used to spending, say, $100k per year to start living on $50k than it is for someone who has always lived on $50k to just continue doing that. The mere experience of spending money like a consumer-sucka creates a baseline in our minds that is hard to undo.


I tell people that we're on different rungs on a ladder of spending. Give it $5k increments up to $100k, then $10k, etc.

It's very easy to imagine a few rungs above/below your spending. But the further you get away in either direction the harder it gets to imagine.

Altons Bobs

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2020, 01:12:02 AM »
I don't. I don't think I look or act poor. I don't care if that's how other people see me, I feel comfortable in my own skin.

habaneroNorway

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2020, 01:22:46 AM »
There is a massive difference between actually being poor and spending around the same amount of money out of your own free will. The difference is level of worry which can be very high for the former but should be very low for the latter. If you have money you choose not to spend but to save instead most of life's unexpected expenses is just a minor annoyance as opposed to a really big fucking problem.

The only way you can feel poor while having plenty of money is if you crave a lifestyle you cannot afford. Then it's an attitude problem, not a money problem.

FIRE 20/20

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2020, 01:26:32 AM »

...a poor persons mentality and putting on this persona that we are poor...

Can you explain what this means?  I have no clue what a poor person's mentality is.

DoNorth

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2020, 02:21:55 AM »
I assume you mean by poor person persona for example, having to explain that you can't go on a trip, or aren't exchanging gifts and things like that?  We did a bit of that in the beginning and definitely reined in our spending.  As passive income and net worth increased, we definitely relaxed.  The fact is that travel and triathalons don't get better with age along with many other aspects of life.  So, trying to amass an enormous amount of wealth to spend at 50, 55, 60 and so on won't be in many cases as enjoyable as it might be in your 30's or 40s when you should be more fit, kids are younger etc.  I pushed towarded FIRE pretty hard in my mid 30s and ultimately decided to work full time again in my early 40s although I'm still FI.  I still have loads of free time, and the result is that we use the extra disposible income very liberally to travel (going on 10-12 solid trips over the past 18 months).  We also spend a fair bit on outdoor gear which in turn leads to many more cool family experiences.  These are in fact, life, health, and family enhancing experiences.  With that said, when we travel, we find Airbnbs around $50-$60/night.  We bring our bikes and stay near long bike paths; we eat breakfast and dinners at the airbnb and lunches out, crockpot on the road and a whole other host of frugal measures.  As far as pretending to be poor, I'm not really sure what you mean.  I don't really agree with wearing sweatpants and old sneakers just to give the impression that you're poor.  We've lived in western Europe for the last few years and we constantly comment on how much nicer people look and dress than in the US.  It's not so much about impressing people as it is taking pride in your appearance and again, this tends to make people more receptive to you.  We were visiting a random town near Switzerland and after a brief exhange with some locals, they invited us to their home for champagne and snacks.  It was a great memory and experience, but it probably wouldn't have happened if we had dressed significantly worse.

reeshau

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2020, 02:39:21 AM »
The more we cost cut and get frugal to reach financial goals, the more my wife and I have got ourselves into a poor persons mentality and putting on this persona that we are poor

I think you will understand when you have found the proper balance when you feel that life is abundant--that you have everything you want.  But others might point out things or ask questions that imply they think you're poor, or lacking something.  These external inquiries are pretty easy to either laugh off or (if you care about the person) use as an introduction to this philosophy about money.

If you feel yourself that you are poor, then you are using the tools, but don't have your mindset right yet.  This will likely lead to long-term failure--maybe FIRE isn't for you.  (but that takes the good away, along with the "bad")  If your comment is about external feedback, that can be something that also takes adjustment, up to and including changing your friends to people who better match your (new) values.

ReadyOrNot

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2020, 03:19:30 AM »
The richest person is the one who has more than he or she needs.  Regardless of my actual net worth or income, I have always felt extremely wealthy.  This includes when my family were on food stamps when I was very young as we struggled to survive when my dad lost his job and my mom was making minimum wage as a waitress.  I never felt poor because we had each other and I didn't care about material wealth.

Now that I make significantly more money and have a lot more net worth, I am glad my mindset has not changed.  I am still not materialistic or flashy.  I think materialistic things really can negatively impact one's well being if not careful.

Malkynn

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2020, 04:33:33 AM »
Yeah, you are really going to have to clarify what you mean by "feeling poor", that's a pretty loaded statement.

However, yes, it is reasonable to say that you really don't have much money to spend until you've reached FI. Until you are FI, it's almost as if you are paying off your retirement.

However, the best arrangement is to find the lowest comfortable spend, snuggle in, and enjoy living there. If you feel deprived, you've missed the entire point.

cupcakery

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2020, 06:32:08 AM »
I don't feel poor...I know I'm not.  However, I know we make very good money and can't understand why so many people we know have so much more than us and don't seem stressed out at all, even when I know they make less than we do.  We have people treat us like we're poor because we don't live in a mansion and don't go to Disney every year.  We had a bit of a late start, but we do live below our means and have money in the bank and in our 401ks.  I wish we had been able to save more earlier, but it is what it is.

On the flip side of that question, my husband works with some people who make significantly less than him and he has to downplay his job/income around them, in order to get them to work with him.  Otherwise, he'd be seen as evil management. 

Retire-Canada

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2020, 06:57:28 AM »
Is feeling like a poor person giving you benefit or causing harm?

I feel amazingly rich with my huge investment account vs. my [relatively] low spending compared to my peer group. I have so much freedom and so many options in life because of my strong financial position it's hard to imagine feeling poor. I do think holding a scarcity mindset is damaging for a person. Just like a fear of crime or fear of rejection is damaging even if the lack of resources, the lack of love or the feared crime does not happen. Being afraid of not having enough is corrosive to having a great life. It's bad enough when there is some justification for that fear, but IMO it's super tragic when the person being fearful of not having enough is actually rich by every reasonable measure.

BlueHouse

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #20 on: January 17, 2020, 08:00:20 AM »
Recently was speaking with some neighbors and I mentioned something about being middle-class.  One neighbor laughed and said "BlueHouse, you're not middle-class.  No one who lives in this neighborhood is middle-class".  I responded "okay, upper middle-class".

I refused to see myself as "rich", because I had different thoughts about how "rich people live".  But I am rich, and so are most of the people on this forum. Also, I could never call myself rich IRL anywhere.   But I feel rich a lot.  I never have to think "where will I find the money".  I'm very close to FI. 

bluebelle

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2020, 08:28:20 AM »
Recently was speaking with some neighbors and I mentioned something about being middle-class.  One neighbor laughed and said "BlueHouse, you're not middle-class.  No one who lives in this neighborhood is middle-class".  I responded "okay, upper middle-class".

I refused to see myself as "rich", because I had different thoughts about how "rich people live".  But I am rich, and so are most of the people on this forum. Also, I could never call myself rich IRL anywhere.   But I feel rich a lot.  I never have to think "where will I find the money".  I'm very close to FI.

I think I'm in this spot.....I have never felt poor, but I don't feel rich.   I'm not a 1%er, but I think we're in the 10% club by both net worth and income, if we're not in the 10%, we're damn close to it.....yet, I don't feel rich.  DH tries to tell me we're not even middle class (I think his definition of middle class is very skewed - I think you need to be spending all your income to be middle class in his mind - new cars, yearly exotic vacations etc).   I have always lived at least a little bit beneath my means and as the income has grown, my spend hasn't increased at the same rate.

But I have a skewed view of what rich looks like.....we are building our dream lakefront retirement home and have met a couple of the neighbors - I think they are rich, I see myself as the poor kid on the street, which may or may not be true.  But as they say, comparison is the thief of joy.

I see wealth accumulation much like dieting, if you restrict yourself to the point of deprivation, you'll always be miserable, you need to have treats along the way.   You just need to be mindful.   You can have the occasional donut, just not the whole box (spend money occasionally, just not your whole pay cheque)

to the OP - if you're feeling poor, and you are living beneath your means and have a positive net worth, you're doing something wrong - you're depriving yourself too much.


wenchsenior

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #22 on: January 17, 2020, 08:57:20 AM »
Everyone who feels poor should probably regularly remind themselves that median household net worth in the U.S., including home equity (which is the bulk of a lot of peoples' net worth), is right around 100K.  If you have a net worth over 300K, it's really stretching to call yourself middle class in terms of raw numbers. 

Now, 'middle class' or 'frugal' lifestyle is a different thing, and much more subjective, esp given the different cost of living in different regions.

But still...let's not fool ourselves.

Imma

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #23 on: January 17, 2020, 10:02:52 AM »
I have been truly poor, but I haven't been for years. Ever since I started to make more than minimum wage I've felt pretty well off. I'm a little bit below median income now and I feel super wealthy because we haven't really inflated our lifestyle much. I don't feel deprived at all because the same things still make me happy. I still enjoy cooking at home, I still enjoy going on bike rides, I still like going on trips, I still like books. There are some minor upgrades - I don't go to the cheapest hostel full of snoring people and terrible beds anymore - but I still try to find a room with basic cooking facilities and grab breakfast and lunch from the supermarket. I enjoy living this life and I would sign up if someone could guarantee this as my forever lifestyle.

I feel extra rich because some of our wealth is stealth wealth. The type of people who care about the size of your house or car are not the type of people we want to know. I much rather want to hang out with people who text me 'hey I don't fit into this dress anymore, do you want it?. 

nirodha

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #24 on: January 17, 2020, 11:22:30 AM »
I don't really agree with wearing sweatpants and old sneakers just to give the impression that you're poor.  We've lived in western Europe for the last few years and we constantly comment on how much nicer people look and dress than in the US.  It's not so much about impressing people as it is taking pride in your appearance and again, this tends to make people more receptive to you.

In contrast to my shabby clothing, my wife enjoys dressing well, coordinating accessories, etc. People seek her attention multiple times per week. At the store, gym, restaurants, etc. This statement is 100% accurate. But you have to want the attention.

I learned most of my attention seeking was an expression of my insecurity. Now that I've got mine, that desire went away. If people aren't interested on my terms, I'm not either.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2020, 11:27:27 AM »
As defined by net worth & arguably most other calculations, we are financially rich. However, we are also rich in life - we enjoy what we have, we feel lucky for our circumstance, we work hard, we evaluate all of our spending & ensure it's inline with our priorities. It's definitely easier to do that when we have the benefit of flexibility to adjust as needed. We are in a very rare position to be able to (barring giant catastrophic event) define the rest of our future (as it relates to finances & work). We very much appreciate that situation & it makes us feel rich.

We also go through our expenses each year, and evaluate what we want to change. We decided in 2020 that there were two categories we wanted to increase. (A gym membership, and a monthly house cleaning service.) These are both totally facepunch worthy categories, but we decided to use a raise to cover these, and not worry about putting slightly more into savings/investments. It increases our quality of life, and both of these extras help me balance work tradeoffs. I make a lot of money, so by raising these expenses, it will likely increase the length of time I'm willing to work at my high paid jobs.

We also made other budget cuts this year, because we felt like some of our spending was less aligned with our values. Clothes for me, a bit of travel that we weren't feeling was worth it, etc.

It's very personal what will work for you & your family & make you feel rich. But for me, after you pass some financial hurdles, this is all about mindset, not money.

BOP Mustache

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #26 on: January 18, 2020, 12:52:03 AM »
What do you mean by a poor person's mentality?

Or are you just starting to feel like maybe you gave up too much and starting to question your new budget?

More the last one above Iíd say

Malkynn

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #27 on: January 18, 2020, 05:49:49 AM »
What do you mean by a poor person's mentality?

Or are you just starting to feel like maybe you gave up too much and starting to question your new budget?

More the last one above Iíd say

Yeah, that's not feeling poor, that's a normal part of establishing your frugality baseline. Pretty much everyone overshoots at some point and needs to pull it back a bit.


Simpli-Fi

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #28 on: January 18, 2020, 06:03:22 AM »

I tell people that we're on different rungs on a ladder of spending. Give it $5k increments up to $100k, then $10k, etc.

It's very easy to imagine a few rungs above/below your spending. But the further you get away in either direction the harder it gets to imagine.
I just imagine my ladder is to a different building...

Retire-Canada

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2020, 06:13:32 AM »
More the last one above Iíd say

You are in control of your budget not the other way around. You are also largely in control of how you feel about it. In an objective sense even a fairly frugal MMM-esque western developed country lifestyle is lavishly luxurious in contrast to how people have lived throughout history and how most people on the planet live today. Pull back your perspective a bit and look at that to appreciate how lucky you are. Between those two "dials" you should be able to adjust the situation to feel very content.

ixtap

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #30 on: January 18, 2020, 07:33:43 AM »
What do you mean by a poor person's mentality?

Or are you just starting to feel like maybe you gave up too much and starting to question your new budget?

More the last one above Iíd say

In that case, start with gratitude. List, out loud or in writing, the things you are grateful for.

Then, look at the changes you have made and figure out what you miss most. Spend some time thinking of alternatives. If you miss golfing, can you volunteer in exchange for green fees, or just golf less. If you miss eating out, would buying something pre-prepared do the trick,or just eat out less often....

mistymoney

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2020, 08:11:34 AM »
I look poor. I can't be bothered to concern myself with putting on an appearance, at this point in my life. I might go to the store in athletic shorts, an ill fitting t-shirt, and uncombed hair. I mostly want to be left alone, and it works great. Though staff in the liquor store can be annoying. They constantly ask if I need help. Watching me, I presume.

When dressing up means pants with pockets, even family thinks money is tight. I am 100% ok with that. There's no benefit to them knowing I'm the wealthiest person in the room.

It's much better if people think I can't afford their level of status, than if they know I think their fancy life is a waste of energy.

I'm not sure where you're going with this, but did want to point out that combing your hair is free and nicely fitting t-shirts can be pretty cheap.

BOP Mustache

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #32 on: January 18, 2020, 10:30:58 AM »

...a poor persons mentality and putting on this persona that we are poor...

Can you explain what this means?  I have no clue what a poor person's mentality is.

As in I go to the supermarket and go gosh Iíll never afford that (the fancy meats, vegetables) that I deprive myself of a nice meal out, that I donít go on overseas travel trips, that I take free food at work because I save on my supermarket shop, that I dress like seasonal workers that I employ, etc.

Malkynn

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #33 on: January 18, 2020, 11:00:34 AM »

...a poor persons mentality and putting on this persona that we are poor...

Can you explain what this means?  I have no clue what a poor person's mentality is.

As in I go to the supermarket and go gosh Iíll never afford that (the fancy meats, vegetables) that I deprive myself of a nice meal out, that I donít go on overseas travel trips, that I take free food at work because I save on my supermarket shop, that I dress like seasonal workers that I employ, etc.

If you don't like living that way, then why are you living that way?

You can live a wonderful life frugally that includes nice food, quality clothing, and exciting travel. That's actually kind of the entire point.

OtherJen

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #34 on: January 18, 2020, 11:29:24 AM »

...a poor persons mentality and putting on this persona that we are poor...

Can you explain what this means?  I have no clue what a poor person's mentality is.

As in I go to the supermarket and go gosh Iíll never afford that (the fancy meats, vegetables) that I deprive myself of a nice meal out, that I donít go on overseas travel trips, that I take free food at work because I save on my supermarket shop, that I dress like seasonal workers that I employ, etc.

If you don't like living that way, then why are you living that way?

You can live a wonderful life frugally that includes nice food, quality clothing, and exciting travel. That's actually kind of the entire point.

This. It almost sounds like youíre punishing yourself, BOP Mustache. Saving money solely for the sake of saving money isnít going to make you happy. I canít put it any better than MMM did: If You Think This is About Extreme Frugality, Youíre Missing The Point. Even Dave Ramsey doesnít tell his followers to live on beans and rice, rice and beans forever.

Cassie

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #35 on: January 18, 2020, 11:33:50 AM »
Dial back the deprivation. Thatís unhealthy. Find a balance in your life.

mspym

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #36 on: January 18, 2020, 05:07:24 PM »
It can be good sometimes to really push yourself to see what you miss and what you can easily live without. It helps you decide where to spend money where it yields the greatest returns. For ex, I have learned that I can easily give up 90% of my previous meat eating and don't notice it but running low on fresh fruit makes me feel really really poor and sad. So, I make sure to buy lots of nice fruit, using the money I used to spend on meat.

It's not meant to be a Grim Death March. It's your one and only precious life and this whole thing is about optimising the joy and maximising freedom.

Syonyk

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #37 on: January 18, 2020, 07:40:47 PM »
I've been thinking a lot lately about anchoring. It is more difficult for someone used to spending, say, $100k per year to start living on $50k than it is for someone who has always lived on $50k to just continue doing that. The mere experience of spending money like a consumer-sucka creates a baseline in our minds that is hard to undo.

MMM had a nice blog post on this: https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/22/what-is-hedonic-adaptation-and-how-can-it-turn-you-into-a-sukka/

Anchoring is another term, but the effect is real.  I'm at a point in my life where I've watched friends go through this.  "Oh, I'll just buy a $100k luxury car!  I can afford it!" - and... you've therefore gotten "used to" a bunch of stuff you then can't possibly live without, and have cost yourself an extra couple hundred grand in your life, because, I mean, it's not a car without adaptive cruise control, automatic lane keeping, air conditioned seats, etc.  Going without would just be horrible!

I try to keep the "fancy new features" to a minimum, because, as you note, that resets the baseline.  I could go back to some of the cars I drove in college (no heat, no back seats, no interior, limited functionality on the head gaskets and a thing for water pumps), but I'd really rather not.  On the other hand, my personal "car" most of the time is a cantankerous Russian motorcycle with a sidecar that makes a snowmobile's handling look civilized.  So I still enjoy my challenges.

=============

Back on topic:

If you're not spending 100+% of your income, you shouldn't be feeling poor if you've got savings.  If you're even at a 20% savings rate or so, that's far better than most people, and you should have a buffer so that you can afford almost anything.

The trick is dialing your desires back down to your reduced income - or, preferably, not letting them creep up in the first place.  Going from leasing Mercedes SUVs every 3 years to... well, anything actually sane, in terms of vehicles, is going to feel like deprivation.  So don't be a knucklehead and lease Mercedes SUVs in the first place.  A cheaper car gets you around just as well.  So does a bicycle, in a lot of areas - and in many places, a bicycle is literally faster.

I just try to be a late adopter of things and wait for the price to come down before I bother making changes - I waited an awfully long time to buy SSDs for my computers, because I knew that as soon as one machine had one, I'd want them in the rest.  Waiting a few years for the first wave to come out used, well, saved me a ton of money.  And I was able to upgrade everything at once.

My phone is 4 years old (iPhone 6S).  It still works fine, even though I had to replace the battery and the outside lens cover on it - not a big deal, I do small electronics repair regularly.  It does everything I want a phone to do, so I see no reason to replace it until it's genuinely out of OS support.  And then I'll do some deeper analysis and figure out if I'm still comfortable with it having account access.

And there's a fine balance to be found.  We really don't keep to an insanely tight grocery budget - we probably spend 30-40% more on food than we could, if we absolutely clamped down.  The couple hundred dollars a month difference isn't that big a deal to us, and I would far rather have fresh produce and decent cuts of meat in the house than eat rice and beans (though we certainly enjoy some of that - a 50 pound bag of beans and an Instant Pot are awesome).  It took me a while to convince my wife (who can pinch a penny and get a nickel out) to please, please, stop buying the cheapest "steak" cuts she could find.  Don't go crazy, but buy something decent if we're going to cook it up.

But we also don't drive newer vehicles.  The car is 8 years old (Chevy Volt, wonderful option), the truck is 23 years old (we live in a rural area and a truck makes life far easier for hauling trailers of gravel/solar panels/etc), and... they're just fine.  We bought an awful lot less house than "we could afford," and are entirely content with it.  It's not fancy, but we have an amazing view, it's fairly cheap to heat, and it's enough space for the four of us.  In some ways, it's quite excessively large (2k sq ft), because we have another nearly 500 sq ft of storage buildings outside (a shipping container and a shed).

The point of MMM, IMO, isn't to live a knife-cutting-miserable existence.  It's to be able to rationally evaluate, "Is this something I value?"  If it is, and you can't find a cheaper way of doing it, well, if you can afford it, go for it.  But a lot of the stuff that culturally we tend to mindlessly chase after?  It's pointless.  I regularly get junk mail telling me that I can, for a mere $800/mo, lease the latest Cadillac SUV.  I have literally zero desire to own one.  The car is cheap to run around in, the truck does everything else, and the Russian bikes have style (and full "You rode a motorcycle in THIS?" credits, even though I've got three wheels and 2WD).  I'm good.

But I'm also part of a local flying club (cheapest way to fly), and spend money on Cessna time and 100LL.  We value that.  Being able to go a few hundred miles, with the four of us, in a fraction the time of driving (assuming good weather and all), is something we're willing to spend the money on.

So... figure out what you want in life, and then figure out spending accordingly.  Being worth a couple hundred thousand and feeling like you can't buy something nice at the grocery store, or go out with friends occasionally... that's just being a miser.

BicycleB

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #38 on: January 19, 2020, 12:28:27 AM »
Highly agreeing that thrift doesn't mean never having nice food, clothes or travel.

If you highly value a certain food, find the best way to buy it, and earn / budget enough to buy it. There are many threads here on cooking, how to shop, etc that should get you into an affordable spending level. If you treasure it, spend what's needed. (I'm assuming some earning power here, maybe tens of thousands per year total...but a couple thousand $/year can feed a US adult pretty well; if it's your priority, you could double that and eat expensive superfoods daily. Though I eat some superfoods - carrots, broccoli... - almost daily and they're easily in the 2k budget).

Clothes? Tons of nice clothes around at low price points. I read a poster here, female, who spent low amounts but produced such a fancy look that one male coworker remarked to another "I'd hate to pay her clothing bill." If clothes are important to you, put some time into shopping skillfully for the look you want. Should be highly achievable. I have a renter who dresses immaculately...while working his way through college, unaided by parents, paying out of state tuition, doing grunt level jobs (first cleaning hotel rooms, now food prep and bar back). His bank account is growing because he still saves more than he spends. Have you read the threads on the (ahem) topic of threads?

Travel - hacking travel costs is such a popular topic. I tried it and sure enough, was able to fly to the city nearest good old mom for $11 plus some airline points. Slept on the couch, total cost after buying her gas and grocries was barely in the three digits.

You can do this.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2020, 12:30:19 AM by BicycleB »

Retire-Canada

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #39 on: January 19, 2020, 07:45:47 AM »
OP if you have two solid incomes, but really feel deprived on your current budget the only rationale choices I see are:

1. Really think about how much you want/care about the items that are bothering you and determine you don't actually care about them [ie. eating out] such that you no longer feel deprived. Perhaps that means eating out every day for a week and realizing it's not as great as you remembered so that it's easier to go back to your budget and not feel like you are missing out?

2. Save a bit less and fund a few more "optional" luxury items. If you choose smartly you can do a few additional things that will make you feel better without damaging your financial future.

SemiChemE

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #40 on: January 19, 2020, 03:54:19 PM »
Financial freedom is about balancing your wants against your future needs.  You are working towards a goal and will need to make some sacrifices, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice everything, all the time.  A little delayed gratification now and then is a wonderful thing.  You should make room for it in your budget.

On the other hand, don't fall for the illusion that more stuff, more cable tv and streaming subscriptions, newer cars, etc... will make you happier.  They probably won't, they'll just take a larger bite out of your limited budget.  So, when you make room for that delayed gratification, make sure you are really going to get what you are paying for with your hard earned money.

DirtDiva

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #41 on: January 19, 2020, 09:50:55 PM »
We have people treat us like we're poor because we don't live in a mansion and don't go to Disney every year.

These measuring sticks sound to me like a special place in hell 🤮.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Feeling and/or pretending to be poor
« Reply #42 on: January 22, 2020, 09:39:15 AM »
Dial back the deprivation. Thatís unhealthy. Find a balance in your life.

There are alternatives to viewing ďdeprivation*Ē as an unpleasant experience to be avoided. The ancient philosophical schools of Cynicism and Stoicism, for example, offer a way to view the ascetic lifestyle as a way to make life meaningful instead of becoming trapped on the hedonic treadmill. Similarly, some threads of modern environmentalism reframe lifestyle simplicity as a choice to be part of what is good and positive in the world. There are many more examples in philosophy and religion.

The FIRE movement itself is an example. Jacob Fisker (earlyretirementextreme.com) writes about how being a DIY type who can live on a couple dollars a day makes him more resilient in the face of challenges. MMM speaks to the health benefits of a lifestyle involving daily bicycling instead of sitting in a cubicle to make SUV payments. In all formulations of the FIRE philosophy, a low-cost retired lifestyle is described as better than a high-cost working lifestyle, whether oneís objective is environmental, philosophical, anxiety motivated, family motivated, or even hedonistic.

Just as weightlifting is less comfortable than couch-sitting, perhaps the OPís discomfort is the sensation of weakness leaving the body, or the sensation of doing something meaningful when everyone else are doing meaningless things.


*In this case, when we say ďdeprivationĒ weíre probably talking about owning a less shiny car than someone else, eating at restaurants 1x per week instead of 3x, and having 200 wasted square feet in oneís home instead of 1,000. So deprivation is relative rather than absolute.