Author Topic: How do you deal with privilege?  (Read 7955 times)

whybe

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How do you deal with privilege?
« on: August 19, 2015, 06:52:07 AM »
Hi all

for most of my conscious life, I  have been purposely oblivious (i.e blocked out) to the fact that my father's side of the family (divorced parents) is quite well off, financially. I have sculpted my personality and behavior around the belief that I don't have the money; my father has it and he can decide he wants to give it to me or not. probably because I was also living with my mother (joint custody, lived in the same town for most of my and my brothers' childhood), who was not left with a lot after the marriage, that living in debt was "ok" and that she doesn't have money, therefore I don't. I haven't been the best at making it over the years, but ever since my father and I agreed he would stop backing me up financially (after i got my degree in 2009), I have been ill at ease with the way I have been looking at and managing my money, mainly because of my own ineptitude and because it seemed to slip through my fingers. I have been living over my means for a time, had to dip into my savings to get myself out of overdraft. since then i have gotten a bit smarter about my finances but still had this nagging feeling i was living too large, since I couldn't stay afloat. don't know if I actually was, since there hadn't been any over the top expenses at those times, rent was a low percentage of my income, i was single but i didn't go out so much, didn't spend the  money on clothes, or tools or travel or much other than a few music shows a year, psychological therapy and car gas / maintenance. but something was definitely broken - i was in the red zone and couldn't figure out why, which also strengthened my feelings of "have-not". then came a few revelations - a course I had taken, MMM's blog and a few others - that showed me I could do much to help myself and that not all is lost.

recently though, my father has been repeating phrases like "after I'm gone" (i expect he still has a few decades but one never knows), gently  referring to the assets he has accumulated in his life and how they will transfer to me and my brothers. I don't know if that is true and even how much he actually has. He actually said to me, when we were discussing me and DW's plans of expanding the family, "don't worry. know that you are more privileged than most and if you need help I will be there."

this really throws me off. I don't want to be thinking like "when is he going to die so I can get my hands on the stash?". I don't want to be better off than most just because I (apparently) come from money. I'd rather live humbly and well under my means so I can keep it up for as long as possible. but I am seriously struggling with figuring out what to make of my father's words.

any thoughts? or am I too much into the spaghetti brain?

matchewed

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2015, 07:00:45 AM »
The practical: if you don't need/want the money donate it. You are learning how to be a successful and self-sufficient person. That's commendable and everyone should reach for that.

The philosophical: there are varying degrees of privilege. Do they matter in your day to day decisions in life? Only in the way that you should practice gratitude for being where you are, you should also accept that you are where you are due to your hard work, and finally there is no way to untangle the two in a manner which is objectively understandable by anyone.

My parents will someday die. The amount of information I have on their finances isn't terribly clear, but I know I'll probably get a windfall in the next twenty years or so. Does this change how I live or what my plan is? No. I just live my life without incorporating that factor into my plans.

Jakejake

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2015, 07:56:59 AM »
It sounds like your dad just doesn't want you to be spending your days actively stressed about money, but also has been trying to actively teach you to be independent. In some countries, that's not so different than their regular safety net for people. Maybe you could think of it that way, pick a satisfying career that you enjoy, but that will also pay your bills and allow for saving - but know that you won't be homeless or without food if you get laid off.

If you want to have kids, have them - and know that if you need it there will be assistance for their college (like several countries already enjoy), and that it's not the end of the world if you need to take maternity or paternity leave. Again, that's what other countries offer - we just think of it as a "privilege" in the US.


I'm not saying you should feel entitled to his money or to those privileges, just that you can emotionally accept that this is your situation, be appreciative, not guilt-ridden or reckless, and make sure to pay something forward when appropriate.

thedayisbrave

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2015, 08:25:00 AM »
Privilege is a dirty word.

It is what we do with our privileges (we all have 'em) that truly define us.

You can let it ruin you.

Or you can harness its power to let it do good, which will send ripple effects of good everywhere.

Your choice.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2015, 08:30:29 AM »
It sounds like you're wrestling with two (related) issues:
1) you're struggling to live within your means
2) you'd feel guilty if you were living off money from your father

Am I understanding this correctly?
For #1, you're among friends--if you need help budgeting, I'm sure lots of people will be more than happy to comment on a case study. :)
For #2, a few thoughts have come to mind:
--Your dad loves you, and wants to help you if you truly need it
--Your dad presumably worked hard for the money he has.  It's his choice what to do with it--gift it to you, give it to charity, buy a new car, whatever.  But I don't think you should feel guilty when receiving such a gift.
--Lastly, I have parents who are getting on in years, so the topic of their passing is something that has come up in various discussions.  For my part, I'm planning my life with the assumption that I will get no inheritance.  My parents don't owe me an inheritance--they sacrificed decades of their lives raising me and my siblings, and did a dang good job.  If I *do* receive something after their passing, I'll have to make the choice of what to do with it.  It would be a bonus, and a reflection of my parents' hard work and wise financial choices.

SunshineAZ

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2015, 08:43:59 AM »
Why are you worrying/stressing about money that may or may not end up being yours years from now?  Seriously, its like someone stressing about winning the lotto.  I would think there are more pressing issues in your life to worry about now.

One of my mottos is "don't worry about things you can't change", it sounds like you should remember that. :)   

FunkyStickman

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2015, 08:49:29 AM »
Privilege is a dirty word.

It is what we do with our privileges (we all have 'em) that truly define us.

You can let it ruin you.

Or you can harness its power to let it do good, which will send ripple effects of good everywhere.

Your choice.

Absolutely this.

Trudie

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2015, 12:54:34 PM »
Privilege is a dirty word.

It is what we do with our privileges (we all have 'em) that truly define us.

You can let it ruin you.

Or you can harness its power to let it do good, which will send ripple effects of good everywhere.

Your choice.

I couldn't agree more with these sentiments.

My husband and I are close to FIRE but also know that in the next 5-10 years we will likely (as close to 100% sure as we can be) to inherit a sum that will be a "game changer."  We choose to live well below our means, max our retirement investments, and live "as if" such windfalls are not going to happen.  We've decided that when it does happen it may shorten the number of years we work or speed up the timetable, but we aren't changing our habits because of it.

Someday we will have money to give away.  We will choose to enjoy it while we have it, knowing that eventually we can leave a chunk to charity.

Rosy

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2015, 01:28:16 PM »
What privilege?
Forget about what your father has - he may live another 20 - 30 years.

Instead, take a deep breath of gratitude in the knowlege that here is someone who will catch you if things go totally awry in your financial life.

That in a nutshell is really all you have at the moment. Your perceived privilege shouldn't define or even influence your current lifestyle.

If I were you, I'd get my financial house in order and become a person of independent means, it will strengthen your confidence level in other areas of your life as well. The possible inheritance down the line is nothing but the icing on the cake which in twenty, thirty years may lift you up into the privileged class:) Sweet!

Meanwhile while you are in the throws and woes of MMMing your life - take advantage of the wealth of information here and as you progress, ask your father for his input and advice - you may find the privilege you seek may lie more in learning from and communicating with your father while he is still around.

Just sayin'.

Argyle

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2015, 01:49:01 PM »
I think your father means "If suddenly you were in a terrible accident and you needed money to pay the doctors or they'd turf you out of the hospital, I'd help you pay for it."  He doesn't mean, "If you spend unwisely and got behind on your car payments, I'll bail you out so you don't have to keep track of your money."  So you don't have to worry about the latter making you complacent or irresponsible.

I've known several people who did have an attitude of "I'm going to inherit lots of money, so I don't have to get off my duff and work hard and save.  It will all be coming to me down the pike."  As it turned out, none of those people got as much money as they were expecting.  Some of them got none.  Parents get ill in old age and have their own emergencies; nursing homes eat up money; the parents miscalculate how long their savings will last; and other things happen.  Just because a parent thinks they'll leave a substantial amount to their child doesn't mean that it will actually come to pass.  So even if your father were a billionaire, I wouldn't count on a penny of it.  Make your own way and then if you do inherit, it will be icing on the cake, not something that saves you from financial disaster.

Pooperman

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2015, 07:14:26 PM »
I know how you feel. My parents are quite well off and I'll end up with a decent chunk eventually. But I'm independent and don't need it. If I need help, I can ask for it, but I prefer to do it myself. It's a safety net, but I want to do it on my own.

BrickByBrick

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2015, 07:35:51 PM »
Privilege as compared to...what?  It's such a relative/subjective comparison.  It has also become synonymous with envy in our culture today.

It almost sounds like you're comparing yourself to someone or some type of standard?  What would that be?  And why?

If you truly crave a more 'minimalist' life, then whenever you receive this inheritance just be a good steward of it.  Manage it, make it grow, give a lot of it away, do whatever you want with it except ignore it.  You don't have to change your lifestyle just because you have the ability too.  Do something great with it.

mozar

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2015, 09:03:45 PM »
This is not exactly how I used the word privilege, but anyways, my grandfather told my mom that she would inherit "some money" way back in 1990. She was around 30. For the next 25 years she didn't make much of an effort to have a career, because she was waiting for the money. She inherited 300k when she was 56. Such a sad waste of 25 years.

Tyson

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2015, 09:22:13 PM »
This is not exactly how I used the word privilege, but anyways, my grandfather told my mom that she would inherit "some money" way back in 1990. She was around 30. For the next 25 years she didn't make much of an effort to have a career, because she was waiting for the money. She inherited 300k when she was 56. Such a sad waste of 25 years.

Wow, that is a really terrible decision on her part.  I can hardly believe people think that way.

whybe

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2015, 05:56:57 AM »
Some very good advice... I will definitely look at this with fresh eyes.

Abe

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2015, 08:25:01 AM »
If someone was told "there's this bond that is worth an unknown amount; you may get it in 30 years, depending on whether it's all spent on nursing homes, and if I still like you at that point", they would clearly not make any decisions based on that statement.

In general inheritances are susceptible to several risks in regards to the inheritor: investment risk from poor financial management, inflation, losses due to expenses for the inheritee, and being written out of the will. Based on expenses associated with chronic medical care and end of life care in our generally unhealthy elderly population, I will be surprised if the majority of people who post about inheritance here will receive any life-changing amount.

As others have shown, there is a lot of downside to assuming you will get an inheritance. There is no downside to assuming your inheritance is $0. If you do end up inheriting, you have a cushion for unforeseen expenses (or foreseen charitable donations). This is how I deal with privilege as you describe it: a chance to give to others who were not born into it. Privilege is being able to give away because you can afford such generosity and have no desire for the trappings money can provide. You can only do that if your financial affairs are in order.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2015, 08:29:47 AM by Abe »

Seppia

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How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2015, 08:30:41 AM »
There is no merit in coming from a rich family, but there's no fault either, so don't worry about it.
Control only what you can and work on that.
My parents are upper middle class, but I just live what I consider to be the "right" way, meaning only counting on myself.
I honestly hope to inherit something as late as possible, that's all.

Hey It's Me

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2015, 08:47:51 AM »
The fact that you're debating this means you're in a pretty good place psychologically. As a parent, your dad seems to be doing the right thing also: letting you fend for yourself so you learn to manage money. He also let you know that if there is a true emergency, you will have his support.

Treat the potential inheritance as if it didn't exist and structure your life around that belief. Then, if the inheritance does come through, it can add to your current 'stache and maybe you can work on building generational family wealth.

mozar

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2015, 06:48:48 PM »
I just reread the post. it sounds like the OPs father is getting a little sentimental about the idea of grandchildren. Maybe the father can set up a trust for them?

whybe

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2015, 09:59:06 AM »
While he is sentimental about the subject, he hasn't yet painted any money that I know of for that purpose. :-)


Bob W

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2015, 10:03:17 AM »
It sounds like your dad just doesn't want you to be spending your days actively stressed about money, but also has been trying to actively teach you to be independent. In some countries, that's not so different than their regular safety net for people. Maybe you could think of it that way, pick a satisfying career that you enjoy, but that will also pay your bills and allow for saving - but know that you won't be homeless or without food if you get laid off.

If you want to have kids, have them - and know that if you need it there will be assistance for their college (like several countries already enjoy), and that it's not the end of the world if you need to take maternity or paternity leave. Again, that's what other countries offer - we just think of it as a "privilege" in the US.


I'm not saying you should feel entitled to his money or to those privileges, just that you can emotionally accept that this is your situation, be appreciative, not guilt-ridden or reckless, and make sure to pay something forward when appropriate.

Thanks for that chart!   We are screwed!

Giro

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2015, 12:24:57 PM »
This is not exactly how I used the word privilege, but anyways, my grandfather told my mom that she would inherit "some money" way back in 1990. She was around 30. For the next 25 years she didn't make much of an effort to have a career, because she was waiting for the money. She inherited 300k when she was 56. Such a sad waste of 25 years.

WOW.  OP, I would read this over and over.  The person waited 25 years to inherit a lousy 300k.  Had she worked and saved for those 25 years, she probably could have had 4 times that or more. 


Mongoose

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #22 on: September 09, 2015, 12:35:38 PM »
I would agree with the opinions of living like you will not inherit any money.

My DH's grandfather was quite well off and constantly telling the family members they wouldn't have to worry because they would inherit a sizable sum. I came on the scene and convinced DH that we would ignore that and just concentrate on what we were doing (which was mainly messing up with money because we were ridiculously ignorant but...). His grandad went from a net worth somewhere north of 10 million to just a modest sum in the estate by the time he died. And that was split multiple ways...quite a few people had their long term plans abruptly change (including having to figure out how to pay off debts of their inheritance that they "pre-spent").

UnleashHell

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2015, 08:53:42 AM »
You don’t have an inheritance. You have the potential to receive some money when your father dies.
There’s a lot of things than can change between now (you’ll be alright when it happens) and when he dies. What if he develops an interest in a charity and gives them all the money. Or a church. Or a new wife. There’s nothing that says he has to give you anything.
Its time to forget about it and sort your own life out. Get yourself into a position where you are independent and financially secure. Plan and execute.

If you do end up getting anything it can then enhance your life or you can treat it like an endowment to preserve and build for the future.

Nothing changes the fact that you need to ensure that you totally independent and not needing a handout.
Now if you have a plan and are executing it then there’s nothing wrong (in my eyes) with presenting it too him and say “hey pops – I have a plan to buy a house and your help with a deposit would save me xxx because of PMI / I can keep my 401k maxed”  etc etc.. Or with a rental property.

But that would take full disclosure and proof that you could use the money wisely – along with a plan to repay him. 

That’s way better than running up credit card debt and asking him to pay that off.


BTW – my father was the only living relative of an uncle that was extremely thrifty – except when it came to buying limited edition china. He had masses of that. Worth a fortune. When he died a distance relative that nobody had ever heard of appeared out of the woodwork and proved a closer blood link. He got the lot. Probably worth a million or so 20 years ago.
My father had never planned it – he’s currently travelling around the world on the income from rental properties.
I am currently the sole heir of that. I’ll be totally FIRE by the time it happens and don’t need a cent of it. If it happens I’ll figure out a way to invest it and help the lifes of my kids – of they are financially responsible. Maybe set up 529 plans for their kids. Etc etc.

Don’t assume. Plan.

whybe

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Re: How do you deal with privilege?
« Reply #24 on: September 20, 2015, 11:55:40 AM »
Thanks all for your wise words. It's all so much to take in.