Author Topic: How to respond to common questions about Mustachian behavior/beliefs?  (Read 3715 times)

fruplicity

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I'd love ideas on how you respond to people's common questions about a Mustachian (ish) lifestyle.

Some of these questions/challenges include:

1) Why don't you buy a house if you both have jobs and you're financially stable? (my answer is usually because we live in such a high cost area that it's not always worth it to buy, plus I'm not comfortable with the commitment and we don't have a high enough down payment saved and still have student debt, but they argue that we don't need a high down payment and we're throwing our money away on rent blah blah blah)

2) Why do you save money when you can live for today? (or some variation of this) - I usually say that I try to balance priorities between future financial security and enjoying life now, they usually say you're going to die anyway so why not just live now, blah blah blah)

3) Why do you stay in a job you don't love when you can afford to take a lesser paying job you might like more? (I say because I've been unsuccessful searching and networking for a job I would actually like more in the first place and I appreciate the pay/benefits/security of the job I have now since it helps me fulfill some of my financial goals and I do still get satisfaction from the work even if I'm not "happy" every day, they come back with, isn't that kind of wasting your life if you're not happy, blah blah blah)

4) As a pregnant lady I'm starting to get the "Are you staying home or going back to work?" If we really squeezed our budget, stopped saving for retirement, stopped paying down our student loans early, and saved nothing for spawn's college, sure I could stay at home, but I'm not willing to make those sacrifices right now. I've already ruffled some feathers with this and I know there's going to be more.

I come away from these types of conversations feeling depleted and discouraged, even if it makes me cling even more to my own beliefs and values. A few people who ask me these types of questions repeatedly have very rough financial lives, so I think it's partially them being a little defensive, but also self-righteous about their own beliefs/values.

How do others handle these types of conversations?


AJ

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Re: How to respond to common questions about Mustachian behavior/beliefs?
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2013, 12:22:00 PM »
"Why don't you buy a house if you both have jobs and you're financially stable?"

Say, "Given the current market conditions and expected rates of appreciation vis-a-vis inflation, you'd have to be crazy or totally ignorant of even the most basic micro- and macro-economic factors to consider buying right now. Renting is a far superior long-term strategy in the climate as it exists today." It may or may not be true, but if you say enough big words with confidence, they'll feel like you know more than them and won't push the issue. And anyone that can actually understand what you said will know enough to engage in a real discussion.

"Why do you save money when you can live for today?"

Say, "I do live for today, and I still have money left over. Anyone who needs to spend all their money to have a good time is either addicted to spending and needs to get help, or is simply doing it wrong."

"Why do you stay in a job you don't love when you can afford to take a lesser paying job you might like more?"

Say, "My job doesn't define me. I have higher self-esteem than that. My happiness come from inside myself, not from the whims of any employer." (Though, to be fair, they do kinda have a point.)

Or simply smile and nod and don't engage. Just don't throw pearls before pigs. I tread very lightly when discussing finances with people who are much worse off than I am unless they came to me specifically looking for advice. And oh! the Mommy Wars - I expect you'll be getting more of that over the next few years...

superhero

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Re: How to respond to common questions about Mustachian behavior/beliefs?
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2013, 12:33:40 PM »
Unless I can sense someone as frugal/mustachian in nature, I just don't talk to people about my finances; otherwise, it just opens the floodgates for the above questions. I have found most people just don't understand. People can be frugal to get more for their money, but that doesn't mean they don't spend every last penny. Sometimes I get the "where does all your money go?" question like they're assuming I just spend everything. In this case, I'm just honest and tell them it's all in investments. This usually ends the questioning since a lot of people will just say they're too timid to deal with the stock market.

Houses are very expensive here so I rarely get asked about purchasing a house. Lots and lots of people rent.

lhamo

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Re: How to respond to common questions about Mustachian behavior/beliefs?
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2013, 01:35:20 PM »
I'd come up with a stock answer you can give to all these types of questions that you can throw in if/when the discussion gets testy, something to the effect of "You know, there are lots of different ways to approach these issues and reasons people make different choices given their circumstances.  DH and I have discussed this at length, and feel that [XYZ action] is the right choice for us right now.  We may revisit the issue in the future if our situation changes significantly, but for now we are happy with our choice."

I wouldn't necessarily offer this as a knee jerk response to anyone who asks (you never know what alternative viewpoints they may hold, which might be interesting to hear), but this is good for closing off extended debate on a topic you really don't want to debate.

Ultimately, though, it isn't so much about what other people think/say as it is about you having confidence in yourself and your decisions.  I'm never bothered by "mommy wars" type stuff because I know absolutely 100% that continuing to work was the right thing for me to do.  My kids are fine, my marriage is fine, and we're doing very well financially as a result of being a two-career family.  If other people have issues with that, that's their problem, not mine. 

Eric

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Re: How to respond to common questions about Mustachian behavior/beliefs?
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2013, 01:40:12 PM »
1) Why don't you buy a house if you both have jobs and you're financially stable?
Renting is the best choice for us.

2) Why do you save money when you can live for today?
I'm prioritizing my spending in the way that makes me the happiest.

3) Why do you stay in a job you don't love when you can afford to take a lesser paying job you might like more?  I'm looking for one that I'll like and that pays well.  Let me know if you hear of anything.


For other general nosy questions, I give people the chance to give their input, and then diffuse the questions with something to the effect of "I've considered <insert consumerist argument here>, but I've weighed my options and I'm happy with my choice."

Jamesqf

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Re: How to respond to common questions about Mustachian behavior/beliefs?
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2013, 01:48:12 PM »
2) Why do you save money when you can live for today? (or some variation of this)

Because the stuff I really enjoy doing - hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, etc - mostly doesn't cost a whole lot of money.  So why spend money on stuff I mostly actively dislike, such as travel that involves commercial air or hotel/resort rooms, big cars, fancy clothes, &c? 

jambongris

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Re: How to respond to common questions about Mustachian behavior/beliefs?
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2013, 02:01:04 PM »
"Why don't you buy a house if you both have jobs and you're financially stable?"

Say, "Given the current market conditions and expected rates of appreciation vis-a-vis inflation, you'd have to be crazy or totally ignorant of even the most basic micro- and macro-economic factors to consider buying right now. Renting is a far superior long-term strategy in the climate as it exists today." It may or may not be true, but if you say enough big words with confidence, they'll feel like you know more than them and won't push the issue.

Reminds of these articles that were accepted into (not very reputable) academic journals:

http://www.physics.nyu.edu/sokal/weinberg.html

http://thatsmathematics.com/blog/archives/102

Riceman

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Re: How to respond to common questions about Mustachian behavior/beliefs?
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2013, 02:24:06 PM »
We did the math. It works for us this way.

If you say that, you're not going to offend anyone. And you're unlikely to get follow up questions, as most have no interest in talking about math.


StarryC

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Re: How to respond to common questions about Mustachian behavior/beliefs?
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2013, 02:44:20 PM »
1) Why not buy a house?
My answer is: Then we'd have to fix everything ourselves and take the risk of a market crash.   Also, we aren't "throwing money away" any more than those paying interest.  We are paying money for a place to live!  That is a thing of value for which most adults exchange money with someone. 

2) Staying home with kid/not staying home with kid?
Option 1: "Two Words, "Lean In."  Or, "I feel that my working will be valuable to my family".  Or, "That's a really complex and personal decision that every family should get to make on their own." 

Where do you work that people ask you why you don't take a lower paying job?  Obviously the answer is MONEY.  That is a ridiculous question.   "I want the money more than I want the other job.  Duh"  No one asks a CEO why he doesn't take it easy instead of accepting a million dollars a year!

Catbert

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Re: How to respond to common questions about Mustachian behavior/beliefs?
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2013, 03:03:00 PM »
Or try the Ann Landers (or was it Dear Abby?) generic answer to personal questions:  Why do you want to know?

rocketman48097

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Re: How to respond to common questions about Mustachian behavior/beliefs?
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2013, 03:32:58 PM »
I am a CPA, so my return questions usually just leave them puzzled.  I work at a software company so NO shortage of big spenders here, mindless spenders in fact that just don't even think about their spending or care.  Since I am the finance manager, they usually look at me for advice and give great respect to my opinion, yes they do view me as cheap but I am so much wealthier than they are that I am incredibly comfortable with this.  My scorecard is hidden on a spreadsheet, their scorecard is empty or in the things they buy and when they get old, they are going to regret being so poor.