Author Topic: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism  (Read 12845 times)

englishteacheralex

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2009
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« on: June 07, 2016, 04:34:22 PM »
I've been frugal all my life, and I married a frugal man. We just discovered Mr. Money Mustache last week, but we've already read almost all the posts. Whee! Accumulating huge quantities of money because we were born in a time and place that makes it incredibly easy to do so!

Good for us.

Now, it gets awfully tempting for us to look down our noses at the poor financial decisions of others. Awfully tempting. Especially for me, because I LOVE judging people.

But over the years I've come to believe that my frugality is in some ways the result of white privilege. Which is a horrible, loaded liberal term, but hear me out:

Last week, my husband and I had dinner at a fancy steakhouse. My mom gave us a gift card there for my birthday. The restaurant had free valet parking, which we took advantage of. When the valet tried to open the door of our '99 Corolla, he awkwardly realized that there is no handle. We buy handles in bulk from Amazon and my husband installs them as needed, but hasn't gotten around to replacing the passenger side exterior handle.

Ha ha ha ha ha! We think our cars (twin '99 Corollas bought five years ago for $2500 apiece) are hilariously awesome. The valet parked our car, we had a ridiculously nice meal, repeated the funny confused valet situation on our way out, and all was well.

The thing is, for a lot of people, this would have been really embarrassing. Why is that? Well, because if one isn't white, one doesn't have the luxury of being assumed to be of a certain socio-economic status purely based on race. Instead, one has to "signal" socio-economic status through the use of consumer goods.

I have a Filipino coworker who is a wonderful human being, but her financial decisions are disastrous. She and her husband have been working full time for the last 35 years, and they only had one child. And yet she has told me her sad story of not having a cent to put towards her daughter's college education, which means the daughter is living at home and going to community college. This woman and her husband make more money combined than I make with my husband, and yet we have a good chunk of our son's education already funded, and he is two years old.

It would be easy for me to judge her. Except I know that both she and her husband are immigrants who have a strong compulsion to send huge quantities of money back to their families who are still living in the Philippines.

I love MMM's face punching style, and he is absolutely right--for many, many Americans there is no excuse to be financially underwater. But there ARE sometimes cultural norms, pressures, and expectations that go along with what I see as poor financial decisions. Those are things I have never faced. If I had two Toyota Siennas in my driveway, I would deserve to be mocked. But not everyone would.

pbkmaine

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8376
  • Age: 63
  • Location: The Villages, Florida
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2016, 06:11:39 PM »
Why do you need to buy door handles in bulk from Amazon?

bobechs

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1068
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2016, 06:36:55 PM »
Why do you need to buy door handles in bulk from Amazon?

You can never have too many door handles.

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5790
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2016, 06:42:34 PM »
We have driven some really old cars and never had door handles fall off let alone had to buy them in bulk.  Really???

bobechs

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1068
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2016, 06:51:28 PM »
We have driven some really old cars and never had door handles fall off let alone had to buy them in bulk.  Really???

C'mon... where's your compassion already?

So quick to judge another person's need for door handles...
« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 06:53:45 PM by bobechs »

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5790
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2016, 06:57:46 PM »
LOL:))  The story sounds like BS to me.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9905
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2016, 07:11:14 PM »
Re:  Your Filipino co-worker.  You didn't specifically mention examples of overspending, so it seems worth noting that there is a strrong expectation in many Asian cultures (and especially in the Phillipines, where a huge proportion of the population moves overseas to find work) that anyone living in a country with a better economy is supposed to be sending money back to help the famiily.  These remittances often make up a huge portion of the US-based family's take home.  There might be bad spending choices going along with it, but I would suspect that the amount of money sent home was probably more of an issue.

englishteacheralex

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2009
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2016, 07:31:18 PM »
Why do you need to buy door handles in bulk from Amazon?

Because '99 Corolla door handles are notorious for breaking off. We've had to replace four of them, and they come in four packs. "Buying door handles in bulk" is kind of a joke between my husband and me.

englishteacheralex

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2009
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2016, 07:33:33 PM »
Re:  Your Filipino co-worker.  You didn't specifically mention examples of overspending, so it seems worth noting that there is a strrong expectation in many Asian cultures (and especially in the Phillipines, where a huge proportion of the population moves overseas to find work) that anyone living in a country with a better economy is supposed to be sending money back to help the famiily.  These remittances often make up a huge portion of the US-based family's take home.  There might be bad spending choices going along with it, but I would suspect that the amount of money sent home was probably more of an issue.

Right, exactly. I live in a place with tons of Asian immigrants (Honolulu) and this is a huge part of their culture. So when I'm tempted to get judgy on their lack of liquidity, I have to check myself because there are a lot of other forces involved that I don't have to deal with. Hence: extreme frugality can be a matter of white privilege. That being said, many Asian cultures here put Mustachian frugality to shame.

Zikoris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3524
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
  • Vancouverstachian
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2016, 07:46:26 PM »
Why would anyone care what socio-economic status a valet thinks they are, or anyone else? In my experience, half the people we meet think we're dirt broke, the other half filthy rich, because we have very conflicting habits. As long as people don't think I'm a criminal, it doesn't really affect me one way or another.

Second, I totally think screwing yourself over due to cultural pressure is worthy of mocking. Cultural norms certainly won't change if nobody calls them out on being bullshit.


Stache-O-Lantern

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 110
  • Location: Northern California
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2016, 10:54:46 PM »
I have a '97 camry and have had to replace my door handles, inside and out, several times.  Everyone who gets in my car is warned to be gentle with my handles.  But the engine just keeps running, and running, and running . . .

Adventine

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1266
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Manila, Philippines
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2016, 11:30:27 PM »
Your Filipino coworker may not necessarily be anti-Mustachian, but she certainly has a martyr complex that compels her to support her family back home. Part of that compulsion is created by cultural expectation and part of it is due to her own personality.

You didn't give too many specifics on your coworker's spending habits, but many immigrants lead ultra-Mustachian lifestyles to be able to send as much money as possible back home. Also, there is no stigma in Filipino culture about adult children living in their parents' home.

EDITED (this seems to have been lost somehow in my original post): I'm glad you're aware of your own tendency to look down on people who don't seem to have their finances together. I'm guilty of the same thing, though not because of white privilege. I'm Filipino and I've lived in the Philippines all my life. The holier-than-thou attitude seems to be a universal human tendency.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2016, 05:25:22 AM by Adventine »

former player

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4685
  • Location: Avalon
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2016, 01:26:44 AM »
I have anti-mustachian neighbours.  Nice, white, middle class, university educated, able bodied neighbours.  Who run two cars, travel every couple of months or so, put lots of empty bottles of wine in the recycling, fill a couple of black bags with food packaging waste every week, never go to the local shop, country market or roadside stalls but drive 30 miles to a supermarket.  Who in the last six months have had a smart kitchen extension put on their house.   Whose business is not doing well, so they have taken out a mortgage on their twice-national-average-value and previously paid-off house (claiming it was a holiday let to do it, at a time when they were selling their other house and could plausibly do that) and are also taking money out of their retirement pensions to live on in their early fifties.  Who would "rather do anything" than go back to their previous jobs (teaching).  I like them, nice people, but their finances are a slow motion car crash which will come to grief at some point.

I'm sort of sympathetic, but they have been doing a lot of lotus-eating for a long time.  I can't see it ending well.

Ann

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 270
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2016, 02:30:49 AM »
I agree that others have their own struggles that I might not be able to fully appreciate or even see: cultural pressures, mental health, physical health including non-obvious ailments, history of abuse.  It's important to remember. 

Not sure you'll get much traction with that by posting this thread in the Wall of Shame and Comedy, though :-)    Here be schadenfreude.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2016, 03:40:04 AM by Ann »

kite

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 603
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2016, 05:17:42 AM »
Frugality has zero to do with white privelege.

Gondolin

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 571
  • Location: Northern VA
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2016, 06:20:42 AM »
OP, what you are describing is not white privilege. Being born in a society without certain cultural expectations is not an institutional advantage for one group over another. If the cops came around and beat up all your Filipino neighbours if they didn't pay their 50% of income "family tax" while tipping their hat to you, you would have a much better case.

As it is, failing to defy cultural expectations is, while understandable, something controlled entirety by the participant's psyche.

clarkevii

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 224
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Dallas TX
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2016, 06:57:01 AM »
I have anti-mustachian neighbours.  Nice, white, middle class, university educated, able bodied neighbours.  Who run two cars, travel every couple of months or so, put lots of empty bottles of wine in the recycling, fill a couple of black bags with food packaging waste every week, never go to the local shop, country market or roadside stalls but drive 30 miles to a supermarket.  Who in the last six months have had a smart kitchen extension put on their house.   Whose business is not doing well, so they have taken out a mortgage on their twice-national-average-value and previously paid-off house (claiming it was a holiday let to do it, at a time when they were selling their other house and could plausibly do that) and are also taking money out of their retirement pensions to live on in their early fifties.  Who would "rather do anything" than go back to their previous jobs (teaching).  I like them, nice people, but their finances are a slow motion car crash which will come to grief at some point.

I'm sort of sympathetic, but they have been doing a lot of lotus-eating for a long time.  I can't see it ending well.

OP I see where you are coming from. I have too must admit that I have been rethinking this as well.

I have to say the majority of anti-mustachians can be divided into two groups:

1. The Working Poor - The 1040 wage class basically makes facepunch worthy decisions like: Lotto tickets, Payday Loans, Cable TV, Junk Food / Fast Food, and an occasional gas guzzler. Money is not valued and is basically "easy come, easy go" with this class.

2. Upper and Upper Middle Class - The W2 class is like what the quoted poster above describes. These are hyperconsumers that are college educated but are buying "hook line and sinker" into consumer culture. I suspect that most of us are converted from this group or have rejected their beliefs at some point.

Some of us may have been raised working poor but I doubt many of us spent serious time in that class. An EXTREMELY high level of mustachians are educated therefore we have always had access to means.

Making facepunch jokes on the working poor just seems smug and crude to me. The Upper Middle Class though seems seems "fair game". It is their consumerism that is fueling the destruction of the environment and (you would assume) since they have higher cash flows they could be converted quicker into recognizing the value of money.

Adram

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 65
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2016, 07:19:14 AM »
Some people see white privilege everywhere, get a grip.

Warlord1986

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1302
  • Age: 33
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2016, 07:41:34 AM »
First of all, living at home and going to community college is a blessing. One my lily white self was gifted with. The daughter is lucky to have such an opportunity.

Second, there is a world of difference between someone (of any race or class) throwing away their money on consumer junk, and someone (of any race or class) sending money to help their families. One of those is face-punch worthy. The other is admirable.

Third, nobody is forcing anyone to give to their families. Your co-worker was capable of sending less money home and stashing some away for her daughter's education. She made the choice not to. Yeah, culture is a hard thing to shrug off, but she lives on a different continent. Nobody held a gun to her head and dictated her choices.

Fourth, I don't see why you or anyone else would care what the valet thinks of you. Why would you care about the opinion of someone you'll never see again?

Fifth, 'signaling' economic status through consumer goods is not unique to any particular race. White people try to do it. Black people try to do it. Asians try to do it. It's universal. Realizing that spending money on junk is a good start on the path to poverty is also not unique. If someone is embarrassed because they don't have the latest and greatest toy, the problem is not their race, but their mindset.

Sixth, I'm not sure why anyone would assume someone is of a certain economic class based on their race. There are plenty of poor white people, plenty of rich and middle class black people, and plenty of people of all races who are assumed to be poor/rich when they are in fact rich/poor. This forum is full of people with stories of relatives and friends who assume they are X when in fact they are Y.

jda1984

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 179
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2016, 08:18:30 AM »
Why do you need to buy door handles in bulk from Amazon?

Because '99 Corolla door handles are notorious for breaking off. We've had to replace four of them, and they come in four packs. "Buying door handles in bulk" is kind of a joke between my husband and me.

I had a 92 Grand Prix with vertical door handles that broke somewhat regularly.  I think I replaced 3 in a two year span.  Once I had both sides broken at the same time...  Got into the car with a hockey stick, blow torch, and coat hanger.

Kitsune

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1849
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2016, 08:29:23 AM »
I think mocking the dirt poor for being poor is... frankly, a dick move. Like, some people are born in circumstances that are hard to dig out of and no one has shown them a shovel, so. Don't be a dick, basically.

I think mocking people for making different life choices is in poor taste. If my colleague really wants her BMW and is ok with having no retirements savings and that's the choice she makes for her life, well, it's her life and not mine.

Where I mock mercilessly: the colleague who gets her BMW and then complains to me that it's so hard to make ends meet and how she doesn't understand why I'm doing ok I must be rich and then actually expects sympathy. NOPE. NOPENOPENOPE.

TravelJunkyQC

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 467
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Québec City, Canada
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2016, 09:11:26 AM »
I think mocking the dirt poor for being poor is... frankly, a dick move. Like, some people are born in circumstances that are hard to dig out of and no one has shown them a shovel, so. Don't be a dick, basically.

I think mocking people for making different life choices is in poor taste. If my colleague really wants her BMW and is ok with having no retirements savings and that's the choice she makes for her life, well, it's her life and not mine.

Where I mock mercilessly: the colleague who gets her BMW and then complains to me that it's so hard to make ends meet and how she doesn't understand why I'm doing ok I must be rich and then actually expects sympathy. NOPE. NOPENOPENOPE.

Agreed, absolutely. I find that those who complain the most are often those who make the worst decisions yet think the world is against them. Those who have difficult times financially but make decisions that can't be considered "bad" per se, are too busy working to get out of their troubles to complain.

I like to use the metaphor of someone morbidly obese: I will never EVER judge someone who is morbidly obese who is taking a walk/run in the park. They are trying, and that is what is important. A morbidly obese person eating at McDonald's, I will judge mercilessly, because they AREN'T trying.

Effort is important. Where you are in your process is not.

Midwest

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1346
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2016, 09:19:43 AM »

The thing is, for a lot of people, this would have been really embarrassing. Why is that? Well, because if one isn't white, one doesn't have the luxury of being assumed to be of a certain socio-economic status purely based on race. Instead, one has to "signal" socio-economic status through the use of consumer goods.


Being white doesn't automatically signal socio-economic status.  If you are driving a piece of junk car (no matter what your color) and dressed poorly, people assume a lack of money.  Whether you care of not is not race dependent.

MW - A guy driving a 2001 car.

kite

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 603
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2016, 09:41:56 AM »
I don't think the immigrant who is sending copious amounts of money overseas while their daughter has to go to community college is making a poor financial decision.  It's prudent to make the most out of the least expensive, decent option.  This applies to transportation (which you understand) as much as education.  Good that you've been able to set aside a chunk of change for your own child's university adventure, but if all that does is enable you to overpay for your kid's first 2 years of college, there is little net benefit to him or you. It isn't the frugal option. Calculus is Calculus,  whether you learn it in High School (possibly free!) at community college  (cheap) or at fancy pants named school (nucking futs if your 100 & 200 level cla$$es are all taught by TA's).  It might be good for him to sit in Ivy League classrooms, but unless he's on a full scholarship, it isn't frugal.  It's antifrugal. 

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3643
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #24 on: June 08, 2016, 11:41:24 AM »
Where I mock mercilessly: the colleague who gets her BMW and then complains to me that it's so hard to make ends meet and how she doesn't understand why I'm doing ok I must be rich and then actually expects sympathy. NOPE. NOPENOPENOPE.

Yup! A guy at my gym comes across as a hard worker and mentioned that he's been on his own since he was 18, I think it's great that he's been managing about it. He overheard someone talking about going to Japan for a few weeks and mentioned to me, "How the ____ do people have the time to go abroad? How can they afford that __." I should add that this is just locker-room type stuff, so I ignore the curse words. I had to calmly explain, "He works in construction, so during the winter there's almost no work, so why not go abroad then if you've got the money saved up. As for affording it, people save up by cutting back on things."

He started talking about how little he makes and can't possible save anything...I didn't want to mention that our gym isn't cheap, nor that he talks about spending a few hundred each time he goes to out with his friends, nor that when a few guys at our gym had professional bouts over the weekend he was talking about driving down there and renting a room so that he could drink and gamble. And that these things add up and can explain why he has nothing to left to save.

jinga nation

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1280
  • Location: 'Murica's Johnson
  • Left, Right, Peddlin' Shite
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2016, 11:50:46 AM »
Where I mock mercilessly: the colleague who gets her BMW and then complains to me that it's so hard to make ends meet and how she doesn't understand why I'm doing ok I must be rich and then actually expects sympathy. NOPE. NOPENOPENOPE.

Yup! A guy at my gym comes across as a hard worker and mentioned that he's been on his own since he was 18, I think it's great that he's been managing about it. He overheard someone talking about going to Japan for a few weeks and mentioned to me, "How the ____ do people have the time to go abroad? How can they afford that __." I should add that this is just locker-room type stuff, so I ignore the curse words. I had to calmly explain, "He works in construction, so during the winter there's almost no work, so why not go abroad then if you've got the money saved up. As for affording it, people save up by cutting back on things."

He started talking about how little he makes and can't possible save anything...I didn't want to mention that our gym isn't cheap, nor that he talks about spending a few hundred each time he goes to out with his friends, nor that when a few guys at our gym had professional bouts over the weekend he was talking about driving down there and renting a room so that he could drink and gamble. And that these things add up and can explain why he has nothing to left to save.

I think we have the same coworkers.

Exactly why I have zero sympathy for spendypants who fail to see the consequences of their actions.

You don't need a premonition; you should know that if you spend $500 on a fancy car lease, you won't have $6000 per year to pay down existing debt or save for retirement. Yet you bitch that you won't be able to retire because life is so expensive. And you're single and don't have kids. You claim you can't put in the 6% in the 401(k) in Vanguard funds for a 4% match, becasue you don't have the budget for that. Bitch, moan, whine.

I'm glad there's a forum to vent on the stupidity of humans. For humans, by humans. I know Slate and Salon and others make fun of us.

pachnik

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
  • Age: 55
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #26 on: June 08, 2016, 11:52:43 AM »
Yup! A guy at my gym comes across as a hard worker and mentioned that he's been on his own since he was 18, I think it's great that he's been managing about it. He overheard someone talking about going to Japan for a few weeks and mentioned to me, "How the ____ do people have the time to go abroad? How can they afford that __." I should add that this is just locker-room type stuff, so I ignore the curse words. I had to calmly explain, "He works in construction, so during the winter there's almost no work, so why not go abroad then if you've got the money saved up. As for affording it, people save up by cutting back on things."

He started talking about how little he makes and can't possible save anything...I didn't want to mention that our gym isn't cheap, nor that he talks about spending a few hundred each time he goes to out with his friends, nor that when a few guys at our gym had professional bouts over the weekend he was talking about driving down there and renting a room so that he could drink and gamble. And that these things add up and can explain why he has nothing to left to save.

Yes, I would have a hard time mentioning about the fact that the gym isn't cheap or that he spends lots of $$$ while out with friends.   It is too bad this is so hard to do.  I have a friend kind of like your gym acquaintance and he talks about having nothing (and we are old) and then talks about going out for lattes etc.

Kitsune

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1849
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #27 on: June 08, 2016, 12:02:05 PM »
Where I mock mercilessly: the colleague who gets her BMW and then complains to me that it's so hard to make ends meet and how she doesn't understand why I'm doing ok I must be rich and then actually expects sympathy. NOPE. NOPENOPENOPE.

Yup! A guy at my gym comes across as a hard worker and mentioned that he's been on his own since he was 18, I think it's great that he's been managing about it. He overheard someone talking about going to Japan for a few weeks and mentioned to me, "How the ____ do people have the time to go abroad? How can they afford that __." I should add that this is just locker-room type stuff, so I ignore the curse words. I had to calmly explain, "He works in construction, so during the winter there's almost no work, so why not go abroad then if you've got the money saved up. As for affording it, people save up by cutting back on things."

He started talking about how little he makes and can't possible save anything...I didn't want to mention that our gym isn't cheap, nor that he talks about spending a few hundred each time he goes to out with his friends, nor that when a few guys at our gym had professional bouts over the weekend he was talking about driving down there and renting a room so that he could drink and gamble. And that these things add up and can explain why he has nothing to left to save.

Exactly! And if the dude had been line "oh, it's cool that he prioritizes travel, I hope he has a great time. I'd rather go out with my friends around here, though", there wouldn't really be anything to judge, IMO. You ahve money, you spend/save money based on your priorities, your priorities and not my priorities because we live different lives, cheers! Make the right decision for you! Full support!

But if you're complaining that life is SOOOO HAAARD while not actually looking at the differences in circumstances and in the choices people make, well... very little sympathy to be had.

Zoot

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 389
  • Location: USA
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #28 on: June 08, 2016, 12:21:33 PM »
Where I mock mercilessly: the colleague who gets her BMW and then complains to me that it's so hard to make ends meet and how she doesn't understand why I'm doing ok I must be rich and then actually expects sympathy. NOPE. NOPENOPENOPE.

I struggle with this, too.  Case in point:  a friend just moved into a new (larger, more expensive) house and told me that they couldn't afford a washer and dryer, and so she was doing laundry at the laundromat down the street.  But then she bought a brand-new Audi (which I'm sure had an exorbitant price tag) and she and her husband are  constantly going to NICE (i.e., EXPENSIVE) restaurants. 

These decisions are real head-scratchers for me--card-carrying foodie that I am, I'd WAY rather have a washer/dryer in the house than the swanky restaurant meals; by just curbing the restaurant habit for a few months (likely just by a few weeks given the types of places they frequent), they could easily buy the washer/dryer and then start back up again. 

I guess where I get knotted up is with the word can't.  Yes, you can afford to buy a washer and dryer; you are choosing to spend your money on other things.  There are situations where not having/not being solvent enough to buy a washer/dryer would evoke my sympathy and/or assistance, but this isn't one of them--this is a situation where they are choosing to allocate their (considerable) resources elsewhere.

What I'm still trying to figure out is how I should respond to the "I can't afford it" statement--smile and nod, or gently introduce the idea of resource allocation and/or delayed gratification?  If she were a close friend, I'd definitely go the "share the gospel" route--but she's more on an acquaintance level, so I'm on the fence about it.

garion

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 135
  • Age: 32
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #29 on: June 08, 2016, 12:40:02 PM »
Where I mock mercilessly: the colleague who gets her BMW and then complains to me that it's so hard to make ends meet and how she doesn't understand why I'm doing ok I must be rich and then actually expects sympathy. NOPE. NOPENOPENOPE.

I struggle with this, too.  Case in point:  a friend just moved into a new (larger, more expensive) house and told me that they couldn't afford a washer and dryer, and so she was doing laundry at the laundromat down the street.  But then she bought a brand-new Audi (which I'm sure had an exorbitant price tag) and she and her husband are  constantly going to NICE (i.e., EXPENSIVE) restaurants. 

These decisions are real head-scratchers for me--card-carrying foodie that I am, I'd WAY rather have a washer/dryer in the house than the swanky restaurant meals; by just curbing the restaurant habit for a few months (likely just by a few weeks given the types of places they frequent), they could easily buy the washer/dryer and then start back up again. 

I guess where I get knotted up is with the word can't.  Yes, you can afford to buy a washer and dryer; you are choosing to spend your money on other things.  There are situations where not having/not being solvent enough to buy a washer/dryer would evoke my sympathy and/or assistance, but this isn't one of them--this is a situation where they are choosing to allocate their (considerable) resources elsewhere.

What I'm still trying to figure out is how I should respond to the "I can't afford it" statement--smile and nod, or gently introduce the idea of resource allocation and/or delayed gratification?  If she were a close friend, I'd definitely go the "share the gospel" route--but she's more on an acquaintance level, so I'm on the fence about it.

Wait how is it even possible to not afford a washer/dryer? Has this person never heard of Craigslist?

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3643
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #30 on: June 08, 2016, 01:15:21 PM »
Where I mock mercilessly: the colleague who gets her BMW and then complains to me that it's so hard to make ends meet and how she doesn't understand why I'm doing ok I must be rich and then actually expects sympathy. NOPE. NOPENOPENOPE.

Yup! A guy at my gym comes across as a hard worker and mentioned that he's been on his own since he was 18, I think it's great that he's been managing about it. He overheard someone talking about going to Japan for a few weeks and mentioned to me, "How the ____ do people have the time to go abroad? How can they afford that __." I should add that this is just locker-room type stuff, so I ignore the curse words. I had to calmly explain, "He works in construction, so during the winter there's almost no work, so why not go abroad then if you've got the money saved up. As for affording it, people save up by cutting back on things."

He started talking about how little he makes and can't possible save anything...I didn't want to mention that our gym isn't cheap, nor that he talks about spending a few hundred each time he goes to out with his friends, nor that when a few guys at our gym had professional bouts over the weekend he was talking about driving down there and renting a room so that he could drink and gamble. And that these things add up and can explain why he has nothing to left to save.

Exactly! And if the dude had been line "oh, it's cool that he prioritizes travel, I hope he has a great time. I'd rather go out with my friends around here, though", there wouldn't really be anything to judge, IMO. You ahve money, you spend/save money based on your priorities, your priorities and not my priorities because we live different lives, cheers! Make the right decision for you! Full support!

But if you're complaining that life is SOOOO HAAARD while not actually looking at the differences in circumstances and in the choices people make, well... very little sympathy to be had.

Yup! This gym costs more than I would have ever thought to spend, but it's worth the money to me and I have the ability to pay for it without sacrificing on many other things.

As for international travel for leisure, the only thing holding me back is lack of time as the places I want to go will require at least a 10 day trip for me to be worth it (I'm not a good traveling and suck at jetleg). This is a huge motivator for me to hit FIRE. In the meantime I'm content to visit domestic locales.

Zoot

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 389
  • Location: USA
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #31 on: June 08, 2016, 03:14:16 PM »
Wait how is it even possible to not afford a washer/dryer? Has this person never heard of Craigslist?

I had that and many similar thoughts.  Based on my observations of the house, the car, and the restaurants, my conclusion is that they would not be well-disposed toward buying used appliances, or even to buying anything less than The Best.

Another thought I had is that the car can be financed, and that restaurant meals (even pricey ones) can be bought on credit cards with just a couple hundred dollars remaining before maxing out the balance, but that a washer/dryer would be more difficult to purchase if your CC is close to maxed.  This is just me speculating, of course--I have no idea if that's what's happening, but it's plausible.

This is a couple where one spouse is a lawyer and the other spouse does something that earns a similarly large salary.  It boggles my mind to watch their behavior.   But where does one cross the line into being "judgmental"?  I have always struggled with that.


(edited for spelling)


« Last Edit: June 08, 2016, 03:20:04 PM by ZootsTwin »

slugline

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1172
  • Location: Houston, TX USA
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #32 on: June 08, 2016, 03:39:39 PM »
Another thought I had is that the car can be financed, and that restaurant meals (even pricey ones) can be bought on credit cards with just a couple hundred dollars remaining before maxing out the balance, but that a washer/dryer would be more difficult to purchase if your CC is close to maxed.  This is just me speculating, of course--I have no idea if that's what's happening, but it's plausible.

Even if one credit card is maxed out, retailers are falling all over themselves trying to sign people up on their store cards. Even from a consumer sucka perspective it doesn't make sense that a Lowe's or Best Buy wouldn't give them credit for new appliances but an Audi dealership would for a new car?????

desk_jockey

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 242
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #33 on: June 08, 2016, 03:56:09 PM »
What I'm still trying to figure out is how I should respond to the "I can't afford it" statement--smile and nod, or gently introduce the idea of resource allocation and/or delayed gratification?  If she were a close friend, I'd definitely go the "share the gospel" route--but she's more on an acquaintance level, so I'm on the fence about it.

I'd be tempted to respond "yes, I understand.  I'm in a somewhat similar situation.   I can afford to spend a $1200 one-time expense for a washer and dryer, but I couldn't afford $1200 every month in car payments and fancy restaurants".
 

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3643
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #34 on: June 08, 2016, 07:23:25 PM »
English, I get what you're saying.

I find myself looking down at people that are spendypants or complainypants from time to time and I often need to stop it.

I'm very fortunate to have the upbringing I had. I was raised in a stable home with two loving parents who taught me the virtue of thrift and saving, even though I always just thought that they were "cheap." I imagine that someone that grew up in less fortunate circumstances might not see the value in saving, or understand how it makes life easier. It can also lead someone to wanting to feel "rich" if they grew up receiving hand-me-downs and seeing their classmates wearing the latest fashions.

When I bought my house, I didn't need to buy much furniture as I just took couches and recliners from my parents, they had a furnished porch that they never used and so were happy to give it to me. The only real furniture I needed to buy was a dinner table and bed which I got from cheap from my previous roommate/landlord who had an extra one that he didn't want.

I don't know where I would be without the circumstances I was born into and it is not my place to judge anyone, I don't know where they came from.

englishteacheralex

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2009
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #35 on: June 08, 2016, 07:35:35 PM »
English, I get what you're saying.

I find myself looking down at people that are spendypants or complainypants from time to time and I often need to stop it.

I'm very fortunate to have the upbringing I had. I was raised in a stable home with two loving parents who taught me the virtue of thrift and saving, even though I always just thought that they were "cheap." I imagine that someone that grew up in less fortunate circumstances might not see the value in saving, or understand how it makes life easier. It can also lead someone to wanting to feel "rich" if they grew up receiving hand-me-downs and seeing their classmates wearing the latest fashions.

When I bought my house, I didn't need to buy much furniture as I just took couches and recliners from my parents, they had a furnished porch that they never used and so were happy to give it to me. The only real furniture I needed to buy was a dinner table and bed which I got from cheap from my previous roommate/landlord who had an extra one that he didn't want.

I don't know where I would be without the circumstances I was born into and it is not my place to judge anyone, I don't know where they came from.

Right--have you ever read "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbra Ehrenreich? Very interesting book--the author did an experiment in which she took three minimum wage jobs in three different areas of the country and tried to live on just minimum wage. What happens to people who are very poor is that they can't take advantage of many "Mustachian" type strategies. Also, there is enormous social pressure among the very poor to give any windfalls to friends and family, because in most cases they have given you their windfalls in the past.

Example of social pressure on poor people that leads to highly anti-Mustachian behavior: I just (five minutes ago) saw a wonderful former student on facebook post that she bought a brand new Ford Expedition. Catastrophic financial decision. Absolutely breathtakingly horrible. But she comes from extreme poverty and has a stable (albeit very low-wage) job, and is a single, 24 year old mom of two boys...she is trying to signal to others that she has made it, that despite her low-income background and single mom status, she is doing fine. I'm not saying it's a good decision. I'm saying that it is not to be sneered at and scorned--it was done out of ignorance and complex social circumstances.

Prairie Stash

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1809
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #36 on: June 09, 2016, 10:26:54 AM »
English, I get what you're saying.

I find myself looking down at people that are spendypants or complainypants from time to time and I often need to stop it.

I'm very fortunate to have the upbringing I had. I was raised in a stable home with two loving parents who taught me the virtue of thrift and saving, even though I always just thought that they were "cheap." I imagine that someone that grew up in less fortunate circumstances might not see the value in saving, or understand how it makes life easier. It can also lead someone to wanting to feel "rich" if they grew up receiving hand-me-downs and seeing their classmates wearing the latest fashions.

When I bought my house, I didn't need to buy much furniture as I just took couches and recliners from my parents, they had a furnished porch that they never used and so were happy to give it to me. The only real furniture I needed to buy was a dinner table and bed which I got from cheap from my previous roommate/landlord who had an extra one that he didn't want.

I don't know where I would be without the circumstances I was born into and it is not my place to judge anyone, I don't know where they came from.

Right--have you ever read "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbra Ehrenreich? Very interesting book--the author did an experiment in which she took three minimum wage jobs in three different areas of the country and tried to live on just minimum wage. What happens to people who are very poor is that they can't take advantage of many "Mustachian" type strategies. Also, there is enormous social pressure among the very poor to give any windfalls to friends and family, because in most cases they have given you their windfalls in the past.

Example of social pressure on poor people that leads to highly anti-Mustachian behavior: I just (five minutes ago) saw a wonderful former student on facebook post that she bought a brand new Ford Expedition. Catastrophic financial decision. Absolutely breathtakingly horrible. But she comes from extreme poverty and has a stable (albeit very low-wage) job, and is a single, 24 year old mom of two boys...she is trying to signal to others that she has made it, that despite her low-income background and single mom status, she is doing fine. I'm not saying it's a good decision. I'm saying that it is not to be sneered at and scorned--it was done out of ignorance and complex social circumstances.
I had a teacher in high school like you, he was kind of a jerk. I came from a poor background so they set the bar lower for me, thanks for the condescension, I'm more than capable of being better than my surroundings, or is opportunity only available to middle class kids?

The highlight of my school was in my last year when a friend and I were stopped by the teacher in the hallway for a friendly chat. My friend was asked where he was attending school in the fall, I was asked where I was going to be working. The assumption was that I couldn't possibly do better than get a job, I came from poverty. The teacher knew my marks were higher, I was a good student, but had the attitude that since life was tougher for me that I couldn't get as far. 

Instead of making excuses for your students, try seeing them as individuals.The poverty belonged to my parents, not me. Don't judge me by my parents, judge me for me. 

Feel free to help kids on their path, I had a band teacher who waived rental fees, but don't expect less of me. That band teacher expected me to work just as hard practicing, they just thought it sucked having myself work extra hours to pay for something other kids took for granted; they knew I worked part time through high school. They held me to the same standard, they didn't expect any less of me than any other person.  That expectation of excellence is a self fulfilling prophecy, teachers are dangerous when they expect little from students and kids start believing the same.

FINate

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1402
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #37 on: June 09, 2016, 11:00:43 AM »

The thing is, for a lot of people, this would have been really embarrassing. Why is that? Well, because if one isn't white, one doesn't have the luxury of being assumed to be of a certain socio-economic status purely based on race. Instead, one has to "signal" socio-economic status through the use of consumer goods.


Being white doesn't automatically signal socio-economic status.  If you are driving a piece of junk car (no matter what your color) and dressed poorly, people assume a lack of money.  Whether you care of not is not race dependent.

MW - A guy driving a 2001 car.

THIS^^^

Yes, white privilege exists. However I think classism is a stronger force than race in many areas of the US. Not sure what your background is, but I think the need to signal is in large part based on the socio-economic status one is born into.

I'm white and was poor growing up. We didn't just replace door handles on our old rusted out car, my dad replaced the actual doors with those of the same model, different color. We lived in a poor rural area and had large rats (like, cat sized) running throughout the walls/roof of our house. My dad would shoot them in the house with a 22. Neither parent was college educated. During adolescence and early adulthood I had a very strong impulse to signal that I was not "whitetrash"/"hick"/"hillbilly"/"redneck" or any number of pejoratives describing poor whites. I dressed the best I could. Worked hard to buy a new car - an economy car at least. Completing college was important to me for this reason, but at the same time was embarrassed because I attended a non-prestigious local university. I used to get extremely nervous eating out at slightly upscale restaurants because I felt that everyone was looking at me and judging me, and that I would be asked to leave at any moment.   

Fortunately this need to signal waned for me as I got a bit older, and the frugality modeled by my parents eventually took over. Now that I'm FIRE I'm perfectly fine going around looking completely disheveled and don't care if people judge. No one should judge out of a sense of superiority, however, there are so many people who are trying to live above their means and they need to realize that there's a better way.

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3643
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #38 on: June 09, 2016, 11:07:51 AM »
Instead of making excuses for your students, try seeing them as individuals.The poverty belonged to my parents, not me. Don't judge me by my parents, judge me for me. 


I love when non-teachers tell teachers how to do their jobs.

One of my best friends started working at an elementary school that is consider 'failing.' She is frustrated daily as she tries to do everything she can for her students, but it is tough when she has a ton of unruly kids. She's been punched by students several times, had her things stolen or broken, and yet continues to work hard. When you have a bunch of kids and little support, it's hard to work with them as individuals but most of them do the best that they can, I know that my friend does. She works her butt off for those kids, and doesn't get paid very much to do so. I know that I would never have the patience to be a teacher, and respect the hell out of them for doing so. She became a teacher because she loves kids and that's why she became a teacher.

It's also extremely difficult to work with kids when they come from broken homes as she can attest to. She dreads parent teacher conferences because most often the parent (if they show up) will simply say, "That's your job," and ignore everything she says. She tries to be understand because oftentimes the parents simply don't have the time and energy, but it definitely makes it harder for the kids to learn if they don't have a parent to help them. Btw, these are first and second graders.

EscapeVelocity2020

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2407
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Houston
    • EscapeVelocity2020
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #39 on: June 09, 2016, 11:22:53 AM »
Maybe going off on a different tangent, but when I read the OP, I thought about how my buying a Honda Fit was a relatively easy decision because I really don't care what people think of my socio-economic status.  But significant contributing factors for me are that I both have enough liquid to buy the cars many of my neighbors are currently leasing and I also have a desire to not bring attention to our family being well-off.  I can somewhat understand that folks without this self-assurance might need to buy a flashy vehicle - I also owned a Toyota Supra and Mini Cooper S prior to my Fit.  Never hurt to have my ego stroked back then (by out-accelerating the middle-aged Honda Fit drivers of the world)...  So yeah, I never look down my nose at people making 'poor' decisions, I just try to understand and help out with a wise anecdote or two if appropriate or well received.  But most folks never get past the need for short-term gratification.  They still muddle through.

Gondolin

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 571
  • Location: Northern VA
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #40 on: June 09, 2016, 02:38:48 PM »
Quote
...she bought a brand new Ford Expedition. Catastrophic financial decision. Absolutely breathtakingly horrible. But she comes from extreme poverty and has a stable (albeit very low-wage) job, and is a single, 24 year old mom of two boys.

I would argue that this is a very different situation than the affluent Filipino immigrants sending money back to family that the OP originally described.

Almost no one on this sub forum mocks the struggles of the tragically poor. A cursory look at the posts would reveal it's nearly all sighing at relatives and acquaintances with affluence level incomes, yelling at clickbait about the newest trend in money burning, and booing at poor advice from financial professionals.

Thus, I'm always confused when one of these "compassion" threads starts up since it usually devolves into chiding people for something they're not doing.

Prairie Stash

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1809
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #41 on: June 09, 2016, 02:52:02 PM »
Instead of making excuses for your students, try seeing them as individuals.The poverty belonged to my parents, not me. Don't judge me by my parents, judge me for me. 


I love when non-teachers tell teachers how to do their jobs.

One of my best friends started working at an elementary school that is consider 'failing.' She is frustrated daily as she tries to do everything she can for her students, but it is tough when she has a ton of unruly kids. She's been punched by students several times, had her things stolen or broken, and yet continues to work hard. When you have a bunch of kids and little support, it's hard to work with them as individuals but most of them do the best that they can, I know that my friend does. She works her butt off for those kids, and doesn't get paid very much to do so. I know that I would never have the patience to be a teacher, and respect the hell out of them for doing so. She became a teacher because she loves kids and that's why she became a teacher.

It's also extremely difficult to work with kids when they come from broken homes as she can attest to. She dreads parent teacher conferences because most often the parent (if they show up) will simply say, "That's your job," and ignore everything she says. She tries to be understand because oftentimes the parents simply don't have the time and energy, but it definitely makes it harder for the kids to learn if they don't have a parent to help them. Btw, these are first and second graders.
Are you a teacher? it read like you were talking about a third party.

I never said teaching wasn't hard, most people I know work hard including teachers (its not worthy of debate, lets just agree that teachers are hard working). I also never said my teacher was bad at teaching, I was top of his class and learned a lot, he was a jerk in real life for thinking less of me just because my parents were poor (bad people can be great teachers). The problem is teachers wield a lot of influence over students, mine had more influence than my parents. With that kind of pressure its tricky not to mess up a child, its a tremendous responsibility. I also had teachers that were encouraging and didn't look down on me, I'm not trying to say all teachers are good/bad, just like anyone else teachers can be nice people and horrible, it doesn't say anything about how they conduct their work. Its not a secret, outside of their job teachers are just like anyone else you'll meet.

Personally, my favourite teachers were the ones that didn't judge me before they met me.

My post wasn't so much about teaching as a profession, more along the lines of middle class (socioeconimc class) teachers looking down on poor students and not expecting much from them; which is disastrous IMO when considering the direct influence they wield) The OP wrote:
"Example of social pressure on poor people that leads to highly anti-Mustachian behavior: I just (five minutes ago) saw a wonderful former student on facebook post that she bought a brand new Ford Expedition. Catastrophic financial decision. Absolutely breathtakingly horrible. But she comes from extreme poverty and has a stable (albeit very low-wage) job, and is a single, 24 year old mom of two boys...she is trying to signal to others that she has made it, that despite her low-income background and single mom status, she is doing fine. I'm not saying it's a good decision. I'm saying that it is not to be sneered at and scorned--it was done out of ignorance and complex social circumstances."

Rewritten to have the same meaning, by removing class terms:
Example of social pressure on people that leads to highly anti-Mustachian behavior: I just (five minutes ago) saw a wonderful former student on facebook post that she bought a brand new Ford Expedition. Catastrophic financial decision. Absolutely breathtakingly horrible. She has a stable (albeit very low-wage) job, and is a single, 24 year old mom of two boys...she is trying to signal to others that she has made it, she is doing fine. I'm not saying it's a good decision."

I think that applies to every 24 year old, I'm pretty sure you have people from every socioeconomic class doing this exact behavior. People from all walks of life do stupid things, it doesn't matter if they're Filipino, poor, non-white, Asian (OP terms, pulled from this thread) etc. Those details don't add to the story, its just a weird way of saying they're not like the OP. Can you tell me the difference between our 2 paragraphs? Both end up with a massive car loan that apparently jeopardizes the families monetary well being.

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3643
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #42 on: June 09, 2016, 03:15:16 PM »
Instead of making excuses for your students, try seeing them as individuals.The poverty belonged to my parents, not me. Don't judge me by my parents, judge me for me. 


I love when non-teachers tell teachers how to do their jobs.

One of my best friends started working at an elementary school that is consider 'failing.' She is frustrated daily as she tries to do everything she can for her students, but it is tough when she has a ton of unruly kids. She's been punched by students several times, had her things stolen or broken, and yet continues to work hard. When you have a bunch of kids and little support, it's hard to work with them as individuals but most of them do the best that they can, I know that my friend does. She works her butt off for those kids, and doesn't get paid very much to do so. I know that I would never have the patience to be a teacher, and respect the hell out of them for doing so. She became a teacher because she loves kids and that's why she became a teacher.

It's also extremely difficult to work with kids when they come from broken homes as she can attest to. She dreads parent teacher conferences because most often the parent (if they show up) will simply say, "That's your job," and ignore everything she says. She tries to be understand because oftentimes the parents simply don't have the time and energy, but it definitely makes it harder for the kids to learn if they don't have a parent to help them. Btw, these are first and second graders.
Are you a teacher? it read like you were talking about a third party.

I never said teaching wasn't hard, most people I know work hard including teachers (its not worthy of debate, lets just agree that teachers are hard working). I also never said my teacher was bad at teaching, I was top of his class and learned a lot, he was a jerk in real life for thinking less of me just because my parents were poor (bad people can be great teachers). The problem is teachers wield a lot of influence over students, mine had more influence than my parents. With that kind of pressure its tricky not to mess up a child, its a tremendous responsibility. I also had teachers that were encouraging and didn't look down on me, I'm not trying to say all teachers are good/bad, just like anyone else teachers can be nice people and horrible, it doesn't say anything about how they conduct their work. Its not a secret, outside of their job teachers are just like anyone else you'll meet.

Personally, my favourite teachers were the ones that didn't judge me before they met me.

My post wasn't so much about teaching as a profession, more along the lines of middle class (socioeconimc class) teachers looking down on poor students and not expecting much from them; which is disastrous IMO when considering the direct influence they wield) The OP wrote:
"Example of social pressure on poor people that leads to highly anti-Mustachian behavior: I just (five minutes ago) saw a wonderful former student on facebook post that she bought a brand new Ford Expedition. Catastrophic financial decision. Absolutely breathtakingly horrible. But she comes from extreme poverty and has a stable (albeit very low-wage) job, and is a single, 24 year old mom of two boys...she is trying to signal to others that she has made it, that despite her low-income background and single mom status, she is doing fine. I'm not saying it's a good decision. I'm saying that it is not to be sneered at and scorned--it was done out of ignorance and complex social circumstances."

Rewritten to have the same meaning, by removing class terms:
Example of social pressure on people that leads to highly anti-Mustachian behavior: I just (five minutes ago) saw a wonderful former student on facebook post that she bought a brand new Ford Expedition. Catastrophic financial decision. Absolutely breathtakingly horrible. She has a stable (albeit very low-wage) job, and is a single, 24 year old mom of two boys...she is trying to signal to others that she has made it, she is doing fine. I'm not saying it's a good decision."

I think that applies to every 24 year old, I'm pretty sure you have people from every socioeconomic class doing this exact behavior. People from all walks of life do stupid things, it doesn't matter if they're Filipino, poor, non-white, Asian (OP terms, pulled from this thread) etc. Those details don't add to the story, its just a weird way of saying they're not like the OP. Can you tell me the difference between our 2 paragraphs? Both end up with a massive car loan that apparently jeopardizes the families monetary well being.

Fair enough, I took your earlier comment as criticism towards teaching. No, I'm not a teacher, but I have a ton of friends that are and completely sympathize with them after seeing how hard they work and how little they earn (at least compared to me).

englishteacheralex

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2009
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #43 on: June 09, 2016, 07:05:41 PM »

"Example of social pressure on poor people that leads to highly anti-Mustachian behavior: I just (five minutes ago) saw a wonderful former student on facebook post that she bought a brand new Ford Expedition. Catastrophic financial decision. Absolutely breathtakingly horrible. But she comes from extreme poverty and has a stable (albeit very low-wage) job, and is a single, 24 year old mom of two boys...she is trying to signal to others that she has made it, that despite her low-income background and single mom status, she is doing fine. I'm not saying it's a good decision. I'm saying that it is not to be sneered at and scorned--it was done out of ignorance and complex social circumstances."

Rewritten to have the same meaning, by removing class terms:
Example of social pressure on people that leads to highly anti-Mustachian behavior: I just (five minutes ago) saw a wonderful former student on facebook post that she bought a brand new Ford Expedition. Catastrophic financial decision. Absolutely breathtakingly horrible. She has a stable (albeit very low-wage) job, and is a single, 24 year old mom of two boys...she is trying to signal to others that she has made it, she is doing fine. I'm not saying it's a good decision."

I think that applies to every 24 year old, I'm pretty sure you have people from every socioeconomic class doing this exact behavior. People from all walks of life do stupid things, it doesn't matter if they're Filipino, poor, non-white, Asian (OP terms, pulled from this thread) etc. Those details don't add to the story, its just a weird way of saying they're not like the OP. Can you tell me the difference between our 2 paragraphs? Both end up with a massive car loan that apparently jeopardizes the families monetary well being.
[/quote]

This made me think for a while. IS it relevant that she is from a different race/class than me? I'm not sure. Now that you point it out...maybe not. I have to think about it some more.

DO I look down on my students for being from a different race/class than me? Probably so, although I'd like to believe not. I have my own cultural and racial biases that I wrestle with as much as anyone else. Most of the time I have a lot of respect for my students, because after 14 years of working with them I have been exposed to the complexity and difficulty of the struggles they face. I try not to make assumptions about them anymore (I make a point of asking all my former students "what are you doing these days?" OR (my favorite question) "read any cool books lately?" because my big thing is encouraging reading. So I don't think I would ask one student if he were in college and the other where he was working, implying I had different expectations for them, as the teacher in your earlier comment did.)

Anyway...my students (I don't worry about what their parents do; I do attempt to see them as individuals) often make personal financial decisions that I consider horrific. And they make fun of me endlessly for my ancient car and second hand clothes. This doesn't bother me as a personal thing, but I struggle with how to help them understand the financial decisions they see me making, and I also try very hard to understand where they are coming from with their decisions. One significant drawback to the lifestyle I embrace is that as far as they are concerned is that it doesn't make higher education look very attractive. I've tried to explain the magic of compound interest but it doesn't have the same magic as a new car.

I definitely have blind spots. Still...seeing their decisions within the context of their culture--I don't know how else to be sensitive to their needs. They don't exist in a vacuum. It's easy for me to drive clunkers and wear non-name-brand clothes. My social circles reward/congratulate such behavior. I DO think class/culture/race has something to do with this.

ariapluscat

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 486
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #44 on: June 10, 2016, 09:03:24 AM »
I think the point is that people of non-white races literally wouldn't be able to have their car parked, go in, and eat the meal, even if they could pay for it. Depending on the area, racial minorities can face a lot of hostility right up to refusal of services.

Consider this black teen who made a facepunch worthy purchase but was accused of credit card fraud due to his race: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/barneys-accused-stealing-black-teen-article-1.1493101
As much as MMM forum members might agree that this wasn't a wise financial purchase for someone still in college, I think that none of us would go so far as to say it's out of the norm in our consumer driven culture or that it would be wrong to assume financial solvency based only on race.

Even rich celebrities like Oprah have faced refusal of sales due to, most likely, their race:
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/oprah-winfrey-victim-of-racism-in-switzerland-billionaire-told-she-cant-afford-expensive-handbag-at-8753660.html
It's a bit harder to call a designer purse purchase out of Oprah's budget (though it is still wasteful) and I'd assume Oprah was looking rich and put together as always, so the racial element becomes more prominent in the assumption she can't afford the purchase. Economic signals of ability to buy the purse were totally ignored.

I feel like the history of upper class establishments being exclusively white and refusing service to blacks should be pretty historically obvious.

Blue-chip Black: Race, Class, and Status in the New Black Middle Class has a great chapter on how black families choose to reproduce their middle class status in their children as a priority in areas of spending like education and appearance.


I also don't understand the point of some of the responses. Yes economic class discrimination also exists. Does this disprove the OP point? Why bring up whether this is a stronger or more common occurrence in a thread specifically about racial or cultural discrimination? Why derail? Why not go to one of the threads already existing on the topic like secret shame or too poor? I'd even suggest that some of these examples of poor whites gets into the racial component of white-ness. I'm living in the Boston area after living in Virginia, and there's definitely a racial component to negative comments whites make about poor Irish families here as opposed to "real" whites with British-colonial descent or "real" white Puritan-Christian backgrounds.

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3519
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #45 on: June 11, 2016, 07:00:44 AM »
It would be easy for me to judge her. Except I know that both she and her husband are immigrants who have a strong compulsion to send huge quantities of money back to their families who are still living in the Philippines.
What I don't understand:  Why has this "sending money home" thing gone on for years?  I can totally understand sending money when someone's in trouble -- Dad needs surgery, little brother needs help with tuition, sister wants to move into a bigger place because she just had twins -- but isn't sending money on a constant basis a bad idea?  Wouldn't that money be better spent in helping the family relocate to a place where they wouldn't need constant handouts? 

I'm thinking of the "give a man a fish" thing.

I like to use the metaphor of someone morbidly obese: I will never EVER judge someone who is morbidly obese who is taking a walk/run in the park. They are trying, and that is what is important. A morbidly obese person eating at McDonald's, I will judge mercilessly, because they AREN'T trying.
That's a good metaphor, but I disagree that you're not judging the person who's exercising.  The word "judging" has taken on a negative connotation, meaning it always seems to mean that your opinion on the person's actions is poor.  You can also judge that someone is making good choices, which is exactly what you're doing when you look at the overweight person and think, "Good for him." 

I don't think the immigrant who is sending copious amounts of money overseas while their daughter has to go to community college is making a poor financial decision.  It's prudent to make the most out of the least expensive, decent option.  This applies to transportation (which you understand) as much as education.  Good that you've been able to set aside a chunk of change for your own child's university adventure, but if all that does is enable you to overpay for your kid's first 2 years of college, there is little net benefit to him or you. It isn't the frugal option. Calculus is Calculus,  whether you learn it in High School (possibly free!) at community college  (cheap) or at fancy pants named school (nucking futs if your 100 & 200 level cla$$es are all taught by TA's).  It might be good for him to sit in Ivy League classrooms, but unless he's on a full scholarship, it isn't frugal.  It's antifrugal.
Eh, not so much.  My oldest child went straight to a four-year university;  my youngest chose to stay at home and begin at community college.  At every turn my oldest's opportunities were better:  Better experience with class guidance and registration, better professors, better communication on every level.  Community college genuinely has been a second-rate experience for my youngest.  I'm glad she opted to leave it after one year. 

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3519
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #46 on: June 11, 2016, 07:25:35 AM »
It would be easy for me to judge her. Except I know that both she and her husband are immigrants who have a strong compulsion to send huge quantities of money back to their families who are still living in the Philippines.
What I don't understand:  Why has this "sending money home" thing gone on for years?  I can totally understand sending money when someone's in trouble -- Dad needs surgery, little brother needs help with tuition, sister wants to move into a bigger place because she just had twins -- but isn't sending money on a constant basis a bad idea?  Wouldn't that money be better spent in helping the family relocate to a place where they wouldn't need constant handouts? 

I'm thinking of the "give a man a fish" thing.

I like to use the metaphor of someone morbidly obese: I will never EVER judge someone who is morbidly obese who is taking a walk/run in the park. They are trying, and that is what is important. A morbidly obese person eating at McDonald's, I will judge mercilessly, because they AREN'T trying.
That's a good metaphor, but you're totally judging the person who's exercising.  The word "judging" has taken on a negative connotation, meaning it always seems to mean that your opinion on the person's actions is poor.  You can also judge that someone is making good choices, which is exactly what you're doing when you look at the overweight person and think, "Good for him." 

I don't think the immigrant who is sending copious amounts of money overseas while their daughter has to go to community college is making a poor financial decision.  It's prudent to make the most out of the least expensive, decent option.  This applies to transportation (which you understand) as much as education.  Good that you've been able to set aside a chunk of change for your own child's university adventure, but if all that does is enable you to overpay for your kid's first 2 years of college, there is little net benefit to him or you. It isn't the frugal option. Calculus is Calculus,  whether you learn it in High School (possibly free!) at community college  (cheap) or at fancy pants named school (nucking futs if your 100 & 200 level cla$$es are all taught by TA's).  It might be good for him to sit in Ivy League classrooms, but unless he's on a full scholarship, it isn't frugal.  It's antifrugal.
Eh, not so much.  My oldest child went straight to a four-year university;  my youngest chose to stay at home and begin at community college.  At every turn my oldest's opportunities were better:  Better experience with class guidance and registration, better professors, better communication on every level.  Community college genuinely has been a second-rate experience for my youngest.  I'm glad she opted to leave it after one year. 

Right--have you ever read "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbra Ehrenreich? Very interesting book--the author did an experiment in which she took three minimum wage jobs in three different areas of the country and tried to live on just minimum wage. What happens to people who are very poor is that they can't take advantage of many "Mustachian" type strategies. Also, there is enormous social pressure among the very poor to give any windfalls to friends and family, because in most cases they have given you their windfalls in the past.
Yes, I've read it.  The author started out to prove that the poor just can't get ahead, and -- yep -- she proved what she already believed.  Thing is, she attempted to live with middle class values on a poor person's salary; she attempted to adapt to "poor people's jobs" but never made any attempt to understand how poor people "get by". 

Have you read Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepherd ?  A college student, he read Ehrenreich's book and thought it was an unfair trial -- so he recreated it, with one big difference:  Instead of assuming eventual failure, he came at it from the viewpoint that a young, healthy person with no education or real advantages could get ahead in the world.  Like Ehrenreich, he went to a new city, took on a string of low-skill jobs ... but he used strategies that poor people actually use -- he slept in a homeless shelter, he went to church revivals because he knew free food would be offered, he took on a second job ... and a year later he had an apartment, a vehicle, and money in the bank.  Okay, I just gave away the ending, but the book is worth reading; he discusses lots of small issues that middle class people don't think about:  Fearing that his stuff'll be stolen at the homeless shelter while he's working, being injured and unable to take a day off or go to the doctor. 

Fair enough, I took your earlier comment as criticism towards teaching. No, I'm not a teacher, but I have a ton of friends that are and completely sympathize with them after seeing how hard they work and how little they earn (at least compared to me).
As an actual teacher, I'll add this:  People tend to think they know about teaching -- because, after all, weren't we all students?  Essentially nothing on this thread shows any real insight into what the job of teaching is like. 

For one thing, people don't go into education because they love kids.  People go into education -- no, make that people who stay in education long-term -- people enter the educational field because they need employment ... and because they think working with kids is a good way to meet that need.  In contrast, people who just love kids turn towards volunteer options -- teaching Sunday school or working with youth groups, even working with difficult kids.  I don't know anyone would would teach school 180 days a year, starting at the crack of dawn, dealing with parents and meetings and difficult kids for free. 

LouLou

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 246
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #47 on: June 11, 2016, 10:36:26 PM »

The thing is, for a lot of people, this would have been really embarrassing. Why is that? Well, because if one isn't white, one doesn't have the luxury of being assumed to be of a certain socio-economic status purely based on race. Instead, one has to "signal" socio-economic status through the use of consumer goods.


As a Black person, I understand what you mean.  I mention that I am a married lawyer in the first sentence of my Airbnb requests so I don't get rejected. #AirbnbWhileBlack is a thing:  http://www.npr.org/2016/04/26/475623339/-airbnbwhileblack-how-hidden-bias-shapes-the-sharing-economy.  Guests with black-sounding names are rejected at higher rates, and hosts could only replace those rejected guests a third of the time.  The woman featured in the article stopped  being rejected when she changed her name on the site and got rid of her picture.

Signaling has nothing to do with deeply caring about what some stranger thinks of me.  I signal so I can get the transaction done at all! I just want access to a kitchen on my vacation folks.  The key life lesson is learning how to signal while spending less of your own funds.  I am accomplished at signaling wealth with thrift store clothing.

Mind you, I don't think this applies exclusively to minorities.  But there are definitely particular stereotypes assigned to different groups of people, and the individuals in those groups have to grapple with those stereotypes.

TheGrimSqueaker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2189
  • Location: A desert wasteland, where none but the weird survive
  • www.theliveinlandlord.com
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #48 on: June 12, 2016, 05:59:11 PM »
What I don't understand:  Why has this "sending money home" thing gone on for years?  I can totally understand sending money when someone's in trouble -- Dad needs surgery, little brother needs help with tuition, sister wants to move into a bigger place because she just had twins -- but isn't sending money on a constant basis a bad idea?  Wouldn't that money be better spent in helping the family relocate to a place where they wouldn't need constant handouts? 

I'm thinking of the "give a man a fish" thing.

They see it differently. They see it as having the overseas worker provide the means for the entire next generation to learn to fish, instead of having the overseas worker grill up his catch and eat it himself while the rest of his family goes without.

First, family isn't just a nuclear parents-and-kids thing everywhere the way it is in many industrialized countries. When people talk about moving "the whole family" from the Philippines, that doesn't just mean the spouse and kids. It means means brothers, nieces, great-aunts, and possibly a dozen households in total. That's a lot of plane tickets, and a lot of mouths to feed until the others become employable, which could take a while for reasons I'll get to in a minute.

Second, even if you could wave a magic wand and transport family members across the sea, there's the issue of how to feed and house them once they arrive. A dollar in rural Luzon goes a lot farther than it does anywhere in Minnesota because of the exchange rate and because of the far lower cost of living in rural Luzon. Whereas half of a worker's income might barely feed the large extended family if they were in Minnesota (and forget about putting clothes on their backs or a roof over their heads), in Luzon it can comfortably support more than one household while covering the school fees of the next generation, who can be reasonably expected to have high-status, high-income occupations afterwards.

Third, the worker is holding up his end of a bargain. Where he came from, public education beyond the rudiments most likely wasn't free, and his family had to make huge sacrifices in order to make sure he learned English and got the kind of skills that led to him being employed on a cruise line or as an overseas worker. He may have benefited from an overseas-working aunt or cousin who went before him. But instead of paying that person back, the custom is to pay forward to the rest of the family. Someone worked so that he could have the opportunity to learn and earn, so it's his turn to provide for whoever is next in line.

Fourth, I mentioned earlier that there's a lot better bang for the buck when the buck is spent on people back in Luzon as opposed to people who migrate to a higher cost of living country, but because of the exchange rate it's very hard for the people back home to understand just how little purchasing power the overseas worker actually has. There's the misperception that the overseas worker is rich, but in reality it's not unusual for a family "back home" to be much more affluent if they save and invest at least some of what gets sent back. Many times, a family with an overseas worker uses the extra income to buy land, stock, or other income producing assets that (together with education) permanently improve the socio-economic class of the entire family. Everyone gets upwardly mobile.

Fifth, I mentioned earlier that it might take a while to become employable in a new country. Suppose a person reading this post was instantly transported to a country where he or she didn't speak or even read the language, and had to try to make a living surrounded only by, say, Farsi speakers. How easy would it be to practice your profession? You could be a surgeon, an engineer, or an airline pilot, but without communication skills you'll be lucky to get work scrubbing floors. So it makes far more sense to stay home and do what you were trained to do.

A lot of the people you see scrubbing floors have university degrees in other countries, but due to differences in the credential system they can't use their credential to get work here. While I was living in Alberta and working nights in an office, I was often used as an opportunity for speech practice by other night workers. It's because news got around that I liked to trade words. In exchange for a few words in Tagalog or Vietnamese I'd help with vocabulary in a language I spoke fluently. This made me far more approachable than most of the rest of the night shift, and the notion of trading words makes an impromptu lesson feel less like receiving charity. Thus I struck up an extended ongoing conversation with one of the janitors, who like many people from Vietnam used me from English practice but spoke fluent French. He was university educated and had an undergraduate pre-medical degree, but had settled in Alberta for family reasons and was going to school to get his high school equivalency diploma so he could qualify for a better job. Since English was his fourth language, one day he indicated that it was very frustrating to him to be treated as having never learned the basics when in reality he was more than qualified to teach the courses (except for the language barrier). Many of his friends and co-workers were in the same boat.

Naturally, I asked my co-worker why he didn't simply take the exam in French. He looked at me as if I'd hit him in the back of the head with a board, and asked whether that was actually possible. I told him I'd find out, but that the law required all provincial services to be offered in both French and English. The next day I called around during business hours and parlez-vous'ed a bit to make sure I had the facts straight and that the services could indeed be accessed through francophone-only channels. Then I collected the relevant addresses, prices, phone numbers, and business hours, and proudly handed them off to my buddy the next day with a sincere "bonne chance". He took the little piece of paper as though it was made of platinum and thanked me profusely. I never saw him again (never got the chance to say Tạm Biệt), but I like to think he went in and aced the test the next day, then left for greener pastures. Sadly, that option isn't available to most people who immigrate: they have to learn the language from scratch, and work substantially below their skill level in the meantime. Were they back in their native countries, they wouldn't be scrubbing floors because they'd be working in the professions for which they'd been educated. That's why so many people from overseas-worker economies stay home even after having been educated on a relative's time and dime.

Finally, there's the ubuntu concept. If you're used to thinking of yourself as a member of a much larger collective, then enriching yourself at the expense of everyone else's opportunities feels selfish and inappropriate, even if nobody ever overtly pressures you to feel that way. There's always one more kid to put through school, and that mentality applies regardless of whether you stay home or work abroad.

I'm not saying whether there's a right or wrong way of looking at it, I'm just presenting the point of view I had explained to me by people who were actually living the life.

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3643
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: Compassion for Anti-Mustachianism
« Reply #49 on: June 12, 2016, 06:36:55 PM »
Grim,

Thank you so, you explained it far better than I could.

I'm a first-generation American, my family is from India. My uncle was the first to come across when he received a full medical scholarship to the U of MN, and then brought some family members across including my grandfather and father. My grandfather started a store to earn some money, and later transitioned to being a wholesaler. My father took it over, and now I run it. I am eternally grateful towards my family and towards this country for the opportunities that exist. My family in India is middle class, but have done very well here in the US.

My cousins and siblings have largely done very well for themselves even though we are the first to be born here, within one generation we have lawyers, doctors, scientists, engineers, and businessmen(women).