Author Topic: I'm not "lucky"  (Read 8092 times)

MgoSam

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I'm not "lucky"
« on: March 15, 2016, 12:29:38 PM »
Although I'll admit that in many ways I am lucky (born to two stable parents that were able to teach me many useful things being just one example) but I was trading emails with a friend of mine. He's in his 40s and is complaining about not have enough saved for a downpayment. This is a guy that's earned more than I have for the bulk of his working life (I've only been working for 6 years as I'm 28) and has spent nearly all of it.

In addition, he's rented out the rooms in his condo for the past few years, which pays off his mortgage and association dues. So he's been largely living rent-free, and yet he still hasn't been able to save money.

He just got a small bonus and plans on spending it on a 4k TV and also pines about wanting to buy a used pickup because he wants one (he's good about admitting that he doesn't need it).

I know that he doesn't want any advice from me, but I find it hard to bite my tongue. I did tell him off when he said I was "lucky," to be able to afford a house and to be able to live alone in it (I want roommates but only if they are a good fit, thankfully I have found one that's looking to move in at the end of the month).

Nederstash

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2016, 01:23:22 PM »
Ugh, I heartily dislike that attitude! As if you somehow cheated the system or slipped through the cracks, but no notion of his own responsibility regarding income and spending. Nope, that's just the way of the world, and him a helpless victim caught in the web. Quick, call the whaaambulance.

A friend of mine was in a similar position. She needed 6k and mentioned it would take her 2 years to save that much, so she needed to get a loan (with a horrid percentage of interest). Now I thought she was making shit pay, so I commiserated for a bit, until she mentioned her take home pay was 2500 a month. I make the same amount. I know her monthly fixed expenses are pretty similar to mine so I mentioned I saved 1200 a month on the same take home pay. All she'd need to do, was to skip the nail salon, take out, cigarettes, restaurants, bars and the mall and she'd have that loan paid off in no time.

I was met with a stare that was somewhere between disgust and exasperation, as she explained why exactly that was clearly impossible. I just hope she starts making some real money soon so she can save more, but somehow I think the expenses will expand along with any raise...

dycker1978

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2016, 02:04:08 PM »
You were luck to be born in the USA, and not to a third world country.  It does sound like he was afforded the same luck though, seeing as you both work at the same place.

Other then that luck seems to look an hole bunch like hard work and good choices. 

Uturn

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2016, 02:06:50 PM »
I get this same thing from some high school buddies and even my brother.  Dude, we grew up in the same room!  How am I luckier?  These are people who made fun of me for joining the military to get an education, then made fun of me for not buying more things with motors.  And now make fun of me for not having cable and making my own furniture.   I suppose they are right, I am the lucky one.  It would suck to not have figured out that interest works both ways.

Alternatepriorities

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2016, 02:19:36 PM »
Years ago a friend looked at my dad's yard and commented that he must be very "blessed" to have such a beautiful place. His response was something like, "it was three acres of scraggly trees when I started, but I was blessed with the ambition to change that." He'd probably spent 20 years working on his yard at that point and another 10 since. I remember when it was just trees and how much work it took to change that. We lived without electricity or running water for several years building improvement after improvement as funds were available. Despite pushing 70 and "retired" every time I go home he's working on a new project and his retirement hobby has turned into a viable business. It's probably no coincidence that his TV is smaller than my monitor. When he "upgraded" to digital a few years ago the sales guy couldn't believe he didn't want a larger one for twenty dollars more...

I'm sure you are lucky in many ways, but that doesn't detract anything from the hard work, sacrifices, and general badassity it takes to own a house at 28!

mm1970

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2016, 02:30:29 PM »
Context is important for the lucky conversation and comparison.

With someone who has had the same approximate advantages, yes, it's ridiculous.  As in this case.

With someone who hasn't (30 world country, druggie parents, homelessness, etc.), it's a bit different.

vern

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2016, 02:56:54 AM »
Get used to it.

AM43

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2016, 08:37:07 AM »
"The Harder I Work, the Luckier I Get"

Camarillo Brillo

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2016, 08:57:37 AM »
For years my wife and I have been accused of being lucky.  We denied it and attributed it all to hard work.  But now, I'm not so sure.  I see a lot of other people make good choices and work hard, but they don't seem to get the same breaks.

So what was our luck?  Born white. Born in the US.  Grew up in a small town with good schools.  Was able to pay for college on my own, working several jobs, and had college loans of just $1,500.  Moved to Silicon Valley in '82 and had a good run of working for successful startups.  Got lucky buying several houses that each significantly appreciated.  My wife got lucky as a stock broker and had 1.8M in her 401K by the time we were 40.  Moved back to the Midwest expecting to make less $$ than we did in CA, and lucked out getting a job that pays far more.  And on and on.

But on the flipside, have had a few unlucky things happen, too.  Dad went to prison when I was a toddler.  Dad died at age 35 from massive heart attack when I was 8.  I had heart attack when I was 27, requiring a quad by-pass.  I've had several more heart attacks and was told the next step was a heart transplant.  But, somehow I got lucky, put a bigger focus on exercise and diet, and my condition improved just enough to move me over the threshold so that I no longer need that.

My wife's 401K got clobbered back in '99 dropping the value to under $1M.  My youngest son was diagnosed with same hereditary heart disease my dad had, and that I have. But, he's being effectively treated with a combo of meds.

So, yep, all in all, we've been lucky.

jinga nation

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2016, 09:25:56 AM »
A MustachianTM is an enlightened soul that has escaped the clutches of consumerism unlike all them muh'fuggers.

Yeah, Luck has everything to do with it. Sure...

JZinCO

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2016, 09:31:44 AM »
I would take 'lucky' as a compliment. Luck is not winning the lottery, it's preparation met with opportunity. So being lucky does mean achieving success because you can take advantage of opportunities tha tothers cannot because you put in the hard work of preparation.

onlykelsey

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2016, 09:34:03 AM »
You're undoubtedly lucky for being born when and where you were to who you were, but so is he.

NoVa

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2016, 10:21:39 AM »
I would take 'lucky' as a compliment. Luck is not winning the lottery, it's preparation met with opportunity. So being lucky does mean achieving success because you can take advantage of opportunities tha tothers cannot because you put in the hard work of preparation.

Nike had a kid's t-shirt that said: "I'm sorry I practiced more than you".

mskyle

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2016, 10:31:54 AM »
I think of myself as very lucky.

In addition to a bunch of other privileges I lucked into (race, social class, etc.), I've avoided making some dumb decisions and managed to adopt some less-destructive ways of looking at the world. And if I made those better decisions because I'm smarter or have a better work ethic... well, I guess I'm lucky I'm smart and have a good work ethic.

Let this roll off your back! Who cares what this guy thinks? He can see things however he wants and you can see things however you want.

Zikoris

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2016, 10:32:59 AM »
I find that most of the people who accuse me of being "lucky" have had all the same luck I've had (and more often) in their own lives. That and dramatically different spending choices throughout life.

MgoSam

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2016, 12:06:45 PM »
I agree with what everyone is saying.

I'm not trying to say that I'm not a lucky person, because I am. There are too many parts of the world where being born means enslavement, disenfranchisement, a lack of upward mobility, and many more things.

What I was trying to say is that I have done a fairly good job of taking advantage of my opportunities. Sure, a huge part of that is influenced by my parents.

In the case of my former roommate that I was mentioning, his brother-in-law is a financial planner and apparently a good one at that. My friend complains that he doesn't have the money to start investing (beyond 401k and stock options). This is a guy that travels for work (which I would argue saves money as that means several nights a week without needing to drive his car or cook or eat out on his own dime). His response to getting a pay raise was to look into buying a pickup. His response to getting a bonus that was unexpected was to shop for a 4k TV. He has done many smart things (his condo he bought at forclosure during the collapse and he repaired it wonderfully), but I hate the thought that I am simply "lucky," and that my work played no impact in it.

MrsDinero

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2016, 12:20:06 PM »
...I hate the thought that I am simply "lucky," and that my work played no impact in it.

this is how I feel about being called lucky. Don't confuse hard work and self sacrifice with luck.   Luck didn't play into it when I got rid of 2/3 of my possessions and downsized from 1800sq ft to 600 sqft (it really got me started on my FI journey).  Luck doesn't play into it every time I decide to not make a purchase and instead save the money.

My one friend I would consider lucky.  She barely has enough money to pay her bills and has been on the edge of foreclosure for years.  Everytime something is turned off, money appears in her account (parents, inheritance, refund for something or other, etc.).  Not a lot but usually enough to get her back on track with maybe a tiny bit extra. 

What I have realized is that when someone says I was "lucky to be able to downsize" what they mean is I'm lucky I had to courage to make a drastic change. 

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2016, 12:22:29 PM »
I look at it crudely this way: you get dealt a hand, and then you decide how to play it. Personally I got dealt a fantastic hand - I grew up in Dallas instead of Bangui, my parents paid for my education, and I was able to do well at school without much effort. I try not to judge those who got dealt worse hands - but when I see somebody get a good card (like that bonus your friend got) and throw it away (buying a TV), and then they complain - that frustrates me.

My feelings for those who got dealt a hand like mine and couldn't get their life together approach contempt.

StarBright

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #18 on: March 16, 2016, 01:20:50 PM »
FWIW- when possible, I use conversations like this as a "teachable moment."  At the very least they are an opportunity to help people see that not all people approach the world the same way (ie. keeping up with the Joneses).

I have a colleague I've worked with for years that is a wonderful guy in a good job ( I know he brings in over 100k) that never has money. He truly feels poor.

He once commented that I was "Lucky" that I could support my family on my income (probably about half of what he makes). I was able to say something along the lines of "Sure I'm lucky that I was born in America to parents that stressed and helped pay for a college education, but in the 8 years we've worked together have you ever seen me go out to lunch or take a nice vacation? (this guy takes his whole family on several ski trips a year that don't even count as "vacations") My husband and I are actually extremely frugal and work very hard to live below our means . . .  etc etc"

My coworker had obviously never given it much thought, but to his credit, he actually heard what I said and started to take notice of how I live. In the years since we've had that conversation he has commented multiple times on how I save money or asked if I'm doing something a certain way to be frugal.

He may not be a better saver, but he doesn't see what I do as "luck" anymore. I think that is a good first step.

If it comes up again, and you feel comfortable, I suggest talking about how what you do is a conscious choice that you are making and is actually hard work.

mm1970

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2016, 02:28:36 PM »
For years my wife and I have been accused of being lucky.  We denied it and attributed it all to hard work.  But now, I'm not so sure.  I see a lot of other people make good choices and work hard, but they don't seem to get the same breaks.

So what was our luck?  Born white. Born in the US.  Grew up in a small town with good schools.  Was able to pay for college on my own, working several jobs, and had college loans of just $1,500.  Moved to Silicon Valley in '82 and had a good run of working for successful startups.  Got lucky buying several houses that each significantly appreciated.  My wife got lucky as a stock broker and had 1.8M in her 401K by the time we were 40.  Moved back to the Midwest expecting to make less $$ than we did in CA, and lucked out getting a job that pays far more.  And on and on.

But on the flipside, have had a few unlucky things happen, too.  Dad went to prison when I was a toddler.  Dad died at age 35 from massive heart attack when I was 8.  I had heart attack when I was 27, requiring a quad by-pass.  I've had several more heart attacks and was told the next step was a heart transplant.  But, somehow I got lucky, put a bigger focus on exercise and diet, and my condition improved just enough to move me over the threshold so that I no longer need that.

My wife's 401K got clobbered back in '99 dropping the value to under $1M.  My youngest son was diagnosed with same hereditary heart disease my dad had, and that I have. But, he's being effectively treated with a combo of meds.

So, yep, all in all, we've been lucky.
This is pretty good.  It's nice to really reflect and understand how various things affect your life and how well you do.

So many little things affect it -
- Your parents
- Your sex
- Your skin color
- Where you were born
- What year you graduated from college (was it a recession?  or not?  were you in the military - when were you in? '92-97 wasn't a bad time to be in)
- Health
- Genetics

I worked with a younger engineer once, and we were philosophizing on education and engineering and success.  His dad was a stockbroker.  So he was pretty blessed to be coming from that (but his childhood home burned down TWO TIMES).  He said "well, not everyone is lucky enough to graduate with no debt because of wealthy parents, like me."  And I said "and not everybody is all that smart."  I think he was so used to being PC he was a bit shocked. 

But really - you can't put ALL the blame on lack of success in engineering (for example) because of how much money your parents had, or whatever. Some people just aren't good at it.  (Likewise, there are many things that I'm not good at.)


I have a former boss who is also mustachian and has done well.  Doesn't sweat layoffs (has been laid off 2 years).  Owns 2 homes, travels, sold his wife's business. He's often trying to give me advice on buying into agriculture for the tax breaks.  But by the simple fact of *when* we bought our house, we have $280k less to spend on things like agriculture.  Well, that's just bad luck.  Or lack of knowledge on how bad the housing bubble was going to get.  As I'm not in that industry, label it as you will!

Dollar Slice

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2016, 02:51:04 PM »
I've been lucky in a lot of ways (and unlucky in some as well) but 9 times out of 10 when someone tells me "you're so lucky..." they are referring to something that had almost nothing to do with luck.

Gone Fishing

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #21 on: March 16, 2016, 03:09:03 PM »
I just smile and say, "thanks"!  If someone wants to learn, I'll teach, but there is no point wasting my energy doing a post mortem on the commenter's lack of "luck".
« Last Edit: March 17, 2016, 07:31:29 AM by So Close »

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #22 on: March 16, 2016, 03:25:23 PM »
I just smile and say, "thanks"!  If someone want's to learn, I'll teach, but there is no point wasting my energy doing a post mortem on the commenter's lack of "luck".

If a person wants to ask how to do something, they'll ask. They label things as "luck" or "talent" when they either don't want to know what it takes, or know but aren't willing to do it.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #23 on: March 16, 2016, 03:52:42 PM »
I just smile and say, "thanks"!  If someone want's to learn, I'll teach, but there is no point wasting my energy doing a post mortem on the commenter's lack of "luck".

Looks like you're just a couple weeks away from your ER date. Congratulations on the results of all the stuff you did that didn't require luck.

Doubleh

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2016, 04:39:37 PM »
I doubt there are many people on this board who couldn't be legitimately described as lucky - at bare minimum by definition you have access to the internet, and hence reliable electricity. There's a pretty good chance you probably have running water too, which in global terms means you've hit the jackpot.

So there's nothing wrong with being called lucky - I think what bristles people is the unspoken subtext - "you're luckier than me" and by extension "thats why you have security while I can barely cover the cost of my ski trip and struggle to meet the repayments on my truck".

Of course that is pretty much exactly what the other person is telling themselves, whether consciously or not, and that allows them to abrogate responsibility for their "less lucky" position in life.

I'd be inclined to respond with a simple "Yep, I sure am. And so are you!"

kite

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #25 on: March 18, 2016, 09:01:51 AM »
Read a bit of Shakespeare.  Comparisons are odorous.  http://www.english-for-students.com/Comparisons-are-Odious.html
This theme is as old as the hills, going back even to biblical times. 
Life advice:  be Fezziwig, not Scrooge.  Don't complain, don't compare, don't take offense at expressions of the obvious.  You are lucky.  Just go dancing....or whatever floats your boat.


dycker1978

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #26 on: March 18, 2016, 09:08:53 AM »
For years my wife and I have been accused of being lucky.  We denied it and attributed it all to hard work.  But now, I'm not so sure.  I see a lot of other people make good choices and work hard, but they don't seem to get the same breaks.

So what was our luck?  Born white. Born in the US.  Grew up in a small town with good schools.  Was able to pay for college on my own, working several jobs, and had college loans of just $1,500.  Moved to Silicon Valley in '82 and had a good run of working for successful startups.  Got lucky buying several houses that each significantly appreciated.  My wife got lucky as a stock broker and had 1.8M in her 401K by the time we were 40.  Moved back to the Midwest expecting to make less $$ than we did in CA, and lucked out getting a job that pays far more.  And on and on.

But on the flipside, have had a few unlucky things happen, too.  Dad went to prison when I was a toddler.  Dad died at age 35 from massive heart attack when I was 8.  I had heart attack when I was 27, requiring a quad by-pass.  I've had several more heart attacks and was told the next step was a heart transplant.  But, somehow I got lucky, put a bigger focus on exercise and diet, and my condition improved just enough to move me over the threshold so that I no longer need that.

My wife's 401K got clobbered back in '99 dropping the value to under $1M.  My youngest son was diagnosed with same hereditary heart disease my dad had, and that I have. But, he's being effectively treated with a combo of meds.

So, yep, all in all, we've been lucky.
First of all, I just want to say sorry about all the shit that has happened, but good on you for staying positive.

No the reason I quoted this is to point out that the positive attitude is where "luck" comes from in a lot of cases.  A lot of people would have through up their hands and said "why is the world against me" with those health issues.  But the poster choose to see it as upbeat as possible.  This is the difference to me...

BTDretire

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #27 on: March 18, 2016, 11:20:59 AM »
I get this same thing from some high school buddies and even my brother.  Dude, we grew up in the same room!  How am I luckier?  These are people who made fun of me for joining the military to get an education, then made fun of me for not buying more things with motors.  And now make fun of me for not having cable and making my own furniture.   I suppose they are right, I am the lucky one.  It would suck to not have figured out that interest works both ways.

"interest works both ways." 
 I like that line!
 
   

Spud

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Re: I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #28 on: March 20, 2016, 12:44:17 AM »
The OPs friend sounds like the classic posterboy for lifestyle inflation.

I have a friend who recently got a new job, taking his salary from 35k to 50k, and I'm actually worried for him. Why? Because he will have a hard time not spending most of the extra ~ 700 he'll take home each month. He wife is very "spendy" as well so that really doesn't help.

The most mustachian thing you can do is lock into a certain standard of living early in your career and stay there, rather than always be escalating your spending and then feeling that the only way out of the hole is to pour more of yourself into your career to earn more money.

Seppia

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I'm not "lucky"
« Reply #29 on: March 20, 2016, 04:20:35 AM »
We are incredibly lucky.
I'm white, male, of average intelligence, had access to a reasonably good school system that was almost free (Italy), and had hard working parents who taught me to live below my means.
I've also been lucky to discover MMM (a guy recommended it on.... Wait for it... A watch forum - one of the least mustachian places ever lol) a couple years ago.
Before that, I was saving around 30-35% of my take home pay and already feeling like a champ.
Since then, savings rate has gone up significantly:
60% last year, while my wife and I were living in NY
I'm targeting 50% this year as we have moved back to Italy. I now make a little less (much more if taking into account cost of living) but my wife had to quit her job so we have one less salary for now.
If she finds a decent job we could skyrocket into the 70% range.
Last huge piece of luck: my wife is naturally frugal, so when I suggested we ramp up the savings rate she was onboard from day one.

Really, most of times what we can take credit for is just not being completely stupid with money.
I know this is already better than 90% of the developed world's population (who cannot do math) but I mean...
Easy stuff.