Author Topic: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?  (Read 23344 times)

scrubbyfish

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responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« on: December 13, 2014, 09:44:52 AM »
The segment in red is modified from the original post. I had first said "gifts, hampers, etc," and this caused confusion, as some reasonably believed I was referring to a gift of a laundry basket, as opposed to a poverty survival package.

I posted yesterday's embarrassing story in my Journal.

The gist: I live in a new-to-me area, thus I am new to lots of people here.
People keep offering me gifts -clothes, leftover food, etc, which I absolutely love.
Nearing Christmas now, several have offered me a "hamper", which in this context is a basket of Christmas food and Christmas toys organized for families "in need" and "at risk of having to move out of the area if they do not receive support".

It occurs to me that people here think I'm poor.
I don't think of myself as poor.
I have awesome savings -not filthy rich by Western standards (can't even buy a house in most of BC), but I have great savings.
Income is incredibly variable, sometimes zilch, sometimes solid.

I love generosity, and I love receiving gifts that I can use.
I consider myself interdependent: I do need the human community.
I don't love people thinking they need to help me out on the assumption that I can't afford things, because that's not the case.
I also don't love the embarrassment, shame, etc, I feel when people think I'm poor.

I've been thinking about why they think I'm poor. I think they are taking these as clues:
I rent.
I rent the cheapest, smallest option in the area. (I'm crazy happy in it!)
I have very few possessions by Western standards.
I'm an only parent (no child support, etc).
I put exactly $1 each week in the collection plate at church, not more, not less. (I also make a private donation annually, but only the two treasurers would know that, and my annual donation hasn't occurred in the short time I've been here, so even they don't. I give the Sunday dollar so that my son has something fun to do at church, and so that my son understands that these things require money to run. It's a "fun" and "teaching" thing, not a reflection of poverty.)
I wear one of only two pairs of pants and one of three shirts daily.
I wear dirty boots, but that's because it's muddy out.
If I know there will be a crazy excess of food at a gathering, I don't bring more.
My son often says, "I'm hungry!" We have lots of food, he is free to eat everything all day at will. His disability, though, leaves him fixated on food. When it's around, he says this so that people will give him cookies.
I don't buy alcohol, food, crafts, etc, at events.
I go to stuff that's free.
Out loud (but not loudly), in public, I actively teach my kid to budget, and I say no to requests for things I think are excessive.
I don't let my kid take more than $2-$4 to school events (I don't want him to lose his cash savings).
I naturally say things like, "This costume item for the school play is $3.50! Ouch!"
I walk everywhere, including in the rain and snow, when most others are driving.
I think about what I buy before I buy it, do not purchase on whims.
I am selective about what and how much I give to my kid.
I use the library on some sort of Olympic level.
I've gone to a restaurant zero times, and a coffee shop once.
I severely limit my daytime cell use re: cost.
I buy second-hand.

On the other hand:
I write a cheque to my son's school pretty much every week, because that's what they require. I do not request the low income waiver on those fees. I do not even post-date them like they permit.
I have a great and shiny car.
I've donated money to at least four community things.
I bought my son a small meal at the event that had no other option for contributing.
My son bought himself a big thing at another event.
I am very healthy and also very happy! Like, beaming a lot of the time. So is my kid.
We have all the weather-appropriate clothing we need.
We even have extras, like skates and things!

So, I'm pretty frugal, yes, but I'm not poor.
They want to help me because they think I'm sort of poor.
I don't want to say, "No thanks, I'm filthy rich."

I know other frugal people have been mistaken for poor. What do you say when they try to give you food, etc?
« Last Edit: December 14, 2014, 11:10:33 PM by scrubbyfish »

MoneyCat

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2014, 10:06:26 AM »
People give me free stuff all the time too, because they think I'm poor.  The proper response for me is "thank you".  And I give them some homemade cookies and stuff in return.  Making the adjustment to Mustachianism can be hard sometimes, because our society is so obsessed with our perceived status.  It's hard to let go of that.

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2014, 10:07:21 AM »
Yeah, everybody thinks I'm poor too.

They pity me because I'm different. I pity them because their all the same.

Then...I happily accept their generosity. Gush over the gently used clothes and items they give me and my kids and thank them profusely with a huge smile.

They're happy - they think they're helping me and my kids and it makes them feel good to do it.

I'm happy because we're reducing consumption and re-using things that would otherwise end up in a landfill and of course saving money.

Consider it a win-win. And remember to show gratitude.  I always send follow up notes that read, 'Thanks for thinking of us!'

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2014, 10:19:36 AM »
Maybe you could do something within the community you live in..doesn't have to be big..but one time and that will send a message that you are a giver not a taker and don't need handouts.  I feel good giving back to my community in ways and try to avoid people finding out but one time might be ok for you if it really bothers you. Personally, I wouldn't worry about it and perhaps follow some of the advice others mentioned.

Catbert

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2014, 10:31:46 AM »
Interestingly the only thing on your why-they-think-I'm-poor list which would bother me is the one thing that you can't change!  If I had a child and people thought he was hungry because I didn't have enough money for food that would bother me.  But in your case there's not much you can do about that since I'm sure you don't want to share with random strangers (except on the internet) your son's issues/problems.   

Inkedup

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2014, 10:33:23 AM »
My aunts keep sending checks for birthdays and holidays. They have long since stopped doing so for my other adult cousins. I have a feeling they are doing it out of pity because I still live at home and am not working in a lucrative industry where 6-figure incomes are the norm. When these gifts arrive I always send a thank-you note or make a phone call. Then I save the money until one of my cousins' children have a birthday. I also put some of the cash in the donation box at nearby churches.   

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2014, 10:40:24 AM »
I'm relieved to hear that others are being offered things for being Mustachian, too :)

To be clear, I am happy to receive gifts -I was delighted at the one I received last night! My response has consistently been a happy, appreciative, "Thank you!" This new piece is throwing me. I'm uncomfortable with
  • people giving because they assume I'm struggling when I'm actually not
  • essentially diverting stuff from people who actually are struggling
  • receiving the stuff these guys specifically meant to give to people who are poor
That is, these folks are wanting to help out poor people, but they're giving me the stuff instead. I'd prefer the excess gifts go to Kiva loans, or to people in Vancouver's downtown eastside. Or, better, as cash to people who can't afford to go to the dentist. Or put it into building affordable housing in BC. Heck, I'd take cash toward my son's crazy prematurity-related dental bill!

But the one hamper, for example, is specifically intended for people that don't have enough money for Christmas food and Christmas gifts for their kids, and who are at risk of leaving the community if they don't receive active help. Neither of those variables is true of me. I have no intention of leaving, and I could spend lots on those, I just like and believe in simple living, am saving up for the kid's orthodontic treatment, and don't really believe in a materialistic Christmas. I feel like I have to almost make a show of "having enough", but I don't want to spend on making a show, lol.

Greg

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2014, 10:50:01 AM »
I think it's time to start saying no thank you. You can elaborate when needed, for things you don't need for example (hamper). You could state bluntly that you aren't in need, but instead prefer a simpler lifestyle.

Inkedup

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2014, 10:55:22 AM »
>> I feel like I have to almost make a show of "having enough", but I don't want to spend on making a show, lol.

Yeah, I see what you mean. In my situation, I realize that nothing I do or say (or spend) would be enough to convince my relatives to stop. Just another case where I have to let go of other people's opinions of me, I guess :)

tracylayton

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2014, 11:17:55 AM »
When my oldest son was in 8th grade, a school counselor overheard him complaining how cold it was in our house. She had him come to her office to let him know there was financial help available for our electric bill. We couldn't stop laughing, when he came home and told us. We weren't poor...we were cheap!

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2014, 11:20:05 AM »
Hmmmm, this has been awesome! I hadn't been able to quite pinpoint the issue(s), and what to do, until we explored it here.

I will say, "Yes! Thank you!" to givings that are "just for fun" or for which I meet a specific criteria, and I will say, "Thank you, but my circumstances do not match the intention," for those gifts with specific intention that does not match.

After this season, I might even talk with "the committee that cannot find enough people to receive hampers" about what a lot of poor people actually find beneficial. (I was extremely poor once, and also worked in poverty alleviation. I think it's worth sharing stories about what gifts make the biggest difference, so that these gorgeous gifts of time and money can be channeled most effectively.)

When my oldest son was in 8th grade, a school counselor overheard him complaining how cold it was in our house. She had him come to her office to let him know there was financial help available for our electric bill. We couldn't stop laughing, when he came home and told us. We weren't poor...we were cheap!

:)))))))

Paul der Krake

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2014, 11:23:35 AM »
Are you sure they give you food because they think you can't afford it? If it's baked/prepared food it could just be because they think you lack time, not necessarily money.

Now if insist on giving you canned tuna and peanut butter, just say no thank you, and direct them to people who need it more than you if they insist.


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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2014, 11:32:05 AM »
Ha!  It's awkward.  My dad gave us a bunch of bread the other day.  He said he bought too much because he didn't realize how much they already had, but there was this part of me that wondered if they were worried since I just cancelled Netflix.  So I can relate!  But I just said "thank you!" and took it.  We ate it in our lunches that I pack, 'cause I'm frugal, not poor!

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2014, 11:44:37 AM »
Are you sure they give you food because they think you can't afford it? If it's baked/prepared food it could just be because they think you lack time, not necessarily money.

Agreed! Or, more specifically, when people give me gifts -including of food- I don't think they do so based on a sense of my lacking anything at all (time, money, talent, whatever).

Mostly when people give me gifts, I think it's because they feel like giving a gift, period. So, whether it's food, decorations, clothes, whatever, I receive it, then do with it as I wish (use it, share it, pass it along, give it to a thrift, whatever).

But the one hamper, for example, is specifically intended for people that don't have enough money for Christmas food and Christmas gifts for their kids, and who are at risk of leaving the community if they don't receive active help. More than one person has offered it to me.

iris lily

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2014, 11:49:31 AM »
...
But the one hamper, for example, is specifically intended for people that don't have enough money for Christmas food and Christmas gifts for their kids, and who are at risk of leaving the community if they don't receive active help. Neither of those variables is true of me. I have no intention of leaving, and I could spend lots on those, I just like and believe in simple living, am saving up for the kid's orthodontic treatment, and don't really believe in a materialistic Christmas. I feel like I have to almost make a show of "having enough", but I don't want to spend on making a show, lol.

This year, too late since I assume this is a holiday hamper of food items.

But to those givers, make it clear to a couple of the leaders in the group that you are not in need. Also, assure them that if you ARE in need you'll let them know.

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2014, 12:10:26 PM »
My mom gives me luxury items because I am too cheap to buy them myself and she is a master shopper and gets ridiculous discounts. I got the gene from somewhere.

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2014, 12:47:11 PM »
I am laughing now...

Thinking that if the hamper had:
teeth implants for my kid (he is congenitally missing a couple that he needs)
an orthodontic appliance for my kid (see above, $3000 out of pocket)
a warranty for the device Autism Funding just funded and that I fear we will break before the next funding period in three years
a gift certificate to a spa massage
a giant vat of mixed fancy nuts, because I love them
a wheeled hamper for our laundry trips
a land title certificate

I would totally take it. Happily! Joyfully!

Those are the things we could use. Spaghetti? We're okay for that! :)

Bob W

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2014, 12:58:31 PM »
How lucky you are!   

I think you're lucky to have such giving people in your life.   I do pretty much all the behaviors that you do and people rarely give me stuff.

One exception,  and this is really funny.  My 7 year old likes to hang out at the game room at the store while I check out.   I feel safe with this and keep an eye in that direction.    I don't give him coins to piss away and he is cool with this.    But on several occasions people have noted he has no coinage and given him coinage.  Sometimes he shows them to me,  puts them in his pocket for his saving account! 

The most ironic thing though is that people that are giving you stuff and money are often up to their eyeballs in debt.   

Like you I do believe in giving,  whether it be through the church or other venues.   I think the topic rarely comes up here.   Would be nice to see more threads on giving,  how to give,  how much,  who, when,  why. 

I truly feel that giving is an awesome thing and that being frugal allows one to give.   It would be nice also if our fellow Mustachians were aware of how to tell if someone was truly poor and how to help them best with money, time,  advice,  mentoring etc.   Poverty can't just be overcome by the generosity of others. 

I say a gentleman pick up a discarded can at the C-Store the other day.   In line I noticed he was poorly dressed (holey old clothes) and that he only put $10 in his vehicle.   I waited outside and motioned to him when he exited.   I handed him a 10 spot and said "hey, I saw you pick up that can that really bothered me (hate litters) and so here you go"   He was thrilled but not as happy as I was.

Sorry for the off thread ramble. 

sheepstache

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2014, 01:07:10 PM »
I can't think of a good answer to the question but enjoyed your descriptions :)  What stands out to me are that you are disciplined and happy and these are two vanishing virtues. Perhaps if you acted stressed out more often--because, you know, when your housekeeper doesn't dust correctly or your smartphone needs a software upgrade, these things are stressful--people would know you were one of them. Or if you seemed less like you had your life together, people could feel judgemental and then that would quash their charitable instincts. Just let them catch you drinking a beer or feeding your kid at McDonald's once and they'll be like, 'Oh, I'd love to lend her a hand but you know with people like that you're just enabling their poor decisions.'
Okay, none of these good suggestions.

Paul der Krake

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2014, 01:12:48 PM »
Or if you seemed less like you had your life together, people could feel judgemental and then that would quash their charitable instincts. Just let them catch you drinking a beer or feeding your kid at McDonald's once and they'll be like, 'Oh, I'd love to lend her a hand but you know with people like that you're just enabling their poor decisions.'
Hahahaha, that's just great. Although the fastest way would probably to smoke next to the kid.

crispy

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2014, 01:37:55 PM »
My aunts keep sending checks for birthdays and holidays. They have long since stopped doing so for my other adult cousins. I have a feeling they are doing it out of pity because I still live at home and am not working in a lucrative industry where 6-figure incomes are the norm. When these gifts arrive I always send a thank-you note or make a phone call. Then I save the money until one of my cousins' children have a birthday. I also put some of the cash in the donation box at nearby churches.

Maybe they keep sending it because you are the only who bothers to properly thank them.  Just another thought!

Rezdent

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2014, 02:01:56 PM »
Challenge your assumptions.
When faced with these thoughts it is always good to consider alternative theories as to why people behave.  Humans are remarkably poor at ascertaining others motives (fundamental attribute error).
If I were in your situation I would take these gestures as amazingly wonderful.
I would tell myself that they are accepting and building ties with you.  Possibly they are at least semi - mustachian and welcoming you into their fold as a kindred spirit.  I would ditch the self defeating notion that they pity you or consider you "poor" - that's you projecting your own self into their motives.
Even if my assumption of acceptance and bridge building is totally wrong, yours is as likely to be totally wrong too.  But mine makes me happy and allows me to accept the gestures and reciprocate in my own way.

When faced with trying to ascribe motives to others I always choose the most optimistic theory possible.  Because whatever theory I come up with is likely at least partially wrong, choosing the most positive is beneficial to me.  A bonus is that it is usually positive for the others as well.  Many times people have risen to my assumptions over time.  My world has improved immensely as a result.

Apparently this concept is called "Learned Optimism".  It is a skill that can be learned and applied.
Caveat:  I have occasionally been accused of wearing rose colored glasses. Being optimistic doesn't mean ignoring abuse, danger, or letting folks walk on you.

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2014, 02:07:12 PM »
This is all great!!!!

Bob W: It's true! I AM so lucky! So lucky to live amongst such caring and generous people. And I love being given things!

Even in Vancouver, complete strangers regularly bought things for my son. One lovely old fellow did so after noticing I was not automatically buying the thing my kid was excited about, and congratulating me for being so mindful in raising my kid to think things through, and telling my kid how awesome my kid's behaviour in the store was. He then asked my permission for *him* to buy Kid the thing, because that's what *he* likes to do. (So I said yes!) It was all very, very lovely. A wonderful connection.

I'm all for all of us sharing, and for receiving, and for giving, and for talking about what feels most kind and most helpful for the person standing next to us. Yes to mentoring! teaching budgeting! connecting a person with relevant programs for healing! nutritional loading to manage the stress and logistics of a job search and interview! affordable housing! modified work options!

I have no problem asking for help with my son's disability stuff -there's no way I could fund all that solo, and I believe and trust that the people who give do so because they love to share, just as I do. And I feel better about receiving that when I'm simultaneously investing diligently for his future costs.

sheepstache and Paul der Krake: Besides making me laugh hard in nailing a common response, you totally nailed something else for me, too! Yes, if I'm receiving "because I'm in need", I feel very nervous and restricted and weird about everything I do. You can probably guess that, yeah, I don't go to McDonald's or smoke, etc, but I chose me a new car -cheapest of the safe, fuel efficient options, but new. Or, I bought that warranty for my kid's funded device. If someone gives me stuff based on being "in need" I feel like I have to forgo a warranty, despite believing that's the financially smart move, or sell the car I saved up for 17 years to buy, or at least feel sufficiently embarrassed while I drive it. hahahaha. I don't want to sell the car, or to feel "properly embarrassed" about my choices. Freedom is a big deal to me, and when I am given things based on a misperception of struggling to buy groceries, I feel very restricted and awkward in doing what I believe to be the best/smartest thing to do. Even though I don't think the givers would want me to, I would feel responsible/accountable to them for my choices -especially the ones that look weird- and want to explain everything I do, make a case for why it's the best decision for the long-term or avoid the spa for at least a year after their gift, etc.

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2014, 02:16:33 PM »
If I were in your situation I would take these gestures as amazingly wonderful.
I would tell myself that they are accepting and building ties with you.  Possibly they are at least semi - mustachian and welcoming you into their fold as a kindred spirit.

Yes, this is precisely how I take them and see it, and what I tell myself.

I would ditch the self defeating notion that they pity you or consider you "poor" - that's you projecting your own self into their motives.

?

I agree with the vast majority of your thoughtful post, and it quite well describes where I come from. Except that the hamper, for example, is specifically for people "in need", who cannot otherwise afford Christmas gifts and Christmas food for their family, and who are at risk of having to leave the area if they don't receive this specific injection of material support. I don't think they pity me (nor anyone who is actually in that situation). I'm aware, though, that they're offering me a hamper that is available only to people "in need", etc (as above). So, I don't think I'm erroneously ascribing motivations. The intention is explicitly stated.

cautiouslyunconventional

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2014, 02:25:06 PM »
Interestingly the only thing on your why-they-think-I'm-poor list which would bother me is the one thing that you can't change!  If I had a child and people thought he was hungry because I didn't have enough money for food that would bother me.  But in your case there's not much you can do about that since I'm sure you don't want to share with random strangers (except on the internet) your son's issues/problems.

I wonder if there's some way to reassure people without having to let them know the actual reason? Make it sound like he just eats a lot because he's growing fast, or something.. I'm not around kids much so I don't know which excuse would make sense here.

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #25 on: December 13, 2014, 02:34:14 PM »
With the hamper, maybe people really want you to stay in the community. You have only been there a short time. Perhaps you could say you don't need it, you love the community and deliberately chose it because it enables you and your son so much.

There are also possibly far too many hampers so they are running out of people to give them to. You are living in lower cost housing, and are a single mum with a disabled son - by definition you MUST be struggling - whether you are or not.

A lot of children are always saying that they are hungry. Ask the adults giving out cookies what they do about children who are always saying they are hungry to stop them getting obese.

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2014, 02:38:49 PM »
Interestingly the only thing on your why-they-think-I'm-poor list which would bother me is the one thing that you can't change!  If I had a child and people thought he was hungry because I didn't have enough money for food that would bother me.  But in your case there's not much you can do about that since I'm sure you don't want to share with random strangers (except on the internet) your son's issues/problems.

I wonder if there's some way to reassure people without having to let them know the actual reason? Make it sound like he just eats a lot because he's growing fast, or something.. I'm not around kids much so I don't know which excuse would make sense here.

I do feel a bit embarrassed when he says this over and over in a row, as though I didn't conscientiously feed him just before we headed out, but I'm also very comfortable being open with most people about what's up, as is he. So, I don't feel like I have to get too fancy. I'm actively working with him around this schtick, and am bringing a therapist back on board around it, too, but in the meantime I just say straight up to him, "Let's get home for lunch, then," or to his audience, "He ate five fatty eggs and a salad half an hour ago, so I think he's okay, but if you'd like to offer him one cookie, please feel free." People only think he's starving the first time; they catch on to the facts pretty quick :)   It helps that he's pretty clearly healthy: an optimal size, happy, glowing, active, peaceful. But man, does that kid love food, everything, everywhere, all the time. And he knows how to get people to offer him some more. (Like I said, not a behaviour I like at all, and working on it.)

Rezdent

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #27 on: December 13, 2014, 02:41:49 PM »
If I were in your situation I would take these gestures as amazingly wonderful.
I would tell myself that they are accepting and building ties with you.  Possibly they are at least semi - mustachian and welcoming you into their fold as a kindred spirit.

Yes, this is precisely how I take them and see it, and what I tell myself.

I would ditch the self defeating notion that they pity you or consider you "poor" - that's you projecting your own self into their motives.

?

I agree with the vast majority of your thoughtful post, and it quite well describes where I come from. Except that the hamper, for example, is specifically for people "in need", who cannot otherwise afford Christmas gifts and Christmas food for their family, and who are at risk of having to leave the area if they don't receive this specific injection of material support. I don't think they pity me (nor anyone who is actually in that situation). I'm aware, though, that they're offering me a hamper that is available only to people "in need", etc (as above). So, I don't think I'm erroneously ascribing motivations. The intention is explicitly stated.
Ah...so maybe I misunderstood the term "hamper".  We use the term for a basket designed to hold clothing.  It sounds like this term is used differently in your area and is reserved specifically for assisting the less fortunate?

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #28 on: December 13, 2014, 02:46:15 PM »
Ah...so maybe I misunderstood the term "hamper".  We use the term for a basket designed to hold clothing.  It sounds like this term is used differently in your area and is reserved specifically for assisting the less fortunate?

Good point! Here we use it in lots of ways, including for a basket to hold clothes for the laundry, etc. But in this thread, yes, as you describe here. So, now I understand that you were responding only to my initial post. I clarified the "in need" aspect down the way a bit :)

Rezdent

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #29 on: December 13, 2014, 02:53:57 PM »
Ah...so maybe I misunderstood the term "hamper".  We use the term for a basket designed to hold clothing.  It sounds like this term is used differently in your area and is reserved specifically for assisting the less fortunate?

Good point! Here we use it in lots of ways, including for a basket to hold clothes for the laundry, etc. But in this thread, yes, as you describe here. So, now I understand that you were responding only to my initial post. I clarified the "in need" aspect down the way a bit :)
This makes more sense to me now, thank you.  I'm not sure how I would respond in this context.  I'd be a bit perplexed and it would have caught me off guard.

BPA

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #30 on: December 13, 2014, 02:54:34 PM »
People who don't know me always assume that I am more poor than I am:  single mom of a child with disabilities that required a lot of out of pocket service payments over his childhood, I don't drive, rarely eat in restaurants, use the library etc.

I remember riding a city bus with my kids when they were little and a woman near me started trashing teachers to me.  I half-heartedly defended teachers.  It was hilarious when she got off the bus and my daughter who was about six said, "I guess she didn't know you are a teacher."  Several people on the bus started laughing.  People don't expect teachers to take public transportation. 

People always assume that I work in the cafeteria when they find out where I work.

I just find it amusing.  But unlike you, people have never tried to help me out.

I wonder if part of it might be having a child with a disability.  People in your community might just be trying to help in any way they can, because let's face it: being a single parent of a child with a disability isn't easy. 

MsRichLife

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #31 on: December 13, 2014, 03:19:15 PM »
My mom gives me luxury items because I am too cheap to buy them myself and she is a master shopper and gets ridiculous discounts. I got the gene from somewhere.

My Mum, who's struggling herself, always offers to buy things for us i.e. shoes for my non-walking baby, pajamas for me, speech therapy for my toddler. I can afford anything I want, and she knows that, but she obviously values certain things and doesn't think I'm spending the appropriate amount of money on them. I find it awkward.

Jesus Christ

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #32 on: December 13, 2014, 03:34:31 PM »
At work, people think I have a DUI because I am the only one out of 300 people that ride a bike to work. The also question by lunch food because I eat cans of beans for lunch.

TerriM

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #33 on: December 13, 2014, 03:53:42 PM »
At work, people think I have a DUI because I am the only one out of 300 people that ride a bike to work. The also question by lunch food because I eat cans of beans for lunch.

"The more you eat the more you toot........"   Maybe they're worried for good reasons :)

TerriM

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #34 on: December 13, 2014, 03:57:46 PM »
I accept any and all offers of handouts especially kids clothing from school moms who are looking for a good home for it.  I'm more embarrassed at the fact that I'm willing to mooch when there are other moms who actually need it, but hey...  I'm frugal, and these guys love their favorite clothes get a second life.

Anyways, any and all handouts can be left on my porch.  If you have a house in my neighborhood to give to me, I'll take that too. :)

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #35 on: December 13, 2014, 04:30:04 PM »
More goodness (and funniness!) here...

I would/will/do accept any handouts... until they say all that criteria. And yes, they do have way more hamper contents than local, struggling people to give them to. If they were making them available as "a gift to anyone who would like one" I would totally accept it. I would love it, as would my son. But they solicited the donations saying the donations given by local families (us included, lol!) would go to people "in need, at risk of...". And then they asked us to seek out and identify local families who are struggling. And then they turn around and say to potential recipients "it's not charity, it's just a gift, our way of saying we care and want to make it possible for you to stay". Well, it kind of is completely charity and not "just a gift" if there are those conditions associated. That's exactly what charity is, and it may not work well to advertise for a month that it's for people "in need, at risk of..." and then try to tell us it's something else, in hopes we won't have noticed the posters and feel embarrassed, lol. WE CAN SEE THE POSTERS, COMMITTEE!

I think they need to make up their minds about their goal. If it's charity, intended specifically to help people "in need, at risk of...", people like me will rightfully decline it. If it's a gift to anyone who would like one, then people like me will happily receive it. But, they solicited the contents as being for people "in need, at risk of..." so I think it's important that that's where it goes, and if they can't find enough local people to give it to, then take it to the neighbouring town, which absolutely has loads of people who are struggling. And if there aren't enough people in town that need spaghetti, then find out what the local, struggling people DO need and organize to respond to that. Cuz there are needs here. They're just not ones that boxes of spaghetti will resolve.

NinetyFour

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #36 on: December 13, 2014, 04:50:14 PM »
Sounds like you need to volunteer to serve on the committee.  :)

Paul der Krake

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #37 on: December 13, 2014, 04:56:19 PM »
People have pride. For better or worse, charity is a tainted word and nobody likes to be the recipient of it. No wonder they have to tip toe around the matter so much.

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #38 on: December 13, 2014, 05:14:32 PM »
Sounds like you need to volunteer to serve on the committee.  :)

I am on the committee! That's yet another thing that's so funny and bizarre about the whole thing! Everything is pretty casual around here, so I landed on the inside of this without intending to. There are no meetings or anything. It's just sort of, "Who'll stand here on this day?" Uh, me! And voila, you're accidentally part of a whole thing. But because it's so casual, no one knows who's already doing what, whose been invited to gift, whose been invited to receive, etc.

People have pride. For better or worse, charity is a tainted word and nobody likes to be the recipient of it. No wonder they have to tip toe around the matter so much.

That's why I think they (we, whatever) need to make a decision about what the intention is: providing food to people who have no other way of getting enough food, or gifting neighbours for fun. If it's the latter, there's nothing to tiptoe around; if it's the former, they can deliver the contents to the agencies in contact with folks who are hungry, since this group has been unable to identify many, while nearby agencies are gearing up to serve hundreds.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #39 on: December 13, 2014, 05:19:51 PM »
I think they need to make up their minds about their goal. If it's charity, intended specifically to help people "in need, at risk of...", people like me will rightfully decline it. If it's a gift to anyone who would like one, then people like me will happily receive it. But, they solicited the contents as being for people "in need, at risk of..." so I think it's important that that's where it goes....

The school our kids go to often have various "gold coin donation" drives. Just last Friday they had a free dress day (usually kids have to wear a uniform) for a radio station's "Christmas appeal". Now, it's hard to find concrete numbers, but with the number of "needy" families in the area, and the amount raised last year (talking total amount for the charity, not just what the school raised), there's enough to give over $50 per family. I thought I saw something that said each kid received gifts worth $50, so not sure about these numbers (maybe the $ raised was separate from the gifts given, or most families have only one kid which would help balance the numbers).

Here's the thing. I don't see poverty around us. I see some poor decisions, but even then I don't see real, true poverty. I had to look up the numbers. The poverty line is much higher in Australia than in the US. It's so high, in fact, that our family is in poverty. A family that flew from Australia to the US earlier this year for a three month holiday (complete with Disneyland!). I took a cruise with my son earlier in the year, and with my daughter later in the year. I bought a fancy watch. We took our caravan (camper) on a one-week trip during the school holidays.

And we're able to save money.

I tried to explain this to my son the best I could. I thought it a bit silly for the school to ask someone who's technically in poverty, to pay $1 of his money (he has an allowance, he can pay for things that are important to him) so a child in a family who has a similar income to ours can get a shiny new $50 toy for Christmas. Our own kids don't have $50 spent on them for Christmas, and definitely not new toys (one late arrival to the gift pile is a $5 lego board game my wife saw at the op-shop).

I tried to explain that I thought it was silly for them to ask him to pay a dollar to give to someone else who needed it just as much as he did. And how I thought it was sending a bad message; it reinforces the idea that you need things to be happy, whereas we concentrate on being with our family.

I asked him if he felt poor, and he said a little bit. I asked why, he responded it was because he had spent all his allowance on toys and didn't have any left. I was going to correct him ("That's not what I meant."), then thought better of it. I think it was an excellent way of looking at it.

Sorry for the rant.

NinetyFour

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #40 on: December 13, 2014, 05:22:29 PM »
Sounds like you need to volunteer to serve on the committee.  :)
I am on the committee! That's yet another thing that's so funny and bizarre about the whole thing! Everything is pretty casual around here, so I landed on the inside of this without intending to. There are no meetings or anything. It's just sort of, "Who'll stand here on this day?" Uh, me! And voila, you're accidentally part of a whole thing. But because it's so casual, no one knows who's already doing what...

Sounds like you need to be the chairwoman of the committee!  :)

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #41 on: December 13, 2014, 05:40:45 PM »
Sorry for the rant.

No way! A very thoughtful and relevant post. And you sound like a lovely parent!

I have similar perspectives. In my Journal I've talked a bit about stuff like this. My son is newly in mainstream school (after homeschooling a few years) and I'm stunned to find we're asked to donate to: the food bank, Movember, Habitat for Humanity (which I quite love), as well as fundraisers for the school itself. By income level, we're eligible for the food bank and for Habitat for Humanity! I sent things for the food bank drive because my son wanted to be involved in the great Weigh In, and I don't want to send him with a message that we're too poor to donate to all these things. But it's weird and ironic, too.

When we were growing up (low income), my mum used to send money to "sponsor" kids in other countries. Once, the sponsored family sent a photo of them cutting in to what was basically a wedding cake for the child's birthday. It was stunning and gorgeous (and I've wanted one for my own birthday ever since!). I remember my mum's indignation, something about how that made no sense, and that her kids were having our funny, slanted, homemade, from-scratch, single-tiered cakes with decorations that had been used on literally dozens and dozens and dozens of cakes before (there were lots of us kids). If I'm remembering correctly, the sponsorship ended there. It's a little sad, though, too, because for all we knew, the cake might have been donated to the family! When my buddies and I were dumpster-diving for a stretch, one of our best stops was a bakery. They knew about us, so they didn't put things into the dumpster -they just set it neatly outside :)   One day, they handed us the most gorgeous cake! There had been a mistake in its decorative message, or not picked up or something, so it would have gone into the garbage. They waited for us and gave it to us (oh! tears in my eyes now!). And the amazing thing, there was a ridiculous number of us all sleeping on the floors of a small house, and it was the birthday of one of the people! It was so great!! The birthday girl (woman) was delighted. We all were. But if someone had taken a photo of our cake and joy, would people in general have wanted us to not be given to anymore?

Anyhoo...

I really do believe in sharing, and I know the systems for sharing are definitely imperfect and that it's hard or impossible to make them "perfect"... But at the same time I'm struggling with being asked to donate to and volunteer for the things I will subsequently be offered due to my income level, lol. That's a different side of the matter, but...

TerriM

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #42 on: December 13, 2014, 06:19:37 PM »
More goodness (and funniness!) here...

I would/will/do accept any handouts... until they say all that criteria. And yes, they do have way more hamper contents than local, struggling people to give them to. If they were making them available as "a gift to anyone who would like one" I would totally accept it...... WE CAN SEE THE POSTERS, COMMITTEE!

Oooooooh.  Sorry.  I missed that.   Yeah.  If  they're giving you stuff because they think you're in a category of poor that is not true at all, then I would reject the donation.  Taking it could cause issues later if people found out your wealth level and you'd accepted it just to be polite--people might accuse you of being deceptive when all you were trying to do was be polite..

I thought people were just being thoughtful and giving you stuff because they cared.  Not that donations were solicited intended for a category of people you don't fit in.


We have a category of poor here that I am not.  I wouldn't take anything intended for them except on behalf of the ones I know to take to them.  I only take things that school moms are passing down because they're thinking of me as a family, not intending it as a charitable donation.

TerriM

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #43 on: December 13, 2014, 06:23:17 PM »
PS:  In my area, I'm pretty sure you have to sign up with an organization that gets you on a list for donations.  We don't have people going around just randomly dropping boxes of food at people's doorsteps.  There are non-profit charities for people in need, you go talk to a counselor, they get you help.  It's almost certainly never unsolicited.

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #44 on: December 13, 2014, 06:41:24 PM »
PS:  In my area, I'm pretty sure you have to sign up with an organization that gets you on a list for donations.  We don't have people going around just randomly dropping boxes of food at people's doorsteps.  There are non-profit charities for people in need, you go talk to a counselor, they get you help.  It's almost certainly never unsolicited.

Exactly! This exists in our region, too. So, it's just an extra little group in our village saying, "Let's give locally and quietly." The nice thing is, the family doesn't have to stand in an embarrassing line with dozens of others for an hour or so, observed by whomever else is walking past, to get this hamper. That's a very good thing. The not-great thing is that you have a group of people whispering amongst themselves about who seems to be struggling and in what ways, which I don't think is awesome despite the good intentions. I wouldn't want people whispering about me, or being sent to my house to ask if I would be open to receiving the hamper advertised as being for people in need.

But yes, giving is also very well organized by relatively local agencies. But none of them that I know of, including this one, seems to manage to do the giving in a way that allows a receiver to keep their dignity in the process. I don't like that.

I guess if food is being offered to relieve poverty, my favourite ways are via application to an agency, resulting in:
-a gift card, and/or
-an agency cheque in the mail, and/or
-agency receives the donations, shelves them exactly like a regular store, then sell them at a low cost (Vancouver has a few of these)

TerriM

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #45 on: December 13, 2014, 06:48:35 PM »
PS:  In my area, I'm pretty sure you have to sign up with an organization that gets you on a list for donations.  We don't have people going around just randomly dropping boxes of food at people's doorsteps.  There are non-profit charities for people in need, you go talk to a counselor, they get you help.  It's almost certainly never unsolicited.

Exactly! This exists in our region, too. So, it's just an extra little group in our village saying, "Let's give locally and quietly." The nice thing is, the family doesn't have to stand in an embarrassing line with dozens of others for an hour or so, observed by whomever else is walking past, to get this hamper. That's a very good thing. The not-great thing is that you have a group of people whispering amongst themselves about who seems to be struggling and in what ways, which I don't think is awesome despite the good intentions. I wouldn't want people whispering about me, or being sent to my house to ask if I would be open to receiving the hamper advertised as being for people in need.

But yes, giving is also very well organized by relatively local agencies. But none of them that I know of, including this one, seems to manage to do the giving in a way that allows a receiver to keep their dignity in the process. I don't like that.

If you still have the "hamper", I'd bring it back to the school or organization and tell them it was left on your doorstep, but must have been meant for someone else as you don't need assistance and never signed up for it.    If they insist, be clear with them that you are quite well-off, but choose to live frugally because you believe it is better for you, sets an important example for your son about self-control and saving, is kinder to the environment, and allows you to save for an early retirement and his college fund at the same time. 

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #46 on: December 13, 2014, 06:56:49 PM »
I didn't actually receive the hamper. They just asked if I would be willing to receive it, and I said no. (When people were giving me gifts before, I didn't have an idea that they thought I was poor. It's the recent hamper-invitations, with this concept/condition attached, that made me realize there is this going on, too!)

deborah

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #47 on: December 13, 2014, 07:24:41 PM »
When I was a child, my mother always gave "we are too poor - we can't afford that" as an excuse for not getting new clothes, not replacing shoes until they got holes in them, not going on any school excursions, not getting pocket money, not having birthday parties...

I know now we were not poor. My parents owned the biggest block of land in the suburban street (in fact we may have owned the biggest block in the suburban part of the suburb). In secondary school, we went to private schools. Our house had five bedrooms (when 3 bedrooms was normal). My parents both worked (when a SAHM was normal) and had university degrees (which was not normal). But mum said we were poor, so I thought we were poor.

When I went to university we were too well off to get any government assistance (which, at the time, was available to most uni students), but my parents were too poor to pay for me to go, so I studied a year, worked a year... Then I met a group of student snobs who did come from a poor background. They were my friends until they found out my background. They pretended to have the background I had, but mine was real. At this time, my parents owned two houses, one in each of the two wealthiest suburbs. I had been to one of the more elite schools... Suddenly they were absolutely terrible to me because of it, and in the process, I discovered that my parents were not poor!

I am currently editing some stories my mother has written about her childhood during the depression. Quite often she says they were poor.

I think it is very difficult for some people to work out just who actually IS poor.

sheepstache

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #48 on: December 13, 2014, 07:42:27 PM »
So maybe it's just time to start circulating rumors that you're an eccentric millionaire.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #49 on: December 13, 2014, 07:45:10 PM »
When I was a child, my mother always gave "we are too poor - we can't afford that" as an excuse for not getting new clothes, not replacing shoes until they got holes in them, not going on any school excursions, not getting pocket money, not having birthday parties...

I don't want to give our kids a complex about money. I want them to feel secure, and not scared. I try to explain the reasons we spend money the way they do. I also try to let them make as many decisions as possible, so they can understand even more.

Case in point, my son's shoes are about worn out. Most people would have thrown them out long ago. There's a hole in the bottom sole at the heel, not all the way through, just the bottom layer (so no feet are showing, but small rocks have gathered between the layers of the sole). One of the shoelaces has frayed, the top part has come off leaving the core behind (note, these are obviously good shoelaces to have an actual core to them). He has one more week of school before summer break. I told him he can go buy brand new shoes right now, or he can keep an eye out at the op-shops and see if he can find another good pair of shoes. I can let him make this choice, because I give him a clothing allowance. He has about $40 at the moment, plus could spend his regular allowance if he desired. $40 could buy a decent-ish pair of new shoes. It could also buy a whole lot of quality clothes at the op-shop. For the moment, he's waiting.

We also give our kids an allowance. Oldest gets $8/wk, middle gets $5/wk (youngest gets $0, but he's still in diapers). 40% spend, 30% save, 20% invest, 10% donate. If they want something, they can buy it...IF they have the money. Want to take a dollar coin to school for charity, sure...that comes out of your donate money. Presents for a kid's birthday, that's coming out of your spend money (or save money if you wanted it for the required amount of time). Want that toy at McDonald's? Well we'll pay for the cost of the food, but if you want the Happy Meal you're coughing up $2 (roughly the cost of buying the toy separately).

And occasionally (especially this time of year) I explain why we live the way we do, how we spend our money, etc. I explain that we could buy more stuff, but we'd have less money for holidays and/or less free time to spend together (one/both of us would have to work more). Our oldest seems to get it, and rarely complains about lack of money or things. Though I did hear him announce to his class that he was "a little bit poor."

I think it is very difficult for some people to work out just who actually IS poor.

Yup. My SIL thinks she's poorer than we are. At least, she's had arguments with my wife about the fact we can save more and take more vacations. But I did the numbers, and they have roughly the same income we do (at the present, they likely have more). Their money is spent on different things than our money. We could argue that we were poor if the metrics used were $$ spent on groceries, restaurants, new cars, new clothes, cable tv, mobile phones, etc.

I mean, it sure is hard to complain about being poor when you're socking money toward retirement and taking overseas trips all the time. Shouldn't it be just as hard to complain about being poor if you're throwing money at new cars, big house, restaurants, retail clothes, new phones, etc.?

That's what gets me about poverty in Australia vs the US. In Australia, it's basically "Look around you, if X people have more than you do, congrats! You're in poverty!" Where in the US it's more like "If you have trouble paying for basic shelter, utilities, and food, you may be in poverty."