Author Topic: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?  (Read 22792 times)

NumberJohnny5

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #50 on: December 13, 2014, 07:49:07 PM »
So maybe it's just time to start circulating rumors that you're an eccentric millionaire.

Why? The OP's arms are currently tired from having to graciously accept all the well-intentioned donations. Announce you're rich, and now your arms will be tired from all the handouts you're expected to give out.

sheepstache

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #51 on: December 13, 2014, 09:27:22 PM »
So maybe it's just time to start circulating rumors that you're an eccentric millionaire.

Why? The OP's arms are currently tired from having to graciously accept all the well-intentioned donations. Announce you're rich, and now your arms will be tired from all the handouts you're expected to give out.

You have to play the eccentricity act just right, of course.

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #52 on: December 13, 2014, 09:50:51 PM »
:)   Eccentric millionaire is along the lines of what I was pondering yesterday. I'm nowhere close to a million, nor does my outward appearance reflect anything near destitution, but I was realizing that in terms of impressions, I'm becoming like one of those bag ladies that dies with a million dollars stuffed into her mattress.

This thread has been awesome, essentially exploring things like:

What responsibility do we have to give an accurate impression to others?
If others feel sad because they see 'frugal' and assume 'poor', should we attempt to alleviate their sadness/worry?
What ethics are involved in accepting gifts if we already have more than enough?
Where is the line between gifts and charity?
Who is truly "eligible" for community donations?
What responsibility does an agency have in moving gifts from donors to receivers?
For people who do have need, what is the most effective and kind way for those with plenty to share with them?

My heart is happy because of this thread.

Also, I made a phone call to clear up my "status" with one agency :)

TerriM

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #53 on: December 13, 2014, 10:15:21 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.

Or maybe they just put all their money into education and real estate and really didn't have additional money..... In a way, that's like my parents, though not quite the same--we lived in an average house.  My parents paid for private school for me and money was tight.    We got clothes at Goodwill.  But that was her priority--education over goods.

deborah

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #54 on: December 13, 2014, 10:22:42 PM »
Yes, they were definitely putting all their money into investments rather than having surplus cash around the house, but there were bizarre situations, like the time mum lost a $20 note and our meals for the that fortnight were very meager. I vowed that I would never have so much of my income dedicated that I couldn't afford to heat my house or feed my family.

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #55 on: December 13, 2014, 10:31:21 PM »
Yeah, it can be a hard balance for any of us to find. I wonder about this in me, wonder if I should be spending more on toys and recreation for my kid (because he's really interested in those). So many kids around us have SO MUCH stuff and equipment and rec passes; if I tried to "keep up", he'd literally have nothing in his disability plan accounts. But yeah, I certainly wouldn't have him eat minimally so that I could invest the difference, for example.

My parents didn't have lots of money for our big tribe, so focused on shelter, sustenance, and enough clothes to fend off the elements. I feel they did extraordinarily well, all things considered. I don't think they "wasted" a dollar all those years and it fills my heart to know how my mum made sure to give us some special things at birthdays, etc. I feel like my parents, both from really extreme poverty in other countries, really got it right. (Except that my dad regularly turned down big bonuses at work. Sigh.)

Another family we knew didn't have money for food or toilet paper, but had money for cigarettes and alcohol. They were definitely seen as poor, but I don't know if they actually had less money overall. I don't know if they received community help or not, but I hope they did. Obviously, the parents had addictions and other issues, and their (even more!) children also experienced consequences to that. (It's been interesting to see how they came out -most of them incredibly responsible, and some of them exceptionally wise with money.)

NumberJohnny5

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #56 on: December 13, 2014, 10:34:51 PM »
Yes, they were definitely putting all their money into investments rather than having surplus cash around the house, but there were bizarre situations, like the time mum lost a $20 note and our meals for the that fortnight were very meager. I vowed that I would never have so much of my income dedicated that I couldn't afford to heat my house or feed my family.

Hrm, I think we may operate like that to an extent. We have a set amount (currently $110/wk) that can be used for food. More specifically, for items bought at restaurants and at grocery stores (so laundry detergent, toothpaste, and diapers count). I bought a $30 hair trimmer the other week, since it was at Aldi, I took it out of the grocery budget. I refused to buy extra peanut butter when we ran out mid-week, because the grocery funds were already in the negative. In my defense, the kids did waste a LOT of peanut butter making "soup" (the soup was peanut butter and nutella, microwaved until liquid).

If the pantry wasn't already overflowing with food, I'm pretty sure I would have caved and bought the poor kids some more peanut butter.

TerriM

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #57 on: December 13, 2014, 10:49:20 PM »
scrubby fish, I think your son will let you know if he's feeling "poor."  But I would definitely draw the line with the school if they think they're collecting charity for you.  Parents talk, and it would be far worse for the kids to think he's poor than for him to actually be poor but no one know.

I also think there are appearance boundaries.  Kids often have holes in their shoes, and sometimes their jeans, but you can wear both with style.  Kids that look thin, hair unkempt, unbathed, and ratty unwashed clothes are going to make people think it's poverty or abuse.   

I've just this year started to draw the line on all of our clothes.  I'll patch once each knee for the kids and then it's tossed.  I bought my husband a set of new shirts because the old ones had holes around the collar and in other places.  As a student wearing that kind of stuff is perfectly fine, but as a working man, I want him to look his best for his company.  I think it would send a bad message for them to pay him as they do and him not to come in wearing clothes without holes (he's not in finance or law, so his clothes don't cost that much).

I also make sure my kids have new school supplies.  It's kind of pathetic, but since I make them wear used school uniform clothes, I balance it with new school supplies and new school shoes.

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #58 on: December 13, 2014, 11:31:32 PM »
Oh yeah!!! I totally hear you on the school stuff!

I "showed (relatively) poor" at school, as well as generally out of it socially, and I hated it. Interestingly, I always desperately wanted new school supplies -it was the first thing I shoplifted- and to this day, office supply stuff is still among my favourite. And I let myself get new scissors, paper, binders, etc, now :)

At the elementary school I went to, kids were kind to me -we were such a diverse group in every way, and there were kids much poorer and in rougher shape than me. (I was clean and groomed and healthy-looking, just not hip or stylish or anything and I lacked the special supplies.) But high school, no, I really got it there, because kids honed in on clothing brands, styles, hair, make-up, etc. That's where I started to understand that we had way less money -as well as some other things- than a lot of families did. (But again, we also had more than some families did.) I remember the moment, hearing people talk about what they got for Christmas. I was stunned. But the fact is, we got stuff for Christmas. Enough. And hand-selected for each of us. If we don't compare, we have a good chance of feeling really satisfied and happy.

Anyway, as a result, yep, my kid got brand new school supplies to start his new school-life. For me, my kid's development and psychology is considered very much in our Mustachianism. With his disabilities, he has enough social barriers to deal with without me imposing strong cost-saving measures into his social life. All his clothes are all from the thrift, but I make sure they're in excellent shape and look great on him as well as being comfortable for him in every way, and combining well with the rest of his stuff into cute outfits. I put a few conventional food items into his lunch every week, because it's important to him that he be eating the same as other kids (and then he's otherwise totally fine with the weird stuff I generally pack). I get those from the 50% aisle, but that doesn't show on the package. He spends his allowance on their expensive hot lunch program a couple of times a month. I pay the extra fees for field trips, etc. I know how cruel the school culture can be for a kid who shows poor.

Happily, the food bank fundraiser at school doesn't connect to specific families. They collect, then deliver it to food banks and the local hamper program that started this whole thread. So, no worries there.

I have tricks to make up for the costs of the above. His autism program got him an iPad, and rather than present it weeks ago when it came, I'll be putting it under the tree at Christmas. That way, his disability needs are met, and he has a Christmas like he's never had, but we still have money to help him survive "school culture". Another thing I did was, right from the start, spend nothing on extraneous baby gear, disposable diapers, formula, cute clothes, or even presents -because how much does a baby or toddler know about Christmas and presents anyway? Their whole life is a Christmas present! Anyway, all that time I was aware I was saving up for when clothes and hair, etc, would make a difference to his social life. We've just edged into that recently.

He *is* bummed that his newest ice skates are, like all the previous ones, used. But I do draw a line at points like those. It's one thing to spend $2 more on second-hand pants that look nicer than another, but no way am I spending $60-$160 on one season's ice skates. He's allowed to save his allowance if he wants stuff like that. So, I think he's getting sufficient "cultural safety" while he also learns about finances.

Allie

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #59 on: December 14, 2014, 12:05:01 AM »
I just found this thread.  It's a great read.  I'm so happy I'm not the only one who sometimes feels weird about this. 

Usually, It doesn't bother me to get hand me downs or extra food or whatever, I figure it's better than having something go to waste.  But, a few months ago, one of my daughters childcare providers, who was awesome, gave me a big bag of clothes.  Her daughter was a little bit older.

 It turned into a weird, awkward exchange. 

She gave me the bag and I took a peek and saw some were new and name brand.  I assume she thought I was poor because I dressed my girl in her brothers old clothes (really, babies don't know) and older hand me downs from a friend.  I assumed she was poor because she worked for not very much as a childcare provider and went to school. 

She kept insisting I take the clothing and I kept insisting she consign it.  I didn't want to look like I was turning up my nose at her child's hand me downs, so I ended up taking the bag.  But, I felt terrible about it.  My daughter looked great in them, but I kept thinking she could have gotten a whole new set of clothes for her child if she had just taken them in for trade. 

Has anyone ever purposefully disclosed your earnings or savings to avoid this sort of thing?  I can't imagine ever doing it, just curious to see if someone has.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #60 on: December 14, 2014, 12:40:21 AM »
Has anyone ever purposefully disclosed your earnings or savings to avoid this sort of thing?  I can't imagine ever doing it, just curious to see if someone has.

Not exactly what you're asking for, but maybe close enough.

SIL was trying to "help" my wife find a job. At the time, we were chilling in Tennessee, enjoying time off during the holiday season. She had just finished another travel contract (I can't remember if this was the second, or the third year she did travel nursing). Her sister kept telling her about job openings she saw, and would email about some "really good paying ones" that, to the best of my memory, were around $25/hr.

My wife never asked for help, and multiple times she stated that she liked her current arrangement. Eventually she got tired of all this "help", and caved. She told her sister how much she made on her last travel assignment. It paid $50/hr, so she could work six months and make just as much (or more) than if she worked a "good paying" nursing job back home in Tennessee for a whole year.

On the bright side, her sister stopped trying to find a job for my wife.

On the down side, her sister became resentful and jealous because of all that we had, that she didn't. Even though they (SIL and her husband) had a similar household income to us, and at the time they had zero kids and we had two. There was an argument that led to them not speaking for over a year.

My advice: Be very VERY careful about who you disclose your financial situation to. Do what you think is best, but don't do it rashly. Think it through, go over every possible scenario, and then realize it may still come back to bite you.

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #61 on: December 14, 2014, 12:48:38 AM »
Has anyone ever purposefully disclosed your earnings or savings to avoid this sort of thing?  I can't imagine ever doing it, just curious to see if someone has.

I disclosed partially -the gist, not the numbers- to the folks renting to me. I trust them. They knew me from my "perfect storm of crap" point two years ago, and were privy to my situation then. I didn't want that former situation to colour their end of the rental negotiation, so I updated them. I feel good about having done that. And I believe we're all very happy with what we landed at for our agreement.

Yeah, someone in the thread said something about how we don't want people giving to us based on an erroneous impression, later learning the facts, and then feeling they'd been deceived. I'm always trying to look for that balance of maintaining my (legitimate right to) privacy, while not inadvertently triggering exactly that (or even my own sense of having "taken" more than a person might otherwise have offered).

NumberJohnny5: That was a great example of the potential repercussions!

lhamo

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #62 on: December 14, 2014, 12:50:36 AM »
I keep thinking you have landed in the middle of some kind of amazing, fantasy-world Canadian socialist utopia where people are looking all around them to find people in need and can't find them because they've set up this perfect little community that actually takes care of its own!  Would make a great memoir or short story collection ala Lake Woebegone some day.  You just have to promise me you will start it with this story of people wandering the streets looking in vain for someone to give these hampers to.  I just find it so funny, somehow.  "The Homeless Hamper" would be a great title.  All the ways people on committees trying to save the world just kind of manage to f- it up most of the time, but are loveable all the same.

I know it isn't easy, but I hope you can find a way not to feel shame.  I'm always trying to give stuff away to people and it is NEVER because I pity or look down on them.  We just have too much we don't need, and I hate to just throw it out or even donate it to an unknown fate if someone I know in real life could make use of it.  Food, too. 

You mentioned some of the things you would rather have in the hamper, like fancy mixed nuts.  God, I want to send you a tub from Costco!  But since that isn't practical, if they REALLY can't find someone to accept the damn hampers maybe at the next committee meeting you could put all this stuff out in the open and say, hey, if we can't find someone who really needs one to take the hampers I'll take one but I want you to know that this means that instead of buying spaghetti and canned beans next month I'm going to buy myself a big old tub of fancy nuts and also treat myself to a few trips to the coffee shop -- so don't be guiltin' me!  And by the way, let's try to come up with ways to help people more subtly  while allowing them to retain their dignity because I may be a single mom with a kid with disability, but I've actually got my financial house quite nicely in order and don't necessarily want or need this particular kind of assistance.  Now help with dental bills and extra therapy for my kid?  I'll take that. 

I'm seeing so many possibilities for you/this community here.  You have stumbled into a place that obviously has its shit mostly together, but still needs a little bit of work to be all it can be.  Real awareness of what it is like to struggle with some of the things you have struggled with and come through it would be SOOOO helpful to these people.  The work you are doing with TD is a good example.  They were a mess when you started and now you have coached them into having this team of people who are supporting you.  That will improve their customer service and their bottom line, and make the community a little more welcoming for others who also struggle with dealing with complex financial matters.

Stand up and speak your truth, scrubbyfish.  Without shame or guilt or embarrassment.  What a gift that would be -- to yourself and to them. 

And now I'm going to go google "how to get Canadian citizenship" because seriously, I want to move to this little almost paradise and help you make it even better.  I always wanted to be Canadian....

Oh, and while I understand MMM doesn't want to promote consumerism I think we seriously need someone to start a line of "I'm not poor, I'm cheap!" (or "frugal" or "saving the planet") merchandise just so we can get that whole thing out of the way. 



deborah

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #63 on: December 14, 2014, 01:08:25 AM »
I just found this thread.  It's a great read.  I'm so happy I'm not the only one who sometimes feels weird about this. 

Usually, It doesn't bother me to get hand me downs or extra food or whatever, I figure it's better than having something go to waste.  But, a few months ago, one of my daughters childcare providers, who was awesome, gave me a big bag of clothes.  Her daughter was a little bit older.

 It turned into a weird, awkward exchange. 

She gave me the bag and I took a peek and saw some were new and name brand.  I assume she thought I was poor because I dressed my girl in her brothers old clothes (really, babies don't know) and older hand me downs from a friend.  I assumed she was poor because she worked for not very much as a childcare provider and went to school. 

She kept insisting I take the clothing and I kept insisting she consign it.  I didn't want to look like I was turning up my nose at her child's hand me downs, so I ended up taking the bag.  But, I felt terrible about it.  My daughter looked great in them, but I kept thinking she could have gotten a whole new set of clothes for her child if she had just taken them in for trade. 

Has anyone ever purposefully disclosed your earnings or savings to avoid this sort of thing?  I can't imagine ever doing it, just curious to see if someone has.
Around here, and in my childhood, it was something everyone does, and did - spot a child a bit smaller than yours, and give them the hand-me-downs. That way even single children get cheap clothes, especially as they stay that size for such a short time.

TerriM

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #64 on: December 14, 2014, 06:38:34 AM »
Oh yeah!!! I totally hear you on the school stuff!

I "showed (relatively) poor" at school, as well as generally out of it socially, and I hated it. Interestingly, I always desperately wanted new school supplies -it was the first thing I shoplifted- and to this day, office supply stuff is still among my favourite. And I let myself get new scissors, paper, binders, etc, now :)

At the elementary school I went to, kids were kind to me -we were such a diverse group in every way, and there were kids much poorer and in rougher shape than me. (I was clean and groomed and healthy-looking, just not hip or stylish or anything and I lacked the special supplies.) But high school, no, I really got it there, because kids honed in on clothing brands, styles, hair, make-up, etc. That's where I started to understand that we had way less money -as well as some other things- than a lot of families did. (But again, we also had more than some families did.) I remember the moment, hearing people talk about what they got for Christmas. I was stunned. But the fact is, we got stuff for Christmas. Enough. And hand-selected for each of us. If we don't compare, we have a good chance of feeling really satisfied and happy.

Anyway, as a result, yep, my kid got brand new school supplies to start his new school-life. For me, my kid's development and psychology is considered very much in our Mustachianism. With his disabilities, he has enough social barriers to deal with without me imposing strong cost-saving measures into his social life. All his clothes are all from the thrift, but I make sure they're in excellent shape and look great on him as well as being comfortable for him in every way, and combining well with the rest of his stuff into cute outfits.

We've gotten a lot of our clothes from garage sales and thrift store.  Another one of those places where I'll only buy something that isn't stained and has no holes, but yeah, lots of good stuff available, and we return lots of good stuff for use that the kids just didn't want to wear.  I got an amazing dress for my daughter for $1 at a garage sale a couple of houses down.  They could've charged a lot more--looks like someone was a flower girl at a wedding.

Sounds like the thing you need to be more concerned about is him not getting teased for his autism.  At least around here, that'd probably be the bigger issue.

For me, the thing I got teased about growing up was how I dressed.  My mother dressed me funny.  Literally.  When I finally took over my own shopping, I dressed just fine.   I did stop buying stuff from the thrift stores--it just wasn't worth it to me--nothing fit right and very little of it was my style, and since I wore things until they wore out, being pre-worn just meant it wouldn't last as long.   I finally found a store that I really liked, and just shopped there.   I knew I'd made the right decision when I came in wearing the same sweater as one of the popular girls (exact same).  She never wore hers again.:)   I know my mom felt bad about the cost, but I actually still have some of the sweaters I bought then!  No holes, and they look perfectly fine 20 years later.  Pretty good investment :)

But I'm now very sensitive to letting the kids have the choice of what they want to wear.  One of my kids only wants to wear long-sleeved t-shirts with nothing on them (no writing) and that's it.  I end up buying those new because most shirts at thrift stores have things printed on them, but we can afford it (and they're actually pretty cheap to get at art-stores), and it's better than fighting with him.  The other one likes stripes and polo t-shirts with collars--very easy to find at thrift stores.

sheepstache

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #65 on: December 14, 2014, 06:43:43 AM »
This all reminds me of a hilarious story BPA related about her son awhile back. Maybe you know it. I might not have it perfectly right, but what I remember is that her son wanted some particular brand of fancy sneaker. She said no because his current shoes were perfectly fine and also he had lost some school supply or something that she had to replace and she wanted to teach him about there being consequences for his actions, that wasting money in one area meant there wasn't room elsewhere in the budget for a treat, but that they might consider it in a little while when he outgrew his current shoes. Anyway, what this translated to was the son telling his gym teacher that they didn't have money for new shoes for him. And lo and behold one day he comes home to BPA with a brand new pair of sneakers that the gym teacher says are from a program for kids in the district who have trouble affording them. I cracked up. The thing about your son being really food focused and maybe erroneously creating the impression that he wasn't fed properly particularly reminded me of it.

Around here, and in my childhood, it was something everyone does, and did - spot a child a bit smaller than yours, and give them the hand-me-downs. That way even single children get cheap clothes, especially as they stay that size for such a short time.

Yeah, same here, my family both received and gave hand-me-downs. Although it was usually with the same families once we found an arrangement with the right age differences. It was just something people thought was sensible to do; but they probably wouldn't have liked the idea of trying to squeeze extra money out of the clothes by using a consignment shop, if such a place even existed in my town, I don't now.

lifejoy

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responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #66 on: December 14, 2014, 08:09:29 AM »
This is a great thread! Reminds me of when I was a kid and my sister asked my parents, "Why do we have to eat like a poor family?" Haha! She knew we had enough money to eat lavish yummy meals, and couldn't figure out why we were eating weiners and beans, Kraft dinner, leftovers etc.

Anyways, my parents retired ten years early. Not bad for a "poor family".

Oh, and they still eat Kraft dinner. (Blech!)

mozar

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #67 on: December 14, 2014, 11:00:06 AM »
You could start a timebank. http://timebanks.org/

« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 12:44:45 PM by mozar »

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #68 on: December 14, 2014, 11:49:39 AM »
The paraphrase of BPA's shoe story was awesome :)   That's exactly the type of thing I'm talking about, yes. I'm trying to live responsibly, with discipline and happiness, and accept the help my son needs around his disabilities (as well as around general mentoring, etc). But some people seem to "translate" this approach into thinking we don't have "enough", thus offer hampers of canned goods and Christmas gifts. I could totally see Kid coming home with brand new shoes from a well-intentioned third party, after all my efforts to actively and directly teach him about money, lol. And what does he learn then? "Act/look/sound poor and I get awesome things for free!" Wait, THAT wasn't what I was trying to teach! ha.

So, I guess there's a matter of paradigm/school of thought. If I think what's valuable is for kid to learn about money, saving, budgeting, prioritizing (nutrition very high, a new toy every week low), but our neighbours feel sorry for a kid that is not receiving a brand new toy regularly, there will be this place we bump (gently, kindly) into each other. And then, the more stuff they give him, the less I do -because in my mind, he now has enough! But then the neighbours see that I'm not giving him more stuff, so they step in again. lol.

Sounds like the thing you need to be more concerned about is him not getting teased for his autism.  At least around here, that'd probably be the bigger issue.

For me, the thing I got teased about growing up was how I dressed.

Yeah, both of these are concerns. So, I aim to eliminate the "controllable" factors (clothes, style, hygiene) to reduce the sheer number of tease factors. i.e., A kid will be treated one way if he has autism and looks awesome, and another if he has autism and is dressed funny.

Kid has final say in what he actually wears, but I let him choose only from things that will increase his social safety. He likes every shirt to have an image/words, so that's what he has, and he has a thing about "skin showing" so he doesn't like, say, a deeper v-neck. I start my thrift hunts with those variables in mind, then add in the social safety filter, and then from what's available, he chooses what he likes. Interestingly, there's a flip side to all of this. He is very handsome, and when he wears these nice (thrift) clothes, I think people expect a certain person. People are surprised, subsequently, at the signs of autism and they're thrown for a moment. Our speech therapist pointed this out. Some people expect that certain disabilities will be somewhat obvious through one's dress/style/appearance. In some ways, when the expectation and reality match, this impacts interactions in a positive way: some people are automatically gentler, etc. My kid confuses people at first, but I think in the end, his "social safety" appearance helps him out, so I invest a bit in that.

Allie

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #69 on: December 14, 2014, 12:25:19 PM »
Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of hand me downs, but these were new.  With tags new.  Could be sold on eBay or craigslist to pay for school tuition or rent.  But, here I am making assumptions about her needs based on my limited knowledge of her life. 

Scrubbyfish - if you have a community of mobilized, caring, volunteers who can't find people who need the hampers, maybe you can mobilize them to find providers or individuals who are willing to donate some therapy or professional time or other assistance.  My experience is that most people who are struggling with poverty would benefit from some form of service for a serious life stressor (medical, mental health, family issues). 

Where I live, the main hurdle for professionals who would be interested in helping others is related to liability and insurance stuff.  I work through established organizations for my volunteer time.  My dentist was just telling me he teams up with a national free dental care organization.  He has to follow their established protocol and take their pre screened patients, but he gets to help others without worrying about insurance companies freaking out about him offering free services or liability issues. 

Where am I going with this?  I don't know, it was a tangent.  But, maybe mixed nuts or speech therapy or orthodontics in the hamper isn't a bad idea.

Just a thought. 

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #70 on: December 14, 2014, 05:00:35 PM »
Besides all the fun and heart-healing of this awesome thread, my primary takeaways are:

1. Continue to explore and heal the shame I feel when people think I'm poor (or anything else about me that's off-base).

2. Continue to spend, give, share, and save in the ways that are true and honest for me. I don't have to make a show just to ease others, prevent misperceptions, or resolve misunderstandings.

3. As NinetyFour, Allie, lhamo (in my Journal), and others have noted, I can take the "embarrassing" experience, as well as my general observations, to create change in the local effort, if the community is keen on that. This would indeed be a very "me" thing to do. I'm confident and organized, and happy to step up. I've learned that, when moving into any new community or group, not to take over, nor to even propose change right off the bat, but instead to spend some time observing and listening, getting to know what their interests and goals are, learning what they've done in the past and what they found worked and didn't work, hearing from people who are struggling what they are actually hoping for, etc. I feel I'm in that phase right now, and will certainly be game to get more involved as time passes.

4. When people offer me a true gift (i.e., any offering just for fun, with no criteria, no conditions) I can continue to say, "Thank you!" and receive it happily, as I usually do. When someone offers me a "gift" that I know for sure is intended for "people in need, at risk..." or that otherwise has conditions expressed ("stand in line for 45 minutes"), I can say, "Thank you! My circumstances don't match the intention, so I'm going to decline, but thank you for thinking of me!"

Cool.

mm1970

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #71 on: December 14, 2014, 06:18:46 PM »
What do I do when people give me things?  I take them.

I don't want things to go to waste, and people know that I won't waste them.  If people have extra food?  I take it (mostly my coworkers know I love fruits and veggies and they give me surplus).

Extra toys and clothes?  Happy to have them for my boys and will donate what doesn't fit.

Then again, most people know I'm frugal not poor, though with the high mortgages in the area and the cost of kids, maybe I am poor (to them).

bwall

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #72 on: December 14, 2014, 07:20:59 PM »
The also question by lunch food because I eat cans of beans for lunch.

I'd question anyone who eats cans of beans too! :)

Seriously, you can make Indian style lentils that taste amazing and cost a fraction of a can of beans. And, it's healthier, too. So there are three reasons to switch; cost, taste and health.

You can cook a pot on the weekend that will last the entire week.

You can find recipes for free on the internet or buy an Indian cookbook on amazon.com. I can make a few recommendations if you like.

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #73 on: December 14, 2014, 09:36:29 PM »
What do I do when people give me things?  I take them.

Including a hamper of Christmas food and Christmas toys solicited for people "in need" and "at risk of [whatever]"? I don't feel comfortable taking those, because I'm neither of those things. You?

TerriM

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #74 on: December 14, 2014, 10:46:14 PM »
What do I do when people give me things?  I take them.

Including a hamper of Christmas food and Christmas toys solicited for people "in need" and "at risk of [whatever]"? I don't feel comfortable taking those, because I'm neither of those things. You?

The hamper thing is throwing those of us in the USA.  We are envisioning someone giving you a plastic or wicker basket to put your dirty clothes in.   It does make more sense though now.  I couldn't understand how you let someone far enough into your bedroom or bathroom to see a pile of dirty clothes all over the floor and think you needed one. :)

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #75 on: December 14, 2014, 10:50:42 PM »
What do I do when people give me things?  I take them.

Including a hamper of Christmas food and Christmas toys solicited for people "in need" and "at risk of [whatever]"? I don't feel comfortable taking those, because I'm neither of those things. You?

The hamper thing is throwing those of us in the USA.  We are envisioning someone giving you a plastic or wicker basket to put your dirty clothes in.   It does make more sense though now.  I couldn't understand how you let someone far enough into your bedroom or bathroom to see a pile of dirty clothes all over the floor and think you needed one. :)
Hampers are baskets (generally - it doesn't actually have to be a basket) that you give a set of gifts in - for instance, at a baby shower, you might get a baby hamper with nappies, talc, a few onesies... in it. Obviously this is a British thing, as this is standard usage in Australia as well as Canada.

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #76 on: December 14, 2014, 11:02:44 PM »
The hamper thing is throwing those of us in the USA.  We are envisioning someone giving you a plastic or wicker basket to put your dirty clothes in.   It does make more sense though now.  I couldn't understand how you let someone far enough into your bedroom or bathroom to see a pile of dirty clothes all over the floor and think you needed one. :)   

:)  lol, got it. And those responding only to the original post don't have the clarifying info I gave a ways down, so could naturally believe I meant this, yes! I'll go up and modify this in the original post right now, as I should have done when the confusion first came up. Though I'll still be curious as to whether mm1970 would receive one of these. Some folks might feel comfy doing so.

MrsPete

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #77 on: December 15, 2014, 06:29:24 AM »
In the case of the clothing, if you can use it, just say "Thank you for thinking of me.  I do love to recycle old items!"  This sounds like you're being conservative with resources and are thinking ecologically -- it doesn't imply that you're poor.

In the case of the food, I'd suggest that you offer something back to them in the future -- which would be a hint that you CAN afford what you want. 

However, in terms of the Christmas hamper, I'd have to refuse that.  That's the type of thing that's meant to go to people in need, and I don't have any hint that you're trying to scam food from other people.  You can just say, "Thank you for thinking of me and my son, but that really should go to someone who needs it.  My son and I have everything we need.  Have you considered ____ (think ahead of time of a person who really IS in need). 

As for what people think, don't worry about it.  I don't have the impression that it's bothering you on an emotional level, and that's good.  I'm sure people think we're struggling, when the truth is actually quite the opposite. 


KBecks2

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #78 on: December 15, 2014, 07:30:37 AM »
Hi Scrubbyfish,

I just want to talk about one thing, and it's not a big thing at all, but when you pointed out some of the things you say and think, one struck out at me --- paying $3 for a shirt for the school concert or play or whatever.

Here's how I would look at it -- I found a shirt my son needs, and it's only $3, wahoo!  :)   Now, for me $3 is a deal, and for you, maybe that's the most you've paid for clothing in a while, butů. you have $3, your son needs this item for school, and well, I don't know, I would feel some joy in providing for a kid, knowing you can, and you have, and you are getting a better price on that shirt than 99% of people.

To me, you sound a tad extreme, and it is OK to be extreme, you can be any way you want, but it sounds a little to me that you are hoarding money, or something like that.  And I don't mean that in a mean way, it is just an observation for you to consider.  You can spend money on some things and it is OK!  It does not have to be an "oh no", $3.  I am curious about that point of view.  I am so happy that you are happy and living a great life!!  Wahoo! 




Bob W

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #79 on: December 15, 2014, 07:56:06 AM »
People's perceptions are funny at times.   For a long time my kids believed that most people who live in big fancy houses and drive fancy cars ect.. are rich.   I have to explain to them the difference about being rich and being in debt.  I still don't think they really understand it as probably most people don't. 

In rural communities we generally know who is rich and poor though.   Ironically many of the richest folks around drive old pickups live in modest houses and wear well used clothes. 

The other thing about some small rural communities is that there isn't income segregation in schools.   So children are in classrooms where one child's parents are multi millionaires right next to a child who wears the same clothes to school each day and has no food at home.

Imustacheyouaquestion

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #80 on: December 15, 2014, 08:44:18 AM »
I would just respond by politely declining while trying to make it clear that you don't need this type of assistance. I wonder if your son's frequent exclamations that he is hungry might be contributing to this perception?

For example, "No thank you, but my son and I would love to help volunteer and distribute those baskets to those who are in need. I'd love to show my son a great example of helping others who are less fortunate than us."

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #81 on: December 15, 2014, 09:12:05 AM »
I just want to talk about one thing, and it's not a big thing at all, but when you pointed out some of the things you say and think, one struck out at me --- paying $3 for a shirt for the school concert or play or whatever.

Here's how I would look at it -- I found a shirt my son needs, and it's only $3, wahoo!  :)   Now, for me $3 is a deal, and for you, maybe that's the most you've paid for clothing in a while, butů. you have $3, your son needs this item for school, and well, I don't know, I would feel some joy in providing for a kid, knowing you can, and you have, and you are getting a better price on that shirt than 99% of people.

To me, you sound a tad extreme, and it is OK to be extreme, you can be any way you want, but it sounds a little to me that you are hoarding money, or something like that.  And I don't mean that in a mean way, it is just an observation for you to consider.  You can spend money on some things and it is OK!  It does not have to be an "oh no", $3.  I am curious about that point of view.  I am so happy that you are happy and living a great life!!  Wahoo!

Lots more great posts, I'm taking them all in, but only words for this one are coming up so far.

kbecks2, I think you're right! It is scary for me to spend money. This is partly because of an experience we had two years ago that shook me to my core financially as well as psychologically and emotionally (our own, externally-imposed, Great Depression). Before that, I spent much more. Since then, I've been practicing slashing spending. Now, everything extra feels scary.

That $3.50, you're right, it was a lot for me to spend on clothing, and the bigger issue for me was that it was for a one-time use. That killed me!

Another part I struggled with was that the school doesn't give much notice for anything, so things I could have saved on -or even created a community event so that everyone could save- end up costing more than necessary. That's the sting -the more than necessary.

Also, every single week I receive a request from the school to spend more amounts than I've ever spent on any such thing. $5 for a lunch x 30 lunches. OUCH! $30 to attend the school event. OUCH! $50 for three days of gym. OUCH! Every single week. After the first week of requests, I was stunned and then set aside $300 for the school year, for the essential supplies and to donate "my share" to the school fundraising team. But I hadn't anticipated that more and more costs would come. Coming from three years of free school to these is scary for me.

I do feel very happy being able to provide for my kid, definitely. I LOVE that I can get him great, new school supplies so that he feels proud and that he "fits in" (this feels important to him). And I feel very happy when I find him two years' worth of cool, comfy outfits for a total of $25. And I was giddy and proud about the great job I did making his costume from that $3.50 item. Those are my, YEAH! moments around school spending.

But you're right, in that moment of spending, and for some time after it, I'm turning into my mum and sister, lol. I don't want to develop their emotional stance with money.

The school requests feel out of control for me. If it were just $3.50 in the year, it wouldn't have had that effect. But knowing this is another $3.50 toward a seemingly endless stream of requirements was emotionally tough for me, just as each of the other requests is. I wonder how I'll resolve the school-money matter, especially the emotional part.

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #82 on: December 15, 2014, 09:50:35 AM »
^ I just split a gut laughing! What if the hamper is a direct result of the school costs?? What if the community is saying, "Hey, we know you just moved here, with a kid, which means you have now had three months to experience the cost of our school. We know that anyone with any financial sense will be blown away by these costs, and might be tempted to move away as a result of them. Would you be willing [those are their words] to receive this hamper, to counter some of the costs of the school and to ensure you stay?" Maybe the hamper is ALL ABOUT THE SCHOOL FEES! lol.

KBecks2

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #83 on: December 15, 2014, 10:13:15 AM »
LOL, you are so right, the school costs do come out of nowhere, and it sounds like your school has quite a few fees, charges and special things.

I have 3 kids, so it feels like I am constantly getting permission slips, etc.  But in reality, it's only a couple a month.  I need to have my son wear a grey shirt for his holiday concert (and we have one that I think he will wear inside out).  It can be difficult to do a zero-based budget (which I have half-tried and mostly failed at it) when these costs come up, and you have to kind of plan for their random-ness.  For me it's usually $3 here, $6 there.  Not too bad.  There are some school fees at the beginning of the year that are maybe $50 per kid.  The PTO fundraises constantly.     They are nuts.  But I don't have to participate in any of it!   We fundraise for Cub scouts and that is a lot of work too.

Did you already spend through the $300?  (That does sound like a lot for one kid.)  I am annoyed with our PTO so I am just not giving much of anything this year.  Some families really get into selling stuff and love it, I don't.  I will participate in the fundraisers that we enjoy (spaghetti dinner is wonderful) and pass on all of the other 600 activities (just kidding, it is more like 250.  ;-) )

You may want to have a budget line for the school stuff.  It's going to come up and it may make it less ouch-y if you are mentally prepared for it. 

Wait, I might have gotten us off-topic - sorry!  I don't have anything great to add about the food basket.  Try not to dwell on it and keep living your awesome life. 
« Last Edit: December 15, 2014, 10:19:22 AM by KBecks2 »

KBecks2

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #84 on: December 15, 2014, 10:19:55 AM »
LOL, you are so right, the school costs do come out of nowhere, and it sounds like your school has quite a few fees, charges and special things.

I have 3 kids, so it feels like I am constantly getting permission slips, etc.  But in reality, it's only a couple a month.  I need to have my son wear a grey shirt for his holiday concert (and we have one that I think he will wear inside out).  It can be difficult to do a zero-based budget (which I have half-tried and mostly failed at it) when these costs come up, and you have to kind of plan for their random-ness.  For me it's usually $3 here, $6 there.  Not too bad.  There are some school fees at the beginning of the year that are maybe $50 per kid.  The PTO fundraises constantly.     They are nuts.  But I don't have to participate in any of it!   We fundraise for Cub scouts and that is a lot of work too.

You may want to have a budget line for the school stuff.  It's going to come up and it may make it less ouch-y if you are mentally prepared for it. 

Whoops, you did budget!  Did you already spend through the $300?  (That does sound like a lot for one kid.)  I am annoyed with our PTO so I am just not giving much of anything this year.  Some families really get into selling stuff and love it, I don't.  I will participate in the fundraisers that we enjoy (spaghetti dinner is wonderful) and pass on all of the other 600 activities (just kidding, it is more like 250.  ;-) )

You may want to have a budget line for the school stuff.  It's going to come up and it may make it less ouch-y if you are mentally prepared for it. 

Wait, I might have gotten us off-topic - sorry!  I don't have anything great to add about the food basket.  Try not to dwell on it and keep living your awesome life.

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #85 on: December 15, 2014, 10:43:34 AM »
You may want to have a budget line for the school stuff.  It's going to come up and it may make it less ouch-y if you are mentally prepared for it.

Yeah, I have a budget line for school. That's the $300. Developing that line demanded a leap of willingness on my part already, but I got there, and got all good with it, and I felt I was being wise (developing the line), fair (paying my share into the annual fundraising goal), and generous (ensuring my kid has enough to feel socially safe and well).

But in 8 weeks, it's been:

Annual activity fee $10 ("no problem!" thought I)
Hot lunches (once every couple of weeks, I pay 1/3, kid pays 2/3 from his allowance) $135
Scholastics fundraiser $27
PAC fundraiser $30
PE activity $50
Concert $30
Costume $3
Drive to volunteer at fundraiser $6
Required school supplies $90
More fundraisers $12
Disability equipment $130
Additional clothes (less need with homeschooling) $25

In 8 weeks! $548! We're only 2 months in! There are 6 full months to go! Ack!

TerriM

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #86 on: December 15, 2014, 10:48:58 AM »
I feel your pain.  I hate the nickel and diming.  Just give me the overall price tag up front!

Anyone know how to turn off the spell correction?  It keeps trying to change what I'm saying....  Nickel and dining..... 

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #87 on: December 15, 2014, 12:31:25 PM »
Have we covered 'hearty laughter' as a valid response yet?

scrubbyfish

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #88 on: December 15, 2014, 12:59:07 PM »
Have we covered 'hearty laughter' as a valid response yet?

oooooooooooo! that's GOOD! (Well, I don't want to laugh AT the kind people.)

I think once I cross the psychological threshold of thinking I'm poor to thinking I'm rich, this will probably be what naturally comes!

Apples

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #89 on: December 15, 2014, 01:23:08 PM »
People's perceptions are funny at times.   For a long time my kids believed that most people who live in big fancy houses and drive fancy cars ect.. are rich.   I have to explain to them the difference about being rich and being in debt.  I still don't think they really understand it as probably most people don't. 

In rural communities we generally know who is rich and poor though.   Ironically many of the richest folks around drive old pickups live in modest houses and wear well used clothes. 

The other thing about some small rural communities is that there isn't income segregation in schools.   So children are in classrooms where one child's parents are multi millionaires right next to a child who wears the same clothes to school each day and has no food at home.

+1.  We're rural but in the northeast so only 45 minutes from some "fancy" suburban areas.  But my school was probably the best education ever on the socioeconomic scale and valuing all types of people I could have ever gotten.  There's a whole lot of middle class families, which leads to branded clothing like Abercombie and American Eagle, and a few richer ones (more branding, but then my parents would not pay for "those cheap clothes with the brand printed on them"), and a full 1/3 of kids on the free lunch program.  Overall, somewhere around 1/2-2/3 of the school qualified for free or reduced lunch.  But in middle school kids needed tickets to hand to the cashier for free or reduced lunch, so not everyone who qualified would use it because they would then show their poorness.  In h.s. it was a code you entered on a keypad at the same time you entered your PIN, so usage was near 100% for those who qualified.  I had friends with parents who made a lot of different amounts of money, which led to a lot of discussions with my parents about income, spending choices, and savings growing up. 

I think you already have an answer for charitable giving for future awkward situations.  And I haven't perused your journal, so I'm not sure what your income situation is.  At my school there was some very quiet giving.  3-4 teachers worked to identify students who were obviously coming from families with issues (whether low income, poor spending choices, or disability/illness issues-ranging from addictions to learning disorders).  They discreetly contacted potential donors, which are parents of kids who are well-off in the less showy ways.  For example, my family was upper middle income to low wealthy, but I wore very little name brand clothing and I never mentioned big vacation getaways or other spendy symptoms.  Basically I think they connected with people who could keep their mouths shut :p  Those teachers worked to get those kids the things the really, actually needed.  I only know of one kid my mom helped, because I had to take the clothes to school to give the teacher to slowly send home with him.  But usually the giving went beyond food and clothes (which could easily be addressed through other orgs.) and into things like a warranty for a device, or truly necessary orthodontia, or a few flash drives so they could work on a paper at school or the library and print it wherever they happened to be.  I'm not sure how those teachers figured out exactly the best way to help a student, but the did it in creative and truly helpful ways, without making the kid show poor by taking a bag of food/clothes home on the bus, etc.  I'm sharing this in case you need ideas for your church committee next year-ask teachers, there's always a few who keep tabs on the types of families you're trying to reach.

falcondisruptor

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #90 on: December 15, 2014, 02:27:38 PM »
Generally I don't mind if people think we're poor.  When we say that such and such just isn't in the budget, they believe us and don't try to pressure us to spend.

I also love getting hand me downs and stuff we can use that people no longer want.

But, if we started getting hampers to give our kid a good Christmas or something, I might have to speak up a little.  I wouldn't want another child who is in need to go without when our own daughter will be spoiled. 

The_path_less_taken

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #91 on: December 15, 2014, 02:31:48 PM »
Life is short, so I'd follow your heart on this.

Personally, I don't care what other people think or say about me: I know the truth. I agree with several posters who say that because of the "Mom I'm hungry!" thing from your son people are possibly assuming that you're not living la vida loca.

I think I'd refuse the hamper knowing it would be more appreciated by someone who IS going hungry at the moment.

Also, I took one of the dogs to the vet today and the bill was $441. When the tech said that to me I blanched and said "Fuck me!!!"

She promptly said I could make payments, with no interest. I started to tell her "no, I can put it on the cc and pay it off at the end of the month, no problem" and then I thought..."wait a minute: free money! No interest!"

I told her I'd pay half today and half next month. They were thrilled. And it didn't hurt anyone. So if it's a matter of some small things or small gifts...I wouldn't stress over it.

You sound like an awesome mom, btw. And I think your son is lucky to have someone who is teaching him the MMM way of life, so young.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: responding to beliefs that I'm poor?
« Reply #92 on: December 15, 2014, 03:04:35 PM »
I think once I cross the psychological threshold of thinking I'm poor to thinking I'm rich

I used to be worried that my wife would never make the transition. We got our financial house turned around in record time, and instead of living paycheck-to-paycheck we soon had enough to survive for a decent amount of time. She was always stressed about money though. I didn't think she would feel secure until we hit "the number", and even then I was pretty sure she'd still stress over it.

I think there's hope now. She's taken an entire year off to spend with our third baby (she's the sole breadwinner). Talking about heading back to the US for the holidays next year (that's an extra round-trip for 5). Looks like we're going to have a really big dentist bill (talking "new car" money). She doesn't seem phased by it. She is concerned that we're not going to save as much for retirement this year and next, but she's not freaking out.

Not sure what point I'm trying to make. Good luck crossing that threshold.