Author Topic: Downsides of Success?  (Read 5230 times)

thepuglife

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Downsides of Success?
« on: March 09, 2018, 09:31:31 AM »
Downsides of success

I am a single mother of a disabled teenager – not a typical Mustachian, probably. I also had a very odd route to FIRE. My ex husband and I (both government employees with lower middle class salaries) bought a home that we ended up renting out. It appreciated a lot and we sold it and bought two duplexes in “up and coming” areas in the SF Bay region, one of which we lived in for several years. Fast forward 15 years – we are divorced and because my ex became discouraged during the real estate melt down, he let me buy out his interest in the properties. The buildings appreciated and the cash flow is enough for me to live  comfortably.

When I was struggling financially after the divorce, my friends were kind and supportive. Now that I no longer have to work, I have become more and more isolated. A couple of my “friends” tried to take advantage of me financially - leaning on me to lend or give them money, etc. Even my family members are behaving badly – refusing to pay back loans. My parents have suddenly adopted an unaffordable and extravagant lifestyle and it is obvious they expect me to support them if /when they run out of money.

I have tried many things to make new friends: hiking meetups, volunteering, church, part time work, you name it. I feel like a unicorn and it is isolating me. One of the problems is that my lifestyle looks odd to people so it is hard to “stealth wealth” – people ask me what I “do” and I have to give a vague answer because I don’t want to tell them about my financial situation.

Any ideas around this? Sometimes I think that living in the hyper competitive social environment of the Bay Area is part of the problem. But, it would be hard to move because my son has a support system here.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2018, 10:25:44 AM »
I certainly understand sticking out.  Most people just don't understand not working for (more) money. 

I had a hard ass reply for your debtors and parents typed up, but deleted it.  Draw a line, tell them about it, and don't cross it. Nobody asks me for money because they know what I'll say.

Any chance you are too vague when you tell people what you do?  I find evasive answers are sometimes interpreted as an unwillingness to engage socially.  Not sure what you say, but I would think part time property management and part time caretaker for your son would be pretty acceptable. 

Have you ever been to a mustachian meet-up?  I imagine there is a pretty good sized group in the Bay Area. 

I've been retired two years now, still haven't quite found my social niche.  I worked 10-15hrs week at a non-profit for a good bit of that, but recently cut that back as it didn't seem like the right fit.  I figure I just need one or two "weekday" social circles to fill me out (weekends are fine), so I keep looking...

Kay-Ell

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2018, 10:47:19 AM »
Maybe lead people to believe you did well in the divorce and it allows you to focus on caring for your son? Oddly enough, a lot of people would be more comfortable with that idea than with someone who invested wisely and is now financially independent by their own hard work.

I’m FIRED “way too early” as a single mother, so I also stick out as someone who just doesn’t make social sense. My boyfriend is older and has a very successful look (he is, in his own right, but just looking and listening to him you could imagine he sold a successful company and is wealthier than he truly is). And while we don’t live together or mix finances at all, I’ve noticed that people assume he supports me and are much less concerned about that than they are when trying to figure out how I support myself and a young child without working.

FrugalToque

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2018, 10:56:48 AM »
... he let me buy out his interest in the properties. The buildings appreciated and the cash flow is enough for me to live  comfortably.

Any ideas around this?

I can't be sure from how you've written this, but do you still own those buildings and rent them out?

If that's your source of cash flow for now, then you can just tell people you're a property manager or whatever.  That's pretty chill.

Toque.

thepuglife

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2018, 11:43:18 AM »
Thanks to everyone who responded!

Ihamo and Gone Fishing, I looked for MMM meetups near where I live and it seems like the closest one is in San Jose. That is about an hour’s drive but it might be worth it. I have thought about mentoring younger people who are interested in doing what I did – the slow frugal method towards FIRE.

Kay-Ell, I think you are right about people’s comfort level with how I got where I am. That I am a woman seems to be particularly disturbing to some . . .

Frugal Toque, yes I rent out the duplexes and live on the income. Over the years, I renovated them to the point where I almost never hear from the tenants. I visit once a week to pick up any garbage and make sure nothing weird is going on. I suppose I could say I am a property manager . . .

Financial.Velociraptor

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2018, 12:20:29 PM »
I actively trade my portfolio so most people get the "professional trader" answer.  That usually gets a weird look and requires me explain that I trade stocks, bonds, and options for a living.  Most people still think I'm crazy.  I suppose the people who knew me at least 20 years ago should be unsurprised that I have chosen to do something unconventional.  But new people cope poorly.

I second telling people you are a landlord or residential property manager.  Your thing is at least close enough to 'normal' work that I think it will be more palatable to people. 

There is a whole subforum for arranging meetups.  Look here: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/meetups-and-social-events/

trollwithamustache

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2018, 12:39:42 PM »
yeah, you need a fake job.

Become a consultant of some type. Best case people accept your job and wonder how you make it.  Worst case, someone actually pays your ridiculous rate for advice :)

Kay-Ell

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2018, 12:41:22 PM »
Kay-Ell, I think you are right about people’s comfort level with how I got where I am. That I am a woman seems to be particularly disturbing to some . . .

There’s something especially unseemely about a financially independent woman. There’s this perception that we don’t need the money or the success in the same way a man would. Occasionally a belief that we are taking more than oir share. Perhaps that’s part of why your family is responding to you as they are. You’ve got all this money (in their opinion) that obviously represents an excess that you don’t need. Whereas if you were male, they might see your avility to earn and manage money as an admirable part of your character and identity. Or maybe I’m just a feminazi :-P
« Last Edit: March 09, 2018, 03:58:40 PM by Kay-Ell »

FINate

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2018, 12:52:35 PM »
First and foremost - stop lending money. If someone can't get a loan from a bank then they aren't credit worthy, therefore they are unlikely to pay you back. Make it a hard and fast rule for friends and family: "Sorry, nothing personal, but I don't lend money to anyone." Instead, if you want to help someone in need then gift them the money. So you can still be generous and help those you deem worthy of help, but on your own terms. Generally speaking, people know better than to ask for gifts of cash, so they ask for loans instead even if they know they can't repay. The only way to win is to not play.

Second, I'll be the dissenting opinion here and suggest that this is a good opportunity for personal growth. Get used to people judging because the truth is, most of us here are "weird" and/or nonconforming. May as well embrace it. And I think it's better to thin out potential friends who are not okay with your true self, or who are only interested in you for your wealth. Better to find this out early on before a bunch of time and effort is invested in the relationship. Wasting less time on fake friends means you have a higher probability of making 1-2 very close friends who know your true identity and celebrate it without trying to take advantage. Embrace the awkwardness and use it as a tool to guide you to the right people.

Mr. Green

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2018, 01:09:58 PM »
Frugal Toque, yes I rent out the duplexes and live on the income. Over the years, I renovated them to the point where I almost never hear from the tenants. I visit once a week to pick up any garbage and make sure nothing weird is going on. I suppose I could say I am a property manager . . .
Just inject a little belief into your attitude and it will get pretty easy. You really are a property manager right? You manage 4 separate living units and you even go by them weekly to collect trash. To me that's a pretty active property manager. You've just been very smart with upgrades so your management is efficient; you don't deal with a lot of issues. Your response sounds like you don't really believe you're a property manager because it's just something you do on the side or you're just not used to it thinking about it as "what you do." But it is how you make a living. Don't be afraid to own the title; it certainly sounds like you've earned it.

thepuglife

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2018, 01:28:38 PM »
TrollWithaMustache -- LOL -- it is so true that in our culture, the notion that one must have a job is so deeply embedded that it might help to just get a fake one.

Finate, thank you for saying that about being weird or nonconforming. I have felt that way all of my adult life. Maybe I can make some online friends here . . . : )

Mr. Green, thank you -- it took a while but I realized that most tenants aren't looking for frills. They want a clean unit in a good location and if the utilities, appliances, windows, etc work and there are no pest problems, you never hear from them except when they pay the rent. Focusing on the basics set me free . . .

Cali

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2018, 06:32:12 PM »
I find human beings like putting people in boxes. And they get angry when you don’t fit in the standard box they use for everyone else. I’d actually say I was a property manager too, it’s true and it makes you more relatable until you find your true tribe.

TheWifeHalf

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2018, 06:36:04 PM »
From outside appearances, TheHusbandHalf and I look lower middle class. We like it that way, for the reasons you expressed.

Freedomin5

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2018, 09:50:25 PM »
Yes, you are a property manager.

Also, with family members and friends who hit you up for money or expect you to support their extravagant lifestyle, occasionally drop subtle hints about "how expensive the mortgages are" or how "interest rates have gone up and all your cash is tied up" or how "expensive things are these days", so that they start to realize that maybe you're not just sitting at home counting your hoards of cash every day. In the past, family members have asked us to cover VERY EXPENSIVE sports  camps for their kids (to the tune of $500 per week, for several weeks during the summer). When they brought up the request, we simply said something along the lines of, "I'd be happy to help out Junior if I can. Let me see what I can contribute after paying the mortgage payments and medical insurance and our car has been acting up lately so there may be repairs." Then a few days later, "Hey! We're happy to contribute $50 towards his camp!"

Or even just innocently asking, "If you're spending so much money now, are you going to have enough in retirement?"

cchrissyy

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2018, 10:21:18 PM »
"I manage some rental houses"
"I'm a landlord"
"I'm a property manager"
"I stay home with my kid"
"I take care of my kid and work part time as a property manager"
etc.


sometimes people are more asking about your time and schedule. like, why are you home or available so much?

"I work from home"
"My work is 100% remote"
"I do residential property management but luckily the job is almost entirely work from home!"
"I manage a small group of rental homes and get to work at home any time I'm not needed on site"
« Last Edit: March 09, 2018, 10:26:25 PM by cchrissyy »

thepuglife

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2018, 09:51:02 AM »
Malkynn, here is what happened -- I had a small but close group of "mom" friends from my days working a government job. When I left the job to take care of my son, it looked weird to them because I have no partner to support me. One of them knew about my buildings and began to pressure me to lend her money for a vacation property, among other things. The melt down started there, and I can no longer comfortably socialize with that group.

Are you familiar with the mommy cliques that form at schools? There are the working moms and the non working moms. There is generally no group of FI moms. At my son's special needs school, there is a close group of moms who are not employed but are supported by their partners. They think it is odd that I am single, I pick up my son every day at 3, I am not living in poverty and I have no job. They ask me nosy questions about what I "do." I don't think these people are "shitty" they just don't know how to relate to someone in my shoes.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2018, 10:09:05 AM »
Malkynn, here is what happened -- I had a small but close group of "mom" friends from my days working a government job. When I left the job to take care of my son, it looked weird to them because I have no partner to support me. One of them knew about my buildings and began to pressure me to lend her money for a vacation property, among other things. The melt down started there, and I can no longer comfortably socialize with that group.

Are you familiar with the mommy cliques that form at schools? There are the working moms and the non working moms. There is generally no group of FI moms. At my son's special needs school, there is a close group of moms who are not employed but are supported by their partners. They think it is odd that I am single, I pick up my son every day at 3, I am not living in poverty and I have no job. They ask me nosy questions about what I "do." I don't think these people are "shitty" they just don't know how to relate to someone in my shoes.

Can you not tell these non-working supported wifes that you came out of your divorce with some rental properties and that you have a part time job managing those?

It is sad that people exclude others they cannot relate to, instead of trying to understand a new concept.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2018, 01:29:21 AM by Linda_Norway »

Linea_Norway

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #17 on: March 12, 2018, 01:36:16 AM »

Lastly, in my humble opinion, they key to making great friends is to not worry too much about people liking you. It’s a lot easier to be yourself when you don’t concern yourself with people liking you and then the kind of people who will fit with your personality will really really like you very quickly and the rest will be polite because nothing keeps people behaving well quite like someone who isn’t afraid to be disliked.

I am treated sooooooo much better by people since I stopped worrying about them liking me and approving of me. That doesn’t mean I’m rude or mean, I’m just genuinely me and 100% okay with the inevitability that some people won’t like me.


Very good to hear this. I have also once heard that for every group of new people you meet, on average 5 people will not like you for every 2 who will like you. So you shouldn't put your expectations too high.

Dragonswan

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #18 on: March 12, 2018, 10:01:58 AM »
Well as far as the mommy clique goes: cut them some slack. Your circumstances are unusual enough that they are trying to ensure you're not a criminal or some evil element they don't want around their children.  The more you equivocate the more suspicious they will become. Tell them you do property management and get on with your social life.  Ask me how I know?

When I was much younger and better looking I lived in a traditional middle class neighborhood.  I worked second shift in a laboratory and made decent money for the area (hence the neighborhood). I dressed well for work.  When it snowed a couple of guys from my congregation would drop by and shovel me out.  After about a year one of the good old boy neighbors got up the courage to ask me what I did for a living, "You work at night do you work in a factory?"  Translation, we think you're engaged in criminal activity but giving you an out by mentioning a factory.  Once I explained myself, they got much more friendly.  I mean who would mind living next door to a scientist who's active in her religion as opposed to a drug dealing prostitute? 

thepuglife

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2018, 11:52:20 AM »
Thank you to everyone who has replied. I appreciate all of the support and encouragement. I have heard that it is hard for any middle aged person to make new friends.

And yes, maybe the mommies think I might be a drug dealer : )

Dicey

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2018, 11:26:20 AM »
Or maybe try turning this thing on its head. "My child is disabled. After seeing to their needs, all i can really manage is a little property management." And then stop talking, look them in the eyes and smile.

When I wanted to make more friends, I started volunteering at the library. I joined the Friends group. It changed my life. The variety of members is so vast that there is literally some of everything.

BTDretire

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Re: Downsides of Success?
« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2018, 07:25:22 AM »
Well as far as the mommy clique goes: cut them some slack. Your circumstances are unusual enough that they are trying to ensure you're not a criminal or some evil element they don't want around their children.  The more you equivocate the more suspicious they will become. Tell them you do property management and get on with your social life.  Ask me how I know?

When I was much younger and better looking I lived in a traditional middle class neighborhood.  I worked second shift in a laboratory and made decent money for the area (hence the neighborhood). I dressed well for work.  When it snowed a couple of guys from my congregation would drop by and shovel me out.  After about a year one of the good old boy neighbors got up the courage to ask me what I did for a living, "You work at night do you work in a factory?"  Translation, we think you're engaged in criminal activity but giving you an out by mentioning a factory.  Once I explained myself, they got much more friendly.  I mean who would mind living next door to a scientist who's active in her religion as opposed to a drug dealing prostitute?
Well, if you were a quiet drug dealing prostitute and didn't generate a lot of traffic, I would prefer you over two neighbors I have now!  :-)