Jealousy – And What You Can’t See

One of the nicest houses in our town recently went into foreclosure. The family that lived there seemed to have “everything” on the surface – a gorgeous house, nice cars, nice clothing, expensive cell phones, and so on.

In truth, though, they were in debt up to their eyeballs. Now that house that they had sunk so much money into is gone, as is the family. They’re living in an apartment, one of the two parents is jobless, and they’re likely facing bankruptcy.

There was a time in my life where I felt really jealous of people who had some of the things that I wanted in life. As time has gone on, I’ve found that all of these people really do fall into one of two categories.

1. They can’t really afford it. They’re piling up debt accumulating things and doing things that are simply beyond their means. Yes, sometimes people get into this situation unknowingly (like people who were scammed into bad mortgages), but most people often start down this path with some student loans partnered with a bit of credit card debt. Then they “buy” a house with a mortgage, toss on some more credit card debt, have a car loan or two, and find themselves really struggling.

They appear to have everything, but the financial and personal stress that you don’t see can be very, very intense.

The “can’t really afford it” group includes those who are living on the money of others. Why? When the money of others runs out, those people are quickly going to be fully in the “can’t really afford it” situation.

2. They can really afford it – and usually deserve it. This includes the people who have worked very, very hard to get what they have. Entrepreneurs who have worked countless hours to build a business. Very bright people who have capitalized on a great idea. People who spent most of their twenties going to school to earn a doctorate in a lucrative field. People who have lived very lean for a while in order to build up a bankroll for themselves.

To get to this point, you either had to make some tremendous sacrifices along the way – often damaging relationships and missing out on life-affirming experiences and going through painful “salad years” without much at all – or simply have had the ability and opportunity to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of it – to which I say “good for them” instead of really being jealous of them.

When I look at people who have the things that I want, I recognize that they’re in one of those groups. Either they’re struggling deeply to handle what they have (which is making other aspects of their lives miserable) or they’ve worked very hard to get what they’ve got (which means they had challenging experiences in the past and often sacrificed a lot to get where they are).

If I’m dissatisfied, the dissatisfaction is really with my own life. Usually, it means I’m unhappy with some aspect of the choices I’ve made in my life and it’s a sign that I need to sit down and take a look at where I’m at. Should I be doing something different?

I don’t ever want to be the person who can’t really afford it. I’ve been there; it’s scary. Do I want to be the person who can afford it? Sure, but when I step back and look at my life, I recognize that it’s not really the priority.

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98 thoughts on “Jealousy – And What You Can’t See

  1. Shannon says:

    Or Trent there is a third category of people – who have earned a lot of money in their life and maintained their relationships and not sacrificed anything and just worked hard. I find it amazing that you refuse to acknowledge that one can be rich and buy expensive things that one can afford without giving up on personal relationships or generally having made some sacrifices!

  2. For the most part, all of us who follow you or read your blog regularly, have had financial difficulties at one time or another. I have had too many things and not enough money to pay…. Credit cards and my denial made everything so easy for me to buy. I was so far in debt, you could not see the top of my head.

    Now, my financial situation is a bit better. Still have debt, but I try to “think” about my wants… and decide if I can really afford it.

  3. It’s really interesting to me how you tend to see things simply as one extreme or another…either someone can’t afford it or they had to sacrifice to get there. I doubt in most circumstances that either of your extremes is entirely accurate.

  4. LeahGG says:

    There is a third category – people whose parents gave them enough to get a really good start, and they worked hard enough to use that.

    I know a family where they started with no debt (husband had an MBA and wife had a BA when they got married), both sets of parents helped them out a little to buy their first house/car. Both sets of parents made sure that in the first few years when they were getting their careers started, they didn’t live too lean.

    Husband worked his way from a low-paying (but hi-tech) job to a high-paying job and eventually quit and started his own company.

    He worked hard, I grant you, but he was able to take risks that other people can’t afford to take because he had backing from both sides of the family.

  5. guinness416 says:

    “As time has gone on, I’ve found that all of these people really do fall into one of two categories”

    How have you found this out? I’m with the others, I doubt most people are in the black or white category and expect most are grey. In fact the couple of people I know very well with the amazing cars/houses/vacations are indeed balanced people with great social and fmily lives, who work hard but at something they love … and it is quite sickening actually!

  6. J.O. says:

    It’s amazing how different people read the same words and get different interpretations from it. I suspect in this case it is because they didn’t read ALL of the words.

    Plese read the article again, and note that Trent HAS included in his analysis those people who “have it all” without an unbalanced life or tremendous sacrifices – the ones he says “good for them” about.

  7. Gretchen says:

    So everyone with more stuff than you is worse off than you one way or another.

    Got it.

  8. Gretchen says:

    BTW, I don’t really think about how people with more stuff afford/don’t afford it at all.

    It doesn’t really change my life if my neighbor drives a new Lexus suv any more than if they kept driving the old pickup truck. Or whatever.

  9. Marsha says:

    Comparing yourself with others is a recipe for discontentment. There’s always going to be someone smarter, more talented, richer, etc. My self identity is not connected to the clothes I wear, the car I drive, or the house I live in.

  10. Kathryn says:

    A few years ago my mother said, of the folks on TV purchasing their first home, “So many young people today want it all, all the things their parents now have. New cars, new TV, upgraded home with the perfect kitchen & bathrooms. They don’t realize that their parents worked hard for many years to obtain those things.”

    There are some of us who may not ever reach the point of having all the pretty things. My hubby & i live a very frugal life style. He gets frustrated sometimes, reading blogs or magazines that tell you all the ways to save, because he says, “We already do all those things.” I don’t think there will come a time where it will be “easy” for us, but it may get easier as we adjust to where we are at, where we are going, & our expectations fall along that route.

    It is easy to envy the folks we know who have inherited money that makes things easier for them (including hubby’s step-siblings). But we also know that we have so much more than they do in the fact that we CAN manage our money, we like our lifestyle, we have a good marriage, & are happy. Step-siblings, living on the “some day we will have . . . ” have never managed money well, & what they have been given will soon be gone. Then what will they do?

    Two types of folks may be simplistic, but it does probably give a general idea of the categories most folks fall into. Extreme? Maybe. Most probably fall between the extremes, but it is a valid concept.

  11. marta says:

    I am getting a tad tired of your “either-or” situations. As others have pointed out, some (not that few) people get a head start thanks to their parents’ generosity/help — for example, in my circle of friends the couple with the fanciest condo manages to afford it because the husband had got, in his early 20s, a paid-for condo as a gift from his parents, which he eventually sold about 10 years later, using the proceeds from the sale as a hefty down payment on the current condo. These friends of mine are neither facing bankruptcy nor have worked “very, very hard” for these things.

    And my goodness, Trent, you surely pay a lot of attention to what your neighbours do (or don’t) have.

  12. spaces says:

    The golden handcuffs … I used to share an office with my boss, a man nearly 30 years my senior (who should have been nearing retirement), who made substantially more than I did, but who was deeply in debt. Didn’t stop him from buying a house, new cars every 6-12 months, fancy electronics, and new furniture every year or so. This was before the crash, he did it all zero down, on credit.

    You can imagine what layoffs, furloughs, wage cuts of 40-50%, etc. have done to his lifestyle, and dreams of retirement.

  13. J.O. says:

    @ Shannon, Leah, Steven, Marta

    Please read more carefully. See comment #6. Also Marta please note the following from the article:

    “The “can’t really afford it” group includes those who are living on the money of others. Why? When the money of others runs out, those people are quickly going to be fully in the “can’t really afford it” situation.”

  14. marta says:

    I read that, J.O., but it doesn’t really apply in the example I offered.

    They got a head start on the money of others but are living that lifestyle on THEIR money now, meaning that yes, they can afford it. If affording something means having it without getting into a hole or whatever.

  15. J.O.: Might I suggest that YOU reread the article. It’s pretty clear to me that Trent has divided people into 2 categories. He even summarizes the entire article in the following:

    “When I look at people who have the things that I want, I recognize that they’re in one of those groups. Either they’re struggling deeply to handle what they have (which is making other aspects of their lives miserable) or they’ve worked very hard to get what they’ve got (which means they had challenging experiences in the past and often sacrificed a lot to get where they are).”

    Group 1: Debt
    Group 2: Sacrifice

    He describes Group 2 in the following way:

    “To get to this point, you either had to make some tremendous sacrifices along the way – often damaging relationships and missing out on life-affirming experiences and going through painful “salad years” without much at all – or simply have had the ability and opportunity to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of it – to which I say “good for them” instead of really being jealous of them.”

    Of course, I’m not buying the “I’m not really being jealous” argument since that’s the entire point of this article. He concludes the article saying:

    “Do I want to be the person who can afford it? Sure, but when I step back and look at my life, I recognize that it’s not really the priority.”

    It’s not his priority because he sees these people as having had to sacrifice the things he outlined earlier, which he claims to value more than money, Stuff or professional success…of course, here he is writing an article that starts out slamming old neighbors for their personal financial choices which he really knows nothing about. Maybe when they bought the house, they could afford it. Maybe someone lost their job, got sick or something else happened that they weren’t expecting. He makes plenty of assumptions about their situation (likely facing bankruptcy)…or maybe this is just another of his fairy-tale stories that isn’t actually true and he’s just crafting fiction for the sake of an article.

    I’m just glad he’s not my neighbor because he reminds me a bit of the person who has too much time on his hands and has to worry about other people’s business. More and more Trent is coming off as being quite condescending to others who don’t share his particular values.

    If I’ve misunderstood something about this article, please, let me know because I’m not the type of person who reads between the lines.

  16. kristine says:

    Research has concluded (Harvard, I believe but sue me, I didn’t write it down), that happiness does not increase much after the “basic needs of security” have been met.

    The jump in happiness from poverty to solvency/security is quite substantial. But from there, the curve goes kind of flat.

    So, once you have your basic needs met consistently, happiness is an internal matter, not an external matter. I find happiness and jealousy mutually exclusive.

  17. @16 Kristine: I like the conclusion of your comment, “I find happiness and jealousy mutually exclusive.” Yup. Can’t really be both, can we! :)

  18. J.O. says:

    @ Marta

    If in the example you gave, the couple are living in a condo on which the “hefty” down payment came from the proceeds of the original condo – which was a gift to them. I would call that still living on others’ money, at least to that “hefty” extent. If they were to pay back that money, how would their financial situation look?

  19. Riki says:

    Sorry Trent, but this article comes across as you attempting to justify the sacrifices you make. There are lots of people who can afford what they buy (even if they buy really nice things) and I find it telling that you tend to instantly assume they are drowning in debt. That’s a very judgmental attitude.

    I agree that many recent articles share a fairly narrow point of view. It didn’t start out that way, but as Trent ventures into more social commentary rather than frugality discussions, his white-male-privileged-life-world-views come shining through. Ultimately, Trent reasons through situations by making the pieces fit into his own personal experiences — the result is limited.

    I’m not sure what to say about this article. It’s true that a lot of people make sacrifices to achieve success, but why do those sacrifices have to be viewed as miserable? I prefer to think of the sacrifices I make as decisions that allow me to do more with the money I have. I make sacrifices, but I also have professional success AND great relationships in my life. These are not mutually exclusive things.

  20. J.O. says:

    @ Steven@hundredgoals

    Your original comment was that Trent only gives two extremes of a situation. But the passage you quoted in #15 only disproves this. Here is the quote again:
    ““To get to this point, you either had to make some tremendous sacrifices along the way – often damaging relationships and missing out on life-affirming experiences and going through painful “salad years” without much at all – or simply have had the ability and opportunity to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of it – to which I say “good for them” instead of really being jealous of them.”

    Remember that you used this to illustrate Group 2, the “sacrifice” group. The full text shows that Trent actually allows for somewhat of a unique sub-group, the people who are very lucky to have “the ability and opportunity to be in the right place at the right” time and do not have to put in as much effort as most people do to get to the same place.

    I still think that a careful and complete reading of the text shows that all the possibilities have been covered.

  21. Good article. I find myself getting jealous of others sometimes, based on appearances of what I think they have (and not just financially, but sometimes maritally or with the number of kids they have or the business they run or the level of happiness they seem to have achieved), and I always have to remind myself that I don’t know what their personal struggles may be and that while the grass may LOOK greener, they may be struggling just as much or more than we are. You never know what goes on in someone else’s life. We find ourselves struggling so much these days that jealousy creeps in a lot, but I do my best to fight it and look at the blessings in my life, and by trying to change the things in my life I am unhappy about. If we just keeping working hard and trying to do a better job we’ll get there someday. I like Kristine’s saying of “I find happiness and jealousy mutually exclusive.” I may have to adopt that as my mantra!

  22. SP says:

    It is true that all possibilities are covered (except maybe the “head start” with parent’s money, even though they are no longer RELYING on their parents to provide… but that just seems lucky to me). But I think the subgroup of people who are flat out lucky and fortunate (to varying degrees) is huge.

    In fact, I count myself in that group, though there are people who have been much luckier, it makes me a happier to focus on how lucky I am. I don’t really think “good for them” for people more wealthy – I just don’t really think about their wealth at all.

  23. I still disagree with you. The point he made can be distilled into this:

    Either you’ve sacrificed, damaged relationships, missed out on some life-affirming experience, or you’ve just been lucky.

    If I’m missing anything it’s probably because of poor sentence construction, since that entire paragraph was one long run-on sentence. If he’d have written it in a way that differentiated exactly who it was he was happy for, that might clear things up.

    So he’s happy for the people who he may as well have called “lucky” and therefore, luck implies that somehow the people who he isn’t jealous of are the people who didn’t really have to work hard to earn what they have. It’s those people, if any, that someone should have “issues” with and not the people who did make the sacrifices to be where they are today…but I digress.

    So, I respectfully disagree with you but hold open the possibility that you may be right and I’m just misunderstanding his words. As it’s written, however, doesn’t paint a very nice picture of Trent.

  24. Julie says:

    My husband and I were just talking this morning about the 6 or 7 couples we have known over 25 years of marriage that fit the same description as the family Trent describes at the beginning of the article. Many lived “high on the hog” for a number of years and then eventually lost everything. What always amazed us was how so many other couples would litterally flock to these people, trying to become their best friends…as though association with the wealthy looking couple would somehow elevate them to a higher status. Mean while, we just kept working hard, managed our money carefully, and at this point probably have far more than any of those couples ever had…and nobody has a clue. We don’t want any friends that like us for what we own, and thus we avoid obvious displays of wealth.

    I am a working mother of three. I hold a professional position and have the entire 18 years I have had children. I think it would be pretty naive to claim that I have not made sacrifices to achieve success. On the other hand, my children have learned some valuable lessons that come with having a working mother. It would also be very boastful to claim I didn’t have any good luck along the way. While I have worked hard, I was blessed with parents that stressed the value of an education and my employer has been financially sound for almost 50 years. I know of others who work hard that have been hit with some very unfortunate circumstances.

    It is interesting how defensive people can get when reading this article. Maybe Trent is more on target than many just want to admit.

  25. Johanna says:

    I can’t really identify with feelings of jealousy over material possessions – that’s not something I think i’ve ever experienced. But when I was younger I used to get really intensely jealous of people over their skills and achievements. When someone would prove himself to be better than me at one thing, I’d start looking for things that I could do better than him. (Trent seems to be doing a similar thing here, by looking for ways in which his life is better than the life of someone with more/better stuff.)

    But then I started encountering people who were better than me at *everything* (or at least, everything that I realized I was good at at the time). At first, this drove me absolutely nuts. But as I got to know some of those people, I realized that they weren’t being good at stuff for the sake of proving that they were better than me – they were just living their lives and doing what they liked to do. (This seems obvious now, but it seemed like a revelation at the time.) And that their achievements didn’t make mine any less significant, and that there’s room in the world for many, many people who are good at stuff.

    Similarly, there’s room in the world for many people with happy, fulfilling lives, and if there’s someone whose life happens to be better than yours in every way, that doesn’t make your life any less good.

  26. imelda says:

    Yes, Trent struggles with jealousy of others. That’s the point of this article, people, how he is teaching himself NOT to give in to that jealousy. And he has posted it here because he knows that other people suffer from Joneses syndrome, too, so maybe his thoughts will help them.

    Take a chill pill, people. We’re all flawed. What good does it do *anyone* for you to point to all the hints that Trent may be feeling some envy???

  27. I’m not saying that Trent doesn’t admit to being jealous. What I don’t understand about the article is that he makes the claim that success, or the perception or appearance of such, is the result of but 2 things; debt or sacrifice. He fails to allow for other options and paints anyone who owns a nice house, drives a fancy car or wears designer clothes with a broad brush…one that says “Hey, those people must be broke or have had to make other sacrifices”, i.e. family, time, freedom, etc. I don’t think that is always the case and I’m not sure it is even the case most of the time.

    It just seems to me that anytime someone does something that Trent doesn’t value he attempts to justify his own lifestyle (insecurity, maybe?) and he sounds judgemental.

    Tell me, what’s the difference between rich people looking down their noses at frugal folks with the opinion that they’re cheap or miserly or even worse, poor…and the frugal people looking down their noses at people who value material possessions and worldly possessions? In my opinion, their isn’t a difference. It’s a poor attitude, always being critical of someone else’s choices and priorities.

    I guess maybe we’re all guilty. I think some people wear ugly shoes but it isn’t my decision what they put on their feet any more than it’s their decision to tell me what I should change about myself that they don’t like. Such is life…

    I’m sure I have a point in there somewhere, I just went off in left field a little…sorry.

  28. Julie says:

    Imelda,

    Great point. It is amazing how self righteous people can be. It reminds me of the current atmosphere of political correctness…which to me is just the unwillingness of the self righteous to let others express honest fears and feelings. Sure, some of those feelings may not be proper…and people may be working to get beyond them…but let’s not stop people from expressing their honest feelings and opinions.

    When I was younger, I used to get jealous of material things too. I don’t anymore. These day’s I occasionally struggle with the successes of other people’s kids. There is always something I am working on in myself. Life is a journey. Thankfully time has a way of teaching us lessons I become more and more thankful for my life as the years go by. It sounds as though Trent is where I was about 15 years ago.

  29. Julie says:

    Steve,

    I don’t think Trent is critical of people who value material possesions, if they can truly afford them. I think the problem lies with the people who think they can afford them…better yet…think they deserve them. Yet, as a financial professional, I will tell you that many of them can’t. Thus bankruptcy follows and the burden of their irresponsibility is passed on to you and I via higher taxes, fees, etc. Thus I have a right to become “critical” because their decisions are affecting me in the long run.

  30. @Julie: I don’t disagree with you on your point at all, yet I wonder how either you and I (or anyone else) can really make that judgement call (without a credit report, anyways) based on what someone owns.

    Unless the story about the neighbors Trent opens the article with is fabricated (or he actually knows these people well), I think he is making wild suppositions about people that he ought not be making. Financial situations can change at the drop of a hat and for him to make the claim that these people were really “up to their eyeballs in debt” is presumptuous at best, in my opinion. Maybe, as I mentioned earlier, they really could afford the house, the car, the [whatever] at one time but now something has changed…an illness or job loss…and suddenly they can’t afford those things anymore and have to make the difficult choice to give it all up due to circumstances beyond their control. (???)

  31. Cheryl says:

    I enjoyed this post, and my own observations and experiences bear out your thoughts, Trent. I don’t know anyone who is well-to-do that didn’t work hard and sacrifice a lot to get there. And I assume quite a few of my acquaintances (of all classes) are living above their means.

  32. Johanna says:

    @Julie (#28): “political correctness…which to me is just the unwillingness of the self righteous to let others express honest fears and feelings. Sure, some of those feelings may not be proper…and people may be working to get beyond them…but let’s not stop people from expressing their honest feelings and opinions.”

    I honestly fear I may be opening a can of worms here, but I want to respond to this.

    First of all, nobody is preventing anyone from expressing their honest feelings and opinions. In the United States, at least, everyone has the right to express any ideas that they want. And everyone else has the right to criticize those ideas. That’s how freedom of speech works: It goes both ways.

    Second, political correctness is not about being self-righteous for the sake of being self-righteous. It’s about being considerate of people who are less privileged than you. It’s about taking a minute to think about how, when you express your honest fears and feelings, you’re talking about real people who probably have to put up with similar honest fears and feelings all the bloody time, and how their lives might be affected by that.

  33. Julie says:

    Johanna,

    I knew my comment was opening a can of worms too. You can’t solve problems without open honest discussion…and reconciliation should be the goal. And you can’t assume those who are against political correctness aren’t concerned about the feelings and welfare of those who are less fortunate.

  34. almost there says:

    I agree with Steve. I think Trent decided on a topic and fabricated a story to fit the topic at hand. A la grasshopper and ants. Surely he didn’t know in depth the expense of clothes, cars and for goodness sake cell phones these people had. Articles like this make me miss the home made laundry soap and getting by with minimal TP use postings.

  35. Julie says:

    Steve,

    Some background. I counsel people with financial problems due to my background. I also handle payroll for 150 people. I run credit checks on new employees. I handle paperwork for those who request 401(k) loans…and hear their stories of why they need them. I give employees advances on their paychecks, and generally am told why they need the money. I complete the paperwork when employees purchase or refinance a house. I know what this group of 150 people earn, and I see what they buy. Thus I have come to some conclusions in my 25+ years on this job about people and their money. Maybe I am right…maybe I am not…but I have more access to the financial information of others than most people.

  36. Melissa says:

    The grass may be greener on the other side, but lots more poop!!!

  37. I don’t mean to imply that people don’t make foolish financial decisions or attempt to live in a financially unsustainable way…of course they do! With the experience that you have in your line of work, I’m sure you see patterns of behavior that would affirm your opinion that people are idiots with money…certainly there are many of us (myself included) who have made really bad choices with our finances. That doesn’t mean everyone is making those mistakes. It could be that the reason why these people were able to get a mortgage on “the nicest house on the street” was that they were making all the right choices rather than the wrong and came upon unfortunate times and had to move out of that house so they could afford to live on the income of one spouse. Who knows? Maybe they had it all together at one point and things changed…

    On the other side of the spectrum (according to Trent) are the people who DO have the money but have had to sacrifice to get there. The inference in this article is that if you have money, you have it because you sacrificed relationships, time, etc. in the quest for a dollar bill…or you just plain got lucky. It is my opinion that, a) not everyone is up to debt to their eyeballs, and b) not everyone had to sacrifice everything in order to provide a comfortable life for themselves.

    Some people would consider counting squares of toilet paper as unnecessary sacrifice while others would see it as the foundation of their financial success. It’s just really a matter of perspective and values. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there making a comfortable living who aren’t lucky or had to sacrifice everything to get there. Sure, they probably worked hard but that’s something entirely different than the sacrifices Trent mentions in the article.

    There is a middle ground (and not luck) that he isn’t acknowledging.

  38. Shannon says:

    Steven: agree with you 100% and this is what I indicated through my comment. There is another category of people who buy nice, expensive things that they can afford and they can do so not just because of luck, but because they have made their own luck because of a variety of factors…

  39. Glad we can come to an agreement! :) And absolutely agree with you on “luck”. I’ve said before (on HGs) that “Luck” is just opportunity presenting itself to those people who are prepared to act upon it. I stand by that statement 100%.

  40. Julie says:

    Steve,

    I suppose it is tough to cover all points in one post. I know I occasionally will make a comment on a post and then have someone make a response to point out the obvious…which I failed to mention because it was so obvious. Maybe Trent sometimes assumes people will give him the benefit of the doubt if he doesn’t spell out every single scenario.

    Personally, I don’t have any trouble at all with his story. I live in Southern Californi and this scenario is playing out daily. My husband is in real estate…and it has played out with many people that we know, including members of our family that were in new home construction. And the reality was, they were in debt up to their eyeballs. Some was business related debt…some was to fund a lifestyle. Yes, when they were making $400,000 to $500,000 they could afford the debt…but it was still debt up to their eyeballs. Five years ago I was ridiculed by top selling books and friends for refusing to re-finance my house to invest in either 1) the stock market or 2) real estate. I chose instead to diligently keep plugging away at my mortgage instead. Thankfully, I am not in debt up to my eyeballs and we are able to weather the demise of my husband’s profession in Southern California.

  41. Julie: Maybe you’re right…I did leave open the possibility that I’m misinterpreting Trent’s article but I do think he was pretty clear in his either/or suggestion…I’d love for him to clarify his point if I am misunderstanding him. It just seems that he feels that people are either in debt or have sacrificed much. What about all the people out there who are satisfied with their lives in work, home, play and otherwise? How can Trent explain those people based on this either/or statement?

    Trent, if you are out there, would you mind addressing my questions and clarifying your thoughts? Do you really feel that it is either/or, debt/sacrifice?

  42. J.O. says:

    @ Steven@hundredgoals
    @ Shannon

    Maybe it’s just the way I read the article, but I thought Trent was referring not to a “comfortable living” but to living relatively highly. It takes a LOT of money to have a “gorgeous” house, fine cars (plural), nice (quality) clothes, the latest electronic gadgets, etc. — the kind of possessions many aspire to and not nearly as many achieve.

    And making your own luck? True to some extent, but I would certainly be interested in what that variety of factors is that Shannon mentioned. The luck of such things as sound body and mind, stable upbringing, and good teachers, to name a few, are not made by oneself, but they heavily tip the scales in a positive direction.

  43. Julie says:

    Steve,

    Thanks for an enjoyable conversation.

    Julie

  44. Troy says:

    I agree with the sentiment that this post came off as a bit self righteous. I had that similar vibe while perusing the free ebook verson of his book. Same vibe I get in an increasing amount as more posts continue.

    When you are in a position where you are still striving for something, and you see others with what you desire, jealousy is common and expected.

    When you have acquired what you thought you always wanted, you realize that both the jealousy and the desire fade away. Then your true prioroties show up.

    He’s not there yet.

  45. Julie says:

    Funny…some think the post is self righteous…others think those making comments are self righteous. Maybe we are all self righteous and we ought to just admit it. I will go first.

  46. marta says:

    J.O.: “If they were to pay back that money, how would their financial situation look?”

    This is a pointless question, because that is not going to happen. It was a gift, not a loan. What matters is that, thanks to that initial gift, they can handle the mortgage payments on a condo they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.

    But I guess their situation would look as bad as mine if every single person who gave me something wanted their money back at once. This includes parents who fed and clothed me, and so on. Not going to happen.

    Anyway, *perhaps* this can be covered under being in the right place at the right time, which is vague enough for that.

    PS: Why the quotes around hefty, though?

  47. Johanna says:

    @Julie: Could you give an example of the sort of political correctness that you’re against?

  48. con says:

    I have all of my needs met and some of my wants (so, yeah, I feel rich). It would never occur to me to give even one moment’s thought regarding what another has or doesn’t have (or how or not they were able to obtain it), unless they need my help. I’m guessing Trent doesn’t really feel this way (I’m hoping). Maybe he’s just throwing out some food for thought. Anyway, jealousy is a waste of time.

  49. sandycheeks says:

    Sour grapes?

  50. con says:

    I want to say something else. My parents both worked most of their lives (they did not own their own business)and neither one of them made a whole lot of money on their own. But…they were somewhat frugal. Each of us 4 kids never went without. We might not have had the best, but we felt like we did. Yes, they worked hard. But not very, very hard. They have in excess of 1 million in savings now and they are 84 and 76. They also get their monthly pensions and social security (lucky them)and pay cash for their new cars and paid cash for a new house. My dad built a cabin on land he bought also with cash. They got there by simply saving their money and not wasting it on needless gizmos or whatever. They do not fit any of your stereotypes as I can see. I’m not trying to brag about them so much as I’m saying all is not what it appears to be sometimes.

  51. Becky says:

    Interesting Con (#50) about your parents. Would they agree that they didn’t work “very, very hard”?

    And I think that Trent’s “sacrifice” would mean that you probably didn’t go on an expensive vacation every summer, have designer clothes, as children. That’s “sacrifice” (to some). ;)

    Actually, for most, wealth or at least comfort comes with at least some sacrifice, unless your parents are wealthy and gave you a load. Some have to sacrifice more than others. I wasn’t sure why the tone of negativity about sacrifice, though (in the original article) since I thought he is quite willing to sacrifice. That is what frugality/thrift is about–sacrificing where it bothers you the least or makes you feel the best so that you can afford other things you value.

    The problem is probably the definition of “Sacrifice”. If “sacrifice” means we can’t go out to the coffee shop to talk/chat with our friends all the time (thus endangering relationships), then that’s okay. Maybe it’s time for some new friends anyway.

    :)

  52. con says:

    #51. Yes, they would agree. They worked hard while at work, but never worked overtime or anything. I was just making a point.

  53. Maggie says:

    Maybe your neighbors are using the “strategic foreclosure” referenced in the reader mailbag earlier this week…

  54. Fawn says:

    Thanks for reminding me that things aren’t always what they seem. Money and things don’t always mean happiness, etc. Thanks Trent! :)

  55. Erin says:

    wow! Great post. I was just reminded of all that you discussed when I found out that my brother and his wife did, indeed, pay cash for their $530,000 So Cal home. Cash. How did they do it? They’ve lived in a tiny little apartment for 9 years. They’ve decided they can’t afford kids (even before nature decided they wouldn’t be given the opportunity). They sold one of their cars. My SIL works brutal hours as a manager for a Panda Express to bring in her year-end bonus and my brother? Well, he reactivated and takes overseas assignments every single year, meaning that they’re apartment 6-9-12 months at a time. Until a year and a half ago, they still played with his Nintendo 64 when he finally splurged and bought a Wii. Oh, and the other part? You’re dead on. His dad has belittled him for his lack of ambition, for his willingness to “leave” his wife over and over again, for staying in a crappy apartment in a not-so-great part of town…

    In short, my brother and his wife did everything you pointed out in scenario No 2. They have an awesome house, a nice car, and top of the line “stuff”. But they worked their asses off for it all and most people wouldn’t have been willing to make the sacrifices they did to get there.

  56. Erin says:

    P.S. I forgot to mention how inspired I am by my brother and his wife! I am so impressed by what they did. They busted their tails to be where they are…even if some readers don’t consider that to be sacrifice.

  57. Amateur says:

    These views seem a bit extreme with a dash of thought of those who are in the middle. Most people do certainly fall in the middle. They achieved success through help from family, community and sometimes a bit of luck in being in good health, natural ability, etc.

    It’s easy to judge without knowing and as much as we sometimes feel a bit of jealousy, envy, and self-pity when someone seems better off, we have to realize that there are plenty of others who would trade their lives for ours in a heartbeat.

  58. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: “political correctness is not about being self-righteous for the sake of being self-righteous. It’s about being considerate of people who are less privileged than you. It’s about taking a minute to think about how, when you express your honest fears and feelings, you’re talking about real people who probably have to put up with similar honest fears and feelings all the bloody time, and how their lives might be affected by that.”

    Well, thank goodness political correctness saved the Fort Hood gunman from getting his feelings hurt.

  59. Interested Reader says:

    That’s totally uncalled for Courtney.

  60. Or Timothy McVeigh, for that matter…how has this turned into a conversation about the Fort Hood gunman aka Nidal Malik Hasan?

    What are you implying by your comment, Courtney, because I sure could go on a long rant about how white men have really f’d up this country if you’d like me too, if that’s what you’re getting at with your comment. It must be because he’s of Palestinean descent that he went crazy right? I sure do hope that isn’t what you’re implying…

    Again…Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, David Koresh, Randy Weaver, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Ed Gein, Jeffery Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy…

    Shall I continue? I’m not sure racist comments are what this blog is all about.

  61. Courtney says:

    @Interested Reader: No, it’s completely called for. Because of political correctness, the Fort Hood gunman was able to murder 13 people and injure dozens.

    You want me to be quiet about a life and death issue so I don’t offend delicate sensibilities? This is exactly what happened at Fort Hood.

  62. Another “hit the nail on the head” type post.

    Taking jealousy out of the equation can do wonders for your finances.

    How many things do we buy because of what others will think of us when they see us with them?

    To me, this is an extended form of jealousy.

    Satisfy yourself, forget about anybody else’s impressions.

    You’ll save lots of money in the long run

  63. Courtney says:

    @Steven: Sorry, the tired old “racist” card doesn’t scare me.

  64. Well then I hope you don’t mind being called a racist.

  65. …and just don’t forget the list of white men who did exactly the same thing. Race has nothing to do with crazy.

  66. Johanna says:

    @Steven: …and crazy has nothing to do with evil. Plenty of people live with mental illness (of varying degrees) and manage not to go on killing sprees.

  67. Courtney says:

    @Steven: Who said race has anything to do with crazy? I never said anything even remotely approaching that.

    Do you know anything about the Fort Hood massacre?

    I brought it up because there were warning signs galore from Hasan beforehand, but nothing was done to intervene because of political correctness.

  68. Courtney says:

    @Steven: While we’re on the topic of political correctness, I also don’t think that Juan Williams’ white female boss should have fired him from NPR for daring to speak the truth.

    Uh oh, I guess that means that I’m racist against whites, too, and probably sexist as well.

  69. Then, please, clarify if you will, what political correctness would have anything at all to do with it if not for race? I’m curious.

    Johanna, you’re absolutely correct and I couldn’t agree with you more.

  70. Courtney says:

    @Steven: I am not sure what you are trying to get at but surely you know that political correctness can be about plenty of things other than race – religion, gender, sexual orientation, just to name a few.

    Meanwhile, this conversation has turned into a big yawn, as it always does when the accusations of racism start flying. Feel free to keep calling me names but maybe you should try to come up with something a wee bit more original.

  71. Seems like you’re bowing out because you know you have no argument that isn’t racist. You know exactly what I’m getting at. Are you implying then that he was gay and we should have been on the lookout for that? Oh, I know…he was Muslim so that must mean he’s a terrorist! No, no…that’s not what you meant by your comment…it MUST have been something else. So if it isn’t race, it isn’t his religion or sexual orientation that we were all trying so hard to be politically correct about, what was it Courtney?

    If you have some sort of answer of how we can prevent these sorts of things from happening in the future, please, let us all know so we’re informed. You’re the one who said that if we hadn’t been politically correct, the trajedy at Ford Hood wouldn’t have happened:

    “Because of political correctness, the Fort Hood gunman was able to murder 13 people and injure dozens. You want me to be quiet about a life and death issue so I don’t offend delicate sensibilities? This is exactly what happened at Fort Hood.”

    PLEASE! Explain HOW being politically correct was the root cause of this event. Or remain silent and accept that you’re wrong AND a racist.

  72. Courtney says:

    @Steven: Please get your head out of the sand.

    For months before the massacre, Hasan had been spewing anti-American hatred and spouting off radical jihadist views. He repeatedly attempted to contact alQuaeda. The Army and US intelligence knew all of this and did nothing about it.

    Thirteen people died and many more were injured – political correctness at its finest.

    Were all the people who had concerns about Hasan also racist, even though they were right?

  73. Courtney says:

    @Steven: And now I’m off for a walk with my family. You can keep on calling me a racist in my absence, though :)

  74. I’m not sure how failure to take appropriate action equates to political correctness. Obviously I’m not going to get through to you so enjoy your walk.

  75. Kate says:

    I grew up with a parent who made comments about people being “overextended” all the time. Seems that everyone in our community was overextended except for my parents. They now have the money to buy pretty much anything they want and I remember having to wear cr*p clothes to school so they could save their money. Wow…guess this article hit a nerve.
    I guess what I am saying is that not everyone who can afford things is overextended. We all make choices. But if you are frugal, at least buy your kids some clothes that don’t look like cr*p.

  76. J.O. says:

    @ Marta

    The quotes around “hefty” are because I was quoting you (#11 – hefty down payment).

  77. Julie says:

    I read on MSN today that the Mexican drug cartel has infiltrated 270 cities in the United States. That scares me a little. For this reason, among others, I think we should enforce our country’s laws about illegal immigration. I speak up…I am called a racist.

    I read a month ago on MSN that most of Europe was on a terror watch because intelligence shows that there a number of planned attacks. If this was happening here in the United States, and I spoke up about concerns for my safetly…I would be called a racist.

    When I went on an airplane shortly after 9/11 and there was a few men on Middle Eastern decent on the plane, I was nervous. If I was to verbalize this thought… I would be called a racist….yet I imagine 95% of Americans would feel the same way. This doesn’t make us racist. It makes us human.

    You don’t know me. You don’t know my heart and soul. I am not a racist. You don’t know that my family, friends and co-workers consist of people of all races and religions. You don’t know that I have given a whole lot of money to help people of every race and religion across the globe…no strings atatched. I just see some things in a different way than you might. But the minute I try to honestly explain legitimate concerns, the intolerance/racist card is immediately pulled.

    What I don’t understand is the inability/unwillingness of the politically correct to take a long, hard look in the mirror and see their own areas of hatred and intolerance toward others that don’t agree with them. Do I know how it feels to be a Muslim, and to have someone assume I am a terrorist when I am not? No….and Yes. I say yes because I know how it feels to be called a racist instead of engaging me in real conversation…to solve real issues… in a reconciliatory manner. If my concerns are irrational…educate me intelligently.

    The politically correct are doing to me that same terrible thing that they claim to despise in others. They are profiling me based on their own set of prejudices.

  78. SP says:

    By “lucky” I don’t mean pure luck, I mean hard work too. But I am fortunate to have had parents who (emotionally) supported me, great professors in college, mental capacity to do technical work, etc. etc. etc.

    Having the opportunities I’ve had was lucky, or at least, that’s how i like to view it, with gratitude. There are a lot of successful people who had some degrees of “luck” to help them there

    Then again, no one would ever look at my car or my “stuff” and be jealous! Ha. Maybe my vacations and my apartment location though…

  79. I’m the last person anyone would call politically correct but I also won’t let someone make blatantly racist comments and then let them try to deny that they ever made them.

    Julie, I think it is a good first step to admit your fears and uncertainty. Admitting that allows you to take the next step towards understanding and I hope you will. My problem isn’t with intelligent discourse about tough subjects. It’s when someone makes a statement that is racist and then tries to deny that it is, in fact, racist (or, at least intolerant or bigoted). Own your words and your feelings.

    I think to a certain degree our prejudices are simply fear and a lack of knowledge about different races, religions and cultures manifested into fear. Sure, there are people out there who hate simply because of skin color or religion but (hopefully) these people are in the minority.

    I can’t speak for the politically correct people you know because I’m not one of them but I also don’t think we need to be making blanket statements about people of another race, religion or sexual orientation (or anything else) based on the actions of a small subset of people. Islam is one of the largest world religions there is…surely the actions of a few don’t represent the masses. There are nutbags from every race, religion, region, country…that says nothing about anything except themselves.

  80. Courtney says:

    @Steven: This is creepy. You’re trying to establish victimhood for a mass murderer while telling me I’m a bad person for speaking the truth about the situation?

    Time for a 101st goal: Stop being creepy.

    P.S. We’ll see if I get booted off for saying that about you. Is it going to be okay for you to call me a racist but not for me to defend myself?

  81. 101st goal is to travel to all 50 states, sorry…taken.

    Defend away, I’m waiting…I’ve been begging you, actually. Oh, and while you’re at it, please explain how I’m trying to establish victomhood for a mass murderer. I didn’t call you a bad person, I called you a racist.

  82. Courtney says:

    @Steven: I didn’t realize that you need every detail of the case spelled out for you. Don’t you have access to news? Didn’t you read or hear about the numerous people who worked with Hasan who said they were very concerned but were afraid they would lose their own jobs if any action was taken against him – and all because of the culture of political correctness?

    And yeah, it is creepy that you seem much more upset about my supposed racist views that you do about a horrible mass murder.

  83. I’m sorry but you are entirely ignoring my request to explain yourself. I don’t need to read the news. That’s not what I’m asking. I guess I’ll just give up on you ever explaining yourself. It might just be that you haven’t actually given your words the consideration they deserve and don’t really know how to defend them. Good day.

  84. kristine says:

    @ Kate
    I agree. Even if I buy my kids thrift store clothes, I make sure they are nice looking. I was tormented and bullied for my shabby clothing, and 3 pairs of pants that had to last me 2 teenage years.

  85. Johanna says:

    @Julie: First of all, thank you for explaining.

    I don’t know what the solution is to the drug war in Mexico, and I *really* don’t want to turn this thread into a debate about immigration policy. I don’t think merely suggesting better immigration enforcement is necessarily racist, but realize that some people (including prominent people like the governor of AZ) are talking quite vocally about the drug war and immigration together in ways that are very, very racist. You’re making your remarks in the context of theirs, and context matters.

    I don’t think feeling afraid – or feeling any other emotion – is ever racist. You can’t help what you feel. But when you voice that fear without making it clear that you know it’s based on an untrue racial stereotype (that all Middle Eastern men, or even a significant fraction of Middle Eastern men, are terrorists), then you’re reinforcing that stereotype. And that harms people of Middle Eastern descent.

    I vehemently disagree with your comment that being called a racist is anything at all like being the actual victim of racism. You seem to have a good sense of what kinds of things you say trigger accusations of racism. You can choose not to say those things. Not necessarily saying you should, just that you can – it’s within your power. If a person of Mexican or Middle Eastern descent gets tired of people making assumptions about him based on his race, he doesn’t get to choose to stop being Mexican or Middle Eastern for a while – he’s stuck with his race, all the time. That’s a big difference.

  86. Interested Reader says:

    Courtney from all the accounts I read it wasn’t political correctness but that the Army was short handed with personnel and decided that having him in was better than kicking him out.

    That’s not political correctness at its finest.

    Being political correct is pointing out that you shouldn’t be nervous of a fellow passenger just because they “look” Muslim. You should give them the benefit of the doubt and understand they are probably a regular person.

    Fort Hood was a massive screw up and I don’t think anyone disagrees with that.

    However, thanks to sharp eyed police a potentially worse domestic terrorist attack was diverted when CHP officer notices a man in driving erractially and pulled him over. He was heavily armed, wearing body armor and ready to go into the Tides Building and kill as many people as he could.

    Two police officers lost their lives, but the shooter was stopped.

    He was a white male.

    And he’s not the only white native born American male who has been a threat to this country. Or who has tried to kill or actually killed people.

    But somehow people bitching about political correctness and how restrictive it is forget about the white Americans who try (and sometimes succeed) at killing people in mass and only talk about being afraid of Muslims doing terrorist and violent acts.

  87. Courtney says:

    @Interested Reader: Apparently you didn’t read enough about it. Here’s a quote from Lt. Col. Val Finnell, Hasan’s classmate at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.:

    “There were definitely clear indications that Hasan’s loyalties were not with America. There were all sorts of … comments made throughout the year that made me question his loyalty to the United States, but nothing was done, The issue here is that there’s a political correctness climate in the military. They don’t want to say anything because it would be considered questioning somebody’s religious belief, or they’re afraid of an equal opportunity lawsuit. He was a lightning rod. He made his views known and he was very vocal, he had extremely radical jihadist views. They should’ve confronted him — our professors, officers — but they were too concerned about being politically correct.”

    And that’s just one of many who spoke out. And yes, that is political correctness at its finest.

    No one is disputing that white men commit terrible crimes. That’s a completely separate issue.

    Quit trying to sugarcoat the Hasan massacre as simply an issue of the Army being shorthanded. It wasn’t. Stop ignoring evidence and reality.

    Again, this is creepy!

  88. Bill says:

    The two categories were: you can afford it or you can’t. That is indisputable. That is not Trent being presumptuous. Relax!!

  89. Sorry Courtney but it really boils down to a failure of those who saw the warning signs to stand up and speak out.

    If you were the person who saw all the warning signs but didn’t have the balls to speak up (as it seems is the case for Val Finnell) you’d be trying to blame “the system” for your screw up too.

    “But nothing was done,” i.e. “I didn’t say anything either.” “They should have done something.” aka “Not MY fault.”

  90. Bill says:

    Someone once told me “don’t judge your insides against someone else’s outsides”. This gives me relief when the stuff of others looks “picture perfect” compared to mine.

  91. Oskar says:

    Trent – i think your point is correct but maybe your tone in this post is a little off..

    Everyone else: You need to understand that what Trent is writing is a simplification of the truth obviously not all people fit perfectly in these two groups but many do…..

  92. Golfing Girl says:

    When my husband and I look around at our co-workers who make about the same amount of money as us (some a little more, some a little less) it’s easy to see that those that go to Disney World every year and drive new, expensive vehicles, live in McMansions, etc. are either living off inheritences or are deeply in debt. The numbers simply don’t add up (for those whose spouses don’t have huge salaries). I must simply assume at that point that at some point the house of cards will come crashing down for them (it may not be for 30 years when they want to retire and simply can’t or it may be in 1 year when layoffs happen). I simply pity them for their financial ignorance or hope for their sake they’ve got a trust fund I don’t know about so this won’t happen.
    Happiness is being satisfied with what you ALREADY HAVE. I can honestly say I am happy and no amount of gadgets, overpriced clothes/purses, new cars, etc. can make me any happier if debt accompanies it.

  93. Amanda B. says:

    Wait…Trent’s neighbor is the fort Hood Shooter? Or did some crazy troll just randomly hijack this post?

  94. Terry says:

    Wow. Definitely a can of worms. I read the post with interest (and the comments) and think sometimes it’s good to generalize, and this is a fairly accurate generalization I would guess, seeing that, according to what I’m reading & hearing, the majority of people in the US are not in the category of being solvent and very prosperous. In my experience, the people I’ve known who have made a lot of money did work very hard for it and made sacrifices, whether those were related to health, spirituality, relationships, or just fun & relaxation. I’ve also known several people who have inherited money & property. Some have and are very responsible and enjoy amazingly prosperous lives, others, such as myself, went right through it and ended up in debt. But I would also say this: people in all three categories — and there is a fourth — people who have never had money and who struggle on — that no one is immune to jealousy, problems, heartache and so on. I know everyone knows this, but it’s a point I want to make.

  95. Michelle says:

    Wow…these comments sure went off on a tangent…

    Regarding the article, I think there are some good ideas to be culled in here but the article wasn’t well organized. The storyline is “Jealousy – and what you can’t see.” That’s a great topic. Using the anecdote he did, he could have crafted a discussion about how making assumptions about someone’s financial situation is always a shot in the dark. Appearances do not always translate into reality. You never know if someone is truly happy and secure, posing, losing their fortune or enduring a non-financial event, (like illness) that makes money and things irrelevant. Jealousies can be curbed by considering one’s own value system: are you willing to be in deep debt to keep up appearances? Are you willing to sacrifice other things you value – time with family, travel, friendships, hobbies, etc – in order to earn more? If the answer to these things is no, then now your own financial life is a matter of choice, and envy – a real emotion – can be better mmanaged.

    But the idea in this post, like so many, was not thoughtfully crafted. Even if Trent knows the truth about this family, as his said, he has used this one anecdote to illustrate a hypothesis that all people who look successful fall into two categories: deep in debt or deep in sacrificial misery. He does allow that this is the case for those he has known, and since I don’t know who he has known, perhaps this is true. But his hypothesis then does not take into account other possible scenarios outside of his personal experience.

    Trent, you have seeds of good ideas, but they need more organization and your writing more polish. “Now that house that they had sunk so much money into is gone, as is the family.” The house is gone? Torn down? The family isn’t gone, they still exist and are living in an apartment. You’ve made statements that suggest you have intentionally prioritized quantity over quality, but I urge you to reconsider that decision.

  96. Evita says:

    It is not the first time that I read a post where Trent looks at his neighbours, passes judgment on them and then says that he does not envy them.

    I dont’ mind recycled posts as a necessary tactic for a high production but frankly this theme is a little tired… and as irritating as ever. But excellent for generating outraged comments!

  97. lmoot says:

    I don’t know a person alive who hasn’t “sacrificed” That seems like such a vague idea for specific category. I also don’t know a single person that hasn’t had some type of assistance. Not saying they don’t exist, but the majority of people have had some form of a hand up to get to where they are. Whether from friends, family, church, government, charities. It’s the nature and goal (though some may disagree)of our very culture to create an infrastructure for which the purpose is to help those in need.
    I personally fit certain elements of both of those categories, but not anywhere near either extreme. My family helped pay for my education (they pretty much paid for everything as I only had a part-time job and no financial assistance)My grandfather had saved money for me to go to school before he died.
    When I got out of school I did not have any student loans and my grandmother offered to let me stay with her for next to nothing. I received an amazing head-start for my financial life and that’s what persuaded me to keep going. So I “sacrificed” for 2 years, working a full time job and part time job, so I could save up to buy a house. I didn’t inherit $1 million, or work 80 hrs/week at a job I loathed for 25 years.
    The majority of people in the United States have experienced both sacrifice and “catching a break”.

    Re:Golfing Girl

    I work in what pretty much can only be described as a call-center. Most of the people in my dept take home under 25k/year. When I was 25,I bought my own home, two weeks later bought a (used but nice solid Honda Accord) for 10k, and am currently renovating the two most expensive rooms in a house (bathroom and kitchen), using cash. Both are down to the studs. The only debt I currently have is a $60k mortgage that’s 1 year old. I paid the car off in 9 months. Saved 3k efund (and continue to grow it until I get to 7k)and manage to save $500 minimum/month to keep the reno going using cash I have an $800 quartz countertop scheduled to be installed this week, spend $1000 two months back to remodel the detached apartment, $450 went to the bedroom floor, $1300 to the cabinets, $500 new fridge, I dress in outfits sometimes that retail at $100-200. Wear jewelry that retail about the same….and I go to Disney every year, twice a year sometimes. You would probably look at me and make the same assumptions. You wouldn’t have known that before we started working together I worked two jobs and lived at home so I could money to put a sizeable down payment on a house that would make the monthly payments (taxes and insurance included)as little as some folks car payments, leaving me almost half my income left over each month which would allow me to fund a major reno in cash. You wouldn’t know that my mom who has a jewelry and clothing collection that is a little scary works at HSN and gets $200 purses, shoes, or jewelry for $15 – $20. You probably wouldn’t know that I was in showchoir in highschool and as an alum everytime I accept my yearly invite to sing at the Disney Epcot Candlelight show I get two free tickets to any Disney Theme Park. Or that with the FTHB tax credit I paid off my car loan in 9 months, like I planned carefully to. You can’t possibly determine that your coworker’s expenditures don’t “add up” without knowing what they actually are. Do you know your co-worker’s financial history? They could have had a higher paying job before, their spending habits in other areas could be less, they might not have many monthly expenses, there could be other forms of income, investments. They might have bought their McMansion as a foreclosed fixerupper. There are plenty assumptions I can make just going off of your screen name “Golfing Girl”
    Golfing is associated with the upper middle (and higher) class. It is notorious for being an expensive sport/hobby/pasttime. The equipment, the rental and ball purchases, possible club dues. Golfing isn’t something I would spend money on, but I wouldn’t assume that you will “come crashing down” if you continue to spend money on it. Any way I kind of rambled, but I was at work and didn’t really have time to fine-tune a comment. Sacrifices!

  98. David says:

    Trent – I’d love to see your responses to some of the comments. Particularly about overgeneralizing the two group, and ignoring that there are rich people who were not purely lucky, but had to work very hard and still maintained their relationships, maybe even better then you have. More involvement would be great.

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