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Marc Jacobs

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Mind on my money | Money on my mind
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Does anyone else experience guilt or other negative reactions/emotions/thoughts about money?  I have an idea of where it might come from, for me, but I am not completely sure. If you have such feelings and are comfortable sharing, I'd be interested to hear your experience. 

Trying to keep this short: 
I grew up in a very small town that was (and still is) behind the times. It had (and has) a dying economy, and most people didn't (and don't) have high paying jobs. Okay, I'll stop with the past/present parentheses.

My dad was a conveyor belt repairman whose job, which was one of the best to have in the 1960s and 70s, became unstable in the 1980s--and remained so until he retired in 2007. The company would lay him off, bring him back, lay him off, bring him back repeatedly throughout the year. One year he worked only 26 weeks in the year, and only a few were consecutive. When you do that off and on, you affect the person's paycheck and unemployment check flow.

My mom had grocery and convenient store jobs, a short stint at a well-paying factory job, nanny, and a bank teller position throughout my childhood.

The instability, of course, made money an issue, and my parents didn't hide it from us. Also, anyone in town who made "good money" (and demonstrated as such) was subject to jealous/envious and other negative comments. I'd hear things like, "Well, huh, look at Barb in her new Pontiac Grand Prix! She thinks she's so great..." 
(anyone from the Great Lakes states should giggle at this example) OR "Yeah, Joe has his own successful business and a lot of money, but his daddy passed it down to him. So, he's really not all that..." 

In the end, we were very lucky. We always had food, decent clothes, a safe, loving, and stable home life. I'm left with these pangs of guilt now that I am married and am living with a good financial situation. I'm not rolling in it (especially now that I don't work), but I can afford many nice things that my parents never could. 

It feels really bad. I don't like feeling this way, and I think it's traveling in a circle of low self-esteem with other thoughts and behaviors of mine. I wonder if I can ever shake it. It feels very ingrained. 

ETA: And this frickin' economy and having worked as a career counselor at a community college for nine years is not helping.



-- Edited by pollyjean23 on Monday 17th of October 2011 08:10:08 PM

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Hermes

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Don't feel guilty. I had a middle-class upbringing, but did not get much help from my parents. Anything I have, I worked hard for. I, like you, am not rolling in it either, but I'm comfortable.

However, there are ignorant people out there that assume as you described. I live in a nice neighborhood. I cannot tell you how many times I've been terrorized while walking my dogs by kids that think it's funny to drive 60+ mph past me on a one-lane, residential dirt road, nor the times I've almost been hit by someone taking a fast corner to tear up the road. I swear I have PTSD from these encounters. I am petrified of cars during the dog walks now. I feel as though I'm terrorized for living in a nice neighborhood. What they don't get is I was poor at one time, paid my way through a graduate degree, and worked hard to be able to afford the opportunity to live in a nice area. I feel it's a resentment toward those who achieved, as though they know they don't have it in them to put in the work to achieve themselves, so they try to discredit you as an excuse as to why you have and they don't. As though they're a victim and they have no control over what their lives are.

I fear a day will come when the socio-economic divide will widen and these people get more aggressive (I have honestly thought of getting a shotgun.) I shouldn't have to feel this way. I guess I'm saying, be proud of who you are and what you have achieved. Don't feel guilty. We shouldn't have to be ashamed for succeeding financially.



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Gucci

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I think that there are people like both pollyjean and D described are found everywhere regardless of economic backgrounds. There are just some people who are unhappy with their own lives and have to make themselves feel better by tearing down those around them. Some do it with snide comments, some do it with prejudice and some do it by dismissing the hard work that you have personally put into yourself to improve.

I didn't come from money. My parents are retired public school teachers and we were actually a one paycheck household during most of my childhood (my mom didn't go back to work until I was 13.) I never felt poor as a kid though. We had food, clothes and toys. My brothers and I went to Catholic school through senior year of high school and they helped us however they could with college. My parents knew how to budget and not over extend themselves, which are two life skills that I've hopefully learned from them. Earning an honest dollar was also a skill that was drummed into us from an early age (we didn't have an allowance. We had paper routes, babysitting and part time jobs.)

I'm very careful how and what i spend my money on. I work too hard to just blow it, you know? But ultimately, money doesn't mean that much to me. It doesn't define me. It's a necessity.

I think that your parents probably installed a good sense of finance in you too. You buy what you can afford, there's no guilt in that. Nobody gave you anything. You earned it. And if other people have issues with how you spend your income, that's their insecurity showing. You shouldn't have to make it yours as well.

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Dooney & Bourke

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Yeah...constantly....for multiple reasons...not the good ones...I wish...our financial situation changed a few years ago, OK, I would not like to be Debby Downer & vent about it....

HOwever, you should be very proud and not guilty at all if you & your husband have made it! It's a huge accomplishment and you should feel much satisfaction! Enjoy it & spend wisely!



-- Edited by Yana on Saturday 22nd of October 2011 04:13:53 PM



-- Edited by Yana on Saturday 22nd of October 2011 04:17:09 PM

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YanaK


Chanel

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If I'm understanding your post, I don't think this question is about how financially secure you are, or how other people regard your security vis-a-vis their own. Whether you have $500 in the bank or $500,000, your relationship (guilt/negativity) about money would be the same.

Some people's attitude is "I worked hard for this money, I can spend it!" Other people's is "I worked hard for this money, I'd better spend it carefully."

I once broke up with a guy because of his spending. At the time my mom's house needed a new roof, which she couldn't afford. He was like "man, that sucks for her." Then he spent $10K on jewelry for himself. I was so done.

Growing up, things were the same as many of you - there was never a penny to spare. My father was always underemployed, and what's more, he was a bit tyrannical about my mother staying home with us, so she didn't work until us kids were out of the house. With a birthday in September I got school clothes for presents, we got coats and shoes from Santa, never got allowances (although we got some pocket money for good report cards twice a year). We didn't go to doctors or dentists unless it was a free clinic, and couldn't take our kitties to the vet when they got sick. I started working in HS here and there, full-time in the summers, and I paid for college. I remember being shocked that other people's parents were paying their tuition. I just assumed that when you were grown and gone, you paid your own way. My younger brother went into the Army after HS for the GI Bill.

My husband grew up completely differently, on the "other side of the tracks." His parents are well off. They had household help. He went to private school. He got a car for his 16th birthday - not a brand-new BMW like some of his friends, but a nice one-year-old Nissan sports car of some sort. His parents paid for college and paid rent for his apartment. As you can imagine our spending habits are diametrically opposed. If he wants something, he buys it. Even I spend more on him than I spend on myself. In some regards it's a game to see how much of a deal I can get (hence I love thrifting). But the pathology is there - ingrained, as you say.

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Marc Jacobs

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Thanks, ladies. I think what I feel is best described as leftover habits and thoughts that are being processed in a somewhat unhealthy manner.  

OMG, BTW(!): 

I once broke up with a guy because of his spending. At the time my mom's house needed a new roof, which she couldn't afford. He was like "man, that sucks for her." Then he spent $10K on jewelry for himself. I was so done. 

Maybe hanging out with this guy would cure me! DH has been on both sides of the coin (har har), and he has a cleaner relationship with money. It helps me to be around that - -slowly but surely.  THanks, again, for your input.  



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Marc Jacobs

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Boots wrote:

I think that there are people like both pollyjean and D described are found everywhere regardless of economic backgrounds. There are just some people who are unhappy with their own lives and have to make themselves feel better by tearing down those around them. Some do it with snide comments, some do it with prejudice and some do it by dismissing the hard work that you have personally put into yourself to improve.



 Agreed.  People do that terrorizing the street stuff in better neighborhoods too.  It's not about your money, it's about them being a**holes.

If you feel so guilty perhaps it would help if you do some volunteer work or even donate small amounts to a charity.



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Dooney & Bourke

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Xtina, great idea about charity. We do it anyway, even if we donate $10 only...I think it is not only to help others, i think it is in a way self rewarding...but we need this too, so both sides benefit.



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Marc Jacobs

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Good point about donating, Xtina.  I do donate pretty often, and that feels good. One of my important issues is the revitalization of Rust Belt cities -- particularly Cleveland/Akron/Ashtabula areas. I have been wanting to do more, and am working on ways to get involved in that arena.  My biggest donations usually go to the animal charities. They're super important to me, but they don't help as much with the $$ guilt. Thanks ladies.



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Chanel

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pollyjean23 wrote:
DH has been on both sides of the coin (har har), and he has a cleaner relationship with money. It helps me to be around that - -slowly but surely.  

 

I don't know if we can say absolutely what is a healthy/clean relationship with money. This culture is sick in the sense of consumerism and chasing material things as if they can deliver happiness. We know that many third-world people are as measurably happy as first-world people, if not more so. We know empirically that things like exercise, spending time with friends/family, living according to your values, and compassion/acts of kindness increase our happiness. We know that people who experience hardship or adversity and recover from it are happier than people who didn't have those hardships. (I just watched a documentary on this topic so it's fresh in my mind.)

My point is, a healthy relationship with money is an "eye of the beholder" thing, isn't it? I might look down on a woman of means who spends a lot on nonsense like clothes and cosmetics, but I might also look down on a woman of means who spends little or nothing on herself.

I seek the "happy" medium, I guess.



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Gucci

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Suasoria wrote:
pollyjean23 wrote:
DH has been on both sides of the coin (har har), and he has a cleaner relationship with money. It helps me to be around that - -slowly but surely.  

 

I don't know if we can say absolutely what is a healthy/clean relationship with money. This culture is sick in the sense of consumerism and chasing material things as if they can deliver happiness. We know that many third-world people are as measurably happy as first-world people, if not more so. We know empirically that things like exercise, spending time with friends/family, living according to your values, and compassion/acts of kindness increase our happiness. We know that people who experience hardship or adversity and recover from it are happier than people who didn't have those hardships. (I just watched a documentary on this topic so it's fresh in my mind.)

My point is, a healthy relationship with money is an "eye of the beholder" thing, isn't it? I might look down on a woman of means who spends a lot on nonsense like clothes and cosmetics, but I might also look down on a woman of means who spends little or nothing on herself.

I seek the "happy" medium, I guess.


 Very true.  It's all relative.  My youngest brother and my mom have a habit of mentally compartmentalizing their money.  They will say that they're broke and then spend $$ on something.  I'll mention that I thought that they were broke and they'll say "Oh, well I have the money for this."  It's a very strange way of thinking for me.  Not really budgeting, because in their own minds, the funds do not really exist outside of the compartments.  For example, my mother might borrow money from me to have her hair done, but then go to Khols and buy something that I might consider frivolous.  Now in her head, she really didn't have the money for her hair appointment.  It just didn't exist.  The Khol's money could never be used for anything other than Khols. 

One thing that my parents did install in my brother and I is the importance of charity.  Time and money.   I support my parish's food bank because the thought of people having to choose between feeding their families and paying rent is just awful to me. I think everyone can find a cause that is personally important to them.  God knows that there are enough problems in the world that need solutions.   I'm hoping to help carry on the notion of charity to my nephew when he's old enough to understand.



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