How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

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FI4LIFE
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by FI4LIFE » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:41 am

Your kids are learning valuable life lessons from you. You are not doing them any harm by refusing to spoil them and refusing to succumb to pressures to gain happiness from material possessions.

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mmmodem
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by mmmodem » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:47 am

InvestingGeek wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:56 pm
I know I shouldn't care and I personally don't. But I can see these comments make my wife and kids feel small.
Be careful with this. Did your family actually tell you it bothers them?

DW does this to me a lot and it's really annoying. She often thinks I should be offended when family members joke about our frugality. Most of our siblings are much better off than us. Essentially, she gets offended for me. I actually don't care. She tells me she shouldn't care about it but she's worried about how the kids and I feel.

Anyway, the way I deal with it is I shame them in reverse for being decadent.

"Why doesn't everyone get a Tesla? It drives itself!"

"You realize you just traded in a 2 year old Honda that has never left you stranded for one of the most unreliable American cars on the road."

It's gotten to the point where we mostly ignore each other when this happens. I genuinely consider them wasteful as they could retire now instead they continue to work to afford their lifestyle. They genuinely consider me cheap and I suffer for no good reason. It doesn't affect our relationship too much.

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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:47 am

I guess I sort of like others mis-judging what my $ worth is. When not at work, I work on "stuff". Cars, yard, firewood, tractor, so I tend to wear what some would call "homeless guy" clothes. When I owned my Lotus, I'd get a kick out of overhearing the teenagers at Home Depot talking behind me......then they see me get into the Lotus in the parking lot and get a look on their faces as if I just got into a space ship.

Of course, they probably also assumed that the Lotus cost way more than it did. I bought it from a friend who one day had someone at a grocery store get into an argument with him because they "knew" that "that's a $275k car". Then my friend walked out and got in and drove away.
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iamblessed
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by iamblessed » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:50 am

To the OP. A lot of people live better and me. They have more things than me but I have way more free time. I like to buy time not things.

retiredjg
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by retiredjg » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:57 am

InvestingGeek wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:56 pm
I know I shouldn't care and I personally don't. But I can see these comments make my wife and kids feel small.
Have you actually asked them? You could be really wrong about this.

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greg24
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by greg24 » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:08 am

If your kids are feeling the sting, make sure you talk to them about it afterwards. Reiterate your values and why you live your lifestyle.

And point out that it is not right for people to judge others and particularly not right to make comments out loud about it.

Rus In Urbe
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by Rus In Urbe » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:11 am

Runner540 Wrote:
Provide your kids with age-appropriate information about the family's values (not just money but what is important in life and relationships). Good luck!! People often pick at the things in others that they are insecure about themselves.
In addition to the excellent advice upthread, here is another thought:

MODEL PHILANTHROPY for your kids. Rather than spend holidays with toxic relatives, take the family to work at the food bank or shelter. Teach your children the 3-way rule (1/3 to spend, 1/3 to save, 1/3 to give to others). Not only are you caring for your family for the long-haul financially, but you are teaching them lessons about the joy of living within your means, not being wasteful or greedy, not showing off your wealth or lording what you have over those who have less.

Actions are louder than words.

With our grandchildren, we have used the Heifer International gift catalogues (where you give a dozen chickens or a goat or a hive of bees) to a family in need. In addition to a small fun gift and some money for their savings, this "gift to give to others" allows them to pick out something they want to donate....we give them an amount and let them, as a group, decide where it should go, which farm animals should be bought.

Good luck to you! :beer Rus
I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money. ~Pablo Picasso

tea_pirate
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by tea_pirate » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:14 am

Hit back, harder. Out of earshot of your kids, obviously.

"Yeah your house is nice, it's just a shame you have to work so hard for it..." Now choose your own adventure based on their life circumstances:

A: "Do you think spending so much time at work has something to do with your wife leaving you?"

B: "You look like you've put on a few pounds, clearly you don't even have time to hit the gym."

C: "I'm glad I chose to retire early instead of pursuing material crap, I can't imagine working past 50. "

D: "Too bad your job makes you shave every day, I almost mistook you for your wife!"

If people want to play that type of game with me I will find the line and cross it. I will do whatever it takes to break their ego down and belittle them since that's exactly what they're trying to do to you. Hopefully they never talk to me again and they can spend their time calling me what they want while they gossip among each other.

veindoc
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by veindoc » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:18 am

Poor you.
I sometimes hear comments from my in-laws about my appearance. Looking youthful is considered of supreme importance so I often hear comments about not dyeing my hair, not being bone thin or spending two hours in the gym daily or wearing makeup. They have also asked me to convince my husband to “do” something about his balding head. The comments take the form of pity.

I just stand my ground. I tell them it’s really not important to me. They are shocked it’s not so I often have to repeat myself.

Just teach your kids not to compare people and not to focus on money and appearance. And practice what you preach. None of us are perfect. They are your family. All you can do is love them and accept them for who they are. It’s all you can do.

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TxAg
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by TxAg » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:18 am

One of the best lessons you can teach your kids is "how NOT to act"
Last edited by TxAg on Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:22 am

I know I shouldn't care and I personally don't.
Yes, you do.
It would fix the relatives problem, shut people's mouths, make my kids happy
No, it wouldn't.

This is not a money problem, it's a self-confidence problem. If you don't like your life, work to change it. If you do (except for the comments) decide what it is you like about your life, and start diagnosing what is wrong with the people who make those comments instead of thinking there is something wrong with you.

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TxAg
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by TxAg » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:23 am

tea_pirate wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:14 am
Hit back, harder. Out of earshot of your kids, obviously.

"Yeah your house is nice, it's just a shame you have to work so hard for it..." Now choose your own adventure based on their life circumstances:

A: "Do you think spending so much time at work has something to do with your wife leaving you?"

B: "You look like you've put on a few pounds, clearly you don't even have time to hit the gym."

C: "I'm glad I chose to retire early instead of pursuing material crap, I can't imagine working past 50. "

D: "Too bad your job makes you shave every day, I almost mistook you for your wife!"

If people want to play that type of game with me I will find the line and cross it. I will do whatever it takes to break their ego down and belittle them since that's exactly what they're trying to do to you. Hopefully they never talk to me again and they can spend their time calling me what they want while they gossip among each other.
These made me laugh :sharebeer

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Vulcan
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by Vulcan » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:30 am

InvestingGeek wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:56 pm
I know I shouldn't care and I personally don't. But I can see these comments make my wife and kids feel small. If I wanted, I too could move to California, buy a giant house and live the rich life. But it would mean liquidating my savings, having my wife work, and seeing my kids less.
My wife chose to set her career back a good deal to stay home and facilitate our two kids' early education until they entered school. We also chose to stay in a flyower state where we are happy with our school options, instead of pursuing "bigger and better" things in the coastal HCOLs.

We would probably be a whole lot richer now and possibly even financially independent (we are in our early forties) if we made different choices.

Instead, in part due to these choices, we have kids who are top in the nation academically. I am talking, ACT 35 in middle school and multiple national level academic achievements putting them into top few dozen among their peers anywhere. We can't put a price on that (though we do dread college bills:)

Oh, yeah, and the four of us have just enough room in our below-average size house.

What I am trying to say is, we all have different priorities.
Last edited by Vulcan on Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything. ~Ronald Coase

shell921
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by shell921 » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:30 am

TxAg wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:18 am
Some of the best lessons you can teach your kids is "how NOT to act"
THIS. Please tell your wife and kids that your family needs to be glad [ rejoice! ] that it's those relatives and not you all
that acts this way. Explain that people who don't feel good about themselves often
try to make themselves feel better by making snide remarks and putting others down. It all comes
from insecurity.

The way we think, feel & behave
towards others is reflection of how we think, feel & behave towards ourselves. When we feel
good about ourselves, we can affirm the good in others.

KlangFool
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by KlangFool » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:34 am

OP,

Most of my income peers have a bigger house. And, their kids have to take a student loan. My kids are highly appreciative when we fully paid their college education and they will graduate with 20K to 30K of investment each.

KlangFool

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AerialWombat
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by AerialWombat » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:34 am

1). Tell them to shove it.
2). Disinvite yourself from family functions.
3). Smile with a smug sense of satisfaction when you’re on a 2-month vacation in Europe while they are chained to a desk.

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Psyayeayeduck
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by Psyayeayeduck » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:36 am

John Doe 123 wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:05 pm
Spend less time around toxic/superficial people would be my suggestion.
+1000

A simple change of who you allow in your life makes a dramatic impact on the quality of life. Easily one of the highest rate of returns in life.

bluebolt
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by bluebolt » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:41 am

In general, I don't care about what other people think about my spending/money. DW and I focus on achieving our goals.

People have made many comments to me over the years, such as:
"Why do you live in THAT neighborhood?"
"Can't you afford a new car?"
"I would *never* drive a car like that."

All along, I knew we were on track to meeting our FI goals, so it didn't bother me.

barnaclebob
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by barnaclebob » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:47 am

FGal wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:22 pm
It's not about keeping up or anything. Your friends/family that do this are jerks. You recognize this, but instead of addressing the nasty snide behavior, you feel the need to ignore and let them keep making nasty rude remarks. So either laugh it off and make it a joke or nicely and firmly call them out for being a jerk and tell them to stop it. In psychological circles it's called "the missing stair" where people just avoid making the jerk/abuser stop being a jerk/abuser and expect EVERYONE ELSE to work around the jerk/abuser's terrible behavior, because it's easier to shame/guilt others into bending over backwards rather than fix the actual problem.



So what to do? You set boundaries, and follow up on sticking to them by calling a jerk a jerk (nicely, but firmly).

So for example:

Jerk 1: Oh my god, I don't know how some people can even deal with living in such a tiny house! It must be so sad for them to be so poor!
You: Are you implying that my family is poor or sad for living in a small house? Because we're just fine, thanks and perfectly happy with what we have. It makes me really sad that you feel the need to belittle our family because we choose to live the way we choose, even if you don't like it.

Jerk 2: You must be so jealous of your fancy brother and his California house and fancy life! Too bad you are stuck forever in this terrible place!
You: I'm not jealous of him, I'm happy if he's happy. I don't know why you think showing ostentatious signs of wealth translate into how well someone is doing. Sounds to me like you are trying to stir up bad feelings or make me feel bad? Why would you say those things otherwise?

Or to just laugh it off:

Jerk 3: I can't even breath in this tiny foyer! How can you even put shoes on in here!
You (laughing at person) oh we just do without shoes! We're so poor we don't even know what shoes are! You must be rolling in the dough to afford ACTUAL SHOES!

Or just plain call them out EVER SINGLE TIME THEY SAY SOMETHING RUDE/SNIDE:

Jerk 4: Too bad some people can't afford nicer things like brothername...
You: what are you trying to say, JerkName?
Or: )with deadpan stare or raised eyebrow if you're good at that) What an incredibly rude thing to say. (changes subject)


But really, call them out, either with good-natured humor or with sincerity if maybe they don't realize that they're being jerks. And if they persist? Then stop inviting over/visiting with jerks.

If they start in on you, you suddenly notice it's time to go, or you mention that the Rude-e-o is apparently back in town and you've already been there enough to last a lifetime, or just plain tell them that it's rude and hurtful to make snide and belitting comments about how well someone else is doing with the intent to put others (like you and your family) down, and you're done for this visit unless they can find a way to apologize and not do it again, and do make sure to explain they'll likely see much less of you since you don't need negativity and judgemental rudeness in your life.

Don't have to be rude yourself, you just need to set some firm boundaries and then stick to them and make sure to not allow others to cross them without consequences (your leaving/ending convos/removing the jerks from your house).

A favorite of mine is to talk about the mega backdoor roth in a way that implies you are crazy for not putting 50k a year into your 401k.

Another is to get wide eyes or say something in a southern "bless your heart" manner when they mention any time after age 50.

I also got some crazy looks when I indirectly said that I liked our new HSA option because I can pay my deductible out of pocket (vs spending the company provided contribution) if needed and treat the HSA like an extra retirement account.
Last edited by barnaclebob on Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:01 am, edited 3 times in total.

stoptothink
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by stoptothink » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:56 am

bluebolt wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:41 am
In general, I don't care about what other people think about my spending/money. DW and I focus on achieving our goals.

People have made many comments to me over the years, such as:
"Why do you live in THAT neighborhood?"
"Can't you afford a new car?"
"I would *never* drive a car like that."
That's pretty much the story of my life. It's never ending with my in-laws and my parents are even starting to do it. I got an earful from stepfather yesterday about how I was "limiting" my kids by living in a townhome. Literally 5 minutes later my mom starts talking to my wife about how they're not sure they can continue to afford their home. I just laugh.

Drengr
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by Drengr » Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:02 am

I deal with similar concerns with my wife and kids wanting to keep up with high-spending neighbors/friends/family. I try my best to practice boglehead principles and advocate the same with my family. It is not easy by any means especially in our consumerism focused society and requires a lot of patience/repeated advocacy on my part.

I read so many wonderful posts from such wise people in this forum on a regular basis to remind myself what is truly important for my family.

JediMisty
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by JediMisty » Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:16 am

FGal wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:22 pm
It's not about keeping up or anything. Your friends/family that do this are jerks. You recognize this, but instead of addressing the nasty snide behavior, you feel the need to ignore and let them keep making nasty rude remarks. So either laugh it off and make it a joke or nicely and firmly call them out for being a jerk and tell them to stop it. In psychological circles it's called "the missing stair" where people just avoid making the jerk/abuser stop being a jerk/abuser and expect EVERYONE ELSE to work around the jerk/abuser's terrible behavior, because it's easier to shame/guilt others into bending over backwards rather than fix the actual problem.



So what to do? You set boundaries, and follow up on sticking to them by calling a jerk a jerk (nicely, but firmly).

So for example:

Jerk 1: Oh my god, I don't know how some people can even deal with living in such a tiny house! It must be so sad for them to be so poor!
You: Are you implying that my family is poor or sad for living in a small house? Because we're just fine, thanks and perfectly happy with what we have. It makes me really sad that you feel the need to belittle our family because we choose to live the way we choose, even if you don't like it.

Jerk 2: You must be so jealous of your fancy brother and his California house and fancy life! Too bad you are stuck forever in this terrible place!
You: I'm not jealous of him, I'm happy if he's happy. I don't know why you think showing ostentatious signs of wealth translate into how well someone is doing. Sounds to me like you are trying to stir up bad feelings or make me feel bad? Why would you say those things otherwise?

Or to just laugh it off:

Jerk 3: I can't even breath in this tiny foyer! How can you even put shoes on in here!
You (laughing at person) oh we just do without shoes! We're so poor we don't even know what shoes are! You must be rolling in the dough to afford ACTUAL SHOES!

Or just plain call them out EVER SINGLE TIME THEY SAY SOMETHING RUDE/SNIDE:

Jerk 4: Too bad some people can't afford nicer things like brothername...
You: what are you trying to say, JerkName?
Or: )with deadpan stare or raised eyebrow if you're good at that) What an incredibly rude thing to say. (changes subject)


But really, call them out, either with good-natured humor or with sincerity if maybe they don't realize that they're being jerks. And if they persist? Then stop inviting over/visiting with jerks.

If they start in on you, you suddenly notice it's time to go, or you mention that the Rude-e-o is apparently back in town and you've already been there enough to last a lifetime, or just plain tell them that it's rude and hurtful to make snide and belitting comments about how well someone else is doing with the intent to put others (like you and your family) down, and you're done for this visit unless they can find a way to apologize and not do it again, and do make sure to explain they'll likely see much less of you since you don't need negativity and judgemental rudeness in your life.

Don't have to be rude yourself, you just need to set some firm boundaries and then stick to them and make sure to not allow others to cross them without consequences (your leaving/ending convos/removing the jerks from your house).
I agree to "speak up". As this other poster implies, there are many possible responses. Choose one that's right for you that demonstrates to your kids you aren't a doormat but isn't too hateful and practice it before you have these visitors over again. Even though I live far beneath my means, my home is far nicer than nearly all my friends and especially relatives. I'd never dream of saying rude things like this. Seriously, my late father lived in a 40 year old trailer and I never said a word. "How rude!" Is another possible response.....

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Sunflower
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by Sunflower » Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:17 am

Don't get defensive, they're trying to get a rise out of you. "Agree" with them. "We're so proud of my brother, he deserves his life, I'm so happy for him." "Yes, my little house is such a perfect fit for us, we're so blessed." Repeat positive thoughts to them over and over - they can't touch you.

jabroni
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by jabroni » Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:21 am

I wouldn't spend time with family that talk about me like that. Life is too short to spend it with people that try to bring you down.

rbaldini
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by rbaldini » Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:28 am

If they are genuinely taking shots at you, do your best to ignore them, or spend less time with them. I suppose it's possible that they aren't intentionally trying to undermine you, but you are sensitive to the issue and therefore perceive harmless comments as insults. Sounds like that's not the case, but consider the possibility, I suppose.

deltaneutral83
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by deltaneutral83 » Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:32 am

Find people over 75 who look back and have regrets in life about not having enough "stuff." I haven't talked to one who said this. Many, many have stated they worked too many hours or moved locations when they wanted to but did not need and it had impact on family life.

delamer
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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by delamer » Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:35 am

As tibbitts mentioned earlier in the thread, I am sure why people are assuming that the OP’s relatives are living beyond their means, can’t retire early, are going to get wiped in the next recession, etc.

Many people who live affluent lives are financially secure because they have high incomes. They are able to both save a lot and spend a lot.

I live in a HCOL and have a good friend who is a real estate agent. She gets to know a lot about people’s finances. And there is a minority in this area that have a 30 year mortgage at age 50, a 401(k) loan, a maxed out HELOC, student loans for their kids, and leases for both luxury cars. But it is a minority; most people she sees who live well also have little debt and have money in the bank.

Bragging or trying to shame other people — whether it is about the size of your house, the size of your 401(k), or the size of your kid’s SAT score — is a crappy way to behave.
U
I agree with all the advise to limit your time with such people, whether family or not.

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Re: How do you deal with looking bad compared to others?

Post by Misenplace » Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:39 am

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