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Old 09-06-2014, 01:19 PM   #41
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I was in a hurry since I had groceries in the car, and didn't think about it until I had already asked her.

"A" actually suggested to me that her husband is available for handyman work and would love to have the work to make money and to get him out of the house and out of his slump. He was a jack of all trades handyman type guy for a property management firm for many years before recently losing his job.

Would it really be embarrassing to ask him to do paid work for me (serious question)? I hadn't considered that. I live in a mix of blue collar and white collar neighborhood, and lots of folks in the 'hood are in construction (many have their own small businesses doing handyman work, roofing, painting, cabinets, etc). Would it be any more embarrassing than asking an out of work IT guy to fix my computer?
I think it would be fine for you to offer him the work, since that is his line anyway. I recently had my neighbor, an out of work construction worker and handyman do a construction job for me. It worked out great for both of us. I got really good quality workmanship at a fair price, he got to stay busy and earn some money, other people in the neighborhood saw his work and is leading to more work for him. In addition we got to know each other better as I worked with him a bit (under his direction). Can be a win win situation for both of you.
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Old 09-06-2014, 01:26 PM   #42
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Ditto. I might ask about Pop Tarts, but not caviar.

I worked at a grocery when I was a teenager. My store was on the border of a fairly poor area in town, so a high percentage of our customers were on some sort of government assistance. Caviar was not big seller. Once in four years, I was asked where it was. As I remember it, the first thing my very tactful 17 year old self said was, "Do you really eat that?".
Reminds me of what happened to me a few years ago. One of the few times in life I've bought caviar, we were having a party and my wife needed it for some appetizer. I went to the fancy overpriced deli on the corner to get a few things, one was this small jar of caviar. The cashier warned me before ringing it up "it's $50". I just said 'yeah, I'm not surprised'. She responds "is it good?"

I paused for a second and said "not really".

I'm sure she didn't know what to make of me after that.
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Old 09-06-2014, 01:33 PM   #43
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Today it happened. The first time I felt very awkward about being (relatively) wealthy.

Back in the spring, I found myself having coffee with two neighbors. We all have kids that attend the neighborhood elementary school, and we also have younger kids around age 2 or 3. The two neighbors are discussing finances and one of them (let's call her A) reveals the financial difficulties she's facing. They are about to lose their used car due to missing one payment too many. Her husband can't find work and has been scraping by on day laborer jobs and occasional handyman stuff.

I kept my mouth shut about why it was 10 am on a weekday and I'm hanging out shooting the breeze over coffee (I'm ER'd). The other neighbor knows I'm retired but she didn't toss that fact out for discussion (she has tact).

I see A while walking to school and at school functions and consider her an acquaintance. I forgot she worked at the local Trader Joes until I bumped into her this morning at TJ's (again, around 10 am). I chat with her a bit and then proceed with my shopping. Capers, marinated artichokes, wine, champagne, cheese - the regular things you get at TJ's that aren't cheaply found at Walmart or Aldi.

Crap, I can't find any caviar. I don't even know why it's on my grocery list other than DW put it there (it wasn't me!). After looking everywhere for the caviar, I finally decide to ask someone. The only person around was my acquaintance A. I tried to make it sound less expensive by asking "do you know where the fish eggs or caviar is located?". I already had my cart full of all these clearly luxury goods by this point. "A" told me the caviar is in the cheese section, but it's seasonal. Check back around Thanksgiving.

It felt awkward. And I felt a little guilty. I know I shouldn't feel guilty though.

Anyone else have those awkward wealth moments?
This has never happened to me but it happened to DM about 30 years ago after she and DD bought a new house. She made a new friend and was invited over to her house for lunch with a group of ladies. During chit-chat the subject of house/mortgage came up. Everyone complained about their mortgage payment, then the new friend asked DM about DM's mortgage on the new house. Without thinking DM replied that she didn't have a mortgage as she and DD paid cash for the house. The conversation stopped cold. Afterward, DM never heard from the new friend again.
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Old 09-06-2014, 01:51 PM   #44
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I'm not really interested in eating it, but DW wanted to try it....
Uh oh, that's a dangerous idea--what if she really really likes it? Don't let her test drive any luxury cars or the Fuego budget could be wiped out

She can probably sample caviar on your upcoming cruise.
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Old 09-06-2014, 02:13 PM   #45
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This thread mentioned dentists a few times. Those dentists are playing with you. Folks like that learn how to seem broke all the time. They have to play that way or everyone will expect a discount or handout from them.

Also note that when folks said they didn't have a mortgage how well did that play out? The trick is rarely, if ever, say you do not have a mortgage. Dentists already know about this.

When everyone is ragging about the high cost of something, they want confirmation, so give them confirmation.

Another for instance. I don't have $25 million in tax-exempt bonds, but people jump to conclusion: Tax deferred part of portfolio
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Old 09-06-2014, 02:30 PM   #46
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Interesting stories. Thanks all for sharing. I can certainly relate to the awkwardness. My closest friends are also my work colleagues of 20 years (now, former colleagues). We worked at the same jobs and the same firms for roughly the same levels of compensation for two decades. Now, they envy the fact the I got off the hamster-wheel early, are mystified about how I did it, yet too tactful to ask me about money. I think they secretly believe I have far more money that I really do. Some of them may even believe I retired for health reasons (I didn't). In truth, the real "secret" was simple - LBMM for many years, watched the expenses carefully (even more so, now), and stayed invested while studiously avoiding each new investment fad. My big secret is quite boring: slow and steady won the race.
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Old 09-06-2014, 02:32 PM   #47
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This thread mentioned dentists a few times. Those dentists are playing with you. Folks like that learn how to seem broke all the time. They have to play that way or everyone will expect a discount or handout from them.

Also note that when folks said they didn't have a mortgage how well did that play out? The trick is rarely, if ever, say you do not have a mortgage. Dentists already know about this.

When everyone is ragging about the high cost of something, they want confirmation, so give them confirmation.

Another for instance. I don't have $25 million in tax-exempt bonds, but people jump to conclusion: Tax deferred part of portfolio
There are indeed some extremely wealthy families that play the poor game. I know at least one, must be worth well in excess of 100M, but live modestly and worked in construction, small contracting jobs, even as a handyman sometimes! They live in modest houses and their kids go to public schools. I only know about their wealth from a mutual friend who grew up with them as kids and having seen some of their huge ocean front properties (they don't live there). They are great people and enjoy life. Having always had money they seem to treasure the real things in life. Always been quite amazing to me. When people have enough, there is never any reason to either be jealous of those who have more, or rub it in (even unconsciously) to others who are struggling. It is just about having some class as well as having money.
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Old 09-06-2014, 02:49 PM   #48
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I have some friends like that. A school teacher and a part time handyman. They live in a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood despite very modest income, but one or both has old money parents. They could buy anywhere and do (or not do) anything for work, but they mostly try to live non-extravagant lifestyles and do lots of great things with their kids - coaching teams, hosting parties, volunteering in schools. They fit in well with the rest of us working stiffs and seem to really enjoy their lives.

They have some other old money friends who sometimes tag along, cannot seem to have conversations without referring to their own wealth or imminent plans to purchase expensive cars or other luxury goods and generally seem like sad unhappy people who have no idea why their constant money stories don't get a warmer reception. It's not just wealth that's awkward, it's the circumstances of how, or whether, it comes up.
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Old 09-06-2014, 03:08 PM   #49
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I think it would be fine for you to offer him the work, since that is his line anyway. I recently had my neighbor, an out of work construction worker and handyman do a construction job for me. It worked out great for both of us. I got really good quality workmanship at a fair price, he got to stay busy and earn some money, other people in the neighborhood saw his work and is leading to more work for him. In addition we got to know each other better as I worked with him a bit (under his direction). Can be a win win situation for both of you.
That is fine if the neighbor really provides high quality workmanship. The danger here is that you find out the real reason he's out of work, i.e. he's unreliable or his work is of low quality. I've seen this happen with some members of my extended family. Not saying that's the case, but THAT could be real awkward. I would be sure to try to find some assurance that he can and will deliver before offering work.
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Old 09-06-2014, 03:11 PM   #50
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Uh oh, that's a dangerous idea--what if she really really likes it? Don't let her test drive any luxury cars or the Fuego budget could be wiped out

She can probably sample caviar on your upcoming cruise.
The occasional tin of TJ's caviar is way cheaper than the long term capital, operation and maintenance cost of a luxury car!

And it's probably a lot cheaper than going out for sushi. (edit to add: the caviar I mean. Obviously not the luxury car).
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Old 09-06-2014, 03:18 PM   #51
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It is interesting what we imagine people think. She may have thought something like I would have "I can't believe you eat that stuff" and not given it another thought. (I'd literally have to be starving to eat that, Foie Gras, or any other innards, including the deep fried ones. yikes!!!!).
You're probably right. Who knows what she's thinking or if she read anything into it. She seems to be a very upbeat person overall in the face of adversity, so maybe she said "good for him!" to herself.

I'm with you on the yuck factor. I'll give many things a shot once just to see how it is. No fan of innards or pate made from innards. Hot dogs are about the closest I get to that stuff...
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Old 09-06-2014, 03:20 PM   #52
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That is fine if the neighbor really provides high quality workmanship. The danger here is that you find out the real reason he's out of work, i.e. he's unreliable or his work is of low quality. I've seen this happen with some members of my extended family. Not saying that's the case, but THAT could be real awkward. I would be sure to try to find some assurance that he can and will deliver before offering work.
Good point. Maybe I can snoop around their house to see how well it's maintained. I know enough to know if he's trying to snow blow me about experience. And if he can't offer any insights into what might be causing my leak, I doubt I would want to retain his services. Might be worth $25 or $50 for him to look around though. Way cheaper than $4-5k for a new roof.
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Old 09-06-2014, 03:31 PM   #53
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You're probably right. Who knows what she's thinking or if she read anything into it. She seems to be a very upbeat person overall in the face of adversity, so maybe she said "good for him!" to herself.

I'm with you on the yuck factor. I'll give many things a shot once just to see how it is. No fan of innards or pate made from innards. Hot dogs are about the closest I get to that stuff...
I'm with you on giving things a shot. I had a cricket taco once - it wasn't bad. I was awfully glad it was those itty bitty, really tiny crickets, though!
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Old 09-06-2014, 03:39 PM   #54
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Haha, we might get all fancy if we got to sleep inside a house! I don't know about DH and the roof, though. He's not too good on a ladder after a couple of beers!

But to your question about the neighbor, I think you could ask him in a friendly way to come over and take a look, just to give his professional opinion.

That would be a confidence booster to a guy who probably needs it, and then you could go from there if you wanted to ask him if he wanted the job, and give him a graceful exit by asking for a referral to another contractor if it is outside his expertise.

The opinion could be requested with an offer of a few beers or a simple dinner. That would avoid any perception of pity he might be wary of receiving.
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Old 09-06-2014, 03:53 PM   #55
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We have hired an acquaintance who does handyman work to supplement his pool maintenance business. We started out with a few small projects to get a sense for his workmanship and cost/value. We also found he was very honest about things that were beyond his expertise. The only time it's been awkward is when he had his daughter, who was near our daughter's age and in some activities together, do some painting on our porch remodel job. But she did a good job and we all survived.
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:04 PM   #56
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I'm finding an interesting perspective in this thread. I actually am finding this ER community becoming a little elitist regarding other's within our social circle. A rather backhanded way of being humble in my opinion.
I can recall as a child my father doing work for the well to do in our area. We never lacked for anything and his skills were highly appreciated. We even joked about the fact that " these people really can't do anything for themselves and are glad to pay huge sums to someone they trust."
Just an observation, as I am given to moments of arrogance myself.
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:31 PM   #57
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Not very many awkward moments since we mostly keep it to ourselves. Several years ago shortly after I had bought the motorcycle an acquaintance of DW was at the house and came in through the garage and saw the bike. DW mentioned that I had just bought it and the acquaintance asked what the payments were. Without thinking I said "Nothing. I wrote a check for it." She acted like this was a foreign concept but didn't say anything.

Come to think of it I haven't seen her around in years.
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:58 PM   #58
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Not very many awkward moments since we mostly keep it to ourselves. Several years ago shortly after I had bought the motorcycle an acquaintance of DW was at the house and came in through the garage and saw the bike. DW mentioned that I had just bought it and the acquaintance asked what the payments were. Without thinking I said "Nothing. I wrote a check for it." She acted like this was a foreign concept but didn't say anything.

Come to think of it I haven't seen her around in years.
If she comes back, tell her they're really cheap because most boomers are ditching them for trikes.
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Old 09-06-2014, 06:49 PM   #59
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Today it happened. The first time I felt very awkward about being (relatively) wealthy.

Back in the spring, I found myself having coffee with two neighbors. We all have kids that attend the neighborhood elementary school, and we also have younger kids around age 2 or 3. The two neighbors are discussing finances and one of them (let's call her A) reveals the financial difficulties she's facing. They are about to lose their used car due to missing one payment too many. Her husband can't find work and has been scraping by on day laborer jobs and occasional handyman stuff.

I kept my mouth shut about why it was 10 am on a weekday and I'm hanging out shooting the breeze over coffee (I'm ER'd). The other neighbor knows I'm retired but she didn't toss that fact out for discussion (she has tact).

I see A while walking to school and at school functions and consider her an acquaintance. I forgot she worked at the local Trader Joes until I bumped into her this morning at TJ's (again, around 10 am). I chat with her a bit and then proceed with my shopping. Capers, marinated artichokes, wine, champagne, cheese - the regular things you get at TJ's that aren't cheaply found at Walmart or Aldi.

Crap, I can't find any caviar. I don't even know why it's on my grocery list other than DW put it there (it wasn't me!). After looking everywhere for the caviar, I finally decide to ask someone. The only person around was my acquaintance A. I tried to make it sound less expensive by asking "do you know where the fish eggs or caviar is located?". I already had my cart full of all these clearly luxury goods by this point. "A" told me the caviar is in the cheese section, but it's seasonal. Check back around Thanksgiving.

It felt awkward. And I felt a little guilty. I know I shouldn't feel guilty though.

Anyone else have those awkward wealth moments?
I have been enjoying this website for months now and it is really motivating me to try and super save for retirement.

No offense people but this thread sounds kind of arrogant and snobby?

Maybe I am missing something?
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Old 09-06-2014, 07:06 PM   #60
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I have been enjoying this website for months now and it is really motivating me to try and super save for retirement.

No offense people but this thread sounds kind of arrogant and snobby?

Maybe I am missing something?
Um, not sure why you think it is arrogant and snobby. You have a very small, very select sliver of the population with regards to net worth posting here. Some of them don't want to embarrass or upset the people around them by the mere fact that they saved, scrimped and invested their way to being independently wealthy. Where do you find arrogance? Arrogance would be rubbing everyone's nose in your balance sheet, IMO.
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