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Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-10-2007, 10:54 PM   #1
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Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

I've been reading these forums for about a week and feel like a lot of people posting here may be able to relate to my story. I'm wondering if others have had a similar experience.

My parents are blue collar immigrants from Eastern Europe, who came to the U.S. in the 1960s with no assets and no knowledge of English. My dad was a carpenter, and over the years my mom worked as a seamstress, office cleaner, and food service worker. Like so many before them, they worked like mad, saved like mad, and played by the rules. They bought a two-family house so that someone else (i.e., the tenant in the upstairs apartment) would be paying their mortgage. They denied themselves fancy clothes, dinners out, etc., in order to have a chance at a better tomorrow and it worked. I grew up surrounded by this. By the time I was in high school, their life was pretty comfortable though far from wealthy. It made a huge impression on me. Like a lot of other immigrants, my parents made education a priority. I had a knack for school and loved to read, and good grades and scholarships followed. Ditto for my younger sister.

They taught us a lot of good habits. Live way below your means. Pay off credit card balances every month, with no exceptions. The only debts you should have should be a mortgage and school loans. Never, ever, go into debt for a depreciable asset. I listened.

I'm now 35 years old and a successful attorney. Early retirement has been one of my goals since I was in my late 20s. I had substantial law school loans but lived way below my means for a few years and paid them off way in advance. Once I got rid of my debt I started saving about 40% of my income yearly. I don't flaunt my money. About a year and a half ago, I bought a very nice apartment in Manhattan, and I have since been doing a lot of international travel, while still saving about 25% of my income. This spring I'll be buying a second property as an investment.

A surprising thing has started to happen. I am beginning to feel the envy of people, and in some cases from people who are near and dear to me. Two of my closest friends go out of their way to tell me that I "don't have a life" because I work so hard, even though I think it's clear to anyone who knows me that I'm very happy with my life and am doing what I want. I've always been very driven, but never heard this from them until I began to make money.

While most people who come to my home say all kinds of great things about it (as I do when I visit a friend's new home for the first time), these two have never said a WORD about it, which speaks volumes to me. When I was buying this place, one of them gave me a long speech about how much less I could have paid had I only bought a few years earlier -- when I didn't have the money, and he knew this. It seemed like his goal was simply to make me feel bad about the price I was paying. Of course, he could not have afforded my home even at that earlier, cheaper time. The same guy, who is also a lawyer, asked me recently how much law school debt I still had, and I saw the look of jealousy on his face when I told him I had paid everything off. The other guy regularly says, "So NOW where are you going?," very sarcastically, when I say I am taking a vacation. It hurts sometimes to know that they would like it if I was less prosperous than I am.

I have an older cousin who behaves similarly. He is obsessed with trying to get me to say that I am paid a lot of money for not working very hard. He does this in front of other family members. Why The fact is that I work really, really hard. Each time he does this, I try to gently explain that it's pretty hard to make a good salary without putting in a lot of hours. I also explain that it's a fact that turnover at large law firms in New York City is pretty high, because a lot of people get burned out by the hours, and that if the jobs were as cushy as he thinks no one would leave. He doesn't want to hear it. He also says things like, "You eat at nice restaurants all the time, don't you?," when I have told him many times that this is not the case because, while it's fun once in a while, it's waste of money I'd rather save or spend on things that matter more to me (like travel).

The last couple of years I have also been getting a lot of "What do YOU care, YOU can afford it," or "It's not like you need the money."

At a wake a few weeks ago, I ran into the mother of a friend of mine from high school who I hadn't seen in about 10 years. I got peppered with questions from her about what I do, where I work, where I live, etc. She then proceeded to tell me how you "get nothing for your money" in Manhattan, and then how much her house was worth. It was truly bizarre.

I am seriously thinking that maybe it's better I don't tell anyone, other than my parents and sister, that I'm buying a second property this spring.

It's not like I was handed what I have. My parents didn't even graduate high school. I had no connections to help me get into the schools I attended, to get the job I have, or to develop business. I don't have trust fund. I haven't inherited any of my money. And yet it is starting to be held against me. I imagine it will only get worse, because I'm not even close to my peak earning years. While most people seem happy for me, it stings a bit to know that some clearly aren't.

Has anyone here had similar experiences?
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-10-2007, 11:04 PM   #2
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

No.

You should be proud of your accomplishment and just ignore what others think about you or what you do.
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-10-2007, 11:23 PM   #3
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanky
No.

You should be proud of your accomplishment and just ignore what others think about you or what you do.
...........what Spanky said. I found your story very inspiring.
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-10-2007, 11:29 PM   #4
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

People that are not happy for you are not your friends.
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-10-2007, 11:41 PM   #5
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

I can relate on several fronts.

You learn not to worry too much about what others think of you while at the same time not showing off, not talking about how much you've accumulated, etc.

It's human nature to want to be ahead of the next guy. When other people see (or feel) you are ahead of them, it makes them envious, whether it's consciously or unconsciously. Sometimes they even expect you to share some of your wealth with them, like they should have the right to some of your money.

So, stay away from talking finances with people with less money than you. Talk about sports, talk about the weather, talk about your vegetable garden, but icksnay on the oneymay.

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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 12:11 AM   #6
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

Good advice so far, and like retire@40, I can relate.

The people that are having a hard time with your financial picture are demonstrating the incredible insecurity they have regarding their own financial situation. It's a shame that money becomes a barrier to the relationships, but it's their problem not yours.
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 12:18 AM   #7
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

I have encountered the jealousy you are encountering. The have it now and pay for it later folks do not understand those of us with LBYM mentality and our ability to evaluate and then make good financial choices.

The one thought I know that i focus on when the crap starts to fly is... I will value your opinion only when you pay my bills. Put another way, I don't worry about others opinions unless they pay my bills. Since no one deposits the money in the bank for me every month... Their opinions are not of value to me.

I make the best choices I can for me and mine. I have investments and retired early. I pay off credit cards PDQ. I do not splurge beyond my means. I also have not asked friends to help me with my mortgage, repair my car or pay my electric bill.

You may learn to keep your financial info a bit more private to reduce the green eyed monster in the friends but the cat is out of the bag with the family.

You have done well and deserve to enjoy.

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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 12:19 AM   #8
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

Quote:
I don't flaunt my money.I started saving about 40% of my income yearly.
Sounds like a lot of people here....maybe best advice is act like you are poor while you stash it away ....
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 12:29 AM   #9
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

Fatboy. Sounds like you are right on track to be the person you want to be. Those that feel threatened by it, don't deserve the benefit of your good example. Maybe some folks feel like your good planning and self control highlight their lack thereof and their comments are more intended to make them feel better than to make you feel worse.
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 12:55 AM   #10
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBoy71

A surprising thing has started to happen. I am beginning to feel the envy of people, and in some cases from people who are near and dear to me.
Welcome to the forum!

Unfortunately, not only are there many people in the world like this when it comes to finances...but human nature will always have people that are this way, whether it's finances, talking about people of different races or religions, etc.

I'd definitely NOT mention your thoughts of the investment property to them, and don't offer any more specific - or even general (i.e. I paid off all of my student loans) - finance info to people that aren't mature enough and logical enough to understand the cause and effect of saving vs spending. The average level of financial maturity in this country probably has the lowest level out of any possible maturity (emotional, behavioral, financial, etc.).

I get lots of comments about the whole "why don't you enjoy life for once?" when they find out that I don't necessarily rush out to spend my money in the exact same way as them. Like you, I'd rather spend $5k on awesome trips and just $3k on grocery bills/eating out, rather than $10k on eating out/groceries and $1k on traveling. But, because you aren't interesting in spending $100 every Saturday night on food and booze (like they do), you're "depriving yourself to the point of death"!

retire@40's comment about "never talk finances with people that have less than you" is an interesting theory I never thought of before...but which certainly makes sense! Perhaps keep your financial comments limited to the ER board and some local real estate investors groups. That, or work up some graphs of compounding growth and savings rates to hand out to your friends when they make some snide comment again, and show them that if you only start saving $10k/year at age __, it won't take long to accumulate wealth.
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 01:15 AM   #11
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

I'm in a similar situation to you. I also live in Manhattan and do fairly well. I certainly can't complain. I moved here from Florida, so most of my friend/family-base is still back there. I'm an engineer, and the wife is an attorney.

I made the mistake of telling friends back in Florida that the nice thing about working in NYC is "bonus season". This is relatively unheard of back in FL. Salary-wise, they are relatively close, but when I mention that it is bonus time, it gets very awkward. I hear lots of "just buy [insert random unnecessary crap] (big screen TV, fancy car, fancy vacation), you can afford it".

And of course since I work as an software engineer, I am basically tech-support or "just surfing the web all day".

I think the best thing for your mental health is to simply not discuss it, which really sucks because if anyone, you want your friends and family to be happy for you for your success. Apparently it doesn't work that way. As long as you are happy with your life choices, they can piss off...
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 01:33 AM   #12
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

It is strange that you mention this...

I was talking to a co-worker that has an apartment on the upper west side... so it is worth a pretty penny now... but he had said he has a summer house down the Jersey coast... I said congrats!! He said he did not want to tell people about it because he gets the 'you can afford it' from others that live up there and can NOT afford it...

Manhattan is different than other places (same for SF and Boston)... the prices are high for the space you get ($1,000 per foot a few years ago when I was there.. in a company apt... I can't afford those prices..) Where here you can get stuff for less than $100.. So I can understand that there are people there that it is harder to LBYMs when it takes 50% of you salary to rent a place OR you have a long commute...

Yes, there are people who will not like your accomplishments... you have to choose if you want to be with them or not.. as for you relative... tell him to go take a hike... that is HE would work hard maybe HE could have something better... sometimes giving them their medicine is what it takes..
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 02:41 AM   #13
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

well, i retired at 30 and it pisses people off so i don't tell them specifics. sad fact people get jealous. i lived and live below my means, invests, etc. people my age don't prepare for retirement, etc. they don't understand how i am the way i am. it is an instant gratification culture while i think long term. i understand, best not to tell anyone about investment property and congrats to you on your situation.
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 05:49 AM   #14
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?


People are not jealous of my money, but the freedom to do what I want with my time.
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 06:40 AM   #15
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

I used to get this all the time before we clammed up on the money issue as we live in a nice house, travel internationally once a year and our kids graduated college debt free. What people don't see is we almost never eat out, hardly ever shop except the grocer, and drive our basic vehicles to the ground. I drive an old standard Honda as it gets good mileage and it is usually the oldest car in any parking lot. We also do almost all our own maintenance to the house and cars. From staying put in a nice neighborhood our paid off house value has nicely ballooned. I think the interest deduction is overrated. I'll pay a little more in taxes in exchange for not paying interest and being able to save that money but that is a whole other discussion I've seen here many times.

We have learned to politely smile and ignore any comments. We also don't flaunt our wealth and no longer volunteer things like our house is paid off. Misery loves company so we keep out of these types of conversations.

If you buy a rental I would treat it and talk about it like a business proposition or investment. You can make a lot of money but you could also lose a lot of money.
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 07:13 AM   #16
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

I feel some from work mates. One friend tries to pick me for my net worth by asking me how much does it take to retire early? I just tell him to check out all the retirement calculators. I recently purchased a one year old Chev at a good price and the same friend asked me why I didn't buy a brand new one at 30k plus. Some just can't figure out how to get it down.
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 07:20 AM   #17
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBoy71
Has anyone here had similar experiences?
Yes, and these can be annoying. I've occasionally tried to share my little successes, such as paying off my house in full, with people at work. Very few can simply be happy for me and leave it at that. Even those who earn $20K-$30K more than me have responded by saying that the reason I could do this, is that I am single and live alone so my expenses are less. Never mind that there is only one income in MY household, and it is less than either one of their two incomes.

I think that most people have various fantasies built up in their minds to explain why they have not reached their financial goals. Instead of facing reality, they want to believe that this is beyond their control due to extenuating circumstances.
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 08:41 AM   #18
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

I guess we are so much better off than our immediate family, that we're kind of embarrassed about it, so we keep very quiet on the subject of our financial independence and money in general.

Not that any of them has a jealous bone in their bodies - quite the opposite. Generally really good folks.

They were all happy for us when we retired and not very nosey either. Friends were in our industry or familiar with the culture of a high-tech city, so they completely understood how folks working in high-tech sometimes "get lucky". They were happy for us too.

I guess we hung around the right kind of people!

Audrey
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 09:23 AM   #19
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

My fellow cellmates err workers used to give me little digs but I'd always tell them would I be driving a seven year old car if I was loaded.Apparently I would ha ha.
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?
Old 02-11-2007, 09:57 AM   #20
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Re: Does anyone feel jealousy from friends/family/others?

I've had problems with friends and family making comments. I know they would love to know what our finances look like but both dh and I have kept anything about money quiet. I'll discuss it with my dad but that's about it and even he doesn't really know the whole story.

I've also noticed lately some comments coming my way from one of my partners. He would love to retire but had to have the McMansion to which he decided was too small and put on an addition. He has two little kids, new vehicles, big screen TVs and all the trappings that go with his neighborhood's lifestyle. He and I have talked about retirement and he knows I'm getting close, I can feel the resentment in his voice.

My dad told me money complicates everything, he's definitely right on the money with that.
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