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Have you ever felt humiliated for looking "poor"?
Old 04-07-2008, 06:50 PM   #1
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Have you ever felt humiliated for looking "poor"?

The "are you afraid to look poor" thread, reminded me of a few embarrassing moments...

We make good money (close to four times the median household income for our state), yet we live a fairly typical middle class lifestyle so that we can save a sizable chunk of our income. We live in a nice, but certainly not upscale neighborhood, we drive older cars (a 2001 VW jetta and a 1997 Mazda Miata) and we wear good quality but not necessarily fashionable clothes. Basically from the outside, we don't stand out from the average joe and we certainly don't look rich at all. More than 90% of our wealth is completely hidden in investment accounts than nobody ever sees.

Last year we went to Best Buy to buy a large screen plasma TV. We paid for it cash and we then proceeded to park our Jetta right in front of the store for the staff to load the TV in the car (off course we were too cheap to pay for delivery and installation since we did not need to have the TV hung to the wall). There comes a HUGE box (much bigger than the TV itself), that clearly would never, ever fit in our car. So, right in front of the store, we start removing all the unnecessary foam and packing material until we can fit the darn thing in the car. In the mean time, some people are staring and making fun of us, commenting that people like us (meaning "poor" people) should not buy a TV like that. Some stupid guy in a suburban kept pointing at us and laughing. My wife felt really humiliated. I was too, but a quick glance at our Vanguard accounts was all I needed to get over it.

But that's the problem. With so much of our money locked away out of sight, people are often under the impression that we are "poor".

Another humiliating moment, was last Easter. We were invited at my wife's boss for Easter dinner and they had invited their neighbors too. One of the neighbors told me that the week before he had called the cops on a kid who was collecting money for charity door to door because he drove a Honda Accord 2004 which did not fit in "this kind of neighborhood" (I wish he was kidding but he was not). My wife and I looked at each other wondering if we should go park our jetta out back before he called the cops on us...

So have you ever felt humiliated for living way below your means?
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Old 04-07-2008, 07:01 PM   #2
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nope!

Felt a little funny when a cop shined the light in our car window when driving home one night. He said - "Ooops, sorry! I thought you were kids!".

I wish I had been brave enough to answer him in a valley girl voice.....

Audrey
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Old 04-07-2008, 07:05 PM   #3
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When I bought my lawn furniture on sale at Sears, we tore it all out of the boxes and STILL couldn't fit it in my car. So Frank (being the faithful dear man that he is) sat alone on the Sears loading dock as dusk fell, guarding the furniture that wouldn't fit amid the torn pieces of boxes. Meanwhile I quickly drove home, unloaded the car, and returned for load #2.

I wasn't so worried about how I looked, as I was worried about whether or not he would be attacked, mugged, or questioned by the police!

I think Louisiana is probably a little more laid back about appearances than most places might be.
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Old 04-07-2008, 07:10 PM   #4
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I tore the box off to fit my plasma TV in my car at Circuit City, too.

Also, when I bought my lawn furniture on sale at Sears, we tore it all out of the boxes and STILL couldn't fit it in my car. So Frank (being the faithful dear man that he is) sat alone on the Sears loading dock as dusk fell, guarding the furniture that wouldn't fit amid the torn pieces of boxes. Meanwhile I quickly drove home, unloaded the car, and returned for load #2.

I wasn't so worried about how I looked, as I was worried about whether or not he would be attacked, mugged, or questioned by the police!
That's really funny!

But come on people, Am I the only one living in a city full of jerks?
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Old 04-07-2008, 07:14 PM   #5
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That's really funny!

But come on people, Am I the only one living in a city full of jerks?
Yep!!

The trick to doing this is to act like EVERYBODY tears the boxes off when loading things. Look annoyed and loudly make wisecracks about how they ought to put the dumpster closer for people to dispose of their boxes.

I have to admit that this is one of my favorite things about living in Louisiana. Locals here are really down to earth and just are not as concerned with appearances as people that I knew in other states where I have lived (such as southern California, for example) it seems to me.

I edited my post to remove the part about the plasma TV, because on second thought I think I had it delivered. I was confusing that with the lawn furniture, or with something else, I suppose.
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Old 04-07-2008, 07:21 PM   #6
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I remember going into furniture stores. The first, the saleswoman told use the "solid wood" is expensive and tried to steer us elsewhere. In the second, we could not get service until we cornered a sales person.

And at home shows, it is hard to get people to notice us (except for the timeshare people).
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Old 04-07-2008, 07:42 PM   #7
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So have you ever felt humiliated for living way below your means?
No, not me.

However, there is always the legendary John Barrier who did - and did something about it...
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Looking poor is good
Old 04-07-2008, 07:42 PM   #8
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Looking poor is good

Why on earth should it bother you? Similar things happen all the to all time to financially independent people who don't flaunt wealth and are frugal. Being frugal is smart.

From an asset protection point of view, looking poor is the goal.
Take pride in yourself for "fooling" all those onlookers.
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Old 04-07-2008, 07:57 PM   #9
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Being not terribly attractive and dressing poorly, I have often found that store people do not want to even acknowledge my existence. Some stores do notice me, and I spend my money there.
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:04 PM   #10
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I don't think I've been snubbed like that by folks who thought I was unsuccessful. I do live in a fancy neighborhood and my 12 year old truck is both the oldest vehicle on the block and most downscale even if it was new. I think by now they just regard me as eccentric and I've never heard comments denigrating it or me. I like to think it helps make me an unattractive target for burglars.

Biggest surprise seems to be from coworkers who have figured out I live in an expensive place (but not that I bought way before it was so expensive) and alternately wonder where I got the money to live there or why I don't have a car that matches my address.

I have had cops cruise slowly behind me until I park and go in my house sometimes. I'm sure my ride doesn't match their profile for the neighborhood, but they've never said anything.
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:18 PM   #11
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When I bought my lawn furniture on sale at Sears, we tore it all out of the boxes and STILL couldn't fit it in my car. So Frank (being the faithful dear man that he is) sat alone on the Sears loading dock as dusk fell, guarding the furniture that wouldn't fit amid the torn pieces of boxes. Meanwhile I quickly drove home, unloaded the car, and returned for load #2.
That is so funny because we did the same thing . Even with the Durango we could not fit all the furniture in so I sat at the loading dock ( It was daytime ) and Gary drove back and forth .
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:19 PM   #12
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Why on earth should it bother you? Similar things happen all the to all time to financially independent people who don't flaunt wealth and are frugal. Being frugal is smart.

From an asset protection point of view, looking poor is the goal.
Take pride in yourself for "fooling" all those onlookers.
Intellectually I know it shouldn't bother me. But I am human, and being made fun of or looked down on by people is never a pleasant experience. Maybe it's my ego getting in the way of my intellect (and I'll be the first to recognize that I have an ego), I don't know.

Actually the main reason why I refuse to buy expensive cars is exactly from an asset protection perspective. If I ever have an accident, people will just look at me and figure they'll get nothing out of me...
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:30 PM   #13
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Well… not really humiliated, mostly embarrassed.

To make the story short, DH & I were (financially speaking) barely squeezing by in college, so when we finally got decent jobs we did not want to spend everything we were making - we decided we would rather travel than have new cars.

So, for the first couple of years out of school DH & I shared an old clunker (no radio, trouble with windows, etc.), which was slowly falling apart. Since we both worked less than 3 mi from home and neither one of us cares (cared) what we drive, we ignored most of the issues until… the trunk started flying open each time we went over a bump/pot hole. At first it happened every now and then, then once a week, then once a day, then during most trips out with a car.

The final straw was when I went to pick up my mom from the airport. I believe I had to stop at least 4 times on the highway during a 20 min drive home to close the trunk (so her things would not fly out). Each time I was getting back into the car, she would give me “the look”.

We went to the dealership the next day and got a new car!
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:34 PM   #14
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Not me but my mom. Now in her 70's. She is a retired teacher/Admin. For years (like 20-30) she walks in the mornings. She has a partner. They pick up trash along the route. And bottles and cans. Check the phones for extra change. Every year she gets the grandkids like $200-$300 ea in Savings Bonds.

My folks winter house is in Palm Springs. Aparently some woman say her walking (and can picking) and stopped to give her money. Because she was down on her luck.

She politely turned it down.
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:35 PM   #15
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I can't recall a time when I have felt humiliated for looking poor. I kinda think of myself as a poor person who can buy pretty much whatever I want, I just don't want much. I don't mind if people think I am poor. In fact, I prefer that they do.
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:35 PM   #16
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How about the other way around. Are you afraid of looking "well off" because you think folks will try to take advantage of you or ask for money?

It sounds like several folks have gone the way of trying very hard to look less well off then they are. I have done it to some extent but don't really give it a whole lot of thought unless I am someplace where my car might be seen as a signal of networth. I drive a 7 year old Acura MDX. I bought it new with the intention of keeping it for many years. I don't wear expensive clothes. Most come from Sam's Club or Kohl's. Shoes from Famous Footwear or anywhere on sale.

My house is bigger than average, not because I am trying to show off or keep up with the Joneses (Sorenson's here) but because it was the ONLY house that was in the right place with the right stuff at the right time. We paid under the market for it and will do just fine when it sells. Our next house will be much smaller because our needs have changed.

I don't see a need to broadcast my networth to the world. Even my family has no idea other than it is "enough" for me to retire at 55 and live well for the rest of my life. I also don't intentially dress down. I just dress how I want which is what I feel like spending without buying used (just can't and won't do that). DW is still a bit on the spendy side but does look for sales and is trying hard to stay in the budget on clothes.

Our RV used to be a cabin which used to be a piece of land we were going to build a house on until we moved. Before that it was an exercised stock option and before that it was 14 hour days 6 days a week of high stress corporate w*rk. It is a leveraged asset (well a toy actually) that is now depreciating. It was bought for recreational reasons and not for its' long range appreciation. I have other things for that now.

I don't feel I have to appologize to anyone for what I have or don't have. My neighbors "look" very well off and may have a high net worth. Who cares? They change cars every couple of years and have all the latest toys...but they are also still working and many are older than I am.

Oh, and another reason I have the MDX is so I can haul stuff in it.
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:36 PM   #17
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As an engineer, I've never been a sharp dresser. When we were looking for a house my ExDW and I walked into a nearby real estate office to inquire about a certain neighborhood that we'd driven through and liked. Their response was, "Oh, only professionals live there". We just looked at each other and chuckled knowing that they'd just blown a sale.
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:45 PM   #18
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No, but then I tend to be completely unaware of other people when I'm doing something like trying to cram something too big into my car. Also, I tend not to care what other people think.

I think that it was harder on our kids when they were growing up especially since we were living in SanDiego, where the people tend to be very focused on having the appearance of wealth. But now that they are grown they have the same values as we do, live simply and are well on their way to ER. So, no damage done to them, afterall. In fact, now they look back fondly on our simple way of living.
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Old 04-07-2008, 09:11 PM   #19
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NO, I have never felt humiliated. I drive a 2000 Toyota Corrola and dress casually. When I tour the expensive homes during the Parade of Home, no real-estate agents would approach me. There are times at hardware stores (e.g., Home Depot, ACE), some people would ask if I worked there.
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Old 04-07-2008, 09:14 PM   #20
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There are times at hardware stores (e.g., Home Depot, ACE), some people would ask if I worked there.
Are you kidding? It happens to me all the time! Sometimes I even help them! But I don't find that particularly embarrassing...
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