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Need to learn to keep my mouth shut?
Old 05-11-2011, 07:19 AM   #1
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Need to learn to keep my mouth shut?

We are relocating from the NYC area to the Denver metro area. We have always lived a ho hum middle class lifestyle (I was thrilled to hear my 8YO station received the mechanic's blessing to come with us), but there are certain things that are coming up that make it obvious we are a lot better off than most of our peers. People seem stunned to hear we can buy a house before we sell the existing one. Yesterday I was quizzing my sister in law about aspect of CO real estate I know nothing about (she is a residential property manager and analyst) and she told me that the 20 to 30k cost of a new roof could be rolled into some kinds of mortgages. "I would just pay cash," I blurted out without thinking. Stunned silence from the other end of the line.

Do I need to develop the money taboo that is so pervasive in US society? I don't run around disclosing our net worth, but I work in the financial industry where compensation is relatively high and people talk about finance/money all the time. I also am a bit blind to the fact that we are way above our age group in net worth because I hang out here with the wealthy and live a lifestyle pretty similar to friends with one tenth (or less) our net worth. Time to become more close-mouthed? I get the feeling the culture in CO is more reserved about this sort of thing and I would prefer not to offend.
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Old 05-11-2011, 07:46 AM   #2
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Time to become more close-mouthed? I get the feeling the culture in CO is more reserved about this sort of thing and I would prefer not to offend.
Probably best to avoid the issue. I don't think these references offend folks but there is a lot of emotional baggage attached to personal money issues. When someone sees someone who has more or less than they do, they often go right to their bin of assumptions and prejudices. Better to leave 'em guessing and just be one of the fellow strugglers in their eyes.
It can also be useful. E.g. when negotiating for a car, the dealer may go with a lower price if they believe there's money to be made in the financing. So, we talk about "financing" after we have a figure for the car.
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Old 05-11-2011, 07:52 AM   #3
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Brewer, you are correct - in most areas of the country discussing money isn't considered polite.

(BTW, if this question had been asked by any other poster I would have replied, "You should feel as comfortable bringing up your personal financial situation as you would discussing your personal sex habits." )
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Old 05-11-2011, 07:58 AM   #4
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It is possible that your filter might need to be jacked up. Like you, I am very comfortable talking money because I do it all day long. I forget that other people have taboos about money and issues that make them uncomfortable hearing about whatever my plans are. I'll never forget the friend who, upon hearing of our plans for early retirement, said that they'd have to dig him up to clock in after he was dead!
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Old 05-11-2011, 08:09 AM   #5
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Ido think that people resent others more successful financially then themselves. I had the same experience years ago while selling a home. A family member looked at the listing and said, "you forgot to put the size of your mortgage on the listing". My DW blurted out, "we don't have a mtge". Then, the family member asked, "did your parents give you the money?". The answer was "no", and it changed the relationship. Today, like you, I've done OK and live in a neighborhood where few have mortgages but some do and I've found it's better to leave financial matters unsaid where there may be a major difference......especially with family.
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Old 05-11-2011, 08:30 AM   #6
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Interesting challenge. It is difficult to LBYM without some folks sticking their noses in your personal or financial business, no matter how reserved or discrete you are. Especially family members. Coming from the east coast and not having a mortgage is bound to generate some buzz regardless of how you manage it.

You’re not bragging so what else can you do? No debt is a big thing for so many people, so redirect when talking about mortgages, auto loans, credit card.
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Old 05-11-2011, 08:35 AM   #7
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Don't feel bad brewer one day I was talking about a 10 year old car that I thought about buying. My family acted like I was talking about buying a new yacht. I understand their point but it was frustrating too. That is one reason I love this forum I can talk about money all I want.
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:11 AM   #8
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The worldview that came from having ER assets and a high salary leads to info leakage just because I see my personal financial world differently. I was raised to not talk about money. Yet I dropped jaws a few times because the combo of my LBYM, salary and nerd brain didn't warn me to keep my mouth shut.

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"I would just pay cash," I blurted out without thinking. Stunned silence from the other end of the line.
Was driving 3 fellow software developers to lunch in my new-to-me 1 year old car when one of them asked what the interest rates on car loans are these days. "I don't know, I paid cash." I said. The three simultaneously said "you paid cash?!?" It said it was only 14k and I had more in my six-months-without-a-job-emergency-fund than I needed so I didn't need a loan.

At least I had the sense not to tell them I paid cash for every car I'd ever owned.
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:14 AM   #9
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People seem stunned to hear we can buy a house before we sell the existing one.


Our banking analyst moved from BOA in Charlotte, NC to NYC in early 2008. We wanted him quickly so he moved up without selling his house first. I think he still owns it.

We used to kid him that he should just put the wheels back on and move it up to New York . . . that doesn't seem quite as funny to me now.
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:30 AM   #10
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I'm in the same boat... I've learned to keep my mouth shut about most personal matters, but sometimes run into issues as the friend or family member might of received an impression from DW.

Family member buys a new car, pays outrageous interest rate, 8.9%...
DW - isn't that a high rate
Family member - what's your bank interest rate on your cars
DW - nothing, no note
Family member - both cars?
DW - yup
Me - that's a fair rate, it's a nice car, changing the subject... I bet it rides nice

DW to me - isn't that rate high, it's not 0.9% as I see in the commericals
Me - it's a fair rate based on his situation, please avoid $$ discussions, just say, DH handles the bills
DW - gives me silent treatment for a bit

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Old 05-11-2011, 09:45 AM   #11
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I think that most people want to feel good about their decisions and like to hear information that reinforces their choices. It also depends on the local culture. I am quite happy to compare notes on lending rates, home prices, etc, with close friends, though I don't share everything. I view conversations on money are opportunities to exchange good ideas without getting too specific.

So, for example, some years ago I visited a friend whose husband was a CEO. They had just moved into a fabulous home. I innocently asked her what it cost (knowing that I could not possibly afford it). She got quite defensive and said that not even her mother knew the price of the house. She had grown up in modest circumstances. Clearly the manifestation of wealth (excess?) was uncomfortable for her.
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:45 AM   #12
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I say you just go with it like Rodney:

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Old 05-11-2011, 09:52 AM   #13
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So, for example, some years ago I visited a friend whose husband was a CEO. They had just moved into a fabulous home. I innocently asked her what it cost (knowing that I could not possibly afford it). She got quite defensive and said that not even her mother knew the price of the house. She had grown up in modest circumstances. Clearly the manifestation of wealth (excess?) was uncomfortable for her.
Meanwhile what she paid is a matter of public record. I assume she did not know that.

I am beginning to realize that my problem is that I unintentionally spill the beans over thinsg that are not that big a deal to me, but would be to many peers. Time to vet my casual speech carefully.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:03 AM   #14
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Usually I feel fine when folks talk about paying cash, interest rates, etc. We do have a mortgage; we do have a car payment, but little other debt and doing better than many of our friends.

But, I make those judgments/feel a bit of jealousy when others share and they are doing waaaaay better. A colleague of mine recently shared that she and her DH have a ten year emergency fund (equivalent to what they bring home monthly now). My skin probably turned a bit green. (I made myself feel better by remembering her DH is a grouch).
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:04 AM   #15
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I think most other people live in another world. They live day to day. That's why they don't have cash or assets to pay for stuff and don't plan ahead. I pay cash for most of what I buy. I just don't say much to the others about it. I think you should keep a little lower key about money and such. That's because they don't understand.

Just remember to keep your family close and your enemies closer...
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:08 AM   #16
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At one point we were thinking about moving to New Zealand. One of the more attractive things about NZ is a saying they have that "the tall poppy gets cut". I take that to mean that one should not stand out. Down here in La Quinta it seems half the population has white hair and half black hair. At a restaurant the other night we parked next to a car that had a motor sitting where the back seat should be. Had a glass cover over the motor and a prancing horse emblem. Many of the black haired citizens here plaster the walls and mow the lawns of the white haired citizens.

My hair is pretty much white, but most of my neighbors have black hair - had a good talk with the black haired neighbor across the street when I went over to beg some teflon tape. He told me a lot about how foundation footings are dug here in the desert; I told him I did apartment maintenance up in Oregon. He offered to share tools. Good guy.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:15 AM   #17
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My boss sometimes asks, wistfully and rhetorically, when he'll get to put "the sticker" on his car, like the one I got from Dave Ramsey when I paid off our house. He's proud of our progress toward financial goals and happy to have played a goodly part in them. He is one of the rare people with whom I can share milestones and good financial reports from our personal life.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:16 AM   #18
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When it comes to financial matters, I keep my mouth shut. I was brought up to consider money a greater taboo than politics, religion or sex. I would say that, in general, DW and I have been pretty successful at concealing the true extent of our financial situation from people.

But it's the little things I now take for granted that get me in trouble. Like paying cash for big ticket items. Or even being able to afford such item in the first place.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:17 AM   #19
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I would say most people do have problems talking about money and the cost of things...


I did not have a problem talking about the cost of my house... I got a deal and told my friends and family... and heck, you can look up the tax value online of all houses in the county....

I do not talk about how much I have.... nobody's business except mine and DW...


My boss is a bit different... he does not care what people know... he tells people his salary... he tells people about his ranch etc. etc... but even though he has a lot of 'wealth', he is very poor in liquid assets... the company did bad a couple of years ago and the note on the ranch had to be paid... so cashed out the 401(k) etc. etc.. right now selling cows to get some cash as their cost to feed is to high since there is no grass... I would hate to be what my sister called 'house poor'... that is what he is...
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:30 AM   #20
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The very fact that I ER'd at 55 elicits a similar reaction. Most have congratulated me but you can see the wheels turning trying to figure out the financial aspects. I've never discussed our finances with either friends or family.

You should also consider that these are extreme financial times. People are worried. They've lost their jobs. Their kids can't afford college. And . . . a big one that I've felt myself . . . is a big resentment toward people working on "Wall Street" who seemed to have screwed the country and never said "Sorry".
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