Author Topic: Comments on standard of living??  (Read 11086 times)

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moimoi

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Comments on standard of living??
« on: December 13, 2009, 10:31:43 PM »
DH works for small, but well-known firm in fairly small town.  Several of DH's colleagues live in extremely large homes, live extremely high-maintenance lifestyles, and make sure entire town knows it.  We prefer a more modest (and honestly, tasteful) approach.  I cannot tell you how many times, in casual conversation, it has come up that DH works with these people and the person to whom I'm speaking says, "Oh.  Your husband works with them?  They have a really nice house."  Read:  You must be loaded, too. 
Mind you, my husband makes a very nice living;  we simply do not care to advertise that.  Retirement and our children's educations are a bit more important than keeping up with the Jones.  However, as a partner, he/we know exactly what others make, and it is not enough to support the aforementioned lifestyles.  In addition, we also know from the horses' mouths via workplace conversations that these lifestyles are exceptionally financed & said partners are so in debt it is questionable as to if (not when) they will retire. 
How on earth does one respond to such intrusive (and maddeningly incorrect) assumptions?

Sefie

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Re: Comments on standard of living??
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2009, 10:40:20 PM »
Unless there's more that missing from the context, I wouldn't even respond to these sorts of comments.  It's possible that you are reading too much into them - to me, it sounds more like a way to say "I know these people too - we have a mutual friend/acquaintance!" rather than digging for information about your financial standing.

You can say something like "yes, we were over there last weekend for dinner - how do you know them?", or "oh, I've never visited them at home, DH just has a professional relationship with them."  Or a non-committal "uh huh."

I also don't think it's necessary to know how the partners can (or can't) afford their lifestyles - their money, their business.  This wouldn't affect how I'd answer the person I was talking to at the time.

kitty-cat

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Re: Comments on standard of living??
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2009, 10:50:41 PM »
I would just say "that's nice, hey have you tried the new gilded bean dip?  It has real gold flakes in it."

It's your life, how you live it is of no concern of theirs (well, serial killing aside).  Just ignore what the gossip-geese are saying and they should drop it before long.




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Veronica

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Re: Comments on standard of living??
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2009, 10:56:21 PM »
"Yes, isn't their house beautiful?  Have you had any bean dip yet?  It is terrific!"   

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moimoi

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Re: Comments on standard of living??
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2009, 11:10:05 PM »
Good points, ladies.  Normally, I would accede that I was looking too far into it.  (I have a history of that!)  ;) However, there is a lot more to it that would be too much to detail (in short, the partners in question tend to be well beyond showy in manner and speech), but it suffices to say that there is absolutely no doubt as to the fact that my financial status is being evaluated as I speak (it has happened every time, with utter awe, when the occasion arises, going on five years now).  Basically, I abhor being evaluated according to my perceived means  (I, not my pocketbook, am the person with whom you would be associating, should we pursue this rel@tionship).  
This is a very small town, not unlike the Twilight Zone, and unfortunately, everyone is in everyone else's business.  It is to the point that if you don't play along, you simply don't play, and I have reached that point.  I just find it very annoying that someone else's lack of restraint results in me becoming viewed as something I am not (ie- extraordinarily wealthy or in-debt-up-to-my-eyeballs).  I forget the name of the poster that mentioned being egged on to purchase a Mercedes, but I cannot tell you how many times my DH has been harassed by educated, grown men for his choice of car (9-year-old domestic with a Kelly Blue Book value of less than $2000, last we checked).  His fed-up response has finally become:  "Oh.  That thing?  It's paid for.  Can you say the same?"  
I agree that I have no place divulging others' financial information (although, knowing the bankers here, I'm surprised it's not on a billboard somewhere), and would never do so.  
Out of curiosity, do you really think I could make the gilded bean dip comment & get away with it??
Anyway, thanks for your responses & for letting me get it off of my chest.  
« Last Edit: December 13, 2009, 11:29:56 PM by moimoi »

Veronica

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Re: Comments on standard of living??
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2009, 11:22:23 PM »
Sounds like a save up money and retire far away sort of place to me.   ;)

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moimoi

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Re: Comments on standard of living??
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2009, 11:24:18 PM »
Oh, Miss Veronica, don't you doubt that that is in the long-range plan!   ;)

MadMadge43

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Re: Comments on standard of living??
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2009, 11:41:17 PM »
Moimoi,

I feel your pain. People ARE doing calculations in their head. My life has been rather strange this past year and I've been spending money that I've saved many years for, that with a rather substantial inheritance I can sustain for a short period a really radical lifestyle, while maintaining the majority of my funds.

My friend who is a best selling author, and now also financially independent, told me to lie to people when I took my 8 month trip to Europe. So I told people I worked over the internet. What really sunk the point home that I should not let people know I could afford to take the time off- On the plane over I was seated next to a very sweet couple who were both 20 from England. I started to tell them my plans- Travel through Europe for a year, I had not yet came to the point where I was going to add that I would work from the computer (the lie) when the woman exclaimed for the entire plane to hear- "YOU MUST BE LOADED!"

Eventually though, I did have to let the people I became close to know that I wasn't really working, and I could see their minds start to calculate. Since I've been home and bought a house in a really good neighborhood and still don't have a job, you should hear the comments- "really? most people get jobs then buy houses", "how did you buy a house without a job?"

And truthfully, I can't blame them. I know my mind calculates things automatically. If it didn't I might not be able to do this  :-\.

So my advice, keep bean dipping. You might on occasion drop the line, "well, people do have different values and spend their money differently ..."

Deetee

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Re: Comments on standard of living??
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2009, 11:59:23 PM »
Meet new people.

There are a wide variety of people that I know, some of whom are rather well off, some of whom are stupid rich and I've never heard such comments, so it's quite possible to meet people who don't really care how much you make or how in debt you are or how tasteful your home is.

edit to add: And MadMadge, I'm suprised at the assumptions of your wealth based on your travelling. I took 6 months off and travelled and I am not independently wealthy by any stretch of any imigination. I saved money through grad school by being very, very frugal. It's amazing how much you can save when you drop your housing standards. Plenty of people travel for long periods of time with very little money.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2009, 12:02:37 AM by Deetee »

MadMadge43

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Re: Comments on standard of living??
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2009, 12:04:06 AM »
Yeah, but I'm 40 not 20, and didn't travel like a 20 year old.

Sophia

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Re: Comments on standard of living??
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2009, 12:16:27 AM »
I stumbled across something that helps when people think I should buy something expensive.  Tell people how much you love what you do have.  

Buy a new Mercedes?  Why would I want to do that?  I love my car.  

Live in the X neighborhood?  Why?  We have everything we could want where we are.  Imagine the stress of moving, and then having to fill up all those empty rooms we wouldn't use anyway.  I'd miss the warmth of my house.  

What to do about people that think you make a lot more than you do?  I don't know.  I might drop a hint about people living in debt, but I don't know small towns.  Haven't any of these people read The Millionaire Next Door?

moimoi

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Re: Comments on standard of living??
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2009, 08:04:40 AM »
I do know that there are other people out there:  this is the fourth town that I've lived in as an adult.  It is, however, the first small town I've lived in where such an emphasis is put on appearances- no, make that spending.  In other places, it was the manner in which you conduct yourself that made you acceptable company.  Here, a lottery winner's (new & improved) wife is one of the queen bees, and she makes Joy Turner on "My Name is Earl" look like Emily Post, although I will agree that she dresses slightly better than Joy ;).  
« Last Edit: December 15, 2009, 07:10:42 AM by moimoi »

PeasNCues

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Re: Comments on standard of living??
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2009, 08:11:40 AM »
Are we sure these people are in debt? Not living within their financial means? Pretentious and show-offy? My mother lives in a nice house. She likes nice things. She can afford it by giving up in some areas of her life and rebudgeting in others.

I guess what I am saying is that I see a lot of assumptions going around here as well as judgements on people who have nice/large houses.

Yes, they have a nice house. How is commenting on it making a judgement on anyone else? All I see it people acknowledging a fact that they made an investment into nice property. I think you might be reading something into comments that isn't there, OP.

Even if it is, a bean dip response would be appropriate.

That being said, I live in a crummy little 1 bedroom apartment. I could afford more, yes, but I am saving up to buy myself a small, but nice house. I'd hate to think that when I do, people are going to be assuming I live outside my means or that I am show-offy.
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mechtilde

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Re: Comments on standard of living??
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2009, 08:32:16 AM »
Any kind of hint or speculation as to the possible indebtedness of others is a really bad idea in a small community where news spreads fast. It could cause terrible damage not only to the other partners but possibly also to the business as well. I think the OP is quite right not to have said or hinted anything about the matter so far.

I do think that a response along the lines of "Oh yes, they do have a lovely house don't they" is probably the best way to go, and if the person they are talking to continues to question the OP about the other partners' living circumstances then similar bland statements can be made. "Yes it is a lovely car...Yes I understand that it is eight bedrooms...Oh quite, it is a huge hottub with solid gold taps which seats 28... " and so on. If they ask about the OP's own standard of living then I'd agree with the posters who suggest replies along the lines of "Oh we're happy as we are...with our house...such a nice reliable old car..." etc.

Mind you, I can understand the OP's feelings about such questions being asked. It must be very difficult, especially in a small town.
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moimoi

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Re: Comments on standard of living??
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2009, 09:56:58 AM »
Thanks, ladies.  Yes, PeasNCues, there is no doubt as to the indebtedness.  When one speaks constantly of their purchases (and their cost!), their 100% financed, interest-only mortgage plus HELOC of over 1-million (I suppose they're proud of it, but I consider it poor judgement), the "fact" that they don't get paid enough, wife becoming plastic, and picking up "freelance" work to pay down their debt.  While I've heard couple in question speak of their purchases, trips, cost, etc as though it were appropriate cocktail conversation to the majority of the town, only the firm members are "privileged" to the truth.
I do own a nice house.  I have nice things.  I have close family members who have far nicer & larger homes than I.  Some have worked hard, saved, & made good decisions & others are completely freaked out in the current economy, because all they have is debt.  I read somewhere that one should "act your wage".  There is no excuse for someone to be making upwards of 300k a year & complaining that there isn't enough money.  Not only that, but their debt puts the firm's assets at risk, as well. 
As I said earlier, I am not reading too much into this.   One of the details I chose not to speak of earlier was being asked, "Why do the Joneses live at x and you live at y?  You must be saving a whole lot of money."  I thought, I am saving some money, and I am not spending a whole lot of money, but I replied as mechtilde had suggested, "We're happy where we are."