Monday, April 6, 2009
Is she poor like us?
Ack. That took me by surprise because we are not poor. Nor are we rich. We are solidly middle class and work very hard for our money. The money we earn, however, is spoken for. Each month we labor to meet our obligations and are squeaking by. We also don’t want to work any harder and thus refuse to add unnecessary stuff to our lives (cell phones, gaming systems, fancy clothing). We are frugal and we talk about money a lot. We strive to decrease our debt, increase our savings and have greater financial security (which is easier said than done).
For now my kids live with the motto “what you see is what you get.” But perhaps they’re too young to really see. We have a lot; a house in a nice neighborhood, two cars, food on the table, money for extracurricular activities and our health to name a few. Instead they see Goodwill clothing (albeit often brand new), boring meals at home and a lack of electronic acoutrements.
Our frugal behavior stands in stark contrast to many people we know. This week we have friends in town. These friends live a much different life than us. They shop at Nordstrom's, we shop at thrift stores. They eat out at least once a week, we don’t. In the time they’ve been here they’ve skied more than us though we’re the ones living near a ski resort. Their kids took ski lessons. I nearly had a heart attack buying two reduced price lift tickets ($29.00 a piece) and elected to teach the five-year-old myself. They drive a Mercedes. I drive a Honda. She’s worried about loss of sleep after the birth of their third child and plans to get a nanny. We don’t have a nanny nor can we justify preschool. I plan to sleep in 2011. We don’t have a house cleaner or a gardener. I don’t get regular pedicures and massages. The list goes on and on.
How much money do our friends make? I don’t know. They live as if they have money. I worry that they don’t. We live as if we don’t have money and I worry that we won’t.
This week the kids have been watching our friends spend. Are they jealous? No. My beautiful children think our friends are irresponsible. Hallelujah! They are learning. But in light of my daughter’s recent comments I wonder if my children are being left with the wrong impression about frugality. We are not frugal because we are poor. We are frugal because we don’t want to be poor. There is a difference.