Where da rich peeps at?

*Fabulously Broke tweeted this image yesterday and I thought it was too good to pass up*

Being broke is trendy. Seriously, I think it’s the new black. I guess this is no surprise, being that the national savings rate is a measly 3%. Let’s be honest: If you ain’t broke, you aint cool. Wait. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Why is it “okay” to be broke, but taboo to be rich?

For example, a little over a year ago I was worth -$2,000. I could care less who knew I had a negative net worth, but now that I’m sitting pretty in the positives, I’ve realized I’ve become a lot more reserved when it comes to discussing my financial life. I have a fear that my peers will think I’m bragging or even worse, that they will begin comparing themselves to me. Basically, I don’t want them to judge or make assumptions about me, based off my account balances.

But honestly, we are ALL guilty of sizing people up from time to time. Dave Ramsey, for example, is one person that isn’t shy about labeling himself as wealthy and successful. Just about every time he does this my immediate reaction is “Wow Dave, a little arrogant today aren’t you?” But then I actually thought about what he said and I had an epiphany: Dave’s not bragging, he’s being honest. He is rich and he is successful. And ya know what? There ain’t nothin’ wrong with it baby! Mad props to you Mr. Ramsey, mad props.

I’m realizing it’s totally possible to be wealthy and humble at the same time. With a net worth of $41,000 I’m obviously not BIG BALLER STATUS yet, but seeing that the median net worth for a 24 year old is $1,475, I’m definitely ahead of the curve. Gosh even saying that makes me feel arrogant.

Has anyone else found themselves becoming more embarrassed by their net worth as it increases? Have you ever felt like someone was judging you, just because you make a lot of money? Why is it easy to say “I’m broke”, but difficult to say “I’m doing great”?

29 thoughts on “Where da rich peeps at?

  1. Net worth is relative. Compared to the rich, I’m poor. Compared to the poor, I’m rich. To keep myself humble I’m always comparing my net worth to the rich. I’m surprised you feel wealthy living in San Diego. The cost of living seems so high that I would think you would feel poor. Nice comic of Jobs and Gates btw.

    • Oh, I don’t think I’m rich by American standards, but compared to the average 24 year old I am better off than most. Trust me, I definitely don’t feel wealthy here in San Diego.

  2. I think talking about bank account balances is considered impolite by some. People prefer to talk about talk about more innocuous stuff like the weather or who won the last sports game. Or what about those people at work who only know how to talk about work stuff even when you’re out having a beer?

    Since you regularly talk about money, salaries, religion, sex, (why not throw politics into the mix?), I don’t think you’re the polite dinner conversation type.

    For the record, I like talking about more meaty stuff, to challenge the brain, so that naturally limits the type of people who want to hang out with me and vice versa.

  3. I’m going to post this “Why is it easy to say “I’m broke”, but difficult to say “I’m doing great”?” as my FB status 🙂

  4. Hey, BUDGETS are the new black, don’t you know. Ha! I have definitely noticed that I am quick to outline the details of our debt, but not with our savings. I have been giving thought to this more and more as our debt has decreased and we are reaching our goals… I am simply not keen to share the positive numbers so readily as I was the negative ones. Hmm…

  5. I think a lot of people who are in debt (and not trying to get out of it) assume that everyone is in debt, and that they always will be, so to point out the errors in these assumptions by pointing out your own success totally shakes the worldview that allows them to feel okay about what they’re doing. This is quite uncomfortable for others, and generally, as social beings, I think most of us try to avoid making other people feel badly.

    • Right on!

      I think there are many people who are so deep in debt that they don’t want to admit to themselves that they messed up and refuse to change their spending habits. They have to be angry about other people’s success because it shows that it is possible to build wealth, if you want it bad enough.

      There’s also the group that thinks being poor or living paycheck to paycheck is somehow virtuous. It’s not.

  6. I don’t know what my friends’ networths or incomes are so I don’t feel anything in comparison to them. I judge myself by my own standards so I feel neither arrogant or poor or embarassed but know that I need to keep working on my financial freedom. My networth makes me proud because I know I’ve come a long way and I worked very hard for what I have and where I’m going.

  7. There’s a weird dynamic in my office, because we all know exactly how much the other person makes. Since I’m with the federal government, all of our salaries are available online for anyone to see.

    It makes for some strange judgments aroudn the office. “She’s going WHERE? No way can she afford that!” or “What do you mean you’re too dirt-broke to go to that restaurant? We know how much you make!”.

    Since I’m still relatively low on the totem pole, I get a raised eyebrow if I mention “investments”. It was in a completely different context, but then someone asked me how on earth I could afford to invest. It was a strange sort of teachable moment… “well, since I sock away half my salary every month into savings, it has started to build up!”

  8. Unfortunately, in our money-driven society, the love of which (as someone once said) is the root of all evil, how much one earns and

    one’s net worth can be easily used as a weapon against the less fortunate. There are many people whom I don’t much respect who

    undoubtedly earn much more than I do; on the other hand, one of my most brilliant friends is a college teacher not much younger

    than I who earns about $32K a year at age 55 – but he has no “marketable” skills.

    There was a discussion on Financial Samurai about a 30-year-old who earns about $300,000 a year and thinks he is not doing

    unusually well for Manhattan. I find it hard to sympathize when people’s ideas about money get so skewed that they can actually

    believe something like this.

    Others can do what they like, but I was brought up to believe there are two things a gentleman never mentions: what he earns, and one other measurement you can figure out for yourself. Certainly in the workplace environment you should never share your salary information with any of your co-workers. One middle manager in my experience had a habit of telling co-workers “I am doing much better than you are.” That person did not make friends for himself.

  9. My husband and I talk about this all the time. Its like we should be punished for getting degrees and making a decent living. I have a friend that actually told me we were dumb to aggressively pay down our house when we could have just let it go into foreclosure and make a deal to get it cheaper. Financial responsibility is going out the door, and beating the system is the new thing to do.

    I am so sick of how the ‘rich’ should be paying more for this and that. You know what? Nobody helped pay for me to go to college, nobody gave us free money to get housing. Nobody gave us free money so I could stay home with my kids instead of working. We worked ourselves to death to get to where we are, and I don’t feel like we should have to subsidize everyone that is just taking advantage of the system. I have 100 percent sympathy for those who are unemployed and struggling. It is those that are cheating that make me so mad.

    Off my soapbox now…

  10. I think the hard part with talking about money is that it is quantifiable and yet it represents so much that is unquantifiable. Those who may earn less may start to question either themselves or why the other person earns what they earn.

    A person’s compensation package represents not just what the company is going to get out of the person right now, but what it plans on getting out of them in the future based on that person’s education, work experience, hobbies, skills, personality, etc. Compensation may also be based on past compensation which may have at one time been inflated by a company aggressively trying to recruit.

    None of this information is conveyed when you mention how much you make, it is all just boiled down to a number. I think that is why there is the taboo of talking about money as it is hard for someone to see the justification of why you earn what you earn.

    When I talk with my friends about money we try to focus on how to improve each others finances through budgeting and tracking and not worry about why I may make more or less than they do.

  11. The closer I get out of debt the harder it is to talk about with friends. When I just graduated I had no troubles sharing that I was over $30K in debt. Weird isn’t it? I think it’s about modesty though. Kind of. It’s rude to brag and it’s annoying when someone talks so highly of themselves. It makes you feel bad.

    Also in high school if I bought a nice shirt for $40 I wouldn’t want to tell anyone the price. But if I bought a decent shirt for $7 on sale I would want to share my deal with them. People are strange…

  12. So this may be a stretch but I’m going to try and relate this to running…well cause that’s probably what I know best. I feel that your financial status is much like running races, ultimately you do it for your own benefit (there’s not a whole lot of glory in the sport of running, much like PF, unless of course you’re one of the best in the world). I always loved the feeling of racing because you get to see your sacrifices pay off, dropping a time in a race and getting a PR (personal record) is the most satisfying thing…much like meeting a financial goal. Of course part of racing is competition against others, but the sport of running is much different in that you don’t work yourself up to hate your opponent but rather use him as a measuring bar and a motivator along the way. Sure winning races is a huge boost and you feel proud for that moment but in the nature of running, you win some races and lose others…so enjoy the moments when you’re up (or ahead of your peers) but realize that there will be some points where they may boost ahead of you.

    Although, it makes life way more enjoyable if you have someone or a group of individuals who are like minded in a similar pursuit (i.e. running or PF) because you can play off each others strengths and weaknesses, wins and losses (some of my best friends were training partners or my toughest competitors)…I think the important distinction is ensuring that the people you share your endeavors with are pursuing similar ones, otherwise they won’t necessarily understand your passion towards it (i.e. me talking about running to people who aren’t interested is completely pointless, unless you want to see some boring faces haha)

    Hope my analogy didn’t suck too bad 🙂

    • Also, on a side note…Maybe something you could suggest in upcoming posts DN

      Does anyone have any PF goals or have a recent PR so to speak?

      It is nice to set goals and feel proud or get recognized for attaining them (more motivation to set and achieve new ones)!!

  13. I actually think (and maybe this has changed) that people don’t like to admit their broke, and in doing so they make things worse. Like, I’m broke and I’m having a baby and instead of buying a 2nd hand cot, I have to have new , because otherwise I will look broke. And in doing so they make the situation worse.
    Living within your means, whatever those means are has become a lost skill, and it is great that people are starting to re-learn it.
    I also think fianances are private – my father-in-law would love to know my financial details and it bums him out when I point out that that is private! But I also think if you are doing well, be proud.

  14. All my life I’ve fantasized about winning the lottery, and the first thing I figured that I would do with my winnings is “pay off” all the people in my life so that I wouldn’t feel guilty about my fortune. Be real, how many of you have done the same thing?

    Since I started my journey towards financial freedom my fantasies have changed. Instead of thinking about the people I would pay off I think about the people I’ll be able to help once I can start accumulating savings. Instead of feeling ashamed and desperate to placate those who would be envious, I feel proud and empowered to help those who deserve it.

    This shift in perspective seems relevant to this article. There is nothing to be ashamed about for clawing yourself out of debt and saving your way to wealth, and we should all be proud of the sacrifices that we are making to get there. In the end you’ll be an inspiration or a blessing to those who are ready for a change in their own lives. Those who would resent you for your success are likely projecting insecurities about THEMSELVES onto you, and there’s really not much that can turn them around short of them helping themselves.

    -DB

    P.S. Here’s a secret message that only ninjas can read:

  15. I have the opposite problem…I seem to judge people that have negative net worths even though they make enough to be VERY wealthy. So no, I don’t feel bad posting our net worth every month…I’m proud of our progress and I love explaining what we did to make our net worth grow or what we did that caused it to decrease (this month may be the first that I’ll have to look at that angle thanks to the stock market, my sick Pug, and the vacation we just paid for in advance…ouchy).

  16. is it that people who make money don’t like you to know because they might be judged you or expect them to lend you money?

    lending a friend money can be a friendly gesture but i recommend being careful as this is why we have financial institutions.

  17. I think that it is easier to talk about debt and other financial flaws because it puts you in the pack with everyone else. However, once you become disciplined with your finances people become self-conscious about their own lack of discipline. The same is true when your net worth increases – most people aren’t used to that happening (they are used to borrowing and buying)!

    It is possible to be wealthy, disciplined and humble all at the same time – especially if you understand that God is the owner of it all anyway and we are just stewards!

  18. I always felt net worth was a rather arbitrary figure. While it does offer a ballpark idea of what someone’s doing financially, but it’s like comparing a website’s alexa rank; it’s all too inaccurate. A perfect example are a lot of assets that people tack on, like cars and homes, yet winding up into all kinds of debt that blow their cash flow out of the expense column.

    I always figured a monthly income statement was a much better way of gauging someone’s financial situation than the net worth. Net worth is more like an assessment of possessions than it is a yardstick of how rich someone is.

  19. I like to tell people I’m broke even if I have a few thousand sitting in my checking and a couple more thousand in savings and all the bills are paid for the month. Its just so much easier than trying to explain why I don’t want to go out and spend a ton of money on crap I don’t need.

    Of course, I have debt and no matter how many thousands of dollars I have in my bank accounts, I kinda AM broke. When I make it out of debt, I’m not going to be ashamed of my success and you can bet I’ll be sharing my accomplishments with the entire world. Even the random guy on the street will know I’m outta debt! 😉

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