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Thread: Personal finance and worry

  1. #1
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Personal finance and worry

    In the thread about Ramit Sethi, I relayed how he was working with a family that had a huge net income--45k/month, yet they are still very worried about finances because they are in the technology sector and they are afraid that their jobs will disappear... even though they could retire right now if their income stream dried up!

    Then there are people who live their whole lives without a thought to saving money and aren't worried about it.

    So I think it's interesting how everyone has a different "worry meter" when it comes to money. When do people start worrying about the state of their finances? How much/how little money does it take.. where is that tipping point?

    How about you? At what point would you start worrying about the financial side of your life, and why? What scares you? What drives that worry? Does it come from a cultural identity, as Ramit suggested with his clients, who were Indian immigrants? Does it come from messages you got from your parents? Does it come from a personal experience?

    When have you worried about money? What specific situation (i.e., job situation, specific amount of money in the bank) would trip your worry meter? How has that driven your life choices?

    Discuss.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    I will worry immensely about money when the Russians or the Chinese scramble all of our electronic signals and my wealth, which is represented digitally, goes proof.

    They only wealth assets we have that are tangible are our house, our condo, and that Iowa farm.

    As for day-to-day worry, I certainly don’t have that now. I sometimes have an ick feeling when I overspend on stupid cheap crap from China. When I buy something that has turned out to be yucky I have money regret.

    I look for a genuine enjoyment from the things I buy. Even though I’m spending obscene amounts of money these days, it doesn’t make a dent in our assets and so it is only “obscene “relative to how frugal we’ve been in the past.But yeah, at this time last year I ordered a new car over the phone with only a little bit of thought. But you know, it’s a mid range Ford so it’s not like it’s some top-of-the-line car.

    I am living the rich life Ramit wants me to live! I am living like no one else as Dave Ramsey wants me to live!
    Last edited by iris lilies; 4-10-24 at 5:00pm.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Ramit would ask me about the money habits of my family of origin. My father, who I identified heavily with, was very frugal. I remember him looking a little bit worried at times about our family doing certain things such as a two week stay at the lake rather than one week even though they had decent middle-class incomes. My mother worked. ( as an aside, I truly don’t understand the demographic my age —old! who had a mom who stayed home. it seems to me that all my friends and family had moms who worked, sometimes professional jobs, and sometimes “little “jobs but those little jobs were full-time. Is this a Midwestern thing? And I would say that DH’s mom didn’t have a job outside the home but she worked on the family farm and yeah that means she drove the tractor in addition to all of the farm wife chores.)
    Anyway – back to our regular discussion.

    so family of origin money values are key in developing our attitude about money. Ramit’s program has shown me that some people truly see money as coming and going and they have no control over it. That just horrifies me. How can anyone live like that? The wife in yesterday’s program was astonishing to me. She’s practically 40 years old and she has never taken any personal responsibility for supporting herself or managing money.
    I am not a serious person.

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    Senior Member kib's Avatar
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    Timely for me.

    Intellectually I know I don't need to worry. But for a long time I've felt vaguely nervous, that I need to "track" my net worth. I blame Joe Dominguez.

    Since a lot of that net worth is in assets whose market value fluctuates, there's a certain crazy-making to this. I can "gain" or "lose" $70K in a week and it won't make a bit of difference to my life, but if I "gain" or "lose" $700 IRL it's still exciting (or bothersome unless it got spent mindfully on something of value to us).

    As far as origins, my father was one of those people who would shudder at the thought of an "enough point". He suffered greatly in the Depression, even as a small child - at the age of five, I think he felt personally responsible for his family's struggles. He would spend on valuable things on occasion, but I think he was always terrified inside. I can relate.

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    Currently, I am not worried about money but that state of mind comes and goes. Large purchases make me nervous even though at this point I can pay for them. Issues about getting old and finances make me nervous because there is such uncertainty there. It bothers me that everything basic just keeps going up - utilities, insurance, food etc. I was raised with a Depression era mom who frugalized everything. That and an abhorrence of waste in general permeate my financial decisions.

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kib View Post
    Timely for me.

    Intellectually I know I don't need to worry. But for a long time I've felt vaguely nervous, that I need to "track" my net worth. I blame Joe Dominguez.

    Since a lot of that net worth is in assets whose market value fluctuates, there's a certain crazy-making to this. I can "gain" or "lose" $70K in a week and it won't make a bit of difference to my life, but if I "gain" or "lose" $700 IRL it's still exciting (or bothersome unless it got spent mindfully on something of value to us).

    As far as origins, my father was one of those people who would shudder at the thought of an "enough point". He suffered greatly in the Depression, even as a small child - at the age of five, I think he felt personally responsible for his family's struggles. He would spend on valuable things on occasion, but I think he was always terrified inside. I can relate.
    anyone over the age of 40 should be able to “track” their assets. Even if they just add them up in their head to see if they’re negative, zero, or positive it’s good enough for me, but I would have trouble having any respect for someone who couldn’t do at least that minimum.

    We “track” our assets by taking a snapshot of them every December 31 and then that’s it, I don’t look again.

    Last fall I did ask DH if he thought we’d be up or down over the previous year because I wanted to buy an expensive piece of pottery. He said it’s gonna be down but of course he was wrong and we were up over the previous year. I still did not buy the pottery
    Last edited by iris lilies; 4-11-24 at 11:01am.
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    I don't know you can ever stop worrying. Found out a good reason why the restaurant is having problems, is the idiot has gone back to gambling, and worse it looks like mostly scratch offs with one boat day (bets off could help with the boat, not scratch offs). His accident has allowed me to do a huge turn around in now the 12 days he has been off. Help, banker, etc. don't want him back.
    Then the 90+ year old that effectively was the reason the business started, has bought and given away as many as 5 houses the last couple of years, bought a million dollars worth of vehicles and given many of them away, and now has realized when his money watching guy, died pre 2020, nobody was watching his investments which went to hell, so now he is negative several hundred thousand dollars (had a car dealer come looking), and just tried to resell a building he already sold, and is being sued by the person that almost owns it now.

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    Senior Member kib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    anyone over the age of 40 should be able to “track their assets. Even if they just add them up in their head to see if they’re negative, zero, or positive it’s good enough for me, but I would have trouble having any respect for someone who couldn’t do at least that minimum.


    We “track” our assets by taking a snapshot of them every December 31 and then that’s it, I don’t look again.


    Last fall I did ask DH if he thought we’d be up or down over the previous year because I wanted to buy an expensive piece of pottery. He said it’s gonna be down but of course he was wrong and we were up over the previous year. I still did not buy the pottery.
    Why not? I contemplate buying expensive things and then breathe a sigh of relief when I change my mind.

    My situation is a bit different. My mother is 94 and still more or less compos mentis, but I'm her financial POA / accountant, and she's got a lot of assets. Even if I let go of my own hyper-vigilance (I pretty much track every day, at least a cursory glance to be sure nothing's gone off the rails), I carry this for her. Obviously I have a vested interest in making sure things stay on course, but mostly I'd just be devastated if anything happened to the money while she's alive.

    On the flip side of it, hubs has wanted me to be in charge of our / his money because he's "not good with money". (I can vouch for that, and frankly it's not a place I want to experiment.) He's Not in a position to be retired yet, so there's pressure on that side as well. So, drawdown for her, maintenance without drawdown for me, and wealth accumulation for him. Some days I feel very adult and finance savvy, and some days I want to run away with a bundle of $100 bills in a box.

    Should I worry? As you say, I have a lump in my throat every so often seeing how much of my wealth is just a number in a computer. My consolation is that if the digital world really falls apart, everyone else is going down with me, but I'll admit there's a part of me that's furious with myself for not being more adamant about accumulating Physical wealth (e.g. being off grid, growing more food, etc.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkytoe View Post
    Currently, I am not worried about money but that state of mind comes and goes. Large purchases make me nervous even though at this point I can pay for them. Issues about getting old and finances make me nervous because there is such uncertainty there. It bothers me that everything basic just keeps going up - utilities, insurance, food etc. I was raised with a Depression era mom who frugalized everything. That and an abhorrence of waste in general permeate my financial decisions.
    I relate to this response a lot right now.

    With pending retirement for both dh and myself, I am VERY nervous/worried about finances! I am more of a "I believe it when the money is in hand" type of person and am nervous that the numbers we looked at several months ago will not materialize when we actually need them.

    I also agree with kib here: "but I'll admit there's a part of me that's furious with myself for not being more adamant about accumulating Physical wealth (e.g. being off grid, growing more food, etc.)"

    I REALLY hope we are able to downsize to a space I can do the above - especially since I feel I will have the time to invest in such things AFTER retirement.
    To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer." Mahatma Gandhi
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  10. #10
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    Ramit would ask me about the money habits of my family of origin. My father, who I identified heavily with, was very frugal. I remember him looking a little bit worried at times about our family doing certain things such as a two week stay at the lake rather than one week even though they had decent middle-class incomes. My mother worked. ( as an aside, I truly don’t understand the demographic my age —old! who had a mom who stayed home. it seems to me that all my friends and family had moms who worked, sometimes professional jobs, and sometimes “little “jobs but those little jobs were full-time. Is this a Midwestern thing? And I would say that DH’s mom didn’t have a job outside the home but she worked on the family farm and yeah that means she drove the tractor in addition to all of the farm wife chores.)
    Anyway – back to our regular discussion.


    some people truly see money as coming and going and they have no control over it. That just horrifies me. .
    That's DH. In fact he frequently says exactly that: "Who cares?? Money comes and money goes." But this has been a lifelong attitude for him, even with a mother who was so frugal she would wait in a customer service line to correct a .15 mistake in the store's favor, and she would bring her own tea bags to restaurants and ask them for hot water. I don't get it. And as you said that attitude conveys a sense of powerlessness that is just false.

    The financial program I signed up with had a fairly rigorous module on uncovering where your attitudes about money come from, and frankly, My family-of-origin lived out DH's philosophy. We lived in a 50s suburban neighborhood but wore hand-me-downs; we were broke in the early 60s after the divorce; middle-class and doing fine but far from flush in the late 60s; early 70s wantonly extravagant after my stepfather received an inheritance; and then back full circle when stepfather resumed his drug and alcohol addiction--back to the crapper. And as I've said many times here, my mother died penniless.

    So that module I worked through uncovered a tremendous ambivalence about money which is probably no surprise to most of you. On the one hand, I find great solace and wisdom in this Buddhist poem (which I think I've posted here before):

    Like a snail, I carry my humble zendō with me.
    It is not as small as it looks
    For the boundless sky joins it
    When I open a window.
    If one has no idea of limitation,
    He should enjoy real freedom.
    A nameless monk may not have the New Year callers to visit him,
    But the morning sun hangs above the slums.
    It will be honorable enough to receive the golden light from the east.

    But OTOH, I have always felt a responsibility to provide everything materially for my children that was given to me, not by my parents, but by my grandparents and aunts and uncles. I am grateful that I was able to check off undergraduate education for all four kids, cheap cars for all four when they started driving, weddings paid for. Plus annual family vacations including a once-in-lifetime trip to Scotland for 7 people.

    It's not that I'm proud of that accomplishment--I'm more relieved. I would have felt a weird sense of shame if I had been unable to do that for them even though in my head I recognize I did not HAVE to be the one to give them all that. I think that, in addition to me needing badly to identify with my more affluent relatives, it's carryover shame from when I was in the crapper in the 50s/60s/80s/90s. As for me, I know I would not need much. My kids are always saying to me, Mom, you need X. Mom, why don't I buy you Z? And I refuse them all the time.

    I also worry now that I will tip back into shamedom (I know that's not a word, but it captures my feeling of living in a state of shame, as opposed to a temporary feeling) if I dropped dead and left them with any debt to clean up after I'm gone. Beyond that, I don't care if I leave them with little-to-no cash, and I'm happy that they will inherit our house, as humble as it is.

    One may say, and I wouldn't argue, that if I had been more realistic about what I could give the kids I'd be in a better position today. Of course, I did have that wild card mess in 2007-2010 when I had to carry my MIL's house during the housing bust/recession. That alone cost me, all told, probably .5M. So I do the best I can, and I am trying NOT to worry. I ONLY worry about being unable to clear debt at this point.

    Thanks everyone for your replies.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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