Babci and Talking about Money

by Sandy L on May 13, 2011

How many home computers does it take to toast a router in 7 months?  Apparently 3.   This week has been plagued with connectivity issues which is a killer when you have Vontage and work from a home office.  What’s worse is that I didn’t even suspect the router at first because it was still so new. The good news is that it was still under the regular mfg’s warranty and I got my money back.  Hopefully this latest router will last a little longer. I even bought the extended warranty at Best Buy because it seems that we go through routers like cheap shoes around here.

Babci’s Favorite Money Sayings

Today, I thought it would be fun to recall some of Babci’s favorite sayings about money.  Here they are in no particular order.

  1. If you talk to yourself, that means you have money in the bank.
  2. Never tell anyone how much money you have.
  3. If someone goes to church with long painted fingernails and lots of jewelry, look behind their fingernails to see how much dirt is there.
  4. Potential inheritance + multiple siblings = Trouble.  No money = Nothing to fight over
  5. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

If you talk to yourself, that means you have money in the bank.

This has got to be one of the first sayings I remembered hearing as a kid.  The gist of the saying was that having money will drive you insane because it means you have something to worry about and protect.  Being wealthy will inevitably make you crazy in some way because there was always some bandit or unsavory friend or family member that will try to figure out how to take it from you.

I suppose that since no one in my mom’s family has ever been wealthy, it was easy and comforting to convince ourselves that money is evil and leads to no good.
Never tell anyone how much money you have.

Babci thinks that there is no good to sharing your financial situation with people.  The reason is that people fall into 3 categories.  They either don’t care, they are better off than you and feel superior, or worst off than you and feel jealous and resentful.

People have certain expectations about what your generosity should be and scrutinize your spending and/or lack of it if they know you’re financial status.  If you make six figures and drive a beater, they assume you’re a miser.  If you’re near poverty level but lease or buy a new car, people think you’re a blooming idiot.

If someone goes to church with long painted fingernails and lots of jewelry, look behind their fingernails to see how much dirt is there.

This is the classic, don’t judge a book by it’s cover analogy.  Not everyone who is outwardly well off, is actually that way in reality.  I know I personally have made assumptions about people’s income based on their spending habits and I was way way off.

Babci also has this impression that people who try to look rich and aren’t are dirty.  She hates perfume for that fact. Whenever she smells strong perfume, she instantly suspects that someone is using it to cover their BO and gets offended that they are violating her personal space by stinking up the joint.  She’s like “how inconsiderate that this person is giving me a headache because they were too lazy to shower.”

Potential inheritance + multiple siblings = Trouble.  No money = Nothing to fight over

Unfortunately Babci and I have witnessed this more times than I can count….even well before someone is worm food.  This one is self explanatory.   Potential inheritance should be considered a windfall and not your personal retirement savings plan.  One of my biggest pet peeves is the sense of entitlement people feel towards their parent’s money.  I for one would prefer that my mom stays healthy and keeps her money for as long as possible.

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

Like with an inheritance, there are many kids who bank on that money while their parents are still quite alive and kicking.  It’s dangerous to assume that money that is not yours won’t be used for something that the money earner needs like  medical bills, long term care, a dream vacation, charity, etc. 

Where do I stand?

I have actually talked about my financial status to people I feel close to.  I love talking about saving money, budgeting and finding deals, but that’s not the same as sharing  your net worth.  In general people seem to be more receptive to listening to people crying the blues about money, than talking about growing their nest eggs.  There are a number of blogs I can think of where the readership lost touch with a writer when they transitioned over from being red to black on their financial balance sheets.  Not everyone is inspired by their life changes.

I have picked up a lot of my mother’s habits in this regard.  The casual clothes I wear when I’m not working are very basic.  My kids wear patches on their pants. In fact, I was loaning some  kid clothes to my neighbor and all but one pair of jeans in that tote bin had patches.  I didn’t give her any because most people would be ashamed of that, but I really feel it’s fine.  Plus, it seems a whole lot easier to give a pair of jeans to babci to mend than it does to go clothes shopping.  Clothes shopping is such a time suck. I swear my patched clothing is less about money savings than it is about time.

I don’t think I’ve gone so far as trying to hide my socioeconomic status. I still feel like I’m a poor person at heart and that there’s nothing wrong to being frugal so that I can enjoy other things in life stress free.

What about you?  Do you act your income?

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

eemusings May 13, 2011 at 5:38 AM

I don’t really think I do. Huge generalisation coming up…but other 20somethings I know spend a fair bit on clothes, booze, going out, drugs… where T and I usually have a combined eating out budget of about $50 a week and drink maybe once every couple of months. Helps that I have a somewhat unsociable work schedule, I guess.

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Sandy L May 13, 2011 at 5:51 AM

eemusings – I was lucky that my first job out of college and the place I’m still at today is in a smallish town, so the “nightlife” options were limited. I’ve never spent a lot on drinking out. We tend to have more house parties with our crowd. It’s cheaper, easier and there is no last call.

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Jacq May 13, 2011 at 7:57 AM

It sucks that (some of us) only love Oprah when she’s overweight and struggling with it. ;-) For a very broad generalization, I find that those people who are encouraging when you do well or fail a bit are the types that tend to do well themselves. Criticizing someone else that perseveres and succeeds with their goals says more about the person criticizing than it does about the person that’s doing well.

Re. patches – I’m too lazy for that and they turn in to cut-offs. It’s a glorious day when kids get out of that stage of having to connect their knees with the earth on a constant basis.

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Sandy L May 13, 2011 at 7:55 PM

Jacq – I would be too lazy to do patches too. Luckily my mom loves mending clothes for the kids. So true about critical people.

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Nicole May 13, 2011 at 8:13 AM

Love the sayings!

I think we act how people who have our income and wealth *should* act, but probably not how most with our income actually do. If we could be guaranteed our high salaries and raises each year for the end of time, we could probably afford to spend more money! But rather than taking a huge spending cut in the future if times go bad, I’m happy with the “enough” we’ve found for ourselves. We live very comfortably and are able to spend on whatever we care about (except for having our ideal lives in the SF bay area… but we’d need at least 10 million in the bank for that).

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Sandy L May 13, 2011 at 7:58 PM

Nicole – right. I’ve lived through and knock on wood survived layoffs every 2 years for the last 15. I can’t say I ever feel secure in my industry, so I have to remain cautious.

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retirebyforty May 13, 2011 at 8:14 AM

I’m trying to act my future income since it will be way down when I quit my job. ;)

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Sandy L May 13, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Rb40- I’m loving hearing about your journey.

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MoneyCone May 13, 2011 at 10:18 AM

I don’t know about #1, but I’m going to agree with rest of Babci’s thoughts on money!

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Sandy L May 13, 2011 at 8:00 PM

Regarding #1, I never said all her sayings were rational, but it is at least original.

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Linda May 13, 2011 at 10:55 AM

I’m not sure if I’m “acting my income.” I guess that depends on who’s making the determination. I spend less than I earn, so *I* think I’m acting my income. Seems like many people think that acting your income means having the “right” car or the biggest house you can afford (according to the mortgage broker or bank). I very likely don’t fit that defintion of “acting my income.”

Oh, and I’ve been talking to myself for a long time, but I don’t think I’ve always had much of a surplus in the bank. I must have broken that rule.

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Sandy L May 13, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Linda – I don’t take much stock in #1 either. I think a lot of people act like they are middle class whether they are or not.

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Little House May 13, 2011 at 6:58 PM

I don’t know about #1 since I often talk to myself when I’m working out a problem, but I completely agree with 2-5! ;) I think talking about budgeting and saving money is quite different than displaying net worth. I get turned off when I see net worth graphs only because they don’t mean much to me – it means more to me knowing what strategies people are using to meet their goal. Then I can apply the ones that work for me towards my goals. I guess I’m much more concerned with how to get from point A to point B than with what actually happens once I get there. ;)

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Sandy L May 13, 2011 at 8:04 PM

Little House – agreed. I don’t think the absolute numbers are as interesting to me as are people’s journey’s towards their goals.

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Deidre May 14, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Interesting story about the router and I’m glad you got it replaced under warranty. Good to know that there is a threshold to the number of computers that can be plugged into it as the manual never (or used to never) advise what the maximum number is.

~~~Babci thinks that there is no good to sharing your financial situation with people. The reason is that people fall into 3 categories. They either don’t care, they are better off than you and feel superior, or worst off than you and feel jealous and resentful.~~~

Have to completely agree with Babci on this one. I’ve been in both situations. Being completely and utterly broke and having ‘comfortable’ money. I made the mistake of disclosing that I was in a comfortable situation and could tell the other person was almost immediately jealous of the fact, and even resentful. After that happened, no matter what situation I was in financially, I never disclosed or hinted about what my status was. Having said that, yes…I’ve discussed saving, 401-K’s, budgeting etc but not as far as what I had or didn’t have in the bank :)

People really do covet what they see – even if it is subconciously. If they cannot see it (or hear) then they cannot covet.

Great post as always Sandy!

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Sandy L May 17, 2011 at 7:09 PM

Deidre – I had someone find my income through unscrupulous methods and I later heard about it through a 3rd party. The other danger is that they can gossip about you to others too.

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Sandy @ Journey To Our Home May 14, 2011 at 6:58 PM

I totally agree with number 3- never tell people how much money you have. I have a few close people I feel comfortable sharing dollar amounts with, but for the most part the people around us feel like we should be helping them out. We have a significant amount in savings since we are saving to build a home and even knowing a percentage makes them want us to loan them money (that we both know they will never actually repay regardless of promising too).

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Sandy L May 17, 2011 at 7:13 PM

Sandy – yes and some people skip the loan phase and just want handouts or have an expectation for a certain amount of gifts. Luckily those folks aren’t part of my life anymore.

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Everyday Tips May 15, 2011 at 1:35 PM

We totally don’t act our income, and we don’t discuss our incomes with anyone either. We so want financial freedom that wasting money on image is totally at the bottom of our list.

Love the Babci sayings, as always. I just love her ‘down home’ belief system.

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Sandy L May 17, 2011 at 7:14 PM

Everyday Tips – I love that line “wasting money on image.” I prefer to have the bar set low myself.

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Jackie May 15, 2011 at 2:06 PM

I loved reading your musings today. Such simple statements that have a profound truth behind them. I too tend to patch my kids clothes to keep them going. My daugher loves to use different fabrics to make patches out of and “decorate” her jeans in this way.

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Sandy L May 17, 2011 at 7:16 PM

Jackie – girl clothes are so much more fun. Even mending them! I’m jealous, although I keep telling myself that graphic T’s and jeans are much cheaper than girl outfits.

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Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer May 15, 2011 at 5:57 PM

I’m acting my future income like Joe. It’s easy when I putting a lot towards debt snowball.

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Sandy L May 17, 2011 at 7:17 PM

Kay Lynn – nothing wrong with that. It just gets you that much closer to retirement.

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Molly On Money May 16, 2011 at 8:07 AM

I can’t decide which one of these are my favorites?!
After my last grandparent died and I found my sister fighting over items that were left to me (I gave her whatever she felt was owed to her). At the time I thanked god my parents would probably died with just enough $ in the bank to bury them.

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Sandy L May 17, 2011 at 7:18 PM

Molly – You’re so right. It’s not just the financial component that makes inheritance complicated, but also the emotional baggage of favoritism, etc. I’m glad I’m an only child.

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Squirrelers May 16, 2011 at 1:00 PM

I enjoy reading about Babci’s wisdom and perspectives. These are interesting money sayings.

All are interesting, #1 through 5. I might not go along with #1 entirely, but I think I get the perspective there and think there’s something there. For #2, I agree and am usually close to the vest, but I do share private information with those who are family and closest to me. With everybody else, even if I like/respect/care for them, I just don’t feel like sharing exact dollar amounts – which is probably aligned with how many of us are actually.

#3 through #5 I have to totally go with 100%. So very true.
#3 – Can’t judge a book by it’s cover and we often have no idea what someone’s life or financial life is really like just based on appearances. #4 – When it comes to dividing up money, otherwise loving siblings and relatives can be divided and relationships negatively impacted over jealousies and competitiveness. Money has a way of impacting relationships in this way, unfortunately. Not always of course, thankfully. But it can.
#5 – Don’t count on something unless you have it in your possession. A promise, hope, or assumption doesn’t equal cash in hand.

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Sandy L May 17, 2011 at 7:21 PM

Squirreler – #4, see my comment to Molly. I do share details with Babci and my MIL…especially when they want to buy us stuff. I really want them to take care of themselves first and worry about me and the kids second. Just because my kids have patched clothes doesn’t mean we can’t afford new ones. It probably just means I’m too lazy to go shopping.

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krantcents May 16, 2011 at 8:37 PM

I think I act below my income! I drive a 16 year old car(my wife has a14 year old) and live in a modest home. We dine at modest restaurants, get discount movie tickets and search for travel deals. Some of my friends are millionaires and they do the same things because we do it together.

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Sandy L May 17, 2011 at 7:23 PM

Krantcents – 16 year old car…that’s a record for me. I’m impressed. Funny how I’m more impressed with people who have super old cars than new ones. You know what they say…you’re the average of your 5 closest friends. If you’re not a millionaire yet, I’m sure you will be eventually.

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Money Reasons May 17, 2011 at 5:24 PM

I agree with most of what Babci says, especially “Never tell anyone how much money you have.”

If I were rich, nobody would know it. Oh I would blog about it like the blogger at freemoneyfinance, but my friends would be clueless.

If you saw me in my old, beatup 2003 Chevy Malibu, you’d think I was broke. I guess I’m a product of my childhood. Raggy cloths and all :) It is different with my kids though, they will be a higher socioeconomic level that I was (or at least I hope).

As long as I have good vacations and occasionally go out to eat where I like (not necessarily expensive places either), I’m content…

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Sandy L May 17, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Money Reasons – we are so alike when it comes to finances, it’s scary. I have jeans that are 15 years old…and some painting/work ones that are even older. My work clothes are a little different, but some of my casual clothes are pretty rag tag. Ditto on vacations and eating out.

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