Why Me?

I often ask myself why, without any concrete financial role models in my life, I became the financially repsonsible person in my family. Admittedly, I was raised by a grandmother who was not frugal, but cheap. And when I mean cheap, I mean cheap; the cheapest of everything from soap to toilets. Quality was not even an issue for her. For her, it was all about the lowest price. Her motto was, 'If you have a dollar, save a quarter.' And while I never strived to be that extreme and am definitely not cheap (because 'cheapest' comes with its own set of problems that my grandmother learned the hard way), I somehow got "it"; don't ask me how or why because I don't know. My sister, who was also raised by my grandmother, didn't get "it", in my very humble opinion. Don't get me wrong, my sister is financially responsible in her own way. But, she is the type that likes the latest and greatest of most things. She is not in debt (that I know of). But, she is one of those "I work hard, so I deserve it" people.

My sister and I couldn't be more different financially--although, I would say we are the two most financially responsible in the family. I attribute our financial independence on the fact that we didn't exactly have quality parents, hence living with the grandmother. My sister and I both are single, no kids and are both homeowners. My home, although, could have been smaller, is reasonable in size and cost. My sister, on the other hand, has a HUGE house. Based on my expenses I can live comfortably from only one paycheck and save and invest the other. My sister on the other hand, has taken on a second job because she wants to "build up her savings". Here's the catch: Her home is in Hammond, LA, which is a suburb of New Orleans and a 45 minute drive. Her full-time job is from 8 to 5, from which she goes to my grandmother's home and sleeps from 5:30pm to 10:30pm, then goes to a second job from 11pm to 7am. Then, she returns to my grandmother's to change for her full-time job. She does this Monday-Thursday. She never needed to build up her savings until she bought the big house. So, basically she is currently spending her entire life working in order to pay for the big house that she is NOT even living in. When I question her choices, she says the work situation is only temporary.

Every financial decision I've made, I've told my sister about it in hopes that she would get on board. But, needless to say, she has a different mentality than me; which is fine--no judgement. Everyone is entitled to be who they are and make their own choices. For me, money is not about material possessions. Instead, in my mind, money is about security and freedom. I never want to be stuck in a job I hate, stuck in a bad relationship, forced to borrow money, etc because of my financial choices. This is just my own personal logic. But, I often ask myself why do I think this way, but no one else in my family?

I know part of the answer is I've always been inquisitive--about EVERYTHING. As a result, I became a ferocious reader. At some point, I found personal finance books and my journey started. I've always studied successful people, both in real life and from TV and biographies. But, don't most people do this in some fashion, no matter how small?

So, what do you think the difference is between people who see money as a tool/asset and those who view it as a means to material possessions? If you are a PFer, what do you think is the difference for you? I ask because I still haven't figured it out...


  1. Annienygma said...
    wow.. I knew a teacher like that once.. she worked at school during the day and closed at the local McD at night. Her husband had a very well-paying factory job but, as she explained to me, they could barely afford food after all of their finance payments.

    The house payment was 2 grand a month, the car payment another $500, then the furniture payments (of course they had to have new furniture) besides their regular bills.

    I never met the husband--he was always working. She took every extra hour at the fast food place that the managers would give her and you could literally feel the exhaustion radiating from her body.

    I never forgot that woman...
    Divine and Debt Free said...
    Wow, I certainly can identify with being "house poor" Even though I attempted to buy a small home in the end taxes crept up n got me leaving me at 45% of my take home pay. If I had the wisdom and unstubborness I probably would have waiting to buy a home.

    People dont realize that when they purchase too much house they are digging their own grave slowly. I never want to work so much I don't get to enjoy my home, its not worth it in the end, its the people who live in it who make the house a home. I plan to live in an apt with 4 kids and husband until we pay cash for a house lol.

    As to why people are different? I think its part stubbornness. We hate to be wrong. Some people like misery and have been in it so long they dont even notice it stinks. Umm keeping up with the jones (something I tried to do) We don't want to face our real problems so we cover it up with "stuff" which most of the time equals debt.

    thats all i can think of right now but im sure there is more. I just know some of these from personal experience
    Cash Only Living said...
    People are different and you have to let them be different (I have to keep telling myself that because it really bothers me to see people do dumb stuff). I try not to be a "born again" but I am afraid I am because now that I see the light of how great it is to be debt free and financially responsible, I want to evangelise it to everyone! Hubby used to think it would be impossible to pay off our debts but I just kept plugging away and now that he sees how fast the debt is going down he is getting on board and is putting every bit extra he has towards his credit cards...never thought I would see that! I guess slow brainwashing works best :)
    Anonymous said...
    For me, my parents brought my sisters and I up very frugal. We always had just enough - and I really think that's all we need. Shelter, food, and clothing.

    We were taught to value education and money, and admire people for who they are on the inside. Material possessions don't make anyone happy (only temporarily), and financial freedom is key to living an independent life.

    Sometimes, it's hard to people to admit they are wrong, or their way might not be the best. I also believe that people believe they are invincible when they are young, and push themselves very hard physically and mentally, in order to set out to achieve a goal they set - no matter the cost.
    Willow said...
    I think that the attitudes of entitlement (I deserve this) and instant gratification are the underlying differences. Many people think they deserve everything they want and should have it now. At some point, the financial books got through to you and showed you a more stable way to react to things and money.

    I would recommend that you read the book Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. The first few chapters focus on our attitudes and relationships with money. You might find answers there...

    Thanks for your comments on my simple pleasures blog. I don't post there often (although I ought to) and usually write on the willowscottage blog the most.
    Marie said...
    Welcome to the club sister. You cannot make a horse drink water.

    There are 7 in my family and I am the one that see things (money) differently. I can tell what makes since and it's up to them to change and drink the water.

    btw, I'm originally from New Orleans
    Mneiae said...
    Your sister's situation sounds like a complete nightmare. It's one of the reasons why the FI community is so anti big mortgages. Stories like that motivate me to live in a studio apartment near my workplace.

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