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How to deal with other peoples' perceptions of your income level and their expectations? Advice...

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

There is a little bit of this discussion going on in the other thread and I thought it might be good to start a seperate thread so the other thread doesn't get too far off-topic.

 

So I'm relatively new to having a higher household income and I'm learning how to navigate relationships with certain people who have less who feel that we should be able to afford them things.  This issue really hit me this Christmas season, because the list of gift ideas some people sent us were just ridiculous, like a gift card to super-fancy-high-end-handbag store or an iphone.  These lists have changed from the past Christmases, when gift ideas were more reasonable.

 

I have a family member who turned 60 this year and even though it was a milestone birthday and we were willing to spend a little extra, his gift ideas were impossible.  One idea was to send him and his wife on a trip to see the Masters.  So when I can't fulfill any of his wish ideas, how do I not come across as a cheapskate?  Especially when later in the year I might take my own little family on a vacation?

 

How do you not become resentful when people expect these things out of you?

 

And do you ever worry about setting a precedent?  Like every year we take a small trip with my FOO and split the cost of a house rental.  This year, because of various circumstances, we might cover the cost of the whole rental.  Is that a bad idea?  Could it come back to bite us the following years? 

 

Please share any advice or experiences you have :)

 

post #2 of 32

I had a long, very bitter post typed out but essentially my advice is put yourself and your family first.  Invest your money, donate to your charities, save for something you want, and don't ever start picking up the checks because everyone will come to expect it.  For heaven sake, do not start making loans. You'll never see it again. 


Edited by NiteNicole - 12/29/11 at 11:50am
post #3 of 32

Well how do these family members know of your new higher income?  Have you told others? Are they witnessing your fortune or just assuming off the bat that you are more well off?  I don't tell anyone, family included, about my money issues/problems/income, etc.  However, alot of people around me assume we have money because a) we don't  tell them otherwise and b) I do my best to get things I need cheap or give up things I want to afford the more costly things. 

 

I would just get gifts according to how much you want to spend, and do not let others dictate your spending limit, regardless of what is on their list.  You're right though, your family is not entitled to your money and should be grateful if you give them anything at all.

post #4 of 32
Thread Starter 

NiteNicole, I'm really sorry you're going through all that.  This is one of my fears surrounding this issue.  Just because we have this income now, doesn't mean it's a sure thing a 5, 10, 20 years from now.  And I want to be able to retire some day, ya know? 

 

I'm just waiting for the day that MIL is no longer able to leach of her parents and the family will expect us to take care of her.  It's already happening.  We haven't spent anything on her, but people are talking and looking toward us.  There is just no way we could support another adult.  And MIL is not just someone who needs help, she is truly a parasite. 

 

People don't know our income, they assume.  That's why I used the word perception in the title of the thread.  We are not flashy people.  They make this assumption based on the industry DH works in and the fact that we are paying a mortgage and we are just able to do more things.  I'm paraphrasing my comment in the other thread, "it doesn't matter how much more, it's just that more is more" and that's all they see.  Seriously, we have been asked, "So how life over there, making your millions?"  All we could do is laugh, it's so NOT true.  Even if they were exaggerating, that question is very telling of their perception.

 

post #5 of 32

Maybe the birthday gift was to be a combined gift from the whole extended family.

 

 

We often do family vacations where not everyone contributes.  We are just happy to be with everyone.

post #6 of 32
My only comment is that It's shocking that someone would ASK for an iphone or handbags, or a trip somewhere. That's amazing. I don't have any of those things although I suppose if our priorities went that way I could swing some luxuries. But if I don't splurge on them myself, I am damned sure not going to expect someone else, family or not, to foot the bill for it. And really - purses and iPhones? Wow.

I suppose if they did that I might have gotten them a gift certificate - in an amount you were comfortable giving. One that wouldn't cover a full handbag at all. Like a few bucks to contribute to it - then they can save the rest themselves. Though I'm sure they'd be huffy about that, but who cares?

I think it's tacky to ask for anything specific, but that's just me. If you say "well, we'd be really happy with a gift certiicate for a place to eat" then it's at the giver's discretion to give t1 10 dollar certificate to Starbucks or $200 for a fancy place. Or a housewarming present would be nice - it could be a set of napkin holders or a freestanding fireplace. Or the daughter likes Barbies - you can get the $5 basic Barbie or the $300 uber special Barbie house or whatever. But when you send the model number, color, and financing info... that's just, bleh.
post #7 of 32

That is tacky, yeah. We do wishlists with my inlaws (and I'm onboard; I like asking for something I can use rather than getting more Body Shop crap) and the requested items are things like paperback books, CDs - FIL even specifies that used is fine with him (and that's true with me too). An iPhone? OMG. Handbags, I don't have a clue what they cost, but I'm going to  guess they are expensive too.

 

I don't think there is a way to "handle" it - that is, any magic words - just rest assured that you are not obligated to satisfy greedy people. I think most people have a gift limit that works for them - it's $20-25 for us - and you give that. Nobody has any right to dictate their gifts. As I said, I love wishlists because I'd rather gifts be wanted, but if nothing on the wishlist fit my budget, I'd either cut a check and mark it as "toward" something, or I'd just pick another gift altogether (probably a bottle of wine if I wasn't worried about alcohol abuse).

 

As for precedent... hmm. Yeah, I'd be afraid of setting precedent. The only way I'd do it is to announce that it was a "just this year" or "one time offer" kind of thing. But I'd only do that with reasonable family. With greedy people? No, not once.

post #8 of 32

Dh's sister once asked that we just give her 200 for her birthday... like I was going to spend that anyway?  My mom asked for a coach purse and she made sure I knew she didn't want a knock off from korea... but they make such nice ones.  I gave her a Dooney and Burke and that wasn't good enough... because who knows what that is?  Everyone knows the status symbol of a coach purse.  Grrrr!  Our families really think we're rolling in the dough.  I tell DH not to say one word about what we buy or where we go.  As it is we can't go on vacation without them complaining we didn't come and visit them.  Not one family member will come here without us paying the bill.  NO JOKE!  "Well I'd visit more, but I can't afford it... maybe you could spring for a ticket?"   We don't buy anyone gifts anymore especially the last three years.  Now that I make more they are asking for gifts again and DH's sister is hinting she wants to visit but she can't afford the ticket... can I find her one... as in can I buy it?!   

post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chel View Post

Maybe the birthday gift was to be a combined gift from the whole extended family.

 

 

We often do family vacations where not everyone contributes.  We are just happy to be with everyone.



 

I decided to organize a group gift where anyone can contribute whatever they wanted and it ended up being thousands less than a trip like the one he wanted.  He was still happy with his gift, so that's good.

 

 

 

post #10 of 32
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

Dh's sister once asked that we just give her 200 for her birthday... like I was going to spend that anyway?  My mom asked for a coach purse and she made sure I knew she didn't want a knock off from korea... but they make such nice ones.  I gave her a Dooney and Burke and that wasn't good enough... because who knows what that is?  Everyone knows the status symbol of a coach purse.  Grrrr!  Our families really think we're rolling in the dough.  I tell DH not to say one word about what we buy or where we go.  As it is we can't go on vacation without them complaining we didn't come and visit them.  Not one family member will come here without us paying the bill.  NO JOKE!  "Well I'd visit more, but I can't afford it... maybe you could spring for a ticket?"   We don't buy anyone gifts anymore especially the last three years.  Now that I make more they are asking for gifts again and DH's sister is hinting she wants to visit but she can't afford the ticket... can I find her one... as in can I buy it?!   


Your mom really turned her nose up at a nice purse just because it wasn't Coach?

 

Oh, this reminds me, someone asked for a pair of really nice slippers for Christmas, because the cheaper ones he's been buying haven't lasted very long or there has been this or that problem with them.  So I think, "ok, I can manage that."  I find a pair of UGGS that I think are really nice and they come at around $100.  Christmas morning comes around and he's very happy with his new slippers - hooray!  Well, before he leaves our house, he throws away his old slippers.  They are at the top of the garbage, so I happen to notice the brand.  His old slippers were UGGS!  So I guess I got him "cheaper" slippers.  Oh, well, at least he looked happy.

 

post #11 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

Everyone knows the status symbol of a coach purse.

lol, you can assure her that not everyone does... I just had to look it up to see what the fuss was about, as I'd never heard of it before. smile.gif
post #12 of 32


Yup.  The only reason I know what it is is because my mom got one as a really special gift from her dh.  Personally, I would rather have just about anything else, lol.  Buy me a nice case of canning jars...

Quote:
Originally Posted by seawitch View Post


lol, you can assure her that not everyone does... I just had to look it up to see what the fuss was about, as I'd never heard of it before. smile.gif


Anyway, asking for a specific gift, unless you are asked to be that specific is just really tacky.  I would ask my kids for a specific list, but if anyone else gave me one I'd likely get them squat.  Really if they can't handle a nice jar of home made jam or vanilla I probably don't care to associate w/them anyway.

 

post #13 of 32

Ugh, I'm totally on the other side of this.  I am a really really really picky person about stuff and have told family over and over and over again that I do not want gifts unless it's something they REALLY want to give me.  My family gets this, but DH's family does not and are constantly asking for Christmas and birthday wish lists, so finally we just gave them the link to our family's Amazon wishlist, which has a lot of stuff we hope to someday save up to buy, including expensive stuff.  So it's not like we ASKED them for those things, but they were on the list.  I really would rather no one give me anything at all BECAUSE I am picky person.

 

And then we are saving up money to take the kids and new baby down to visit my family.  My MIL offered to help with our tickets down there for what I THOUGHT was a Christmas gift, but I guess it wasn't a gift, but rather she felt obligated to help, because later when she found out we were planning to go to Disneyland with my parents she got really upset.  Disneyland was something we were already talking about doing even before she offered.

post #14 of 32

If you pay for the vacation house there is a good chance they will come to expect it.  My sister makes a very nice living.  Way more money than my dh and I, but I will be the first one to admit she works way harder at her job than I do at mine.  So through a series of bad decisions, her MIL is pretty hard up since her FIL died.  It was her year to go to my sister's for T-giving.  But, apparently her house is BORING.  She didn't want to stay there she wanted to spend T-giving in Las Vegas.  So my sister, BIL , two teenaged Nieces and MIL got to Vegas all expenses paid by my sister's family (BIL works and makes a nice living but makes about 30% of what sister does).  You know what she did.  She sat in the sports lounge for 4 days and watched TV.  All day, every day.  Sis has 3 good sized TVs at her house which she could have watched for free.  Took her to a great steak house where she ate turkey and complained that my sister didn't.  Wanted to see a show (at their expence) but all the ones less than $200 a ticket were BORING....  My sister packed her ass up and went home.

 

 

And her prized posession? a Dooney and Burke purse ;-).  Although she really likes the socks I knit her for the holidays...

post #15 of 32

 

Quote:
I'm paraphrasing my comment in the other thread, "it doesn't matter how much more, it's just that more is more" and that's all they see.  Seriously, we have been asked, "So how life over there, making your millions?"  All we could do is laugh, it's so NOT true.  Even if they were exaggerating, that question is very telling of their perception.

 

 

That's pretty much our exact situation. 

post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

 Everyone knows the status symbol of a coach purse.  

We are decidedly middle class here, though maybe a tad on the upper end. My daughter has a coach I found at the thrift store.. I kid you not.. I paid 4$ for what I thought was just a nice leather purse and her friends seem to think its proof we have money.
post #17 of 32

I had several coach purses back in the day when I was single, working full time and they were made in the USA. Now, they are made in china and I cannot get past that. Dh now uses my coach

briefcase I used to carry. I had a few Dooney andBourkes when I was a teen. Again full leather purses and made in the USA. I might still have one and its still perfect along with a few coach ones as well. They are all about 20 yrs old and I guess they might come back and then I can be one of those people who suddenly have tons of money! LOL

 

Again, as said on the other thread I think its our business what we do with the money we have. For the OP, I am wondering because your family thinks you have money or are just free loaders?

 

As for the vacation home: if you can afford to rent it yourself do it. But as already said, the expectation will be set even if you just invite your family members to come and visit you.

 

 

 

 

post #18 of 32

The author of Eat, Pray, Love wrote this in Oprah magazine about her new-found wealth:  "Never give people more than they can handle emotionally, or they will be obligated to hate you for it."  So she talked about paying off mortgages for friends who then subconsciously hated her for it, and she lost the friendships.

 

So yeah, be careful.  Your situation is probably on a smaller scale, but I'd still be really careful about doing things like paying for the entire rental.  Can everyone else handle that emotionally? 

 

Even if (and sometimes especially if) they are asking for things, don't give them more than they can handle (or more than you can afford!)

post #19 of 32

Well we are lower income but that doesn't mean that there aren't those out there lower than us. Like my sister and more recently my mom. I think sister is the most insane. She actually thinks because we can afford Oil. we should give her money! LOL We kind of need it here in Maine.

My favoritre however is my MIL. FIL just passed away and now MIL is in a pickle financially. Sad thing is she actually makes more than us just makes stupid choices with her money. Like she has her sears card maxed right out. Yeah guess who is paying for her 8 cords of wood this winter. BLAH!

post #20 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

My mom asked for a coach purse and she made sure I knew she didn't want a knock off from korea... but they make such nice ones.  I gave her a Dooney and Burke and that wasn't good enough...



You got a D&B when she asked for a Coach?  I'll be your mom!!!!  :-)

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