Poverty and Friendships - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 02-14-2012, 06:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am curious. as my expendible income has gotten smaller i find it has affected my social life. 

 

so i was wondering if that is your experience too.

 

i no longer can go out to eat, i cant go for movie, i cant .... the list goes on.

 

now i am not talking about close friends, but growing your friends base. 

 

i notice its become a class thing. based on income. 

 

initially i was invited but as my income became tight i stopped being invited out. 

 

i live in a middle income area. dd goes to a high income school (majority are well off - not the kind to go to europe  every year but the kind who goes out at least once or twice a week). 

 

i find if i cant eat or cant go to the movies i cannot have friends. 


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#2 of 22 Old 02-14-2012, 06:40 PM
 
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Can you afford to invite some one over for coffee?


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#3 of 22 Old 02-14-2012, 07:17 PM
 
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Meemee, I've never ascertained where you live exactly...are you in an area with a concentration of arts?  I ask this because I used to be dirt poor as an artist but I found a lot of fun and free social situations by going to gallery openings and other types of free cultural events.  There was even a point where I would track the art openings in my town and go to the receptions for free drinks and food and that was my weekly big night out dinner!  I also got involved in volunteer situations in the arts where I didn't get paid but I got the benefit of socializing and freebies.  Often, I would take other similarly situated friends and it was likely that we would meet new friends at said events.  We always had a blast.  I never had the cash for a movie or a restaurant, but I got pretty good at showing up for events where the public was invited and there was plenty of entertainment.  Even now, I'll ask friends:  wanna go see such and such?  It is a good way to maintain friendships without the pressure of money.


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#4 of 22 Old 02-14-2012, 07:47 PM
 
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All of my friends are moms and we tend to go to parks, free kid events, or one of our homes for dinner. Money doesn't have a lot to do with our activities because they are mostly free and often pot luck style (where I live it is the norm to bring a side dish to share when you are invited over for dinner whether you are poor or middle class).

When I was much younger and I couldn't afford to eat out I would join my friends to talk and just say I was full from an early dinner. Sometimes I got a drink or light low priced item but usually I just joined in the conversation. Maybe instead of turning down invites you could do something like that. A coffer shop get together can also be a lot of fun and cheap if you go with plain coffee. Some shops have an eight ounce option that they don't advertise.

I think the volunteering idea is also a good one. My dad gets a lot of very nice perks for volunteering and he meets many new people.
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#5 of 22 Old 02-14-2012, 11:21 PM
 
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Oh yes. This has been my experience as well. I do have a couple of close friends who understand completely that our money has been tight the past couple of years, or who are in the same boat,  and they are happy to just get together at each other's houses. However, the group of friends we used to spend time with, well, they don't invite us out anymore because we have had to decline so much, and everything is centered around activities that cost money.

 

One thing I have realized over the past few years is this:  those people aren't really good friends if they can't be your friend unless you are spending money together, or being seen at the "right" places, etc.

 

And also, it's unfortunate that in our society having friends can tend to revolve around expensive events.

 

So sorry you are going through this. I hope you find some people you can connect with on a different level.

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#6 of 22 Old 02-15-2012, 02:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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awww thank you guys. you are so sweet. thanks for your suggestions. i do have friends. adding more friends to the lot?

 

my intention of this thread was my ramblings on how changes in social status affects your future friendships too. 

 

i went from solid middle class - well paying managerial job to single mom, to poor single mom and now to super poor single student mom. and so i changed social class.

 

its very interesting to see the changes. with my change in status i find i also have a change in what my future pool of friends are going to be. 

 

i find it was easier to connect with other moms when dd was younger. as she is growing older it is getting harder. 

 

the reason why i bring this up was a sociology proff a while ago sharing how people rarely change their social class and how its almost like entering a new world when you do change. 

 

and i definitely see the change. i wonder if any of you have noticed the change too. 

 

what is also fascinating is the kind of financial situation i was raised in has an impact when you change a class. 

 

i noticed this with my interactions with families from my dd's school mainly. 


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#7 of 22 Old 02-15-2012, 05:29 AM
 
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I can't say I've ever been 'well off' and I don't consider myself 'poor' but I don't have a lot of money & I am very, very cautious with the money I do have, especially after DH's long stretch of unemployment. I find most people either have the income to spend much more freely, or are willing to rack up debt to have fun. I just am not willing to do that, and yes, it does affect my friendships. Even with my close friends, I find I am often turning down invites because I can't afford it. Even $5 here, $10 there adds up, so they often feel they are doing inexpensive activities but when you add it all up, I just can't afford it. So I've compromised with myself and allow us a very small 'outings with friends' budget (it's $5-10/month and I try not to spend all of it every month) so we can occasionally join them for ice cream or whatever & aren't always saying 'no'... When you have to constantly say no (and aren't comfortable sharing your financial situation every single time), people start to think you aren't interested in THEM, so it makes it hard to build & maintain the friendships.

Fortunately with DS still toddler/preschool age, there are lots of free activities around, and lots of the mom's group activities tend to be free because they are things like hikes through the woods or crafts or whatever. But we're reaching the point where people are sending their kids to preschool (which is another thing I can't afford, although we plan to homeschool anyway), so things are changing a bit and I feel like it's going to be hard to build friendships (aside from the little group of close friends I already have, who are 'lifelong friends' quality smile.gif) I will admit that I do feel embarrassed saying we can't spend $3 to join them, or having DS split my food/ice cream/whatever since we can't afford to order separate things. I appreciate that we're invited out but sometimes I wish people just didn't invite us so I don't have to agonize over how to tell them we can't afford it. Or really, I wish we could all just hang out somewhere free, someone's house or the park... I don't even get the point of going to movies with friends because you are all sitting quietly in the dark lol. When you're at someone's house, everyone is more relaxed and you can sit & chat for hours and get to know people on a deeper level.

Ahhh I could go on & on, you touched a point in me lol, this is definitely something I can relate to.

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#8 of 22 Old 02-15-2012, 09:25 AM
 
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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

I appreciate that we're invited out but sometimes I wish people just didn't invite us so I don't have to agonize over how to tell them we can't afford it. 


I think this is partly what can make the situation difficult between friends of different income levels -- it's hard to know how to handle it. We're not well off, but we go out to dinner a couple times a month, go to a non-free museum or a movie once in a while, etc. We do plenty of park days, beach days, and hang-out-at-our-house days too, and we're open about saying stuff like, "Hey, the science museum is having a free day this weekend -- we should pack a lunch and go," but we do enjoy a day or night out here and there.

 

Most of our friends do too, so it isn't much of an issue, but we do know a couple where the husband was out of a job for several months, and we didn't want to leave them out, but we didn't want to embarrass them either. We definitely still invited them over when we had a barbecue or something, but there probably were a few times where we were going out for expensive sushi or something and didn't mention it to them because we didn't want to put them in the position of having to decline. I don't know if that was wrong or right, but there definitely weren't any ill intentions behind it, or any sort of "I'm too fancy to just hang out at home or the park" attitude. 


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#9 of 22 Old 02-15-2012, 09:48 AM
 
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When I was much younger and I couldn't afford to eat out I would join my friends to talk and just say I was full from an early dinner. Sometimes I got a drink or light low priced item but usually I just joined in the conversation. Maybe instead of turning down invites you could do something like that. A coffer shop get together can also be a lot of fun and cheap if you go with plain coffee.


Yep, I was friends with a group of girls who would meet e/o week for dinner and chatting. I loved hanging out with them but generally ate before I went. I think they got used to me ordering only a small dessert or a drink and I did get the feeling they thought it was a tad odd. Ah, oh well. Glad most our friends now are cheapies like us!

 

I know what you mean though. 


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#10 of 22 Old 02-15-2012, 11:09 AM
 
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We had a mom in our moms circle who did just that on Mom's night out. Her and her husband ate at 5pm because he worked the early shift but she still wanted to come. We would meet after 7:30 so 99% of the time she already ate so she would order a dessert or just have a glass of wine. I think she did have a lower income than most of the moms, but it was never an issue.

 

On the flip side, we can afford to do many activities, but not all of them at once- Such as, if we do a dinner out with just the two of us, the dinner plus sitter can be costly. So if we are doing that for a date night, we will pass in two week on meeting the others for dinner and the sitter. Or we might hold off the date night until next month and meet with the friends this month.

 

During the holidays we got slammed with several social events this year. We joke our sitter can pay her parents mortgage with the cash we had to pay her between Nov 30 and Jan 7th. It jut worked out that way- 4 events will not happen next year, but we wanted to and had to go to them this year. One night during the week, DH called his parents and they took the kids while we went and had a nice dinner together with a gift card. If we didnt have these and the free sitting, we would not have gone out.

 

You have to balence it. I have a life long friend who for whatever reason, her and her DH have never had a lot of money. Ever. They have a home etc, but his earning power is just not there or  he just dosent know how to get to the next level. if I want to see her, we meet somewhere or we invite them over for a party. Thats just the way it is. I would never drop her because she dosnet have money to go to what we deem activities we should do and I have also seen that happen to others IRL.


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#11 of 22 Old 02-15-2012, 11:21 AM
 
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I do think having a different income level can make it difficult to develop a friendship with someone if they mainly do social activities that involve spending money. I would have a hard time making friends with someone if they mainly socialized by going to movies, bars or restaurants, shopping or by going a costly gym together. I couldn't afford to do any of those things very often at all so we would probably remain mere acquaintances.

There are people though who frequently do less costly or free activities even if they are not super poor just because they like to be involved in the library or prefer to just meet at someone's home to chat or need a walking/running buddy. With those people a difference in income level isn't an obstacle to making friends.

 

 

 


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#12 of 22 Old 02-15-2012, 11:53 AM
 
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"Hey, the science museum is having a free day this weekend -- we should pack a lunch and go," but we do enjoy a day or night out here and there.

 

This is one reason I freakin LOVE my new city. The museums are almost all completely free, unless you buy lunch. Sometimes I budget to buy lunch when we go, but mostly we pack a lunch and its free. It's awesome, I don't feel like I have to get my money's worth out of going, and I can invite whoever I want and no one has to worry over the cost.

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#13 of 22 Old 02-15-2012, 11:58 AM
 
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This is one reason I freakin LOVE my new city. The museums are almost all completely free, unless you buy lunch. Sometimes I budget to buy lunch when we go, but mostly we pack a lunch and its free. It's awesome, I don't feel like I have to get my money's worth out of going, and I can invite whoever I want and no one has to worry over the cost.


You must live in DC!  I love the Mall.  We only get to go there one or two times a year and it is never enough time to see anything in depth. 
 

 


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#14 of 22 Old 02-15-2012, 12:41 PM
 
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You must live in DC!  I love the Mall.  We only get to go there one or two times a year and it is never enough time to see anything in depth. 
 

 



Yup. I'm in LOVE with this place! It's so nice to be able to visit the museums and not pay for it, to wander the mall on the weekend, its just so great. Although summer we'll probably try to find other things to do (too many tourists and the museums are PACKED and the mall gets filled with litter), but I'm excited to spend weekends for the next several years hitting the different Smithsonian museums and seeing all there is to see!

 

I also love the different memorials, and want to get down to see the new MLK memorial (not sure exactly where it is yet). It's a great place to live - less than $4 on the metro gets me an entire day of entertainment on the mall, in the museums, the sculpture garden, etc.

 

And I've never seen the Cherry Blossoms - I'm super excited for that too!

 

ETA - the Zoo is also part of the Smithsonian, and is free. It's really nice, and definitely worth the trip up the red line!

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#15 of 22 Old 02-15-2012, 01:30 PM
 
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the reason why i bring this up was a sociology proff a while ago sharing how people rarely change their social class and how its almost like entering a new world when you do change. 

 

I would agree. I know that in a Sociology of Class course in college, we did a number of projects based on the idea of class, such as "you have $X for groceries. What do you get?" where everyone had a different amount. My social class as an adult is vastly different from mine as a child. My mom was very young when I was born, and she spent much of my childhood going to school and working. We moved around a lot, and while we certainly never went hungry or homeless, we never had money for the extra stuff. I remember feeling envious of kids whose parents could afford cool things for them, and it honestly impacted a lot of my family-work decisions as an adult. 

 

The difficulty for me in changing classes has been in not viewing people with the same education/careers/income that we have as the Other. I've caught myself saying, "the people in Y...," when I am those people, too now. It's not a habit I realized that I had, but it's something I'm working on about myself. I also see a significant difference in the way that my children live and view the world. When we visit my family, my kids are offered things to eat that they've never had - cheap, processed foods or the absolute worst cuts of meat cooked in ways to make them more palatable. I ate that food as a kid, and in fact I love going home to eat those things now. It's a treat for me. My kids are completely out of touch with it and will ask for things like fresh steamed asparagus or pan-seared tuna that no one in my family (save my mom, actually, who ended up with a really great career after I was an adult) can afford. Then I get these stares and whispers because my husband's a software developer - not "manly" work in a low-income, working-class area.

 

--- 

From the friends perspective, I work in a creative field, so I have lots of "starving artist" friends. I actually enjoy inviting them over and serving things that I know would be a stretch for them or just getting a nice bottle of wine or something. It's never a big deal, but I enjoy being able to do that. It also doesn't bother me if people say, "yeah, can we just go to get coffee? Funds are low." My husband's co-workers tend to be more "spend, spend, spend" and also have very.specific.goals for any social gathering. There's no just hanging out; there must be an agenda. 

 

I have had some problems in knowing how to maintain ongoing friendships when we are in entirely different classes because it does limit what we can do. I was totally into free entertainment when we couldn't afford to pay for anything. Even now, my default is to look for free or super-cheap, but sometimes I would like to splurge. Then, I don't know how to handle it delicately. I've also had people turn down my offer to pay for whatever we were doing. One really good friend said that she never wanted to feel beholden to me, so she wouldn't let me pay when we went out even though she couldn't afford it. I don't know what to say about those situations because I don't think I handle them gracefully.   


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#16 of 22 Old 02-15-2012, 02:16 PM
 
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I have had some problems in knowing how to maintain ongoing friendships when we are in entirely different classes because it does limit what we can do. I was totally into free entertainment when we couldn't afford to pay for anything. Even now, my default is to look for free or super-cheap, but sometimes I would like to splurge. Then, I don't know how to handle it delicately. I've also had people turn down my offer to pay for whatever we were doing. One really good friend said that she never wanted to feel beholden to me, so she wouldn't let me pay when we went out even though she couldn't afford it. I don't know what to say about those situations because I don't think I handle them gracefully.   

Speaking from the other side of this, I think you could handle it a few different ways. Simplest would just be, "OK let's just do XYZ [free thing] instead," you know, take the pressure off of spending money at all. But if you really want to do something more costly AND you are happy to pay, one way to approach it might be like, "I'd love to take you to this to thank you for watching my kids the other day," or something -- so you are making it less like charity and more like an exchange, making it clear that it's in appreciation of something the other person has done for you... then they might not feel so uncomfortable accepting, and won't feel indebted to you.

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#17 of 22 Old 02-15-2012, 08:16 PM
 
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I do see how finances impact social life.

 

I work for a company with mostly men, but the few women get together for lunch sometimes. Except for one young woman who just graduated from college and was only hired part time and has student debt. She can't afford to go out to lunch. So she gets left out.

 

I take my lunch to work about half the time  and when I do, I check with her to see if she wants to eat together or go for walk. I'm really don't want to see her left out of work friendships because she can't blow $10 on lunch, like all the other women who work there do.

 

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#18 of 22 Old 02-16-2012, 04:57 AM
 
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I haven't read through all of this thread, but I think I have a different take on it.  I don't necessarily think it's about an inability to cross social classes with friendships, though I can see where things could get interesting where one person is at poverty level and the other is a multimillionaire.  Regardless, if you are constantly turning down invites without explanation, people just assume you aren't interested and stop asking.  If you're turning down invites by saying "I can't afford it", it also sends a message and the requester is bound to feel awkward - do you offer to pay for the person, do you offer a free alternative (if you can think of one), what do you say, etc.?  That can be especially tricky in trying to form new relationships.  I think this issue often has more to do with communication and less to do with money. 

 

That said, obviously there are some people looking to climb that ladder.  Where they are trying to go, I just don't know.  eyesroll.gif

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#19 of 22 Old 02-16-2012, 05:02 AM
 
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I haven't read through all of this thread, but I think I have a different take on it.  I don't necessarily think it's about an inability to cross social classes with friendships, though I can see where things could get interesting where one person is at poverty level and the other is a multimillionaire.  Regardless, if you are constantly turning down invites without explanation, people just assume you aren't interested and stop asking.  If you're turning down invites by saying "I can't afford it", it also sends a message and the requester is bound to feel awkward - do you offer to pay for the person, do you offer a free alternative (if you can think of one), what do you say, etc.?  That can be especially tricky in trying to form new relationships.  I think this issue often has more to do with communication and less to do with money. 

Interesting take. I can see your point, but I'm wondering how you would communicate around this issue? Especially considering discussing your personal financial situation in any detail is a bit taboo in our culture?

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#20 of 22 Old 02-18-2012, 02:49 PM
 
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Interesting take. I can see your point, but I'm wondering how you would communicate around this issue? Especially considering discussing your personal financial situation in any detail is a bit taboo in our culture?


I would say "I would love to get together with you!  but X is a little out of my budget right now. Would you like to do Y" and then suggest something in your budget. No details about your situation are necessary. Many, many people get the idea of needing to be careful with money. Most of us have been there at some point.

 

I don't think that being broke while attending university counts as changing social classes. Your income at this exact moment doesn't determine your class. If anything, you are raising your social class by joining the 'with degrees" people.  The same amount of income, even if it is very low, means different things for different people. You expect your future income it be much higher than your current income, which makes it different than someone who feels "stuck" with a low income.

 

A moderate income for someone who is doing something they feel passionate about is different than the same income for someone who is doing a job they hate.

 

I'm in my 40's, and we've watched people's finances vary as they get promotions, lose jobs, get married, get divorced, struggle through a degree/graduate degree, get a new job, etc. I'm not sure that all those changes count as changing social class. Because if they did, the whole structure would have to be considered extremely fluid.

 

 


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#21 of 22 Old 02-19-2012, 05:06 AM
 
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I have a lot less money than I did several years ago and definitely less than I grew up with. I don't see it as changing social class, though. I still hang out with the same types of people and do most of the same things that I did before.

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#22 of 22 Old 02-20-2012, 10:59 AM
 
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Interesting take. I can see your point, but I'm wondering how you would communicate around this issue? Especially considering discussing your personal financial situation in any detail is a bit taboo in our culture?


Linda on the move provided an excellent example of what one could say.  These are also some things that could be mentioned, depending on the situation:

 

  • I would love to, but I'm watching my weight.  Can we go to the library, coffee shop, park, free art fair, etc. instead?
  • I would love to, but I'm saving for "x".  Can we go to the library, coffee shop, park, free art fair, etc. instead?
  • I would love to, but one of my goals is to trim our excess spending.  Can we go to the library, coffee shop, park, free art fair, etc. instead?
  • I would love to, but I'm working on a new budget.  Can we go to the library, coffee shop, park, free art fair, etc. instead?
  • I would love to, but I'm trying not to eat out as frequently.  Can we go to the library, coffee shop, park, free art fair, etc. instead?
  • I would love to, but I would prefer to go to the library, coffee shop, park, free art fair, etc. instead.  Does that work for you?

 

It obviously depends on what your situation is and what you are asked to do, but there are plenty of ways to convey that you can't do something without saying "no thanks" or "I can't afford it". 

Mulvah is offline  
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