Saturday, September 08, 2007

You deserve it?

Fantastic Guest post by Fabulously Broke in the City. Check out her website..

Most people want a lot of things, without having to sacrifice or save for it. It's just an observation, but no one wants to give up their expensive toys, their daily lattes or their vacations to the Caribbean to accumulate wealth. They'd rather it just be given to them, with as minimal effort and work as possible.

It's the same for weight loss. That's why the weight loss industry is such a trillion dollar money maker. Everyone wants the magic pill that will speed up their metabolism, and make them lose weight in two weeks, without having to diet, cut back on high-fat junk foods, go a little bit hungry, and exercise. They all want the magical potion, lotion, pill and solution, but what they don't want to hear is how much sweat and effort that goes into losing weight because they aren't wiling to work for it.

Husband was asked half jokingly for money by a friend who had wanted to try and turn her finances around, because she felt that their family income of ~ $60,000 was not enough. She knew I made a good amount of money, and we were still able to sock away a sizeable retirement fund as well as pay down our debt. Considering Husband didn't work, she wanted to know how we did it. After Husband explained what I did, and we managed to accumulate $12,000 in retirement thus far, as well as pay down about $14,000 in our debts in the past year, and the plan was that we would be clearing another $26,000 by the end of 2008 if we stayed on track, his "friend" said: "If you guys are so damn rich, give ME the money". Husband was a bit stunned. First, she had asked for his advice in how to make $60,000 go a long ways. He didn't offer up the information without prompting. Second, this was coming from a girl (I refuse to call her a 'woman'), who had a house bought and given to her as a wedding gift by her father, never had to really work for anything in life and yet she still had the audacity to ask us for money. Even half jokingly.

Well, joking around in good fun is one thing, but as we all know, jokes or good natured jibes can be taken too far. Husband relayed a recent event about what happened between his mother and his uncle. See, I had never understood why in the last couple of years, his uncle had stopped coming over with his family for the big Christmas dinners, and Easter gatherings. They used to come over with their 3 kids, have a great time, open presents for one another, and generally, just get together.

And all it took was a single comment to ruined his mom and uncle's 50-year old family bond.
Husband's cousins (in their mid-twenties) were sitting by the fire in his parents' home, stuffed to the gills with the food that their aunt (Husband's mum) had been preparing since 4 a.m. that morning, and his cousin had the nerve (probably bolstered by all the stuffing and turkey, being a turkey himself), loudly proclaimed with a lazy smile: "Aunt Em, you and Uncle Paul have so much money. You should you give our parents some of it, so they can pay off their credit card bills. You and Uncle Paul don't need it as much as we do. You both are just being selfish."
His mum froze in shock.

See, even though Em was not a rich millionaire, she had enough money to do what she wanted in life, having earned a $40,000 salary most of her life, she saved as much as she could and was a very frugal woman. Since she felt blessed and had a good generous heart, she wanted to share her savings with her family if they were in need, and had been subsidizing her brother and his family for many years, a fact I am sure her nephew and niece were aware of. Not only had she had given cash gifts to her brother knowing he could use the money, but she had also co-signed a loan for his son, her nephew, so he could attend University, and his cousin reciprocated by defaulting for so months that creditors got frustrated and started to hassle her for the money. It wasn't until she threatened to call the cops on her own nephew, that he finally started paying his loans, but made it clear that he resented paying it every month, because she had "so much money" that she should've been able to clear his loans for him, but she was just being stingy.
But it was soon clear to us that it was not her brother's influence on the children that had prompted them to boldly ask for money, but it was her sister-in-law, Lindsay who controlled the family. She had told her children since young to ask their Aunt Em for more money because she was so "rich". Later, we found out that she had told her nephew NOT to pay his student loans, because "Aunt Em will take care of it, because she and Uncle Paul are rich".

Even though Lindsay was aware that Em did not make much money (probably as much as her brother), she began to believe her own lies and concocted an outrageous figure in her head about how much she thought Em and Paul had squirreled away. So instead of accepting that her family had a financial problem, and were unwilling to cut back and save, over the years, she shifted the blame to Em, citing her sister-in-law's unwillingness to give her own brother money that was the cause of why they were in so much debt. But even if Em had cleared their debts for them, it would not be the last time. That family would've run up those cards again, and had been at Em's door asking for more cash.

So, Em had decided to let that one co-signer incident slide and just vowed never to co-sign for relatives again, chalking it up to a bad experience. But that one comment was the final straw on the proverbial camel's back. Being blatantly treated like a bank, and asked for money at a family gathering that she had worked hard at preparing with love for her family, was too much. She was so visibly upset (and she's normally a calm, collected, sweet woman), that when Husband's father, Paul asked her nephew to apologize and take back the comment, and they refused, citing that she and their uncle was just being stingy and selfish with their money and they couldn't understand why they didn't want to help out their family. Paul was furious, and told them to get out of their house and to never come back again.

From that day onwards, the family cut all ties of communication with her brother (which is sad, because Em's parents had died recently, and he was all she had left). But all it took was that one comment, even if it was originally said in jest. Now she hears from other mutual friends and relatives that her brother's family is in a lot of financial trouble and may have to sell their home to pay creditors because they couldn't come up with the money.
As the Gimme-Gimme Generation, we've grown up with instant gratification, thanks to our instant cash credit cards, and the whole notion of spoiling and treating ourselves however we'd like, because we only live one life, and we deserve it.

But do we really? Well, I for one, strongly believe that we certainly deserve what we get in life, even if it isn't what we want.

-- Fabulously Broke in the City


Fabulously Broke in the City said...

Thanks!! :) I finally remembered to link it (my damn brain is going fuzzy...)

I should make a short note - it sounds too black and white, but we deserve what we get out of life, in correlation to the effort we put into it.

Not so much we deserve what we get, especially in the instances when it was extenuating circumstances out of our control...

Living Almost Large said...

Trust me I want to deserve a corvette like my cousin but just can't yet! Someday I'll have his disposable income. But it comes at a price of course.