Spending Etiquette

adellabedella_usaApril 2, 2009

I came this article on my startup page this morning. It's about money related matters that are no longer proper to talk about because of the recession. The article itself is ok and some is irrelevant to my lifestle. I thought what was interesting was the discussion of the economy's effect (or is that affect) on socializing with other people.

I love that we can come here and discuss things to reduce spending or spend more effectively on the things we do want to buy. It's harder to do that in real life. It does affect friendships. I know I have a neighbor down the street who sees me buying new things for my house and thinks we have lots of money. She doesn't realize that dh and I didn't buy anything other than needs for ten years and are just now in the last couple of years replacing the furniture or tvs that we've had since before we were married. Or that the new curtains I bought after I painted are actually thermal backed and I waited until I found them at 50% off and they are coming with me if we move.

I thought the idea behind the article was interesting. I was wondering if anyone else has felt an impact because of decisions you have made on how to spend or not spend your money.

Here is a link that might be useful: Avoiding Faux Pas in a Recession

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I think that bragging in general is really rude and don't like it when people brag about purchases or vacation ect. I don't mind people talking about things.

Like if you said to me "i got these great curtains and they are helping me save money" I would be interested in learning more about them. I wouldn't be "oh you are so rude because you are talking about a new purchase I can't afford." I would feel happy that you found something that helps you, or that you can get new furniture that you need. That is life, it isn't fair.

My husband and I haven't gone on a vacation in 5 years and that was our first vacation we ever went on. All our friends go on vacation every year. What did we do with our money? we saved it and now we are able to afford a new roof. Not as exciting but we know that is what WE wanted to do with our money.

Money shouldn't affect friendships. If someone brags all the time or puts you down for not wanting to go to a fancy restaurant then obviously you don't want to be their friend. When my friends get a raise or buy something they really wanted I am happy for them. They deserve it too..don't they?

I also never assume that people buying things have lots of money. I assume they have lots of debt. This is what most people seem to do, buy on cc's. There are few people like my husband and I that save for things BEFORE buying it. When we wanted a new TV we cut cable (saved 50 bucks a month for over a year) then we didn't buy any christmas presents for us at all and with all the money we saved we bought a tv that we really wanted (but didn't need). Our friends on the other hand, just would buy a tv and then figure out how to pay for it. I couldn't live that way. However, their choices don't affect me so I would never comment on them and they don't upset me because it isn't my money.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 3:42PM
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Wow, thank you for sharing a very interesting article with us. I am shocked and yet I know this happens. I have been a stay at home Mom on and off again for 15 years, and everytime we meet new people they ask: what do you do for a living? when I say I stay home, its always followed by: wow your husband must make good money, how much does he make? Yeah they actually ask that question. We don't have all the latest toys, gadgets and new furniture, we drive old cars, (which we actually wash by hand and not at the car wash) there are many things we don't do, like take extravagant vacations, eat out, have cell phones, etc. The one thing we have learned is we all live within our means, whether you make $10 an hour or $20, we buy big houses, drive fancy cars, but when it comes down who has more cash reserve usually its the $10 an hour person, funny how that works?
Its not right to ask anyone how much money they make, and unless its your parents or grandparents you should NOT brag to anyone about your latest purchase. And certainly the person you are bragging to should not ask "how do you afford that?" The only time I want someone running over to my house is to tell me that the grocery store is giving away free food or there is a sale that is so good I shouldn't pass it up.
and I am with Scryn, when I see people who live in my neighborhood and they seem to have it all, I just remember, they owe their souls to some plastic company.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 11:17PM
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We have friends that always send us pictures of their latest purchase...either online or on my husbands cell phone. The love to brag about their new big screen tv, furniture, and other toys...but they finance all these items, like "Well, it's only $60 a month..." they have so many 'small' payments going out, it adds up to more than their house payment. They cannot understand why I choose not to have a cell phone, I don't want that extra bill. They think we are tightwads because we 'only' have basic cable. We stick to a grocery budget. They think we are too frugal and need to 'live a little'. Well we do buy things, this past Christmas we bought several 'large ticket' items and paid cash, we also gave to several family members in need. But I would never dream about telling them this, its none of their business. My husband and I just smile at each other. I call it quietly comfortable.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 12:40AM
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Back in my mother's day, people didn't talk about money. They were much less open with each other than we are today. And being so soon after the Great Depression, it was shameful to say, "I can't afford that." There were no credit cards then, no payday loans. Today, it's becoming somewhat of an embarrassment to be seen walking into a payday loan business, and for what it costs in the long run, those who walk through the doors SHOULD be embarrassed.

We joined a church some years back that was a little out of our league. Our grandsons loved their Awana program and their Sunday school so we joined because we thought it best to support the church that best provided for our grandsons, whom we were raising. They had a great choir and wonderful music. But the people were snobs. They were always talking about their latest expensive vacation, home redecoration, shopping expedition. Most of the women wore expensive jewelry. It was kind of depressing to go there because it really made me so much more aware of all the things we couldn't afford. Though I've never been one for "the finer things in life". Then the church decided to add on a new wing and the push for people to increase their donations was really aggressive. To most of them, "Giving till it hurt" meant putting off buying that new boat till next year. To us, it meant not having money for school clothes. Suffice it to say we didn't continue going to that church. The boys grew too old for Awana and eventually the "society children" froze them out at Sunday School.

We do buy things we want and need, but it doesn't come up in conversation because we don't consider the purchase an "event".

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 10:30AM
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I got a kick out of reading the article. While I was reading it, I kept wondering who was the intended audience - certainly not people that already have good manners and common sense. If you're not of that group, will a list of "don'ts" really help?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 11:51AM
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I got that sense, too. It all goes back to having the ability to "pick your audience". If you're nightclubbing with the likes of Paris Hilton, any kind of politic restraint doesn't really matter. If you're drowning your sorrows over a beer in a local bar, the other denizens probably don't want to hear about new toys.

For the short haul, at least - until things turn around and people begin to miss their old spendy ways and a year or several of belt tightening eases up - people will put aside most of what smacks as conspicuous consumption. Even many who are unaffected by the downturn seem to be acting in sympathy with those who are affected. Bad times can really level a playing field on so many levels.

But it remains to be seen if this is a real life style changer - we've come out of recessions before and quickly fallen back into bad habits. Do you think it will be any different this time?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 2:19PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

But it remains to be seen if this is a real life style changer - we've come out of recessions before and quickly fallen back into bad habits. Do you think it will be any different this time?
No, for many it won't be. There will still be those that will stretch themselves to the max, or who feel they have to spend every sent they have on a Thursday eve (fast food and movie rental) because they 'know' they will get paid the next day. They will never save a cent to pay cash for anything or for an emergency or a rainy day.

Occasionally when I was working the paychecks would not come in on Friday in the mail. Boy, you talk about people who were mad, upset, and worried. They were penniless until the checks arrived. I think some had even mailed out payments knowing the money was not in the bank, and was counting on getting paid and money deposited before the check hit their account. Secretly I always thought it was kind of amusing.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 11:03PM
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Anyone who exhibits an "attitude" or is condescending toward me because I can't or don't want to afford something is a person who is no longer a part of my social circle.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 5:23PM
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chemocurl said it well, and I chuckle at them too. I have my priorities and I have my splurges. I don't try to impress people, I try to satisfy me and my needs. I won't sit in a bar but I'll spend 10 for a bottle of water. I won't spend $50/month for basic cable but I'll spend $50-$75/year on a cellphone. To me, if I break down or to see if someone is home before driving over there is far more important than having another 40 channels of infomercials available to me. I have a 15 yo van with 200,000 miles on it. It gets me to point A and back again. I don't need registered wood on the dashboard. I splurge by having pets, but mine are rescues, not some ego-treating purebred, and I don't fill the landfills with diapers. Yeah, I don't have kids to show pictures of to everyone, but then again, Jose and Kitty Menendez probably wish they had picked up a couple critters at the pound. So it's a choice people make, sometimes by themselves or sometimes by circumstances.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 8:47PM
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I am new to this forum, it is so nice to hear that there are other frugal people in the world. Like many of you we live well below our income. We feel it is important to save as much as we can for our future and for our two granddaughters whom we adopted when they were babies. Our girls are so bright, we want to make sure that the money will be in the bank when they go to collage. My DH grew up in the depression and knew what it was like to be really poor. I grew up on a chicken farm in the 40's and while we always had food because Mama canned and froze food from our garden and orchard, we didn't have any thing but the essentials. DH and I agreed years ago that we didn't ever want to be in a position that we had to worry about money. The best way to do that was to save as much as possible while living a life that was comfortable but not flashy. Today, we own our own 5 acre home with no mortgage and no debts. While we both have credit cards for the convenience, we pay them off every month. We pay no interest on anything. We are now seeing that our DD has finally seen the light and she is saving up the cash in the bank to buy a newer car.
We don't have cable, we do have cellphones for emergency use and we just pay for basic service. We do have our little indulgences. I have my nails done twice a month and DGDs take dance lessons that do cost for costumes and shoes. They don't have video games, we have 3 computers, one in the family room for them to use, with some supervision. Some people think we live too spartan, others envy us because we have the time to spend with our girls for Homeschool, field trips and such because we are both retired. I wouldn't change my life for anything. I sleep very well.

We also reuse water bottles from our wonderful tasting well.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 1:33PM
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I know people that spend way more than me who are always like "You only live once" or "don't be so cheap" or "you rent instead of owning a house" (the nerve of me). But I've also seen it the other way "we can't afford your fancy gym" or "must be nice to have all that money to buy a XXX".

It is annoying either way.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 3:43PM
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It's the "you only live once" people who cry the loudest when hard times come. We have had neighbors who couldn't pay the bills on their fancy toys when he was laid off for a couple of weeks. They had nothing in the bank for a rainy day. The wife had to ask her parents for money to feed her 2 boys. I felt sorry for the kids, but there is no reason to do something so stupid when you have kids depending on you.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 4:08PM
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Greetings ca avon lady,

It is frustrating to see people who have had an adequate income and saw fit to spend every dollar as it came in be in trouble immediately when their paycheque gets interrupted, for whatever reason.

During about 25 years as a personal financial advisor, I've recommended to many clients and prospects that they set up a plan to build up a cushion of 3 mos.' worth of income at least, in case of emergency or interruption of paycheque, and preferably 6 mos.' - 9 mos.' equivalent, or even up to a year's worth.

That gives one a measure of financial freedom - but the family being forced within a week or two to appeal to the grandparents for help to feed their kids sure doesn't enjoy any financial freedom.

I'm feeling sad these days that so few appear to have taken that advice, whether due to inadequate level of income, lack of knowedge or skill, or of inclination.

Many find it hard to plan ahead, but it's sort of like driving a car skilfully ... one doesn't keep aware of the road only within 50 - 100 feet or so ... but keeps aware of what's going on 1/4 - 1/2 of a mile away.

When our children were young, we received a "Family Allowance" cheque monthly from the government, about $6.00 a month per kid, I think, in the late 60s. That amounted to about $72.00 per year, and Avon Products' share price was about $76.00 at the time, I think, so we invested in one share each per kid per year: 5 for 5-year-old son and 2 for 2-year-old daughter, as an investment aiming toward the time when they would be going to Univ.. Within a few years the share price had almost doubled ... but I don't know what became of them over time, for wife went on her own and the kids went with her, so I became a non-resident Dad.

We used to get samples of newly developed products, each year in late fall - at a nice time to provide gifts for various family members, etc.

When it came time for them to attend Univ., they paid about 1/3, their Mom a third, and I a third, and they each grad. with no debt, I'm fairly sure.

Which reminds me that, several years ago, I called the local HomeBuilders' Association to suggest that their members should contact their members of Parliament to ask for larger support for post-secondary education.

Their office person denied that such an idea had any relevance for their members.

I said that if a univ. student grads carrying a debt of, say $75,000., on a student loan ... that's half of a regular mortgage.

You know how long that it takes to pay off a mortgage.

How long do you think that it may be before that grad. student, now quite likely in a professional career, will be able to get that student loan paid off ...

... and until much of that loan is paid off ...

... be able to consider seeking a mortgage in order to buy a home??

They ... had ... not ... given ... that ... idea ... any ... thought ... whatever!!

Good wishes for increasingly shrewd use of both your income and assets ... and sensitivity enough to be aware of when to refer to such issues among family members, friends or work colleagues, etc., and to what depth.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 8:02AM
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Thank you, old joyful. I always enjoy reading your posts. Avon is still going strong. The stock price is down in the 20's right now(I think that they had a split some years ago) and DH & I are watching it closely as we think that there might be a great opportunity to buy. I have been a beauty adviser for 23 years and I have never seen it so low.

If we were younger, we would be buying up property right now, we did that in our youth. We are just too old to go through the work of fixing them up, renting them out and selling when the market goes up again. We know that in time, it would be a good move, but we have to leave that for the younger people. We are just grateful that we are in the position that we are.
We continue living a frugal life and hope the kiddos are learning from our example.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 1:33PM
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I wonder how happy the "live in the moment/only live once" people are when they aren't able to pay whatever bills they have coming in during hard times. Personally, I get great enjoyment out of being able to weather a messed up paycheck, or two, with no changes to my life.

Having no debt, other than the mortgage, allows me a lot of freedom. I recently had a once in a lifetime opportunity come up, which was relatively expensive, and I jumped on it. I had enough, and more, in savings, so it wasn't a big deal at all. If I had been "only living once", I probably wouldn't have been able to experience what I did.

Overall, my fiancee and I rarely bring up any purchases with people. If someone is talking about a new purchase, and we recently went through it as well, we'll discuss it at that point. Otherwise, it just seems like I'm bragging, whether I am or not. Luckily, no one I am involved with has any problem discussing their current financial situation, and many look towards me to give advice.

That advice is simple: Spend less than you make. Once your debt obligations start to disappear, you'll find that you can spend more, while still building a good safety net.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 12:43AM
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