My wife’s profession is highly skilled and unionized. In their unit due to having a union pay scale they all know what each other makes. They’re a close group and very open with their finances. The other week we were out with a few of them celebrating a birthday, one of her coworker often shares with us how her family is struggling financially. She took a $33,000 401K loan to pay off $25,000 in credit card debt, using the rest of the money to prepare for a first birthday. In the Asian culture first birthdays is very important, and yes she is planning to spend $8,000 on it. They’re a dual income family with three kids and make between $160K to $180K a year, but struggle with money.
Another coworker who had a late start in her career makes around $125,000 a year yet saves nothing for retirement because she can’t say no to family who asks for money.
Another coworker whose in her 50s bought into her dream neighborhood with 24 years left on a mortgage, at a rate of $5000 a month.
They’re all lucky because they have pensions, so everyone expects to work to 65 to collect it. At times the work can be physically grueling and stressful but financially rewarding. When my wife’s friend was discussing about the 401K loan several of her friends knew what that was because they had taken out those loans. You’re suppose to have a large mortgage, private school for your children, and credit card debt to bridge your expenses. As long as your bills are paid and you “save” for Christmas gifts and birthday parties stressing about money is normal. Everyone stresses about money, why should you be different?
People are happiest when they perceive to be doing better than those around them. If you make $100,000 a year and your friends make $50,000 it’s all good, but if they make $200K than you feel like shit. Regardless of income level we all struggle to spend our money to keep up with the people around us. When I was making $7.25 an hour working at Wal Mart I couldn’t fathom being able to spend all my money if I made $20 an hour. Yet despite a good salary I had a negative net worth as I was trying to keep up appearances in the Bay Area. No matter how much my wife and I make it’s so easy to spend it all knowing that no one will judge us on our spending.
Don’t settle for lowered expectations just because everyone around you has.
When I shared with my wife’s friends that I want to be done working in 10 years they presume I want to switch careers. They can’t understand why I choose to own my time, how will I be able to pay the bills? Even my wife still isn’t sold on that idea, as everyone she know plans to work into their 60s. Just because others have accepted debt as a part of their life, you shouldn’t.
Get into the right mindset to gain financial freedom. Don’t let you friends influence you, by leading you can show them there is a better way. Save for retirement as though no one will hire you at 50, look past an emergency fund and build your FU fund. Just remember there’s never enough money for everything, but there should always be enough for investing.
Are there bad influences in your financial life?