Feb 6, 2009

Friends in High Classes

My ex is an attorney with a 6-figure salary and a cushy job in the city. He's also one of the most frugal people I know. Go figure.

He IM'd me this evening to say "it was a sad day." I figured some girl blew him off again. Instead, this time, it was potential layoffs at the office. Well, he was sad about a new pay structure at the office... no more bonuses.

A part of me gets really ticked off every time he complains about money because he's making, like, $150k a year. On the other hand, I'm making $60k a year and I still remember a time when I was making $20k and thought $60k was "rich." I complain about not making enough money too... so I really have no right to be upset with him. While I do feel like I can live comfortably at $60k, it no longer seems "rich" to me at all.


I'm still trying to understand what "rich" means. My greatest desire in life is the ability to donate my money to different causes and people who deserve it. And... realistically, I could do that now... yet I also haven't donated one penny in years. I'm an awful person. Or at least a guilty one. I used to try to volunteer my time, but that was back when my time wasn't worth that much money. Now... my time is worth a fair amount of dough, and my free time is worth even more.

My biggest money question is life is when do you reach the point where you can donate money and feel good about it without worrying that you're pushing off an opportunity to own real estate, go to grad school (etc)? All the extra money... I put into savings accounts or retirement accounts. I'd like to one day make "enough money" where I can donate a sizable amount to non-profit(s) I care about. There are lots.

I'm always intrigued by the person who can't walk by a homeless man or woman on the street without giving them cash, or, even better, a meal. I'm awed. I grew up in the 'burbs of NY. My parents taught me to look the other way.

These days, I don't know which way to look. I just feel so guilty for having such great luck (as in, having a job right now, not having student loans, etc) and so terrified of running out of money one day and going into debt. Money totally controls my life. I like having it (who doesn't?) but I can't stand not knowing what to do with it... and feeling like I don't deserve it. That's probably why I have a spending problem... I always want to get rid of it as soon as possible.



6 comments:

Fabulously Broke said...

You've brought up some really interesting points.

1. $60k doesn't feel rich to you, but if you can save aside 50% of your net income and live on the other half, it's what made me feel rich.

2. Now that I'm out of debt, I feel a lot richer. Not working now, but when I was working, I felt a lot richer.

3. If it makes you feel better, I don't give money to the homeless either. To be totally blunt, they (sometimes) have nicer clothes than I do, and it's a job for them. They get cash from the gov't here, and they beg on the streets to earn extra cash from dear hearts who walk by (I am not one).

Not only that, I was told by a couple of them that they liked their nomadic life, and they earned enough on the streets begging, than they ever did in their minimum wage jobs working 40 hours a week.

A lot of them in Montreal disappear in the winter because it gets cold, and they migrate to British Columbia where the weather is gorgeous and there are bleeding hearts all over the place.

Then for the summer, they come back to Montreal for the festivals and the gullible tourists and wash, rinse, repeat.

Anyway.

Fabulously Broke in the City

"Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver."

Fabulously Broke said...

I forgot to mention that I do donate to charity - Canadian Cancer society, around 15% on average.

Just because cancer runs in my family.

Fabulously Broke in the City

"Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver."

wellheeled said...

Well, he probably thought that $150K is a lot too. Until he started making that much. ;)

MEG said...

I'm sorry but I really don't buy that being able to donate money to others is your "greatest desire in life." If you haven't donated a penny in years, that just ain't so, sister. Which is totally fine of course, and you shouldn't necessarily beat yourself up.

But the fact is that there is always going to be some other goal - grad school, a home, a wedding, your kids' college, your kids' grad school, your kid's wedding...it's all about priorities. You would probably scoff at somebody who asks you how much you have to earn before you can afford to save. This is kind of the same thing. You can always afford to give.

Especially if you consider that you're saving money for something unnecessary (yes, owning real estate and graduate level education and vacations and weddings are all technically unnecessary) when millions - maybe billions - of people are struggling to feed themselves, buy medicine, learn to read, are being oppressed, have no freedom, or are abused.

If you really want to give, just do percentages. My goal is to donate 10% of my gross income. Right now I'm at 5% and I feel guilty too, because I'm saving 20% - part of me feels like I should be able to give at least as much as I hoard for myself (especially when I'm just spending the majority of my income on selfish things like cable and internet and food and alcohol).

But hey, nobody's perfect. And, you don't HAVE to give, especially monetarily. When it comes down to it, the vast majority of people give or volunteer for selfish reasons anyway - to prove we aren't stingy, for community recognition, to feel needed, to demonstrate ourselves as caring or needed, etc.

Ellen said...

I don't think you should feel guilty for not donating to charities (or whatever you want to donate to) at this point. If you don't feel like you're ready to take that step, then there's no use in forcing yourself to do so.

You also don't have to think big like, "I must donate 10% of my gross income." It's not all or nothing. Hell, send $20 to your charity of choice. It will clear your conscience a little bit and maybe get the ball rolling. Once you realize that you didn't need that $20 so much, you can add a little more. If you realize you really did need it, then clearly now is not the time for you to give your money to someone else.

Yes, giving to others is great, but you also have to look out for yourself first. No one else will.

Ellen said...

By the way, I'm subscribing to your blog and adding you onto my blogroll ;)

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