Let me tell you a story. This story is about me and my friend and co-worker, Jason (names may been changed). We are the both the same age, and we both have our graduate degrees. Mine is a Masters in Biology, while his is in Engineering. We both do almost the same work. I am a Product Manager for one of the largest companies in Canada, and he is the lead designer for said product. I have $18000 in student debt. He has $120,000.
For the record, I am not comparing our degrees because there is no comparison, I do sometimes get the urge to compare our lifestyles and spending patterns though. Because I was the team lead, I had to hire him. This gave me insight and access into his income.
For the first 8 months that we worked together, I judged him, not because he was doing something wrong, but because I couldn’t understand why someone who owes 1/8 of million dollars drives a $65,000 car, goes out 3 times a week for drinks, vacations every few months. These actions made me question his priorities.
I had no right to and I still don’t.
After joining the blogging world, I have come to learn about some amazing stories of debt and how to conquer it. I have also learned that different people deal with it differently. This leads me to ask – why do we judge others’ lifestyles? I have recently seen some rather mean attacks on other bloggers about how they handle their lives. The truth of the matter is that we have no say, no right to tell anyone what to do or how to handle their finances.
Paying off my student debt loans is a really big priority. I hate having them, and I am extremely motivated to get rid of them. Living his life and having fun is something that is important to him. I can’t say that I blame him for that. Getting a Graduate degree in Engineering is not a easy or a fun feat, so I can imagine him not having a lot of free time earlier. I think part of me was jealous. The cars, the watches, the parties got to me. Seeing my debt compared to his made me feel better. Don’t get me wrong, I do some really irresponsible things right now with my money- Ipads, expensive cars, eating out at times etc. All of which could be planned better, but I refuse to feel shackled by a repayment plan, when I work as hard as I do.
I have done some really stupid things with my money in life, I am sure some of you have too. Just because our perspective and motivations have changed doesn’t mean that I/we are experts in personal finance. I really wish people would get off their high horses. Life is short and paying off debt is boring. There needs to be fun involved. This is what motivates students in school- get good grades, get a great job, buy things that you want. No one questions having to live on strict debt diets for years to pay off their student debts. No one would want to go through 8 years of post secondary schooling for that.
I know this may sound like a rant, and maybe it is, but I just wanted to share some thoughts.
I agree with you also. I am not a judgmental person at all, and I wish other people weren’t.
I could care less about what people do with their money or how they decide to live their lives. That is of course, until they decide to ask me for advice or become a client, then I get really judgmental as it’s my job. Personally, I’ve never been into cars, so that is an expense I can never understand. On the other hand, food and drink are passions of mine, so I like going out with friends and trying new places and cuisines. At the same time, if I couldn’t afford to do so, I would cut back but maybe “Jason’s” 3-time a week outings may be cutting back for him, I wouldn’t know. And, the vacationing issue would all depend on where he goes and the extravagance of them.
I always say that it’s ridiculous to be so cheap and to save every single penny for the future when there is no guaranteed future for any of us. Plus, the things we can experience today may not be physically possible later on in life. To me, it’s important to live for today while at the same time planning for tomorrow and being well-rounded. But that’s just me, and I’m by no means the penny-pinching or spendthrift type, I’m more of a lead a balanced-life-type
I agree with the overly cheap comment. I also know that being foolish with expenses right now has gotten me in some trouble. I think there is a balance between both, but it really isn’t my place to find that someone else.
Not at all. Sometimes, I don’t even like having to do that for some people as they view it a judgment rather than advice or an analysis of their situation. What makes it worse is that I won’t do that unless they come to me for help, and hate when people ask for help then can’t take an honest answer.
I think people get defensive when it comes to lifestyle habits/behaviours.
I respectfully disagree. If I care about a person’s well-being, then I do care about whether or not they’re making smart decisions. As someone’s friend, I do not think it’s right to stand silently while I watch them sink into a financial abyss.
You should never nag someone, never judge them, and never be mean or cruel to them. But I believe you SHOULD care about the road they’re taking.
I like to use this opening line with my friends — “Um, (Monica or Lisa or John or whomever) — Do you mind if I give you a piece of unsolicited advice?” This gives them an opportunity to say, “no, I don’t want to hear it” — although that never happens. Ten times out of 10, they say ‘go ahead.’
I think there is a fundamental difference between wanting others to do and judging them for the choices that they make. I can share my learnings with everything, but thats the extent of my impact/influence. Of course I want my friends to do well, and I will help them in any way I can, but I don’t judge them if they do something that I don’t agree with.
I definitely judge and compare. And if someone is obviously enjoying a better lifestyle than me, I tell myself they must be rolling in debt. It helps me sleep better at night ; )
Hahaha. This made my morning.
I’m with you on this one. I do think it’s fair to raise an eyebrow when someone is going into debt to finance a particular lifestyle, but then it’s time to be glad you don’t have to pay for it and move on. Too many people (including a lot of PF bloggers) make it their personal mission to be judge, jury, and executioner for anyone who makes decisions they don’t agree with.
It’s hard not to make judgments, but we never know a person’s entire story or situation. Plenty of my friends are doing the same stupid things I used to do, but I keep my mouth shut unless they specifically ask me how I got out of spending mode. If someone isn’t ready to hear it, they’re not going to listen anyway.
Heck- I am doing some stupid stuff according to some frugal/thrifty bloggers out there. The point is that these are my mistakes to make, just as he decisions are his.
I finally came to terms with the fact I cannot control how someone else spends their money (& that’s why I decided to include advertising on my site now). Nor should I require every visitor to submit a financial statement prior to being able to read my articles (probably not a lot of takers on that hurdle). I don’t know your personal situation and you don’t know mine, unless we share those details with each other. So, gotta limit my judgements to my OWN financial life & keep any biases or assumptions in check.
I just share my own experiences. If those insights & thoughts help someone…cool. If my Geeky personal finance perspective doesn’t appeal to you…cool.
As Herb Cohen says- “I care, but not that much!”
EXACTLY! This is what I was getting at.
I agree 100%. I know for certain I am not a financial guru and I don’t pretend to be. I make it a point not to judge how people spend their money because guess what, it’s not my money. Like you said, I don’t care how other people spend their money. I could have an opinion on how I would do something, but I don’t share unless they have asked. I have enough finance on my plate I don’t need theirs too. 🙂 And I certainly don’t want to offend anyone because it isn’t my place to say anything to begin with.
When I was getting out of debt I used my own way, and I can’t expect my way to work for someone else. I think the best we can do as non-experts is share what works for us and let others decide on their own best course of action.
I completely agree! I think everyone has a different way of doing things. I love sharing what I am doing and if that is helpful to someone then I couldn’t ask for anything else.
It’s hard to inspire, help, or influence others when you’re quick to judge. We all make mistakes. It’s the one thing we ALL have in common. I’m a big fan of grace. I know I appreciate when it’s extended to me.
It is easy to feel like you are missing out when you see everyone else living the high life. When I look around at a lot of my friends I can’t help but wonder about how they are funding their extravagance. at the end of the day you have to let it go and focus on what you can do to improve your position. In a few years you will be able to do all the stuff they are, but you won’t be racking up the debt in the process!
I typically don’t care how other people choose to spend their money until they complain and whine that they have none but they’re spending doesn’t match. When you complain to me that you can’t buy shoes for your son but you’ve spent $30K on a new car that you don’t need, I’m going to judge you. I’m going to make assumptions about your lifestyle and I’m going to have opinions. I’ll keep my mouth shut but I’m going to think things about you.