An Uncomfortable Relationship With Wealth


I have an uncomfortable relationship with wealth. While I’m proud of the accomplishments my husband and I have reached I don’t want anyone else to know how much money we’ve actually accumulated. I don’t like people, (outside of this blog), to know that I own a beach house and another property that we plan to build a house on one day.

I recently joined a book club and on the way to my first meeting I grabbed the key to my new Toyota Highlander and then contemplated exchanging it for the key to my ’99 Camry. I ended up driving the Highlander, because it was a bit nippy out and I knew the Highlander would heat up a lot faster, but the very fact that I considered trading cars shows just how uncomfortable money makes me.

Society assigns a stigma to those who are wealthy. The rich are often viewed as unsympathetic and uncaring. I suppose at a basic level I don’t want to be associated with either of these characteristics. I don’t want people to think that I’m pompous or conceited. I don’t think more highly of myself because I have money.

I’ve made smart choices with the money I earned, but I also know that being smart in and of itself is a blessing. Living in the United States is a blessing. It certainly didn’t hurt to marry a man who is both smart and hard working. Not everyone is afforded the same opportunities that I have been given and given those opportunities not everyone would learn how to grow and build from them.

I’m not sure when I began to think of money in such a negative light. My grandmother often complains that rich people aren’t compassionate. She tells stories of family members who hoarded their money while she and her parents were suffering through the depression. Perhaps after all of these years her words echo in the back of my head.

My parents did not have a lot of money when I was growing up. Though we certainly lived quite comfortably in a small three bedroom rancher, we knew at times that cash was not abundant. My mom stayed home to raise my brother and I, but she drove a car with a duct taped hood and spent little money on herself. We were probably on par with our neighbors. Give or take a little they probably held similar balances in their bank accounts.

Perhaps at the most basic level my uncomfortable feelings have less to do with money and more to do with fitting in. When I drove off to my first b0ok club meeting I wanted to feel just like everyone else. I didn’t want to be perceived as the ‘girl who has money’ and I didn’t want the fact that I have money to change the way anyone thought about me.

Photo Credit: Basim

8 thoughts on “An Uncomfortable Relationship With Wealth”

  1. I don’t reveal my income to other people for the same reason. I don’t want to be associated with being wealthy because people judge others who are different from themselves. I think other finance bloggers are in the same boat as you. We value money but don’t feel comfortable talking about our personal finances with coworkers or friends 🙂 Sometimes discretion is necessary if we want to fit in. Sam also wrote a post today about this topic.

  2. I remember thinking rich people were like a different species when I was growing up. Through a scholarship program, I was able to attend a private high school and everyone there was significantly wealthy in comparison to my family. I was surprised by how “normal” everyone was though. It sounds nutty now, but it was honestly a concern that rich people would be different. Of course, they didn’t consider themselves “rich” bc someone else is always more rich than you. I guess wealth is all relative.

  3. This is a very interesting view. I am still making it in the world….but I can relate to your car comment. If I ever end up with plenty of money I know that I will never drive a flashy, $100K sports car. No way. I will drive something nice but reasonable. I have a lot of respect for individuals that are well off but live fairly average day to day lives. I don’t think your situation should be something to be ashamed of. I went to a private college (scholarship kid) and I never judged my peers for being rich (or poor). I judge them by their character. Money has little to do with who you are as a person. I think that is why I am comfortable talking about it on my blog.

  4. When I think back to my childhood and youth, it’s not money that comes to mind at all. It is happiness. Enjoyment, simple as it comes. And I consider myself lucky to have been able to continue in this vein. One used to “save” but now it’s all about wealth. How to “manage” it. I’d hate to have to hide any wealth. So I’d rather not have it to avoid this premeditated conceitedness. We laugh a lot at home. Lots of smiles and fun. How about you?

  5. OMG I relate to you hard out! I came from privilege BUT went through several years of near homelessness and now my husband and I are very comfortable. I already feel extremely self-conscious about people knowing our circumstances and they keep getting better at a pace that my comfort level cannot keep up with. I really want a Volvo XC60 but if I get one I feel like all hell will break loose. I’m already treated differently at my work (gossipy pricks) and I already get embarrassed about that. But my old danger (it’s a 2001 Toyota Vitz that I love! – I call her Ruby) is not the most comfortable ride and it’s not the safest ride either. I “should” just buy the damn Volvo and be done with it but they are very pricey (I am from NZ where they cost a lot) and I just know I will turn bright red getting out of it in certain contexts. Why am I this way? I don’t dress up or even wear make-up most of the time. I mean I don’t look like a toothless hobbo but I feel a very strong drive to not stand out as “the rich girl” but sometimes I feel people suss it out anyway. It’s making me unhappy. None of my friends have much money either – and that makes i so much worse. If there is a chick like me in or around Otago can we be friends please – I always feel like a liar and a fake because we live very modestly as we are both very private. Arghhh!

    • I can’t offer much advice other than to say that I understand exactly how you feel. Sometimes we want to be the most authentic versions of ourselves, but it feels impossible to do that without feeling the judgments of others. As I age, I try to worry less about what others think and spend more time trying to decide how to be a better version of myself. If I am honest, trustworthy, kind, and compassionate it shouldn’t matter how much money I have or spend. I haven’t convinced myself fully of that, but I am working on it! If I lived near you I have a feeling we would be good friends.


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