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Do I Belittle the Hard Work that Led to My Wealth?

All the members of my family know that my husband and I own two homes. They also know that one of those homes is located in a community near the ocean. Sometimes I wish we had never told them. When money sits in the bank no one knows just how much your worth, but when you buy a home in a beach community every knows you have saved quite a bit of money.

Truth be told that house is one of the shining achievements of my 29 years. Five days after my 28th birthday I signed the purchase agreement for my beach home wearing a partially wet bathing suit straight out of the ocean. But a lot of hard work and sacrifice had led to that day. Taking the right courses in college, graduating with a high G.P.A. Looking for a job long before I graduated, working my tail off in that job, including working long days, nights, and weekends. Living in a group house with one bathroom and five messy roommates. Plunking our salaries into principal payments so we could stop paying PMI, (primary mortgage insurance), on our first home. Reading personal finance books and books on frugality and convincing myself and my husband to change our spending habits.

So given all of that… why do I always belittle the hard work it takes to save when I discuss the beach house with my family? Last night my husband pointed out that I am constantly praising luck for our circumstances instead of hard work. I guess I wonder if my family will understand the hard work. After all, a construction worker would never classify a software developer’s work as hard.

Every life is made up of a series of decisions and each decision can radically alter the course of one’s life. Although I know that I have worked hard to achieve our dreams and to continue reaching for them, I guess I think no matter what I say, certain members of my family will believe it was all luck anyway.

M

Friday 13th of July 2007

Just read this about your health. I'm so sorry for what you are going through but glad you are not suffering financially. Wish you the best with your medical troubles, I def. know how hard it can be. Thanks for your kind words too.

Michael

Thursday 12th of July 2007

Ben Hogan said the harder he worked the luckier he got. What is important is how you feel when you put your head on the pillow at night. You can never control what other people think and it causes too much stress and wasted energy trying to do so.

When you look at the ocean, you know the hard work and sacrifice it took. Smile inside and be thankful and enjoy it!!

One Frugal Girl

Wednesday 11th of July 2007

M -

Health is an interesting topic in the light of hard work, good decisions and luck. I have actually been quite ill for the last two years. An unexpected medical condition resulted in two emergency room visits, surgery, and years of recovery that is still ongoing.

A few years prior to this event I had interviewed elsewhere but decided to stay at my current job because of the employee benefits. Although I had no idea that I would become ill that decision was the wisest I ever could have made.

My health care benefits enabled me to see the best surgeon in the country and my short term disability policy provided paychecks after recovery.

The right decision at the right time enabled me to survive what could have been a financial disaster. In this case it was lucky that I interviewed with my employer, preparation that I landed the job, hard work that I stayed with the company, and a smart decision to stay on board despite being bored with my work. I am so grateful that I didn't have to suffer financial crisis while undergoing a medical one.

As one who is still recovering I feel for you and wish you all the best in your recovery.

M

Wednesday 11th of July 2007

I think it's really important to acknowledge both factors. There are many who do as you did and have nowhere near what you have. Without your hard work you wouldn't have what you have (unless you won the lottery maybe?), but without good luck you would quite possibly not have had it either.

Suppose you didn't have the good luck to have good health, for example. You would have much less than you do had you or your spouse been ill, unable to work, and buried in medical bills at a younger age, before you could amass a good amount of money (insurance and dis. benefits only do so much). Many who are not wealthy work just as hard as those who are.

I don't say all this to dismiss your accomplishments, but to encourage people to not downplay their good luck. I too have good college degrees, had a great GPA, good job, cheap rent,worked very hard, all of it. But my health (and other issues to an extent) has changed my finances (not for the good) possibly forever.

There are things we can control and those we can't--both play a significant role in how our lives turn out (in fact I've been working on a post about this very topic that I'll hopefully post soon).

To address the point you brought up, if your family is discounting your contribution to your financial status, I think it is important to stand up for yourself and let them know that you would like them to respect your hard work and good decisions by not attributing all you've achieved to luck.

Jennifer Lynn

Wednesday 11th of July 2007

Frugal girl, you completely deserve this! Through wise decisions, you've achieved what others simply haven't had the motivation or willpower to accomplish. Don't allow anyone to detract from your wonderful successes. Major kudos, and don't feel guilty. You've earned every bit of this.

You're a major source of inspiration for those of us still struggling to get there.

=^..^=