What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
Matt3121
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What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by Matt3121 »

I've mentioned this in some of my other posts (one being today), but I've had so many reactions people where they think I'm crazy for having retired early, and downsized and cut my expenses so much.To me it's a game now, I love seeing where I can shave off some costs, it's one of my favorite hobbies lol, but again, people think I'm crazy.

My boss (I call him that because I still help him out on some contract work occasionally), is earning 140k and is broke. He's got a 1k car payment, always stressed and complains about money. He's a good guy for sure, but he makes fun of me for living in a small house and "living like a hermit". Stuff like that. Ironically, while he's inside the office I'm at the beach 4-5x a week.

Just curious what experiences you guys have had. I've had so many and I only got started a year ago. So, please share!

UK-with-kids
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by UK-with-kids »

My OH's father has a 'quiet word' with her every time he comes to visit. It's usually about our car, which is approaching 20 years old. Funny thing is that he is completely broke but they always have a brand new car on finance. As our expenses are relatively low compared to our income it meant my OH was able to quit her job and focus full-time on a business opportunity which came up a few years ago, and this now generates more income than her old job. If we'd followed his advice on cars (and other expenses) then that might not have been possible. For some reason he can't figure this out!

When I last had a conventional job a couple of years ago the 'office bully' used to laugh at my collection of Tupperware containers for my homemade lunch. There were also a few underhand comments about my choice of transport (cycling) - my waterproofs made the place look 'unprofessional' for example. But I was the one who was able to quit and switch to part-time contracting, whereas those guys all still have jobs as far as I know.

I'm not sure all the reactions are so overt though, and I probably come across as strange to some people without realising it. Recently on one of my contracts I accidentally let slip that we don't watch TV instead of giving my usual mumbled response about not having caught that particular show they want to talk about. People looked at me like I was mad and tried to make me justify my decision, as if the default option is to spend every night glued to TV and any deviation from that must be completely insane. I guess some people pity us for going on caravan or camping holidays within the UK rather than, say, flying to Florida for a trip to Disneyworld.

On the other hand, people probably make a lot of assumptions and don't even notice that your life is subtly different to theirs. Maybe it's because we live in a more unconventional place, but I don't think our lifestyle really makes us stick out that much. After all, we still live in a house, we sometimes go to cafes and pubs, we have possessions like toys and furniture. Depends on your social circle of course.

Adamski
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by Adamski »

It is all relative. I have a taste for £3 coffees, which to many here would say is wasteful. But we live frugally compared to our net worth, and our neighbours. Nobody says anything to my/our face. I think they probably think we're eccentric for having local holidays and small cars. Maybe they think we can't afford more even when we can.

Alphaville
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by Alphaville »

same thing re: bicycles, tv shows, etc.

also, for prefering not to visit shitty restaurants, we apparently “don’t like to have fun”. :lol:

and if people find out we’re 2 adults living in a studio apartment, their eyes open wide like a couple of fried eggs because... where do we keep our “stuff”? stuff stuff stuff... so much stuff

“stuff” is not just the dumb type stuff though, the intellectual stuff is also a requirement with certain people, and it holds magical powers to validate one’s intelligence and good taste.

i used to have my apartment covered in books and records, and some of my friends still do. to some of them, my parting with the physical objects is a sign that i’ve become a philistine— never mind that i maintain heavy commerce with my local library and other less visible outlets.

the bookshelf is very much a status thing with certain types of people, and usefulness aside (for research, reference, etc), it’s a great source of social pride/shame with many educated people: a major (and for some, the main) social signaling device in the home.

i just got tired of carting heavy stuff around the world, found the price of real estate too high, and i decided not to be a fetishist anymore. but for some people, it’s like i decided to become a baby murderer. everyone’s got their prejudices and everyone is a status seeker in their own way... and yes, here i am too, making public proclamations that my way is better :P

but seriously, no matter what you do, someone, somewhere, is going to object.

slsdly
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by slsdly »

I find members experiences with others to be very interesting. I would say it has been a minority of people who react badly to my actions vis-a-vis simple living, life improvements, etc. I gave away all of my liquor a few years back when I gave it up (I had many bottles, I was basically Santa that day). Nobody made snarky comments, I suppose the closest would be the following exchange:

Me: Here's the bottle of vodka I promise. It's almost full actually!
Them: How much do I owe?
Me: Nothing, you are the one doing me a favor by taking it off my hands.
Them: Are you sure? You are going to regret this in 6 months.
Me: You know me! I'm a cheap bastard. If I have to buy it again, I won't want it anymore.
Both: *Laughs*
Them: Thanks.

I believe they were asking in good faith, rather than hinting at a disapproval. Better to assume the former anyways. Makes my life more pleasant. And we both got a good laugh out of it instead.

I choose my friends carefully. Find hobbies that attract people who are likeminded when it comes to material possessions, even if they might still be a financial mess. And most importantly, know which people to talk about frugality with, and which *not*. The people struggling, self inflicted or not, often just want a sympathetic ear than advice. 95% sympathy, 5% advice (in the form of "I did this", not "you should do this"), that's the most they can handle.

horsewoman
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by horsewoman »

Pretty tame when it comes to our long-time semi-ERE lifestyle compared to other facets of our life.
The worst thing someone ever assumed of me was that I must be an anti-vaxxer because of how non-mainstream my life is. What?! Nonsense! I was pretty shocked about this assumption.
Other than that I take way more flak for being a vegetarian/part-time vegan. This seems to irritate people a lot, even though I never make a big deal out of it and I'm not even opposed to eat animals, only to factory farming. Or for not drinking alcohol - both might be because drinking beer and eating pork is so interwoven with Bavarian culture that everyone who goes against it is considered something of an alien or a traitor. In any case, we are considered strange because of this and our ramshackle old farm anyway, so the other weird stuff (--> frugality, PT work, no TV...) does not register so much with people.

My husband has been working in the same role for 20 years, so everyone knows him in his (very large) company, and he got a lot of comments when he switched from FT to PT work. He gets asked a lot how we can afford this or it is implied that he is not "a real man" or lazy because he does not work full time. It used to bother him, but he is used to it by now and feels pity for all the full-timers.

I think I mentioned this already in my journal - a few friends composed a little ditty for my 40th birthday party highlighting all my peculiarities - my extreme frugality provided material for quite a few verses! It was meant in a teasing but ultimately good-natured spirit and I laughed until I cried. It was very informative how I come across to people!

ertyu
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by ertyu »

Derail about advice inspired by sisdly's phrasing:

It's not a matter of "can handle," it's a matter of not being a dick by (1) assuming you know all about their life better than them, (2) assuming that they should have your priorities about their lives rather than their own priorities, and (3) assuming you know what the problem is about when you don't.

Example:

(1) there might be facts about their lives you don't know and which they do not want to share for some reason, which make your "you should do this" unfeasible. If they don't want to share those facts, then those facts are none of your business. They do not owe you justification for why they don't want to follow your advice or for why your advice doesn't really apply.

(2) people do, in fact, have the right to prioritize some other aspect of their lives over their financial health. It's their choice, and because we're living in a free world, people's right to make choices about their own lives should be respected even if we think those choices are "bad" and not what we would do in their shoes. "But they keep complaining," you say. And let them - sometimes, prioritizing your life in a particular way is difficult to stick to. It's legitimate to vent off steam and to want to share with a friend that you're having a bad time. You should have the ability to vent without your friends immediately moving in to try to fix your life. Doing so is very condescending. I would argue that not being condescending and respecting other people's right to live their lives how they want to is sacrosanct and takes precedence. You can try to persuade, you can try to lead by example, but you have no right to tell anyone what to do. If you do, in fact, look down on others for having different priorities in life than you, then this makes you an asshole.

(3) the symptom might be fucked up finances, but the problem might not be not knowing what to do (so that your "you should do this" is an adequate solution because it solves the wrong problem). For instance, the problem might be some sort of a psychological block that stops the person from implementing the solution. Let's say the person knows if their finances are in order, they will no longer fit in with their large codependent family where people constantly ask money of each other. As long as you're just as broke as them, you all belong, and you're all in this together. If your finances are in order, in contrast, you might have to start placing boundaries and you might need to start rocking the familial boat. You might risk having to be less close to your family.

tl;dr: it's not as simple as "they can't handle my sage superior advice." Don't be a jerk.

slsdly
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by slsdly »

@ertyu: That's fair. I didn't mean they are useless/incapable, they simply don't have the bandwidth for it :).
Last edited by slsdly on Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

ertyu
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by ertyu »

As for answering the actual question, I'm from a second world country that has only recently started taking off economically. people here are well versed in living the ERE way, and they associate it with poverty and with not having another choice. If they are given another choice, they prefer to go for the work more - earn more - spend more route. It is generally incomprehensible to those around me that I might want to go the opposite way when I don't strictly have to.

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Jean
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by Jean »

I can't relate, the only person i get negativ comments from is basically the village's idiot.

classical_Liberal
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by classical_Liberal »

slsdly wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:01 am
I didn't mean they are useless/incapable, they simply don't have the bandwidth for it :).
I really think your comments wrt to socialization here, and in other threads are very good. I also think your take on these politically charged times (from other threads) to be very reasonable. I've recently made a resolution to be, generally, more optimistic. I think the way you view the world (based on your comments in the forum) is a good way to start. So, thanks for your contributions. Sorry for a bit of a derail.

---------------------------------------

Back on topic. I've found the people I get the most disappointment-type vibe from are those who fit into a mentor-type role, or family. People who see our potential and have some expectations that we should fit into their world view. Maybe like @Matt3121's boss? Mainly because they invested some effort into helping me be a good banker, or a good nurse, or whatever, and then I quit or cut way back. My mom & step-dad have actually been pretty supportive overall of the minimalist type lifestyle. I think it's something they wish they had done when younger, so I have no family issues as my siblings don't care enough about what I do for it to matter.

I, like @slsdy, choose those in my life pretty carefully. Also, there is some selection on their parts too, because I'm just not into many mainstream things anymore. Like watching professional sports, I used to be into them, not anymore. So it's highly unlikely I'll become close to a sports fanatic without some other areas of common interest. This means that I often find people who are more on the "oddball" end anyway. So my "oddball" behaviors are maybe less looked down upon?

By far and away, the biggest problem I have with people since semi-ER is relating to their lack of energy and time. It's not college anymore. People have really, really busy lives and it's hard for them to have extra time to build good friendships. Career, maybe kids, maybe SO, need for a bit of "self" time, and suddenly people just do not have the time or energy to take part in things I'd love to do with them. Plus scheduling is an issue, like they can come and camp for one night when I'm there for many days.

Since I work intermittently and still get a feel for what full-time work is like, I can still relate to this to some degreee. Hence bare no ill thoughts towards others wrt this issue. Instead, I've learned to tell myself when we hang out, "this is probably their only relaxation time all week". So I try to be a bit more open to letting them spend it how they want, I can always do my thing tomorrow. It helps maintaining connections, but can create a bit of resentment on my part because I'm always the one being flexible.

Given the last piece, you can see how I'm also eager to try and help the people in my life get more time and energy. It'd be a net positive for both of us. However, like @slsdy points out, people only have so much bandwidth. I always try to mostly be empathetic and only try to "help" with a small share of my input. One of my goals is to learn the right things to share with the right people at teachable times, with the small amount of "help" input I give. Hence the questions for @Matt3121 on the other thread.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

It's been a mixed bag for me.

Partially my fault, because I haven't been completely honest with most people about my longer term plans, even with myself at times?

I tend to downplay my current stint of not working as a year long honeymoon, while having very little intention of ever returning something resembling a normal career. My parents think I'll go back to work next spring, as do most of my friends.

Your question however, was focused on the frugal living part, not the EREing/not working....and to that we've been met mostly with positive reactions. My (now) wife and I have been living in a small 1 bedroom (borderline studio) apartment for the past 7 years, with 5 of those earning enough to have purchased a McMansion like many of our peers. We've never owned new cars. And we are very good at keeping our food costs down due to letting sales/seasons dictate our menu and knowing how to cook well. Other than that, our lives looked fairly normal from the outside.

So long as you avoid talking about frugality/minimalism, I don't think most people notice it too much. I worked in an office for 3.5 years where I rotated through the same 5 dress shirts and two pairs of slacks the entire time. I also wore two business suits which were alternated between and no one ever noticed. Being an athlete it never surprised anyone when I would bike into work, or that I would avoid buying pizza for lunch and instead packed something healthier/cheaper.

With friends we can be more open, and a few close ones know that we are minimalists and that we are financially savvy, but we never disclosed net worth directly. Money is a touchy subject with many folks, and you can easily come off preachy or "holier than thou" when discussing your own situation, without intending to. I've learned to only give advice when asked for it, and to a large degree practice "stealth wealth". It would bring me immense satisfaction driving a $1,500 car to my $150,000/yr job, knowing I could write a check for 3 of the BMW M3's the guy working in the next cube over was leasing to impress his neighbors.

One other way to minimize negative reactions or diffuse someones assumptions regarding our lifestyle has been stating that we are doing things a certain way for environmental reasons. That's something that many people can at least understand and/or get behind, and it's very much true in our case!

jacob
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by jacob »

Outside the online world, I've always kept my (and now our) frugality on the down low. There are some signs that something weird is going, but it's at the level of being explainable as a bunch quirky hobbies with no overall theme. We mostly look just like our neighbors and family.

In other words, over the past 5ish years, I've set up my web of goals to create what passes for a middle class suburban lifestyle. The end-result is the same, it's just that our process is rather different and about 4x as efficient in terms of spending. However, people rarely get to see how we spend. They don't ask. We don't tell.

This also means that unless we tell them or they already recognize the signs, they can't tell that the Banana Republic shirt was bought for $5 on eBay; that the fancy soap was homemade; that the wooden gift toy was made out of scrap wood rather than bought for $50 at some Montessori inspired website; that the couch was bought used; that the kettlebell is 15 years old; or that we were well stocked on plumbing, electric, drywall, etc. supplies and tools.

I do like to put out occasional frugal dog whistles to see who else gets it but takers are few and far in between. I do the same with climate change and resource depletion and again, there are few takers. I used to push the latter issues harder but encountered a lot of resistance. I think I learned to avoid being too "out" with controversial issues---like "spending less than you earn", that's pretty :shock: :-P ---and so I don't push frugality beyond showing people a few DIY tricks if they want. If they come back, I'll offer more. If not, I'll leave it at that. Basically looking to see who is interested and who is teachable. There's a Venn diagram for that. In short, unless people show that they're ready to understand by asking directly, I'm not going to push the feed.

When talking with muggles who lean very conventional we offer "secondary explanations" for some of our choices that are less offensive to their values. For example, my secondary explanation for not having children is that I'm too selfish for parenthood. This is true, but it is not the primary reason insofar I had to rank it. However, parents or wannabe parents will happily leave it at that. Similarly, I'm able to not work "because I have some savings" or if asked if I'm looking for a job, I'll offer some hobby project which "I'm trying to see what business potential it has". Not really different than the "to pursue other interests" punt when quitting a job. Again, people will leave it at that.

In short, it's amazing how little people actually care about what or how you're doing something as long as you don't get in their face about it in a clearly visible way. Most people are very reluctant to question or change their setup. This is also why I mostly talk about this stuff online and why you guys know way more about my frugal ways and means that anyone (other than DW) IRL.

In that way it's really no different than if I was into, say, motorcycles and belonged to an MC club. I'd talk motorcycles in the club and people in the club would know more about my motorcycle than my family, colleagues, or neighbors. And I wouldn't be pushing or discussing my motorcycle interest with any of them unless they asked. Just because it's the most interesting thing in the world to me doesn't mean it is to them.

thrifty++
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by thrifty++ »

Its a mixed bag. Most reactions arent positive. it depends how much people know about me.

Most people have no idea so they think nothing.

Those who have an idea how much I earn and who earn less than me but spend a lot more are kind of resentful.

Most of those who earn as much or more than me and have an idea how much I earn think I am cheap and are disdainful about it.

Those who earn more than me but dont really have an idea of how much I earn treat me with pity and forget even what my job is and think I am a struggling student or something.

Then there is a number who are intrigued and have similar habits or want to replicate some of my habits. And these are the people I like to be around the most and enjoy talking to.
Last edited by thrifty++ on Fri Jul 03, 2020 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

UK-with-kids
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by UK-with-kids »

jacob wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:50 pm
In that way it's really no different than if I was into, say, motorcycles and belonged to an MC club. I'd talk motorcycles in the club and people in the club would know more about my motorcycle than my family, colleagues, or neighbors. And I wouldn't be pushing or discussing my motorcycle interest with any of them unless they asked. Just because it's the most interesting thing in the world to me doesn't mean it is to them.
First rule of ERE Club... You DO NOT talk about ERE Club.

thrifty++
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by thrifty++ »

UK-with-kids wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 4:15 pm
First rule of ERE Club... You DO NOT talk about ERE Club.
You dont always need to talk about it for people to pick it up though. People still identify it from your habits.

Matt3121
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by Matt3121 »

Interesting responses here. I can say I don't mind any negativity that I get, certainly none of it is very bad. I just feel like I'm talking to people who don't understand the situation well. I'm not a terribly private person, I like to explain the things I've learned and if they are willing to listen I'll tell them everything.

I don't preach it though . Just explain that real wealth is from not spending, not earning. Even if I had a couple kids I don't think it would change much for me. I'd probably buy my kids more stuff than I buy myself, but I'd keep it within reason.

Laura Ingalls
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by Laura Ingalls »

I think we take care to not commit ourselves to activities with others that that we are unwilling to pay for.

We look for deals, but we don’t complain about what stuff costs. We eat at home mostly but tip generously when out.

I did complain about DS’s graduation cap and gown. It was $40 and looked like a garbage bag. I told him to save it for his brother though :lol:

thrifty++
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by thrifty++ »

Another thing I notice that some people do when they notice that you are into frugality is that they talk a lot about places to get special deals on things and talk about all the deals they have gotten and about op shopping and invite you to go with them etc. But these always seem to be unfrugal people. That who just buy lots of junk and fail to see the connection with utility that INTJ frugalists focus on. Its not buying more junk for the sake of getting a deal, but only buying what you want and getting the best deal and the best quality item for things you NEED or REALLY WANT. Not just throwing away your money collecting more cheaper stuff.

I havent got anything against op shops and in fact love them. But only for things I need. Not for collecting lots of unnecessary things for the sake of it.

Matt3121
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Re: What are other people's reactions to your living frugally?

Post by Matt3121 »

thrifty++ wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:56 pm
I havent got anything against op shops and in fact love them. But only for things I need. Not for collecting lots of unnecessary things for the sake of it.
What are OP shops?

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