Friendships changing

How to explain ERE, arranging family matters
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Re: Friendships changing

Post by FruGal61 » Fri May 04, 2018 2:27 pm

Sclass wrote:
Wed May 02, 2018 8:00 am

It’s all about her and about 5% about me. Not to worry.
Yes, we have the same friend. :D My obsessed-with-her-house friend also sometimes buys herself expensive jewels and clothing that she likes to flaunt. I don't criticize her actions, when she asks me if like her new bauble or coat I say "yes". What's not to like about a diamond or a beautiful high end piece of clothing? It's not my money. She also has "family money", a liquid trust fund as a helpful cushion. It's not millions but it's something she can rely on. In the meantime, while on paper she has very little income, she gets fuel assistance, food stamps, free health care etc while doing extensive landscaping and home renovations. She cries "poor house" all the time, how she has no money, and then shows me her new bathroom. I could point this out, but I don't. She really knows how to work the system and is quite good at it. So, kudos to her. :roll:

True, it is a choice to maintain these friendships. The friends like these I keep on a 10 foot pole, I'm friendly when we are in touch but I don't go out of my way to see them. I flat out avoided this one for a few months but she keeps coming back and so far I've been too nice to flat out "ghost" her. Again, my choice.

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by Sclass » Fri May 04, 2018 4:24 pm

NPV wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 2:43 am
thrifty++ wrote:
Wed May 02, 2018 2:20 pm
@Sclass - a lunch lady at the local school who brags about her 3 million dollar house and struggles to afford her expensive car and jewellery and looks down her nose at you. My god she is the antithesis of ERE.
Not necessarily. If she owns her $3M house outright, she could sell it and would be retired instantly with a close to 6-figure income at a ~3% SWR :D
This is really interesting. I’ve mentioned this to her when she complains she’s cash poor. She always replies “but then where would I go?”

Oddly she is not the only Bay Area senior I’ve heard say this. It actually sounds kind of ridiculous if you haven’t had a sip of the Bay Area (“bestest place on earth!” ) koolaid. It has gotten to be a going joke with my SO...when somebody starts saying how their house is worth millions, then they say, “but if I sell it...,” we cut them off and say in chorus “but where would you go?” It has made us really popular with these people.

See, they don’t want to move. The just want to tell you how much their home is worth so you can recognize them as millionaires. But if they sell out and leave, well I guess they won’t be able to tell me about their $3,000,000 home. The other scary thing is being successful investors in only one thing their entire life, they aren’t confident about putting cash to work to sustain life at X% SWR. Seriously they did exactly the opposite their entire career - pump all earnings toward a mortgage and spend the rest on luxury goods. At this point, putting $3,000,000 - fees and long term cap gains tax in their pocket may not be a smart bet. So perhaps they are really smart staying put. The home is useful, it is a self esteem prop.

I know three people like this. They complain about retirement income but they won’t sell out and invest their millions of home equity for income. One even went as far as to buy a small place in Kauai using his savings but didn’t want to actually retire there. When he realized he didn’t use his vacation home much he sold a loss and stayed home in his $3,000,000 home and continued to complain to me about retirement income and not having anywhere to go.

I hope I don’t act like this when I get old. Wait, I don’t own a $3,000,000 home so it’s impossible. Funny people. I get the idea they are frustrated because they cannot play the home comparison game with me. They seem to do it with one another a lot.

To make things worse, I am a living breathing example of what is possible if they sold their homes and invested purely for income and lowered themselves to a lowly renter like me.

Seriously what could poison our friendship more that answering their stupid rhetorical question “but what would I do?” by pointing at myself? They know the answer and it just doesn’t work for them.

Why? I dunno. Connection to “friends” and community. Unwillingness to downsize. Unwillingness to clean out fifty years of accumulation. Unwillingness or inability to find and acquire a new self esteem prop. I dunno.

The real answer? Well I could tell them but I’m losing popularity by the second. “You’re going to the assisted living facility, then to memory care, then to skilled nursing, then to the ICU.” See Sclass knows stuff :lol: but not how to win friends and influence people.

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by FruGal61 » Fri May 04, 2018 4:40 pm

Hilarious, sclass! Sad but true? So aptly put. You nailed it. :lol:

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by NPV » Fri May 04, 2018 8:13 pm

Fascinating... Almost like having a winning lottery ticket but not cashing it in...

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by Peanut » Fri May 04, 2018 9:44 pm

@Sclass: That's such an insightful point about how they are not confident about putting money to work bc they just lucked into huge real estate appreciation. Which is not even what you want if you're NOT going to sell bc all it does is raise your property taxes!

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by Sclass » Fri May 04, 2018 10:20 pm

Peanut wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 9:44 pm
@Sclass: That's such an insightful point about how they are not confident about putting money to work bc they just lucked into huge real estate appreciation. Which is not even what you want if you're NOT going to sell bc all it does is raise your property taxes!
well it’s funny out here in CA. We have prop 13 which limits property taxes increases from the time of purchase. For example my mom’s place has a $1000 a year tax bill even though comp sales are at $2,000,000 now. The home was last assessed in 1975. Her young neighbors pay $20,000 a year if they just bought. So these older people have the incentive to stay put because they pay a fraction the property tax of heir younger neighbors. Doesn’t matter how much the homes are worth. Hence the whole CA RE problem...the supply is kept low because it is in people’s best interests to stay put and not sell. So there is too much money chasing too few houses in some communities.

Getting a little OT here but is is interesting.

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by George the original one » Fri May 04, 2018 11:17 pm

Sclass wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 4:24 pm
“You’re going to the assisted living facility, then to memory care, then to skilled nursing, then to the ICU.”
You left out "while in the assisted living facility, you'll give $1.5 million to a Nigerian scammer which is why the next stop is memory care". It would definitely make you popular with these friends if you told them that!

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by Sclass » Sat May 05, 2018 7:07 pm

George the original one wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 11:17 pm
You left out "while in the assisted living facility, you'll give $1.5 million to a Nigerian scammer which is why the next stop is memory care".
I have a lot of experience with this. It can get very bad because there is a cottage industry in the USA focused on scamming old people. My mom was taken multiple times. I stepped in to rescue her but I ended up becoming her caregiver in the process. The horrible thing is she resented me for it for a time because she said I “wasn’t letting her do anything.” :roll:

My SO reminds me of those days when I get bummed out over mom’s current “walking dead” status. She was much more stressful when running on half a brain than none.

OT again.

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by thrifty++ » Fri May 11, 2018 3:33 am

I have just been asked by some good long term friends - again - to meet them out at some bars tonight. I made up an excuse. I just really dont fancy the thought of spending $100 on alcohol, having superficial conversations and feeling like shit tomorrow, when I have so many other things to do. They always seem to ask me late, like 9pm, rather than immediately after work like at 5pm, when it is more likely we will have a focused quality conversation. Experience tells me if I turn up at 9pm they will be already half cut and there will be loads of other people they are talking to and I wont even have a quality conversation.
I really must find some ways to meet up with old friends where I organise the event and therefore direct the flow towards something I can tolerate. Its very challenging though when you are extremely busy with many hobbies and jobs as well as personal finance. So many things to juggle.

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by Scott 2 » Fri May 11, 2018 6:01 pm

If you can find something they enjoy, it could catch on, making the change self-sustaining.

We've got a couple low cost events around holidays run by local park districts. They've turned into annual rituals with friends. Hard to find, but easy to sustain now.

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by Clarice » Fri May 11, 2018 8:43 pm

Sclass wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 4:24 pm
It actually sounds kind of ridiculous if you haven’t had a sip of the Bay Area (“bestest place on earth!” ) koolaid.

I enjoy a lot your observations about "the bestest place on earth" in general and Los Altos in particular. They are very funny and very much consistent with the way I view this theater of absurd (while living here). Overall, people treat their money the way Hollywood stars treat their silicon: they have suffered for it, they gonna make sure you see it. Humble brag is very popular in the form of calling any house that is less than 3000 square feet "small" or emphasizing with humility that one lives in Los Altos and not Los Altos Hills. I budget for maintaining friendships - the girls' night out, for example. They don't do potluck parties over here - too exhausted for that. The recent outing set me back $79. The stuff that I actually ordered with the tip was about $30. On the way to our cars one of my girlfriends cataloged in great details all her aches and pains (headaches, neck pain, back pain, knee pain). I was nodding my head sympathetically while thinking, "Why did you order dessert? Do you know that sugar promotes inflammation? Why did you eat so much? It's not healthy." I didn't think she wanted my honest opinion. This friend lives 1/4 of a mile from me - a distance she often covers in her Mercedes SUV. Out of all my friends, my husband and I live in the most humble house, drive the most humble cars, and spend the least on eating out, but I am still a part of this madness and have a $79 restaurant receipt to prove it. :shock: Hang in there with your mom! I feel your pain - going through exactly the same. :(

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by Sclass » Sat May 12, 2018 9:11 am

Thanks Clarice. I was so inspired by this thread I picked up the phone a few times this week and called my pseudo family on the peninsula. You know what, they were really happy to hear from me. It is so easy to tap my phone and get them instantly it seemed kind of ridiculous drifting away and then torturing myself about it. It was good catching up. Even if the only time we had to talk was during their 237 commute. I had to time it right so we could chat about non essential stuff.

Los Altos was a weird place. It is just concentrates this certain class. So much is driven by fear and envy there. Freakish. I rented my grad school apartment a block from the country club on arriving to the valley. I ended up staying in the area half of my life.

That was awkward with friends and family. I recall my first boss squared asking where I lived and I said near the CC. He said, “nice, I live near the country club. Where?” I could feel the tension building. I said, “near the back nine on the creek.” He was silent. I dumbly pursued, “sir, where do you live?” He stammered out, “on Fremont near 85.”

Big faux pas for young Sclass. Boss squared stopped chewing his food. I basically called out that he was not a Los Altos Hills resident but a lowly Los Altos resident. Worse, he lived on the Cupertino border God forbid. And he’d be mouthing off how he lived near the country club. My boss jumped in to smooth thing out, “Sclass rents a room in a home up there.” Boss squared smiled and exhaled. He was back in a good place knowing he’d sold his soul to HP for good cause. No little kid could snatch that which he’d paid dutifully for.

That’s how twisted those people get. It happened half a dozen other times with co workers. Guys screaming, “What!? How do YOU afford to live there?!” Seriously rude talk from people I’d just met. I guess I was supposed to answer I lived in Sunnyvale which was more appropriate for an engineer at that time. Oddly relatives also made mental notes that I stayed in town after moving to a home near downtown. “Do you even own that place?” One would rudely ask. Another would answer, “no he rents it and it’s a tear down.”

“But why?” Another cousin would say, “how are you going to save money renting? You just rent there to look rich? One day you’re going to have to come back down to earth and buy a place like the rest of us in Milpitas or you’re gonna destroy your financial future.”

So fast forward to today. To all these SV folk I guess I was “posing” living in a rented multimillion dollar pile of straw in downtown Los Altos. I finally was going to get what I deserved for not living at my station for 25 years. Heck, I was supposed to live at Escondido Village with the rest of the destitute Stanford students, then buy my first home in Santa Clara, and make payments on it by kissing ass and politicking at Intel or HP till I got all obsolete. But no. I refused to take their life/financial wizdumb and presto, I jump out of the hat and I’m retired!

“What, how?!? That guy the Los Altos renter?! He must be penniless. He doesn’t own a handful of Santa Clara County soil. He never saved a penny posing up there! He couldn’t be...uhh at best he’s far behind us because we followed the SV recipe, we married, bought a home, went to work at the majors, traded up a home. How? I know he’s pretending to be retired. He’s like a frog that dove under water to escape, pretty soon he’ll come up for air just watch. Sclass you go back to work yet?”

No. And they are all still slaving away in the Silicon mine at 50+. A scary place in tech.

“I...I didn’t know you could do that Sclass.” (Translate I thought you were poor). “How does it work?”

And now for the lit lighter tossed into the pool of gas. Get ready for it. “Well, it takes a long time to explain but let me break it down into the thirty second version, you save up some money, invest it and when the interest it throws off is equal to your paycheck you resign.”

“B-b-but that like being retired. That’s what retired people do.”

Right. I nod. I shrug. I stare. I smile.

This is not conducive to friendships. How do you face that? I really cannot expect my old friends to voluntarily show up and have this rubbed in their faces. It’s hard enough when a friend gets rich. All of us have wanted to see somebody we love least once. It’s really hard to accept all the religion they’d preached and lived was wrong and delivered them to their present hell. House rich, cash poor. Insecure employment.

Awww. Painful, time to go to the spa on Main Street for one of those hot stone and cucumber eye treatments. Or maybe time to head over to East West Books and find some “meaning”. Gotta forget the freak Sclass. Get him outta my sight I can’t look! He violates the unified theory of SV.

How’s that for Peninsula culture?

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by ffj » Sat May 12, 2018 10:13 am


That's interesting on how much shit you catch out there. So what makes it worth your while to stay and not move to a more open place? I would assume family but it seems they treat you pretty badly.

One of the benefits of where I live is that few people play that game of I've got more money than you, and blending in is easily achieved by just dressing normally and living in a modest home. There are many people here living paycheck to paycheck that on the surface appear to be much more wealthy than me and that's fine and quite desirable because I never draw negative attention. Have you thought about moving someplace that doesn't care about the size of your house?

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by Jason » Sat May 12, 2018 12:09 pm

Due to a specific family relation, I am sometimes forced to be with people who are not my friends interact with their friends. I just think "Oh, mutual admiration society." Advice/guidance is the equivalent of asking a waiter what's best on the menu tonight. Conversation is merely passing the pipe around. They pretend not to be ridiculously competitive. We are rich, forever young and beautiful and we will love forever. It's cultic.

I like to learn. I'd rather read a book by a person who has dedicated their life to a topic I am interested in. Or I'll watch a documentary. When I want to be entertained, I'll watch a TV show. And after reading this thread, it just leads me to the same question as why people maintain such relationships. It's so expensive, and I do not mean just financially. The cost of maintaining identities could be much better spent elsewhere IMHO. I recently wrote about a "friend" I had not seen in 25 years having been dead for 25 years. It never occurred to me that if he was interested, he would have called. Plus we were mutual bad influences on the other. We would have just kept ourselves stuck in time.

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by Sclass » Sat May 12, 2018 4:12 pm


I think I catch a lot of shit for a number of reasons. The Bay Area attracts a lot of high achievers. Part of the game is ranking themselves relative to those surrounding them. I mean isn’t that how these guys have been conditioned since they took the SAT? And the filtering continued from college to workplace to zip code and boom, you’re surrounded by concentrated shit. It gets everywhere. Pretty soon it gets hard to find good quality people to befriend.

Also, I may look like easy prey because I live modestly. Perhaps these reachers think I’ll be equivalently matched to be interesting but not so outlandishly superior to humiliate them. I look a lot poorer than I actually am.

Actual wealthy people let me be...and perhaps avoid me. The wannabes are the problem.

I guess I’m like one of those people who seem to get bitten by random dogs all the time. Maybe it’s he way I walk. :lol:

I left the Bay Area three years ago. I live in Orange County. Everything is cheaper and easier here. It isn’t a pressure cooker like Silicon Valley.

I have family obligations in SoCal. Mom. Family business. SO’s parents and family business.

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by FruGal61 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:46 pm

Another hang out with an old friend turns into her obsessing about her real estate, everyone else's real estate, and yes, my lack of real estate. She has always been a bit manic or perhaps she is hypomanic, she says she is bipolar (unmedicated but just re-started an SSRI). She felt the need to judge me/mock me on a few other personal issues, this time I called her out on it but as usual, off-kilter people like this refuse to acknowledge their behavior and it was just easier to acquiesce when she insisted I "take everything so hard". Sigh, yes, of are right. It is me, I am just too damn sensitive.

I feel like until I get "the house" and decorate it and talk about mortgages, property taxes, property lines, refinancing, and/or lawsuits with neighbors, I will endure this kind of pressure, one-upsmanship and condescension from my peers who rent their house from the bank.

Then again, as Groucho Marx said, "I don't care to belong to any club that would have me as a member." :lol:

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by ZAFCorrection » Sun Jul 15, 2018 2:00 am


US political culture has provided an amazing tactic for this situation: double down on the partisanship. Case in point, I periodically get shit for my ethanol-free lifestyle, and in response I play up the teetotaler rhetoric and get vocally concerned about alcoholism in our midst. People either take the hint or conclude I am not worth being around, and I got to chastise the unbelievers in the name of propriety. win-win.

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Re: Friendships changing

Post by fell-like-rain » Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:35 pm

A tangent, related to all this talk on expensive drinking outings: I've been doing some research for a writing project recently, and part of that has been reading up on Reformation-era German drinking culture. For them, it was a crucial part of one's honor and social standing to buy drinks for others, as this showed wealth and generosity. A man who consistently got rounds for the table would have been well-respected. However, what this inevitably led into was people binge-drinking, spending more than they could afford, and occasionally leaving their families hungry after all the man's wages were spent on booze. In fact, there was a case of a beggar (an officially licensed beggar, which probably meant he was disabled in some way) who lost his license and thus his livelihood because of his public insistence that he "always bought his round."

This was 450 years ago. The more things change...

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