Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Financial Guilt

I will come right out and say it.

Financially, this is the best P and I have ever done.  These past two years, we have been blessed to do very well financially, and are on track to do even better this year. None of this financial success has come easy. Its come with lots of hours, lots of weekend work, and lots of sacrifice. We are doing so well in large part to P's job. My job is salaried, and my steady income covers most of the basics. P pulls in a small salary, but the majority of what we have brought in has come from commissions that P brings in. He works very hard. I think he has worked only 40 hours a week once in the past two years. He works long hours, and he works hard, but he has been rewarded for his hard work.

Because of our hard work, we have been able to buy a home, take a vacation, give to others, and save every single month.

Should I feel bad about our financial success in light of all the suffering around me?

In this economy, there are a lot of people out of work. There are so many people under employed. In some areas of the country, the economy seems to be stuck in 1st gear, while in others, like where we are in Texas, it seems to be in the fast lane.

For some reason these days, it appears to me that we have started to villainize success. We have started to shame those who are doing well financially. The media, and some sections of the mass culture appear to frown upon financial success. Businesses are critcized for making money. The wealthy have been ostracized for their wealth.

Why are so many Americans willing and quick to criticize and blame those who have been successful financially? Why do we blame those who have made smart financial decisions?

I don't believe wealth is a bad thing. I don't believe that being a good steward of our finances is wrong. We fought to get out of debt, we scraped together an emergency fund, and we are working to pay our home of quickly. We both have smart phones, but our companies pay for those. Every vacation we have taken has been on the cheap. The most expensive meals we have eaten have come from mid range restaurants. We live in a very modest home in a blue collar neighborhood. We borrowed only 1/2 of what we were approved for. Our computer is 5 years old. The fanciest thing is my closet is from Banana Republic. We rely on coupons to stay under budget every single week.

We did not take part in the excesses that abounded prior to this recession. We did not participate in that culture of buying more than you can afford, on credit. In fact, we went in the opposite direction. We cut up the credit cards, paid off the student loans, and learned to live frugally, while so many others around us partied like there would be no day of reckoning.

We did not escape this recession unscathed. There was a job loss for P when his company shut down. We moved out of our home, lived in 4 different places for 2 months, including an extended stay hotel. P worked as a laborer for a farmer for months while he was looking for a job. Nothing was beneath us. We both knew how to sacrifice when necessary.

Now that we have come out on the other side of this recession and have been seeing success, we are given a message that success is wrong, that success is bad, and that the only way we can be successful in this economy is at the expense of others.

How have you been faring during this recession? Have you heard those same messages?  Do you think Americans have criticized financial success?


Denise said...

I'm really proud of you - and wish your story could be read by the masses. it is hard work. I have to smile about the timeliness of this post - I just stated a 10 day devotional by Dave Ramsey :)

p.s. - you should be proud too!!

Brooke said...

i know i feel guilty - we've been paying double mortgages/utilities/insurance/taxes for 9 months now. why am i ashamed to admit it hasn't been a struggle?

God has blessed and provided for sure, but he's done that through the hard work of my husband and the smart shopping I've done.

even in homes, we've bought much lower than we could afford, dramatically lower than what the bank would lend us. our 2 house payments are equal to or lower than some people's 1 house payment!

M. at Making Sense of Cents said...

Love love love this post. I feel like people always try to villianize people like you and me. It's not like it is all easy, we work hard!

Heather said...

We are definitely hearing this all over the news. I think the real issue is not that people have success, it is that not *all* people have success. I think that is unfortunate. Some people work really hard and barely get by, others work hard and do really well, others don't work hard and do well too.

With so much media in our lives now, we are constantly playing the comparison game. That is a big part of the problem. I know a lot of people that pay $200/month for a fancy cell phone, but struggle to buy food. It seems like everyone *needs* what they see others have.

I also think that as a generation we see what our parents may have (4-5 weeks of vacation, a steady job, the ability to do what they want because they are no longer supporting their kids) and we expect the same thing, even though they have been working for 30-40 years and we have been working for 10.

What is the answer? No clue. I think that you need to make the best life for you and your family. You need to do what you can to provide, and work to get out of debt. But, if you are doing well, and you have made the right choices, you can't feel guilty about it. You are doing what is good for you, just like everyone else tries to do. Good job!

One Family said...

Great post! You have worked hard and made good choices and you are seeing the rewards from it. Well done!

Stacia said...

I'm proud of you!! Someday, I will be saying all of this, but for now, I'm learning to like my new $$$ path. You deserve to be happy and glad that you are financially OK and don't feel bad! You are being so smart about your finances and it's paying off for you!!! Congrats!!!