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Author Topic: financial inequality
Peer Educator-in-Training
Member # 35313

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So I didn't know where else to put this, but I'm sure other people have been in similar situations, or just know what I'm talking about.
The holiday season has a lot to do with money.
I'm a seventeen year old girl with a single mother, but I live in a VERY wealthy part of the county.
My family is not wealthy, my mother is a teacher. I am lucky to have a plane ticket to fly and visit my father this holiday season.
My boyfriend on the other hand, has a lot. His Holiday gifts consist of trips out of the country, computers, expensive musical instruments, ski gear, etc. I've never been skiing. If I went skiing, it would take my entire months check to pay for it. My mom might be able to help a bit...but probably not.
I was just wondering if anyone has been in a situation like this, or maybe just felt a little...inferior because of financial situations. How did you deal with it? Normally it's not a big deal, but this time of year, our differences are really amplified.

Posts: 34 | From: United States | Registered: Sep 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Wow...I could have almost written that. My parents are divorced, and my mom is a teacher (I don't see my abusive father, however) and I have two younger brothers. I live in Canada, though, and she lives in the US (I'm going to university here).

My partner's family is quite well-off. Upper-middle class, and though both of them work very, very hard, they just have higher salaries and double the income. I'm gifting my mother a visit from us for Christmas. I've worked incredibly hard to save up the money to do so, but I also have a good paying part-time job. For Christmas from my in-laws, we are getting a stay in an all-inclusive resort somewhere in Mexico. It's an incredibly nice gesture from them, but it makes me (and I think also my mother) feel inferior and uncomfortable because obviously, my mom can't afford to fly my entire family and my SO somewhere warm. His mum often buys me things that I don't truly need, and while that bothers me, I mostly just accept them as to not make the gap noticible. I also feel really uncomfortable going to Mexico to stay in an all-inclusive resort. Believe me, I spent a little over a week in Tijuana living in an orphanage and building a house. I've SEEN the poverty in Mexico (see no evil, there is no evil attitude [Frown] ).

Anyways, I don't really know how I deal with it. It's hard, I know. Fortunately, my partner and I are poor students, and so he understands (he didn't in the beginning when he was still living at home, we live together now, which has enormously helped the situation) a little bit what it's like to worry about financial situations. I am very thrifty, and did our entire families' presents for about $20 this year (that's 12 people). I found train tickets to Seattle for $360 for both of us roundtrip. His mom offered to pay our plane tickets there (she'd rather we fly, for whatever reason) which were $1400 and then not take us with to wherever warm. My SO really wants to go with his family on their vacation, and so I found a different, cheaper option for us (which is apparently not satisfactory).

I'm sorry to hear things are troubling. I can sympathize.

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt; sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth." ~Mark Twain

Posts: 59 | From: Canada | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gumdrop Girl
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I'm on the other side of that.

I grew up in an affluent family. We lived in a very poor part of the state. My parents have a big house, nice cars and could afford to send me to college without taking out loans.

But a lot of my friends growing up didn't have all that. I learned *really* quickly that nobody likes a rich braggart asshat. That was maybe second grade or so. Luckily, when you're a second grader in a town where nobody has a lot, then you don't have to fuss with designer clothing and one-upmanship (my folks may have had money to buy nice things, but they sure as hell never spent it on buying me high-end fashions).

No matter what your economic bracket, if you've got a great set of friends, you will always find some common ground. One thing is for certain: Money doesn't buy real class.

So what if you can't show off you D&G this and that or your new Uggs or whatever the new expensive hotness may be. You can always go find other things to do like hang out and watch movies at home, play cards, go outside and play (or just hang out). It's a matter of being considerate and inclusive.

Same goes for dating, too. I make a lot more money than the guys I've dated. So I don't get mad if they can't afford to buy me ... what did Fergie call them? Icies? no big deal. It's the time you spend, not the money.

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Posts: 12677 | From: Los Angeles, CA ... somewhere off the 10 | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 32823

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I think it works differently for every relationship, but what it comes down to is that in every healthy relationship, each partner compliments the other in different ways. Even if you don't have the financial means that he does, he obviously still values you for the other things you bring into the relationship.

In our consumer culture it's really, really hard not to get caught up in the commercial aspect of the holidays but try to see past the superficial things and offer him something from the heart. If he's worth his salt, that's what he will appreciate and want. Don't ever equate financial means with a person's value or worth.

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Posts: 52 | From: Los Angeles | Registered: Feb 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 32310

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Holiday wise, if your partner is well off she can afford to buy those expensive toys for herself. Instead of feeling bad because you can't buy that top-of-the-line digital camera or whatever, get something that she would never buy for herself. I got my boyfriend a $10ish aphrodisiac cookbook for his birthday last week, and he LOVED it. We've made a couple of really good meals with it, and cooking together is great for our relationship. (Cooking aphrodisiacs is pretty great too... psychosomatic or not, I don't care, all I know is that we had a couple of really great evenings...) I consider this a gifting victory!

The financial thing can be frustrating sometimes. My partner makes more than twice what I do (I'm getting by OK, but would struggle to pay rent and such if I had any sort of a pay cut). He wants to go on a fancy vacation this year. I definitely can't afford it, can't even afford to take the time off work, let alone pay for the vacation. I feel bad because my financial situation is preventing him from taking this weeklong romantic getaway that he wants, which he totally deserves because he works his butt off and his job is hideously stressful. It's that sort of thing that really the problem for us, because he doesn't really buy things he doesn't need. Sometimes I REALLY covet his apartment, but whatever.

Posts: 16 | From: Massachusetts, USA | Registered: Jan 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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You know, when I really started dating I was living in one of the worst neighborhoods of Chicago, in a rat-infested basement apartment, working a part-time job to help pay for my school tuition, and school for me meant far longer days than it did for others my age in regular high school.

I don't live in that situation anymore, but I'm often not far from that. I don't own a car, I don't have health insurance, I live very leanly, and I work a lot of hours to make what little I can. I have a parent who is barely off-street homeless.

But I've always been pretty plain about my financial situation with people I've dated. To be frank, I don't find that for me, dating people in a radically different financial bracket than I've always been in tends to work out. We're just too different, and even just having someone simply not get how much harder I usually have to work and how much leaner I have to live is too big a divide, for me. Classism being alive and well in the world, too, there are just too many weird dynamics for me to navigate through with someone who just doesn't get it.

But I do do just fine with people who have more money (pretty much anyone and everyone I've ever dated has/does) but a) get what it's like not to have it b) understand that it's luck-of-the-draw stuff, not me or my family not working hard enough and c) have no problem finding a middle ground with our incomes. Gifts from me do tend to be handmade, and most folks seem to appreciate that a lot (especially since people with money often buy things as a shortcut, rather than putting in the time to make something special for someone), and things like vacations and such are usually a non-issue, since anyone I date who wants to take big ones has always known they shouldn't feel guilty taking them without me.

I don't feel inferior because someone has more money than I do, but then, I'm very well-versed in matters of class and poverty and how it usually works systematically (in a nutshell: most people with a ton of money either got really lucky or came from money). Too, could I be making more money if I did a different kind of work? Sure: but people who care for me and like me, one of the things they usually like about me are the sacrifices I make to live on very little so I can do good for the world. And when you're still dependent on parents, there's just no need to feel what money your family has has anything to do with you at all, since it doesn't.

People with money may have lots of things easier, but it really doesn't buy happiness: there are plenty of unhappy folks with cash just like there are plenty without. And it's only money, not a valuation of what kind of person you are. [Smile]

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
oOo Lea oOo
Member # 26647

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Heather is right. Money is just paper with a value printed on it. Some people see it and overestimate the value. Love has such a much greater worth than anything money could buy. And in a time like this, being the holiday season (or anytime really) things that are made do mean more than anything bought. It came from the creative mind of the person who constructed it, and the time and effort they put into making it was it is at it's finished phase, show the passion you have for the person it goes to.

I've struggled plenty, but I'm glad I have, and I know that my struggling will not end. I work hard for every penny I make, and trust me, I don't make many.

But I work at a nursing home, and although it's tough when I get the nice little letters in the mail with the nice little dollar signs and the return receipt of payment attached . . When I look at those faces each day while I'm putting in 9 or 10 hours, I don't regret it. Like Heather said, money doesn't buy happiness. And don't feel for one second that you are less of a person than anyone who has more money than you. You're not.

And I say thank you for the scars
And the guilt and the pain
Every tear I've never cried
Has sealed your fate.
Did you take me for a fool
or were you just too blind to see
that every effort made has failed
and there is no destroying me?

Posts: 366 | From: West Virginia | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I also come from a family who has always had to struggle with money and so has my boyfriend's family until recently. My boyfriend was just notified last year before he turned 18, that he was coming into a bit of money, because he father died in a government job at a car accident. long story short, his memere suied the guy's insurance company that killed him. After time, my boyfriend will be loaded. Every year he gets something which is invested, but he has taking out some to buy a new car etc. But like I said the majority of it is invested and he goes to school and we both have jobs at pizza hut. (Yea I know glamorous) We both work hard and if we end up getting married and having kids our kids will too have to work hard. I always offer to pay even if he insists on paying. My boyfriend loves me for me, just like I love him for him. I never feel inferior because of this. Like Ocarina said, our gifts are either inside, or priceless, because of the meaning. Every month I write him a happy anniversary card and tell him how much i love him. 3 of my most memoriable anniversarys was when we cooked each other supper and chilled with each other. I treasure every poem he has written me, every love note he has written for me, and on our year anniversary we painted a glass vase that i put my flowers in. Money should not matter unless you make it matter
Posts: 44 | From: USA | Registered: Apr 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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