Over the holidays I spent all of my time with family. At any given moment I was spending time with someone who was a blood relative of mine. That may not seem weird at first, but spending three weeks with only people that are related to you gets to be a bit weird. You begin to lose perspective, well at least I do. I digress. Yes I have a huge family. Over half of my forty-plus cousins are working adults, so we often talk about ‘grown up’ things: work, raising families, bills, what’s next in life etc. .
One particular cousin I had not seen in over seven years. Let’s call her Sally. People change over time and those changes are duly noted by certain family members. Sometimes it’s changes in your appearance, your behavior, or interests. This cousin of mine, Sally, is about 8 years older than me. She is a doctor and married to a doctor as well. Last time we saw each other she was getting ready to start her medical residency. There is some family drama included, but those details aren’t relevant here. Let’s just say there’s a reason that it’s been over five years since we have seen each other.
Anyways, so we were at a nail salon getting pampered and making small talk before some wedding related festivities. I had already noticed that Sally is really into name dropping designer clothes, shoes, bags etc. Earlier I asked her if she had seen my Toms shoes around the house, she replied, Tom Ford?. We are obviously in two very different tax brackets. Making small talk while waiting for our manicures to dry, Sally talked about the southern city she lives in and quality of life. She was constantly comparing it to other metropolitan cities such as New York or Boston. I asked if she was going to stay in her current city long term (due to her husband’s job they most likely will). But she continued to talk about, what seemed like, justifying her life choices to live in this large southern city as opposed to one on the East Coast. She then decided to drop how much she made on a part time MD salary (a six figure number) as well as her husband’s salary working full time as a radiologist (an even bigger six figure number, working 4 day weeks). This was a bit unnerving. I didn’t ask her how much she made. It was no secret Sally was doing well. Doctors on average make decent money, this is not news. Carrying around her Louis Vuitton purse, Tory Burch boots and mention of a $400 Vitamix blender were enough of a hint.
By the time my nails were dry, I was very put off by her sharing this information with me. I don’t care if the number is accurate or inflated but what is the necessity? I don’t think she’s a better person for it. If anything it makes her seem very money hungry. Was she trying to figure out how much I made? Was she overcompensating her lack of presence for the past seven years, by making sure I knew she was working hard? I don’t know answers to those questions but it was weird.
Of course then I internally started second guessing myself. Am I making enough? (Probably not) Can I do more? (Yes) where is my life headed? Do I talk about money like that? Do I ever sound that obnoxious to others? Am I behind in life? And on and on. I didn’t let it simmer for very long, but then again I am sitting here in an airport terminal while waiting for a flight blogging about the encounter. I have to put it all in perspective. I am doing much better than I was a year ago. I have made progress with work, paying off debt, being happier. There are areas I can certainly work on: time management, being more physically active and building my savings. But for my particular situation, I am doing okay. I could be doing better, but I am not in a bind. So right now, I am going to focus on myself and now worry about someone else’s salary and the bills they have to pay. Keeping the eye on my prize and comparing myself to myself is what I need to do. There’s a great article on medium titled “How to stop giving a F@$% what people think” that you can check out by by Sean Kim.
Have you ever had a friend or relative talk about money with you, leaving you feel inadequate or insecure? How do you deal with these feelings? When is it alright to see how you measure up to others?
Starting Debt: -$25,684
Current Debt: -$10,266