Question of the Week : How do you handle it when the Joneses leave you in the dust?

This post is hard to write, but it needs to be written.  We’ve been struggling for months now, financially, and while there are a few bright spots on the horizon, the hole is pretty deep.  I haven’t lost my faith or my hope that things will ease up, but the reality is we’re behind on everything but rent, eating a lot of rice and beans, and trying to figure out what needs to change, and how soon. 

The hard part for me is the admitting part.  I don’t mind eating rice and beans (I’m getting more creative!) but I don’t broadcast it per-se.  The parts that trip me up are things like the conversation where I’m asked if I can temporarily front the money for supplies for Fynn’s preschool cleanup, which I’m organizing, and I have to say no I actually can’t.  I have to update the director, yet again, on when I think we’ll be able to catch up, and hope it doesn’t mean we have to pull him out before the end of the year.   To another mom on the playground, “No, we won’t see you at summer camp.  I can’t afford it right now.“ 

There is no shame in been poor, or in reality just less rich than I was.  We’ve always lived a little close to the edge, and don’t manage money well to be honest.  We’re now credit-less, which makes it easier to not dig such deep holes, but it means there’s a wall and you actually hit it.  We live in NYC, in a great neighborhood.  We pay a lot less rent than most of our neighbors, but they don’t know that.  We also have a subletter.  We don’t travel for the most part, have no car, and never buy furniture or things like that.  I like living this way, but it means many people around me make assumptions as to what I can or can’t do.  I still feel the shame in saying I can’t afford that.  I can’t do that.  I can’t give that.  I do it though, and it is what it is! It’s also freeing in a way, and keeps some assumptions at bay.

I know it works both ways too, that if you have more money than someone, they assume you have no troubles.  I’ve been in the “more money than most of my friends” boat before, and I didn’t like it.  A few “I’ll get the tab” comments and they started to assume I would.  It was just as hard as not having it, and had it’s own unique set of problems.

So, how do you handle a shift in lifestyle?  Have you had one recently?  Have your friends and you’re finding it challenging?  Please share by leaving a comment below!

Deadline: Midnight on Sunday the 24th.

Prize: in the spirit of honesty, I’m going to skip the prize this week and say I can’t afford it.  Which is true :).  You’ll get my undying gratitude for chipping in on the conversation though! 

I’ll be looking into getting donated prizes again, and hope to make them better ones, but likely more infrequent.  In the meantime, sharing your wisdom and opinions is good for all of us.