Do You Apologize for Your Wealth?

Do people with money usually flaunt or apologize for their wealth? This past week one of my good friends lost her job. As it goes in the financial industry when times are tough and companies need to increase their profit margins. She (let’s call her Amanda) has over 10 years of experience and is college educated so I don’t think she’ll have any trouble finding a new job. However, the period of uncertainty is unsettling for her, her relationship and her bank account because let’s be honest money troubles can be a major source of stress.

If you had to live on less, could you?

Amanda’s husband has a good job and makes approximately the same amount of money as her per year which is $75,000 before taxes. As she was telling our circle of friends about her two week notice she confessed her concerns about living on one income and I felt like some other women were money-shaming her.

I think income is all relative and cutting a household income in half is a big adjustment, whether is $155,000, $75,000 or $35,000 per year. I don’t feel that anyone should apologize for your wealth, especially since it’s yours and no one else’s.

Don’t apologize for your wealth, you earned it

Yes, $75,000 per year is more than some families of four live on, but that’s not her fault, nor is it truly relevant. The fact is she is about to lose half of her income and that can be terrifying. Amanda didn’t take a year off after graduation to travel like so many college students do. She worked hard and landed a full-time job right out of college so she could start gaining experience in the work force.

Amanda has always been determined and she’s had a clear career path ever since we met in the second year of college. All this to say that her life choices helped her get where she is today, so should she apologize for that?

Wealth inequality can be stressful in a relationship

If Amanda does find herself without income between jobs it will set off an imbalance in her relationship and that can be stressful. When the financial burden of being head of household lays upon one person’s shoulders it can create tension between the couple. Although the lack of contribution will hopefully only be temporary, it’s a lot to ask of someone.

The other side of the coin is for Amanda to dip into her personal savings. This would allow her to continue contributing towards the household expenses, but it will cut into her retirement savings fund. I’m not sure which of the options is the lesser of two evils: does she allow her husband to take 100% responsibility for the day to day family finances including credit card payments or does she withdraw money from her nest egg?



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4 thoughts on “Do You Apologize for Your Wealth?

  • Hi Sandy,

    This brings up the emotions I have as a male born in the early sixties – I naturally feel like the burden of “making our nut” (covering all life’s monthly expenses) lies on my shoulders and it drives my wife crazy. It’s really hard to uninstall an app that was programmed in a persons head at an early age. Scary.

    In regards to apologizing for being wealthy – it’s all relative isn’t it. What one person calls wealthy another person might call “scraping by”. When times are good we never apologize for being financially free, but we don’t broadcast the fact either.

    Sort of sheepish when business is booming and loud when business in struggling.

    • Hey there! Truly food for thought, especially since I like the idea of sharing expenses, and not making one person or another be the sole breadwinner. You’re spot on about financial imbalance within a relationship, especially if two people are continually not on the same page, let alone the same book of life.

      I mean, I’m having to teach myself about money, how I want to handle it. I no longer want to be super-spendy like my dad. That is not wise. But I don’t like the scarcity frame of thinking that my mom holds in her head either. That is spiritually incorrect thinking, to my mind.

      So no, I don’t think anyone should apologize for the money they do have, if they have earned it fair and square, worked to get where they are. But I think it’s wise to get creative in good ways with one’s finances if you hit lean times. For example, if there’s public transportation, such as a bus system or subway, by all means, take it. You save money AND the planet, plus you get to see your town from a different perspective. Save driving your car for the days you have to go to the laundromat, or need to get a ton of groceries, etc.

      But what if you still have your job, but you were in a car wreck and have to downsize your car choice due to depreciated market value of your previous vehicle? You still might want to employ the use of public transportation on your off days, to offset the cost of fuel you use if your job is some miles away. Yeah, I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and I’m enjoying the creative thoughts I have, actually. 🙂

  • Situations like this illustrate exactly why retirement funds should not be the only savings bucket. Job loss happens and an emergency fund that has nothing to do with an IRA, 401K, Roth, etc should be a priority for everyone. I have raided my retirement savings in the past and I constantly wish that I’d have put more thought into finding an alternative. I was laid off recently and I am so thankful that I had the foresight to build a cash reserve. Now a time that would often be stressful is just a blip on the radar and it won’t require me to go anywhere near my retirement savings. In fact the loss of income could be the perfect time for a Roth conversion.

  • How much of one’s wealth is truly earned?

    If you bought a $100K house ten years ago and today it is worth $200K, did you “earn” the $100K appreciation?

    If you held a $500K stock portfolio in 2016 and it’s worth $700K today, did you “earn” the $200K gain?

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