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Mar 22

I’m Not Cheap, You’re Broke!

student debt survivor cheapHave you ever been teased by your friends or family because you choose to be frugal?

You know, gentle ribbing by friends when you tell them that you aren’t going to go out to dinner with the crew because you’re saving to pay off your mortgage? Taunting by your crazy uncle that you’re not going to participate in the fantasy football league? Whispers by noisy co-workers that you’re too, “cheap” to, “go in” on the lottery ticket pool?

Here’s a quick explanation of why I don’t care about what those people say, They’re broke!

Mom always told me to avoid peer pressure and she was so right. Personal Finance is Personal. You wouldn’t take advice about weight loss from a sumo wrestler, so you probably shouldn’t take advice (or respond to pressure tactics) about how to spend your money from people who aren’t successful at managing their own finances.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think there’s a distinction between frugal and cheap. I am frugal, but I’m definitely not cheap (or I don’t think so). Recently a few events/occasions (baby shower & going away party) have come up at work where it’s basically expected that everyone will contribute money for a gift. Instead of feeling weird or bad that I didn’t want to contribute a large sum of money. I offered what I felt comfortable giving (frugal, not cheap!). I’m not going to feel guilt-ed into giving $30, just because everyone else is. If I want to give $10, that’s what I’ll give. And If I want to give $50 when everyone else is giving $10, that’s what I’ll give. And I’ll feel good about it!

Do I feel weird saying, “No” sometimes? No! Do I feel bad about declining an offer? Nope. Do I feel good about continuing to make the, “right” financial moves that will help me build a strong financial future? Absol-freaking-lutely.

Do You Ever Feel Guilty About Saying, “No” to Broke Friends and Co-workers? How Do You Avoid Them?

Image: ecastro

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  1. Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies

    In general, I try and give on the same order of magnitude as other people or not give at all. People seem to understand that you can’t give $30 to every school walk-a-thon for every kid and it’s not a big deal. Gifts around the office I just give what I choose – then the person going shopping knows exactly what the combined budget from everyone is. No biggie.

    1. KK

      I like the envelope system best, that way nobody knows who’s giving what. I was surprised at my new job that they just go around and ask for donations, no envelope, it make me feel a little weird (well put off really) the first time, but now I’m used to it.

  2. Michelle

    Yup I am usually teased. Lately though they have stopped because they realize that I save my money instead of wasting it. They now know why I can go on nice vacations and they cannot!

    1. KK

      Right? It’s not as hard to tease people when they’re the ones going on nice vacations, or buying a new home, when you’re still in the same financial situation. Good for you!

  3. Girl Meets Debt

    I always feel peer pressured at work to “chip in.” I really need to work on saying No…

    1. KK

      It’s hard for some people (I used to be one of them, so I know). Once you say no the first few times it gets easier.

  4. Morgaine

    In my office there always seems to be something or another going on that we are expected to contribute to, but usually only $1-2 which I don’t feel bad about (even if I don’t particularily know the co-worker well). Luckily, they do send this around in a non-marked envelope and no one would know how much each person contributed (or, didn’t) since no one is there to see if you made a contribution or not. I like this method much better, no pressure.

    I have also been the beneficiary of the kindness of my co-workers, before my wedding last year they gave me a $75 Sears gift card (where our registry was). I know that the really warm and fuzzy feeling I got from that present made the other contributions worthwhile since I’m sure that’s how the other recipients felt when they received their present :)

    1. KK

      Oh that’s nice. I think it’s easier to give when you know that everyone is giving equally and will “return the favor” if something good (or bad) happens to you. When I moved offices at my current company I had a going away party and received a really thoughtful gift. I made sure to thank everyone multiple times because I know how strapped for cash people are these days and it meant a lot that they bought me that gift.

  5. John S @ Frugal Rules

    I always hate when this happens, especially when I know some of the others have some major financial issues. We all have to do what’s comfortable to us and, at the end of the day, I think they need to be concerned about their own wallet and not mine.

    1. KK

      Yup, you have to look out for you and your family first. If giving is going to impact my family it’s easy to say no.

  6. Financial Black Sheep

    I haven’t worked in an office that required me to pitch in for anything for quite some time. People must know I am a broke college student lol, either that or the companies just don’t do that sort of thing. I tried doing a secret santa thing for $10, but no one liked their gifts and complained the whole day. Really ruined gift giving at the office for me.

    1. KK

      Oh man, that sounds terrible. If you don’t like what you get just say thank you and move on. Nobody made those people participate.

  7. Holly@ClubThrifty

    Oh yes. My best friend (love her dearly) lives paycheck to paycheck but always makes fun of my frugality.

    1. KK

      I’d imagine overtime that situation will change when you have the things that she wants because you were smart enough to make the right sacrifices now 😉

  8. Grayson @ Debt Roundup

    I never feel bad about saying no. I don’t mind if people think it is rude or awkward. It doesn’t bother me and I move on with my life, just a little bit richer than them.

    1. KK

      Exactly. Make fun now, but later you’ll be asking me what the “secret” is to getting ahead.

  9. C The Writer

    I find it appalling that people are expected to “chip in” for gifts for people they’re not even close to, like coworkers. That’s just messed up.

    I would have no problem flat out saying no. I’m not required to give money for anything or anyone. After being horribly poor for so long, I’ll probably guard my money more tightly than ever.

    1. KK

      I think it’s smart to guard your money. If it’s someone that you’re not close to and you don’t feel the need to give, I wouldn’t give either.

  10. Mackenzie

    That’s one of the things I don’t miss about working in an office: all the birthdays, gifts, etc… that co-workers try and guilt you into paying for. Like you, I gave what I thought was appropriate, and that was it.

    1. KK

      It definitely adds up over time too. $10 here and $10 there and before you know it you’ve spent $200 on office gifts for people you’re not that close to.

  11. krantcents

    I never have a problem saying no!

    1. KK

      It used to be more difficult for me, now not at all. Saying no is smart.

  12. anna

    I don’t have a problem saying no to work people, but I do feel cheap when it comes to friends since they tend to go to expensive places to hang out. I usually just pre-eat and find the least expensive meal at the place to soften the blow.

    1. KK

      Oh boo. Fortunately my friends are pretty frugal (and they know I am) so if they choose something that’s out of my price range I try to negotiate a different location. Once I started doing this everyone felt relieved, because they didn’t have the money to go to the expensive places either. Funny how that worked out 😉

  13. Mo' Money Mo' Houses

    You’ve definitely got a point. When I used to be teased by people about being frugal (more when I was younger) they were terrible with their own money!

    1. KK

      It’s hard to tease someone or make an argument for spending more, when you don’t have your own finances straight. It’s really kindof weird and sad when you think about it.

  14. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    Great post, KK, and I agree: it never upsets me anymore. It used to, mostly because we were saying “no” to things because our finances were such a mess. But now we’re saying no because we’re on the road to debt free, and it doesn’t bother me a bit. Mostly, I feel bad for the others, because several years from now, when we’re in a wonderfully comfortable financial position, I have a feeling they’ll still be living paycheck to paycheck.

    1. KK

      Thanks Laurie, and unfortunately those are their choices. When you’re in your financial “sweet spot”, they will want your advice I suspect.

  15. Michelle

    I don’t get teased and if I did I wouldn’t give a crap. I try to give in such a way that is appropriate for me and in line with the event. My friends know that I have financial goals that I’m trying to meet. Luckily, my friends are focused on travel so they’re always saving for the next big trip and I support them as they work towards their goals. Just like they support me with my goals. I’ve lucked out.

    1. KK

      It’s good that they have a “thing” that motivates them. Then you can just play off their desire to save for travel and everybody wins.

  16. CF

    I absolutely hate office gifts. If I wanted to give so-and-so a gift, I will give them a gift. I don’t want to be bullied into putting money into an envelope though!

    Luckily, I now work with a bunch of guys who could care less about stuff like that!

    1. KK

      Hmm interesting. I wonder if this is a product of working with a mostly female staff. Maybe guys don’t care so much about office gifts?

  17. Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin

    This happens on a weekly basis for me. My friends nicknamed me Scrooge Mcduck because I rarely spend money on things I find unnecessary which is about 90% of everything =)

    1. KK

      Lol, I love it. You might be Scrooge, but Scrooge was rich, so there’s something to be said about that 😉

  18. SueZ

    LOVE that you “get it” – you can’t give if you don’t have it. I quit trying to keep up with the Joneses years ago! Because they are ALWAYS BROKE!!! YOU are the only one who can keep your finances on track! So I love your thinking! Just found you – new reader! You’re one of my kind! 😉

    1. KK

      Hey Sue, so glad to have you here. The Joneses are broke, so I’m not trying to keep up with them 😉

  19. Maggie@SquarePennies

    I used to get teased by my relatives, but now they ask for advice on our frugal lifestyle because they need to learn it too. I don’t feel bad at all.

  20. Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce

    Great point about avoiding falling into peer pressure.

  21. Stefanie

    Hate when that happens. I try to do my own thing instead like make a card and/or buy someone a lottery ticket. Super cheap and people think it’s fun. Maybe they’ll even win big 😉

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