Just the other day, my mother who is not heavily in debt (they’re close to being debt-free give or take a year), said:
Oh [insert rich celebrity here] is so rich. I wish he/she would just give me a little of that money and I would be so happy!
I caught myself feeling irked and annoyed at her comment, before I realized how rude I was being.
I will admit to have thought this quite a number of times while I was in debt:
Oh I WISH someone would just give me the money to pay it all off.
That person is so rich. What is $60,000* to them?
*My old student debt amount
Or something to that effect.
Now that my debt is cleared, I see it differently.
I am well aware I am a huge hypocrite to have felt annoyed at such a comment, and to now think to myself:
Look at these people just asking for money from others to pay off their debts that THEY accumulated!
….but I do think that and it bothers me slightly.
But the Present Me, doesn’t think that anyone who is filthy rich should give me any money just because they can afford to.
(See, if that were the case, then EVERYONE should be getting some money too because it’d only be fair!)
I was wondering if it’s just that I’m debt-free that I’ve turned into such a self-righteous person, or if it’s something else.
So I did a little thinking and I came to this conclusion:
I feel this way, because even though I have wished in the past that other people would just siphon a little of their fortunes down to me, I did get out of debt on my own and accumulate assets on my own.
What I think annoys me about those comments is more that perhaps they don’t see how hard those “filthy rich” folks we refer to casually may have worked for that money or what they experienced to get there.
I am not saying all rich people are hard workers or smarter-than-you, but I genuinely recognize that people work hard, and work even HARDER to save that money.
There are a lot of Millionaire Next Door stories, of so-called ‘simple’ folk who were teachers and librarians who lived frugally and saved what they had to live a happy and fulfilling life without really wanting more and more money (even if they ended up millionaires).
So when I hear comments like that, I think:
But you make close to $100,000 a year.
If that isn’t enough money for you, then what is? People make do on a lot less.
Maybe you just don’t know how to manage your money.
It also made me think of Keanu Reeves.
Disclaimer: Not sure if 100% of this is true, seeing as I am not a Keanu Reeves biographer, but I like the sentiment.
And all internet accounts of Keanu, seem to point that he is a genuinely nice, humble guy.
There are plenty of lovely stories about his generousity.
Like this story:
A friend of mine told me that she was once stranded on the side of a highway outside LA when her jalopy broke down. She had no cell phone (that was before most people had cell phones) and no way to call for help. Then a nice black porsche pulls over and as you can guess, it was Keanu. He tried to help her jump start the car and when it didn’t work, he called AAA for her. When they towed her car, he offered her to drive her home, which she accepted. He drove about 50 miles out of his destination just to drive her home. She told me she hoped he would hit on her but he didn’t, he was just a gentleman, dropped her at her house, gave her his phone number and told her to call him if she needed further help.
And this one:
Back in the late 90s and fresh out of college I got my first job as an assistant prop designer on the set of Chain Reaction (Keanu was a supporting actor with Morgan Freeman). EVERY DAY for the last few weeks of filming, Keanu treated the stage hands and “grunt workers” (including myself) by taking us out for free breakfast and lunch. He was genuinely a very nice guy to work with.
Since then, I’ve worked on about 30 different sets and have never met an actor as generous and friendly as him. Most actors I’ve seen and worked with are total douches who always think they are better than us. Keanu on the other hand, at the very least, was socially approachable and definitely kindhearted.
I am almost expecting him to rip off his human mask and expose that he’s a Care Bear!
(Actually, Keanu Reeves makes me want to be a better person, just reading how nice he is.)
Anyway, my point is less about how awesome Keanu Reeves is, and more about the way that we glibly think about these faceless ‘filthy rich’ folk (like Keanu Reeves), and expecting handouts because we deserve it.
Maybe what it is, is I’d like to have told my Past Self, to have looked at my situation and realized how lucky I was to be earning such a good salary and having the opportunity given to me to turn my finances around at such a young age.
Maybe, when I get annoyed or irked at these kinds of “they should just give me some of their money” comments, I’m really just getting mad at my Past Self.
In the past, I didn’t see or think about the big picture of how people make a choice to live with less so they can save their money by foregoing wants in place of their (future) needs.
What right did I have to ask for what they worked for?
I guess it also slightly bothers me that it is my mom who says things like that, because she’s family, but also because I’ve been solicited by her many times in the past to give them money because I “make so much money, what’s $10,000 to you?”
It’s not that I don’t want to help my parents, but I am not willing to fund their luxuries just because I happen to make more money, but it makes me feel guilty, like I am a very bad child who is ungrateful for two people who gave me life and took care of me.
It seems so hard and wrong to act in a fair manner to my parents.
I wouldn’t let them live on the street or go hungry, but I do recognize that I don’t always get back what I give out, and they seem to take (and take and take!) everything I’ve worked so hard for, for granted.