Save. Spend. Splurge.

Asking for the money without having worked for it

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.

What do you think?


  • S

    I think this is largely a cultural difference. I find it strange that many people would not help out their parents if they asked for money, even if it is for a luxury, if you could afford it. They raised me, provided for me, and took care of my education as much as they could. My success is their success because I would not be me without them as they gave me the foundation that I needed so that I could be a productive member of society. I give to them what I can since my first job as I easily out earn them and I don’t even come close to making the salary that you have. Just as you feel that they take how hard you worked for granted, you might be taking how hard they worked to raise you for granted. The other thing that makes giving easier, is it brings me much more joy than purchasing fancy clothes, car or whatever for myself that I could afford but think is a waste of money.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I can afford it, but I don’t like being told I need to do it “what’s $10K to me”?.. Highly rude. Why not wait for me to offer?

      That said, I have purchased $1000 jackets for my mother to stay warm in winter, and paid for a new big screen TV for the kitchen. Luxuries yes, but more practical and not a random “$10K trip”

  • Erika

    I think it’s an issue of boundaries. Yes they are your parents and yes you ought to help them if they became severely disabled or something to that effect, but it is inappropriate for them to ask for or expect you to give them money or take care of them when they are capable of taking care of themselves.

    I’ve made it clear to my parents that I will gladly take care of them in old age, though not to the point where my own future well being is compromised. If there is a certain level of care they expect, they need to make their wishes known and help me prepare to meet those needs before the time comes. My parents didn’t like this conversation, but they understood where I was coming from because they are currently dealing with my grandfather who makes unreasonable demands and refuses to do the things his doctors and family suggest.

    I also know someone who’s mother racked up several credit cards under her name. if that had been my mother or father, we would no longer be speaking and there’s a good chance I would have pressed charges.

  • Stephanie

    I thought your parents had a substantial lottery win. Perhaps my memory is incorrect.

    If I am correct did they give substantial sums of money to other people? If my memory is correct they have had substantially more good luck than anyone they know and except for the sort of real disasters you have mentioned deserve no further help.

    If they had gone without to give you and their other children a start in life then some financial ‘payback’ would be in order to assist them when they retired. No, most of the older people I know do not expect handouts from their children. Regrettably many of them do expect continual assistance from taxpayers who apparently are all undeservedly ‘wealthy’, have never ‘worked hard’ and all have conspired to avoid paying tax.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Yes, my parents won the lottery but then spent it all on themselves. Fancy watches, cars, homes… nothing saved for our educations, which sparked resentment amongst us …

      They did not give it away to anyone. My father is super, duper stingy, miserly and cheap.

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    I don’t know the answer in general but I know the answer for me is that if someone feels entitled to my money, they don’t get any. Especially family, given our history.

    Even though I don’t spend on luxuries for my family, just basic living costs, even that’s becoming burdensome, and more so because of Dad’s attitude and actions. I find that I want to distance myself more and more, even while I resent and regret the loss.

    For myself, I’m not immune to the wistful “wouldn’t it be great to come into a random $1M from some generous soul” but I’ve also been around too many people who use money as a tool for manipulation so I suppose “there is no free lunch” has been seared into my soul!

  • Cassie

    “You make so much money, what’s $10,000 to you?”
    I couldn’t even imagine my parents saying something like that to me. I’m honestly trying to picture those words coming out of their mouths, and I can’t picture it in any situation other than a sarcastic joke. $10,000 IS a lot of money, regardless of how much you actually make.

    Do you think her comments may be a way of indirectly asking or hinting that she wants you to give her money because she knows asking outright hasn’t worked in the past?

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      You’re lucky. Your family is like my partner’s.

      Yes. It is exactly that – it’s PAYBACK for having raised me. No one asked them to have children, so why expect anything out of me?

      It’s why I don’t expect anything out of Baby Bun.

  • Sylvie

    I agree with you, but I wonder if that’s a generational difference. I think older people have that expectation, since many of them perceive themselves as having saved up for their children, whereas their children and grandchildren have the mentality, “As long as the bills are paid, spend the money as you please, because you can’t take it to the grave.” There isn’t the same focus on handing money down to subsequent generations. Of course, there are old people with a sense of entitlement. A friend’s grandmother, who is in her mid-80s, is very bitter that her late husband’s sister, who’s around 90, doesn’t help her out. The grandmother had an unhappy marriage, and worked for part it; the sister-in-law married rich, and never worked. It’s hard to argue with the pathologically cheap grandmother about why her sister-in-law shouldn’t pay for her haircut when they go out together. Just got to nod along.

  • ArianaAuburn

    This is a tough situation because as their adult child, you have to make the call on when to help, give or do nothing. As an adult child, you have the expectation of your parents that they SHOULD know how to manage their finances by now because 1) they have been adults longer than you have and 2) as a parent yourself, you are able to put yourself in their shoes. Some lessons are not learned by the time men and women become parents. . Perhaps your parents need to be gently reminded that as parents they still need to set an example not only to you but to their grandchildren about the importance of striving to continue to learn those lessons missed during adulthood. Expecting your parents to be adults does not go against filial piety: it is respecting them as adults.

  • Kathy

    I could probably write a dissertation on this topic but rather than repeat everything you said, I’ll just say that I agree with you 100%. Some people certainly have a lot going against them re: family background , intelligence,, or disability. But others simply make choices today that limit the choices they are able to make tomorrow.. When that is the case I don’t feel like I have any responsibility for giving them money.

  • raluca

    There is no easy way of answering this question.

    First, we all need to recognize that inequality is set to be growing in most first world countries. It’s not just that the rich are getting richer, but the problem that social mobility is not as good as it once was. What it means that people who are born poor are almost always going to die poor. To make the jump to middle class is getting increasingly hard. Thomas Piketty ( has excelent research on this topic and his book, although long is quite easy to read. That inequality is growing is fact, not “interpretation”, the data that he presents is quite clear. This means that at a macro level those people who complain that they could not get ahead might have a point.

    Second, we need to accept that the responsability for anyone’s life is actually their own problem. You cannot expect the society to take care of you from craddle to grave, because then you need to accept that the society might decide to make changes to your life that you might not like. For example, the government/the society might decide that you should not have kids, because it cannot support an increase in population. See China’s one kid policy.

    To sum up: yes, the cards can and will be stacked against us. Yet it’s still our responsabilty to make our best decisions with the hand we have been dealt. Even when we know we cannot win. And if, by some miracle we manage to get rich, it’s in our best interest to help others. Those poor people that we help could be just as smart as their rich counterparts but they never had the chance to prove it. The next Einstein might be a Syrian orphan refugee or a poor Easter European kid whose family survives on 200 Euros a month. Their potential will be forever untapped by our society, because we have decided that a piece of paper with 100 dollars printed on it is more important than their lives. This is perhaps our biggest tragedy as humans.

    We give money every month. We allocate it towards helping people with disabilities, because they are the most in need to be protected. We also allocate some towards helping at risk kids stay in school. Because that’s their best bet to a better future.

    We also have a sum of money that we save specifically for my parents, my husbands parents are already dead. They will need help at some point so we’re prepaying our care costs. I used to give them money or presents. I have learned, the hard way that they do not appreciate my hard work. For example when we considered building a new house for them we considered a budget that we felt that would be reasonable and would not hurt us a lot. They asked for a bigger house. At that point I got really annoyed and put a stop to the entire process, because there are limits for my generosity. I do not plan to give them money any more, we’re just going to take care of them once it becomes clear that they cannot take care of themselves. I consider this to be a reasonable interpretation of filial piety.

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