Save. Spend. Splurge.

Guilt, Anxiety and Stress about Class & my Social Status

Based on my other post the other day about going from middle-class to upper class (I am still in denial, yo..), I thought about what it was like going from that class to another and then having to worry about it versus what my parents went through.

My mother was raised in poverty.

I am talking like real poverty, don’t-know-where-your-next-meal-is kind of pain.

She was worrying about when the bill collectors would come knocking on your door to take everything you own (not that she had much, so when she heard a knock at the door, she would always clutch her socks and her shoes in her arms and wait, in frightened silence)….

And now?

She makes over 6-figures.

My mother is a BOSS.

She pulled herself up from being this little girl who is admittedly not that smart… she has street sense, she has a very, VERY determined and strong work ethic but she definitely is not good at learning things she is not interested in (who is?).. she hates math, hates reading, I mean.. she just hated school.

It’s why with her grandchildren (and with us), she is always so happy and amazed that we are so smart and enjoy school so much. She is proud and encourages us all the time.

I wrote a little bit more about my mother and what she learned about money growing up here.

My father, grew up lower class but spoiled…

My father on the other hand, grew up lower class. His mother just freakin’ spoiled him even though they weren’t that rich.

She gave him everything he wanted, she did everything for him.. he grew up learning how to act like a poor little king….

You can read all about what my father learned about money here..

And for me? I’m breaking through the bottom of the highest rank..

I see myself at the top of the last rung of upper middle-class, but at the VERY, VERY bottom of the actual “rich folk”.

It’s all perspective of course because it is normal to see expensive, rich things where I live, so when you don’t have that stuff (and can’t even imagine buying it), it can feel like you don’t have THAT much money, to be honest.

My parents, don’t get that I can afford all of those things, and have that kind of money. They just don’t get it.

They too are actually in upper middle-class now, but grew up with none of this stuff.

My father still wears a crappy coat that is only really fit for Spring, all through out the year in sub-zero temperatures. He shivers, but thinks that he just can’t get rid of it. He paid X amount of money for it 30+ years ago!!!..

It is only recently that he finally bought a proper winter coat…

So to hear that I bought an apartment with my partner that is over half a million, and now to find out this summer that I bought a 6-figure luxury car (no… they still don’t know that I bought one and I still don’t know how to tell them, if I will at all.. or just hide the car when they visit)….

It just makes me feel uncomfortable.

I don’t mind being proud about it (I am), and I don’t mind being a boss about the money I have saved and earned but honestly speaking, it just makes me uncomfortable because then they think that they can ask me for anything and I’ll give it to them.

It is one thing to treat your parents (don’t get it twisted, I pay for their hotel, and everything when they visit us, and that’s at least a few thousand if not more), and to buy them expensive gifts like big screen televisions (yep did that), and so on…. but it is another when they expect you to pay for yearly $10,000 luxury trips abroad….

As if to say:

Hey you made it.

Now it’s time for you to start paying us back and to start giving us whatever we want.

Did that happen to me when I was growing up?


Did they save their lottery winnings and manage their money properly, and frugally so that I could go to school debt-free and put us kids first before their own desires?


This filial piety (I wrote all about it here talking about what my parents now “expect” as their due) doesn’t fly with me, because they did not do what they were supposed to do as parents in terms of money.

I don’t expect anything from them, and never did, but my mom kept repeating to us that we could choose and go to any school we wanted and dad would pay for it. It never happened. I crushed my $60,000 student debt on my own.

My parents didn’t ever have to worry about spoiling us or feeling any class or social guilt with raising us middle-class because they stayed in middle-class and raised us middle-class. No wavering here.

I am not angry (any more) about their lack of foresight for the family, their kids’ and their own future…

I am totally resolved with the psychological struggle of money in my family and how tricky this topic is for us to get through…

….but I am not going to just live and let live, and let them use my bank account like it is FREE MONEY

Look, I’m not above helping out financially…but..

I already cover many expenses for my aunt just because she is in true, dire need right now and no one else can help her, really …(read: getting the worst news and my update on what happened to my elderly, beaten aunt with the most recent update in an Ask Sherry post) and I am under NO obligation to.

I have never met my aunt, I have only a blood tie with her as she is my mother’s sister. That’s it.

But when someone needs help, you help them. That’s it.

However, I don’t have this kind of attitude towards my parents because THEY CAN AFFORD EVERYTHING THEY WANT.

My mother makes a solid 6-figure salary as I said, she has no intentions of retiring and they own their house (finally) free and clear, which is worth at least $1 million or more, plus they have all of us kids to lean on if they want anything within reason.

My mother only needs to mention: I’d like to buy a new …….

..and one of us (mostly me).. buys it.

(Doesn’t work that way with my father so sometimes he uses her to get stuff from us, but we can see through his ruse.. my mother would never ask for a fancy laptop for instance).

I even think of things like a warm winter jacket for her because she takes the bus a lot and after I got my Canada Goose Jacket, I wanted her to have one too so she would stay warm and toasty.

(Before you pop off on me about the coyote ruff on the coats I got, read this post.)

So… in short, I just feel strange and uncomfortable when my parents ask me how much my place costs, how much my (fake) mortgage is (I had to lie, I just had to because I paid for my place in cash but they don’t need to know that),

I feel uncomfortable and very nervous about showing them this year that I have a new 6-figure car.

I can just.. I can just feel the anxiety bubbling up when I think about it. I don’t know what to do or say, even now.

Going from my crappy lemon beater to this, is not going to be easy to explain and I feel sad that I have to worry about this instead of thinking they’ll be proud and happy for me.



  • ArianaAuburn

    Oh dear…

    Your parents don’t have to understand the “hows” and the “whys” of the money you make or not make. Why feel anxious about what you can/have done in order to have the means to have it? Why the guilt? Your parents have raised you. Their job is done. You both are adults. And sometimes roles change: sometimes they won’t know the difference from “wants” and “needs” and sometimes they do. The older you get, the more you will see that you become their parent sometimes and “SURPRISE!” they will become the kids. You are their daughter whether you have money (or not) and they are your parents whether they have money(or not). Don’t let your family guilt trip you: use humor to divert attention from petty nonsense, ask deep questions that will throw them off the subject, etc. If things get too intense, just remind them that everything they have can be gone in an instant due to a natural disaster.

  • Tim

    You have no idea how I’ve struggled with this in the last six months. I left my nice 6 figure job last fall to write (which in Canada is a mere $12k/year on average) and because I ‘retired’ from my day job (when I was 39 years old) I had real problems telling or even hinting I could afford to do this at the start. Yet after several months I found it easier to talk about it. In fact, now I rarely bother to hide it. I say “I saved enough I can afford to write now.” Then most people want to talk about my book rather than the money which I find interesting to no end.

    Yet I still don’t tell everyone. I don’t bother with people I don’t really have any relationship with and just say “I work from home.” Which tends to avoid all the questions on why I can help out at the school once a week in the middle of the day.

    So in the end I realized I don’t have to tell everyone about my money situation. I can instead control expectations depending on the audience. It’s okay to not share everything with your parents if you feel it will cause more problems. Instead package things in a way they understand…you had nice bonus at work on used the money to put a down payment on a really nice car. Or insert other story here to keep their expectations in check. People get spending as long as you mention the debt to go with it. That way they don’t expect you to be rich but rather just doing what everyone else does.

    Good luck on what ever you decide. I understand your issue.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Thank you for that perspective. I struggle for sure with this because I actually don’t think I have THAT much money. I mean I have a fully paid house and car but actual cash is under $250K right now. If I had $600K in cash on top of everything then I’d be “comfortable but I don’t.. then again it is all perspective because I’m still young … and with an unusual amount of money for my age. Even if I need more. :p

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *