The Diverse Financial Life of Everyone I Know

My friends, roommates, and boyfriend all share one thing in common — none are in as good of a place financially as I am.

My roommates are around my age. One is a middle school teacher. Her salary is slightly less than mine, but she does not do additional freelance work so ultimately I make a bit more than her looking at the full year. My other roommates is in a PhD program for psychology, which means 5 years of loans and living on the cheap. I’m not sure how much her parents are helping her out and how much is loans. She’s surviving, but will have a lot of loans to pay back and will be stuck in her career for a while in order to pay that back.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, quit his job a few months ago. He still works a few hours a week, but he never really pushed for much of a raise. He wants to go to grad school. It sounds like either his mom will pay for his entire grad school program (she’s beyond a frugalista, and hasn’t spent much her entire life… saving about $100k for her son’s education) or not pay for any of it, depending what he decides to go to grad school for. He doesn’t have a retirement savings at all, and at 27 that kind of concerns me, esp if we’re going to get married one day. My retirement income won’t be enough for both of us.

Then there’s my good friend, who is knee deep in debt yet still sending $30 a month to a child in Africa. She doesn’t spend tons of money, she lives in a house owned by her parents, but still she spends more than she has. Her emergency savings account at any time is maximum $100 in a checking account that fast disappears. Checks bounce left and right. Working for her parents business — which has suffered a lot due to the recession — she barely ever gets paid. But she won’t quit her parent’s company because she says they need her. She works side jobs here and there, usually making ends meet. But month after month she worries if she’ll have enough to pay off the minimum amount on her bills. I gently urge her to at least try to get a full time job for a while so she can pay off her bills, but she doesn’t want to. But without income from her parent’s business, she is always struggling. But she’s comfortable with her current financial situation, and doesn’t seem to want to do a lot to change it.

Meanwhile, my friend from high school is in a really bad state. She’s not only in debt, but she’s in bad medical debt, and is a prescription drug addict on top of that. She got into a car accident a while ago so says she has chronic pain. She has no insurance and can’t afford her doctor’s visits. They give her prescription pills which she goes on to snort. She lives at home and it sounds like she has no support from her family. Which, sadly, makes sense because she’s really stuck, and they can’t do anything about it but put up with her. She can’t work because she’s really messed up. She needs rehab, but who can afford rehab (or be convinced to go) when no one has the money to send you there?

Another friend, my age, is a full time student and was a full time employee until she got let go during the recession. Her finance and her bought a house which she can’t contribute at all to at the moment. Luckily her finance is an engineer and is able to afford it. But even they had to cut corners to afford their new home-owner lifestyle.

Then there’s me. And after comparing myself to people my age I know, financially speaking anyway, I really look good. But it’s not ALL about money right now. I’m saving a lot, working most of the waking hours of the day, and I’m free to move about if needed. I don’t have to spend a lot per month. I moved from my $1200/month apartment to my current $600/month apartment 2 years ago. Bills are much cheaper now since I have roommates. Everything is cheaper. I’m doing fine. I just need to keep reminding myself that. I’m 25, and I’m on the right track. Maybe there are others my age who are founding companies and saving the world, but that’s not the norm. I’m doing pretty good for myself. And I need that reality check every once in a while. Because it’s so easy to feel like such a failure at this age.

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6 comments

  1. Slinky says:

    It's sometimes hard to deal with what everyone around you is doing. Right now, all my friends are buying houses. But their parents are also helping them out with them. I'm kind of jealous and kind of proud that I'll be one of the few to do it on my own. I feel like I'm behind right now, but I'm also certain that I'll end up ahead of the game.

  2. financiallysmart says:

    I would encourage you to have these friends over as a group and play the "Cash Flow" game by Robert T. Kiyosaki. It will help them to understand that they need to be more proactive in their finances. Your friend who is working for her parents will always come to understand that she can still be loyal to them and working somewhere else earning an income.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You're doing really well, no question. If I were you, I would feel quite smug about your financial situation and how poorly your friends are doing. Yeah I know its not the right thing to feel but I feel such joy in accumulating wealth while those around me blow thousands of dollars on expensive, soon to be worthless, consumer items.

  4. Debtress says:

    Great post. It can be hard to stick to a budget & frugal lifestyle when those closest to you are in a different financial situation. Just remember to use their experiences as positive reinforcement, and not get caught up in their habits!

  5. me in millions says:

    It's hard to be in that position. You want to help your friends, but you have to look out for #1. You want to keep saving, but you have money burning a hole in your pocket. I'm in that same place. I love the network of PF ladies. They keep me in check with where I stand in relation to the people around me.

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