DEAR CA & AC —
The financial crisis of 2007 and subsequent downturns in the economy were very difficult for my husband and me. We lost much of the value of our 401 K and then took cash out before the market went up. We had to sell our house, even though it has yet to regain all the value it lost in the downturn. While retirement and potentially long lives should bring joy, long shadows loom over our future. But my question is not a financial one. It has to do with our friends. They all seem to have been immune from the downturn or recovered from it. As a result, they spend at a pretty fast clip.
I can’t do that. I wouldn’t even if I could. The whole money thing disgusts me. But these are my friends and this is how they (and before, we) live. I have heard them gossiping about people on the ropes financially and so I have not told them about our situation. At 62 I feel it’s too late to start all over and find new friends.
SIGNED, SERIOUSLY STRAPPED
DEAR SS —
Oh, keep your friends. I assume they have been your friends for many reasons beyond the financial. But do stop pretending that all is well. You needn’t confess the particulars of your situation, but you can say, “times are tough.” That could mean anything from “my 401K has diminished to eight figures” to expressing your amazement at the convenience of food stamps.
Feel free to give vent over your disgust with money. I might even venture a guess that others of your immediate circle share your circumstances but are similarly reluctant to discuss their situations.
We all have learned an important lesson about false values and it does credit to the person who acknowledges it. But as I often say, no fooling yourself or trying to fool others. Just change the topic. Finances are too personal to share.
DEAR SS —
One’s own finances might be too personal to share but other people’s make for wonderful gossip. You must tell us what the Ladies are saying.
In the meantime, brush up on your Edith Wharton. Her novels are full of financially strapped hangers-on who have mastered the art of being amusing or making themselves in some way indispensable to a person of rank and means. Preferably you can do both; rich friends can be so demanding.