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Anyone else live on MUCH lower income than friends/family?


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I don't mean this as a vent or to whine. I am more interested in how to deal with the differences in a way that's not awkward. DH and I live on about 1/3 of the income the majority of our friends/family make, mainly because we are a single-income family. 99% of the time it's not an issue, but every now and then something comes up that makes things weird. For example, we are not going to attend my high school reunion because we have had crazy number of unexpected expenses in the last few months and tickets are $100/couple. Several of my good friends from high school are upset that we won't be there and they keep pushing us to let them buy our tickets. Another example would be family vacations. We are often invited to go with friends/family but we are not in the financial position to to do this every year, or twice a year, like some. We manage to go about every other year, and we're very happy with that. Again though, friends often offer to pay. I understand it's because they love us and want to share the experience with us, it's just not something I or DH is comfortable with. I'm trying to think of a way to to be polite and yet VERY FIRM to get across to everyone that we're good! We don't need help! It's so generous and loving but just because we chose this different path doesn't mean they need to help provide for our family! I guess I'm looking for the right thing to say so that this doesn't keep coming up. The longer it goes on the more I think I might start to feel like a charity case, whether that's their intention or not.

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Yes.

 

I had to go last year to a chi-chi wedding at a Napa winery of a hedge fund manager and a neurosurgeon in a dress from Goodwill and driving in an old, high-mileage, economy Toyota. The bride's designer gown likely cost more than our car was worth and the whole shebang probably cost more than my DH's after-tax annual salary. :(

 

As a Christian, I really try to keep my focus on what's truly important. Money doesn't guarantee happiness and materialism can easily become a false idol. It isn't easy in this society to reject consumerism but that's what Christ keeps preaching over and over again in the Gospels. :)

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I can speak from the flip side. We do better financially than my siblings and parents and some friends. There are times when we offer to pay because we feel like blessing others since we've been blessed. We have, for example, paid for my sister, bil & niece or a friend and their kids to go to activities because it would be more fun for our daughter to have friends/cousins with her.

 

We would never consider this charity or expect to be paid back we just consider it a gift. When we weren't in the same financial position we are now I felt the same way you did at first. Our pastor at the time wanted to pay for dh and I to go somewhere and we were uncomfortable taking the money. He gently suggested that we shoudn't turn down blessings and that we should instead commit to bless others whether financially or otherwise.

 

All of that to say, you might re-evaluate why you're uncomfortable and consider accepting some of the offers. There is a big difference between asking someone for money and being offered a gift.

 

Eta: something like a reunion that is an event that only happens every 5 or 10 years is an example of a time where I would look at it as a gift no charity. We don't offer to pay for stuff everyday...just special occasions.

Edited by acurtis75@yahoo.com
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I can speak from the flip side. We do better financially than my siblings and parents and some friends. There are times when we offer to pay because we feel like blessing others since we've been blessed. We have, for example, paid for my sister, bil & niece or a friend and their kids to go to activities because it would be more fun for our daughter to have friends/cousins with her.

 

We would never consider this charity or expect to be paid back we just consider it a gift. When we weren't in the same financial position we are now I felt the same way you did at first. Our pastor at the time wanted to pay for dh and I to go somewhere and we were uncomfortable taking the money. He gently suggested that we shoudn't turn down blessings and that we should instead commit to bless others whether financially or otherwise.

 

All of that to say, you might re-evaluate why you're uncomfortable and consider accepting some of the offers. There is a big difference between asking someone for money and being offered a gift.

 

Eta: something like a reunion that is an event that only happens every 5 or 10 years is an example of a time where I would look at it as a gift no charity. We don't offer to pay for stuff everyday...just special occasions.

 

This is a good point. We have been on the receiving end of various blessings....and blessings they were. It was still hard to accept and I still feel kind of awkward about it all, but truly....they blessed us in a way I can't even put into words.

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Yep....us too.....though we haven't had to deal with friends/family offering to pay, thank goodness. I think I would be extremely uncomfortable with that.

 

:iagree:Not so much with family. All of our family is pretty much around the same level as us, although I'm the only one that stays at home.

 

Friends all have much more money than us.

 

Yes.

 

As a Christian, I really try to keep my focus on what's truly important. Money doesn't guarantee happiness and materialism can easily become a false idol. It isn't easy in this society to reject consumerism but that's what Christ keeps preaching over andover again in the Gospels. :)

:iagree:

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we have been on both sides, egads we lived large at one time and it was such a joy to bless friends and strangers! lol and my husband would try to give anonymously, but when we couldn't we would ask them to please not take away the blessing we had to give.

Now we are on the flip side and oh my goodness, it is so hard to receive. I mean it is horrible. But I have to also remember that we loved to bless others, it would just do something remarkable in our spirit. I can not take that away from others too.

 

that all being said, what fantastic friends you have, that care about YOU guys so much and enjoy being around YOU both, that they want YOU Both there. That is some friends! That right there is rich beyond a bank account.

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I think that so many of us who are homeschooling and single income are in the same position. I've found myself throwing up smokescreens (or lying :glare:) to avoid having to say, "We can't afford that."

 

One of the things that I find most difficult is how to handle my feelings (and responses) when others who live outside their means invite one of us to something. Their POV is that they want to provide their children with every opportunity.... I end up feeling...confused and guilty, even though I know why we don't walk that path.

 

I wish it was easier to discuss. I wish I could just say, "That's not in the budget this week," without having it perceived as a baited hook. No good advice, but :bigear:.

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We do. But then again, we are a single income family with 2 to 3 times as many dc as most of the families we know! :lol:

 

It has never been an issue, though. Thank God! Even our friends with money tend to be pretty "low rent" when it comes to recreation! :lol: My mil is the only one who likes to eat out at expensive restaurants and she loves to take all of us (maybe once a year) out for a fun and big meal, her treat. It is always a lot of fun. <3 <3 <3

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I think it is hard to be comfortable on either side of that equation, but I do think it is important to try to accept gifts/blessings in many situations. I like the perspective of paying it forward when/how/if you can.

 

When on the giving side of the equation, I just make sure to say that it is "our treat" and, often times, it's a situation like we've rented a beach house, and have spare room, so please join us -- our treat. Or, I try to do things like dinner at home that don't have obvious $$ signs attached.

 

On the flip side, I am OK accepting treats/blessings when it is in the means of the giver and I feel comfortable in the relationship. Yes, it requires some emotional effort on my part to accept generosty, but it is important, and I know it blesses the giver as well as the receiver, so I am committed to being able to do it. I have some family members who are in the position and of the disposition to be very generous financially with my kids and even me, and I am really OK with that in those relationships b/c I know there are no strings attached or expectations of financial recipricocity that I can't fulfill.

 

I guess growing up in a family of generous people, I became accustomed to seeing adults be generous with eachother, and to seeing adults accept generosity graciously. I think it can be done. I think it is Pride that prevents us from accepting graciously, and I think it is worthwhile to try to get past it. Dh's family was the same way.

 

Our family cultures just aren't solitary little nuclear units that only consider the needs of the small unit. My dad and mom were/are very generous with family and friends and with their children, too. This was not just generosity as in -- here is $100 that I won't even miss b/c it is pocket change to me, no, it was generosity in . . . I have $100, and I would enjoy treating my friends and family to a simple dinner more than I would enjoy taking my little family to a fancier dinner. Love multiplies, and so does generosity.

 

Indeed, my brother and I learned from them well, and I think we both live out their examples pretty well. It makes our lives better, makes the world better, and just is a healthier way to live IME.

 

Obviously, this kind of giving and receiving only works in healthy, loving (not perfect, but healthy and loving) relationships. In unhealthy relationships, it won't work well!

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I've been where you are. sometimes, you need to allow other's to share. I know how hard it is to be on the receiving end. on top of our financial struggles, I had the conditioning from growing up with a NPD grandmother who was obsessed with money and used it as a weapon.

 

One christmas, as we were struggling with significant finacial reverses; I was praying hard and I had the impression to "just accept what comes". a couple days later, a friend (who was *very* comfortable financially) called and said she wanted to do christmas for our family that year. If I had not had that impression, I would have turned her down because I would have been profoundly uncomfortable accepting her generosity. Instead, she had a great time knowing she was bringing cheer to a very stressed out family, and I knew my children would have christmas.

 

sometimes, we need to allow other's to share their blessings because it gives the joy to do so.

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We're freaky liberal hippies from California and many of our friends have the hippie liberal values we do. From experience my little family has learned to not bring up the issue that we do the majority of our shopping at Wal-Mart. If we say "Oh, I have to run up to Wal-Mart and get some milk" to many of our friends we are in for an hour long talking-to about the evils of the store.

 

Likewise our friends have learned to stop complaining about the price of food at Whole Foods : D

 

We're all very civil people from different sides of the train tracks!

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I honestly think that it would help everybody if we could all get over being either too tactful to offer assistance or too proud to accept it. To me, if two friends have uneven amounts of money it's only logical for the richer/luckier friend to help out the poorer/less lucky one. Why does this simple common-sense thing have to be such a major source of discomfort?

 

I have had people in my life who have given us a lot (not necessarily money, but same principle), and I have had other people whom we have been able to help out substantially. Both kinds of people are a blessing; we feel grateful when we are in a position to help, and equally grateful when somebody steps forward to help us in some way. The money and other assistance flows around to where it's needed, and there's no need to keep score with individual people.

 

Once, when we had more ready money than we do now, I gave somebody who was in trouble $5000. Because I don't do lending money, I said it was a gift, and the person gratefully responded that he would pay it back if/when it was possible, and we left it at that. More recently, we were struggling a bit financially, and I started to think about that person in a negative way. I thought things like "If that were me, I would be paying the money back." And "how can he buy xyz (being something that we couldn't afford) if he couldn't give me that money back". Then I realized that it was pretty unhelpful to expect everybody to behave the way I would. I resolved to let it go and trust that we would get the money we needed, as we always do. Then, out of the blue, a different person who knew nothing about it offered to give us $6000. If I were less of a skeptic, I'd say that the universe was giving my money back with interest. Or God was taking care of us. Or something.

Edited by Hotdrink
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Everyone makes more money than us. We can afford the essentials, and I don't see what the big deal is. We're not starving to death, we have a decent but small house, we just don't have fancy cell phones and all that.

 

I don't mind taking hand me down clothes, but I don't take money from people. It can get weird very quickly, no matter how well meaning people are.

 

If it were life or death I would take anyone's money and not care. But tickets to a high school reunion, no way. That doesn't mean you can't take the tickets, but I wouldn't. Good boundaries make good friends :D.

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I understand, completely! We just went on a family vacation that we saved up to pay for. Another family member was telling a friend "wow, being poor this year has really been a blessing, we haven't done much of anything but it has been relaxing!" This "being poor" that they are going through is still atleast double what income we have coming in and the vacation of doing nothing was more money than we typically spend and we felt like we were spoiling ourselves.

 

It is hard to accept gifts when they are continually asking you to do this, do that.. I do think people don't understand why you would intentionally put your family in financial hardship by choice as well. We have learned to just shrug our shoulders.

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we have been on both sides, egads we lived large at one time and it was such a joy to bless friends and strangers! lol and my husband would try to give anonymously, but when we couldn't we would ask them to please not take away the blessing we had to give.

Now we are on the flip side and oh my goodness, it is so hard to receive. I mean it is horrible. But I have to also remember that we loved to bless others, it would just do something remarkable in our spirit. I can not take that away from others too.

 

that all being said, what fantastic friends you have, that care about YOU guys so much and enjoy being around YOU both, that they want YOU Both there. That is some friends! That right there is rich beyond a bank account.

 

:iagree: we've been on both sides. I have no problem accepting others' generosity when offered lovingly. I have no problem lovingly being generous when I know it will/can help someone.

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It's pretty easy when it comes to family. SS recipients aren't hard to figure out. State and local Govt employee wages are posted at seethroughnydotcom. Disability is easy to figure out too.

Do most people use the internet to detect their friends and family members' wages? :001_huh:

 

We have basically a one-income home, yet my relatives who are two income earners in an advanced stage in their profession seem to think we are income-equivalent. So it hasn't been my observation that people are necessarily paying much attention, I guess.

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When I've had money and offered to pay, it wasn't because I wanted anyone to feel like a charity case. It was because I wanted them to go do things with us and paying for them to go meant I got to have them come.

 

This is exactly how I feel. My sister and her family have very little money, and I often pay for them to come do things with us because I love their company and know we'll all have a great time together! We are all close, and there's never any notion of "payback".

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I don't need to look online to know that we make more than my family members - we are very close and of course we know what each other does for a living. My brother, SIL, and sister are all teachers, which gives anyone a good feeling for their income.

 

With that said, it doesn't matter that we make more - we all spend a lot of time together doing simple things like hanging out, cooking, pool parties, etc. We do provide the majority of the food/alcohol, but we couldn't care less....we love them and we all love spending time together!

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Yup. DH is unemployed, this is his second long round of unemployment since 2007. We also live debt-free so things are extremely tight. I work 40-80 hours a week consistently in a home-based business and most of our friends put their kids into the church school- no one else homeschools. We've hit the point now that we've said no so much, people have quit asking. It's rather isolating and I have some medical issues that keep me from eating out (I have celiac disease), so that makes it even worse. Only one of hubby's siblings gets it, as they're also single-income, homeschooling, but they live hours away. No one else understands.

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I don't need to look online to know that we make more than my family members - we are very close and of course we know what each other does for a living.

That's true. I guess my family is clueless. Maybe on purpose. But I tell them nothing about such matters. I also think sometimes even fairly well off people imagine that they have a lot of money troubles because they can't live like a billionaire -- almost everyone has to restrict themselves somewhat.

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Interesting points are being raised here. For the most part, I do not know how much income my family and friends make. I do not know their budgets or expenditures. I do know some of their activities and these activities are way outside our budget.

 

We recently had a major financial setback and just today found out some more bad financial news. Our budget has never been this tight. But, even before it was this tight, we did not take international vacations yearly, eat out at least once a week, buy expensive non essential electronics and new cars every year. Many of the people we know are able to do and enjoy these things. Do they make that much more money? I don't know. I just am aware of some of their activities.

 

Now, our budget is even tighter than it was just 2 weeks ago. And that means saying "No" to Starbucks trips, the vast majority of Christmas activities and gifts, dinners out, and extra activities I would have like to enjoy. It means a tight grocery budget. Vacations are completely out of the question while I'm trying to stretch the groceries. It means trying to find homeschool books at good deals. It might also mean a 1 car family, which would make even "free" activities like park days impossible.

 

So, how much "they" make doesn't matter. What is beginning to matter is the lack of understanding and some comments I'm getting when I can't afford to do something.

Edited by HollyDay
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I just think there is a pretty broad swath of jobs where it's not obvious or known/public information. There are jobs that some people may think are reasonably well paying, but aren't at all. Other jobs, including the cited examples of being a teacher, may not be rock stars, but are well above average.

 

Someone I know was just offered a job as assistant manager if a higher end grocery store, paying $8.50 an hour. Another was a $9/hour accounting position in a large corporation. I also know someone who was a manager of a megastore that is part of a national home improvement chain, making about $20,000/year. I heard an interview on the radio about a flight attendant who was on food stamps, who was fired from her job after mentioning this in an interview. I think people might assume these jobs are at least $35,000/year, not below poverty level. None of them are positions that, to me, scream poverty. In fact, the janitors I know who work at a university hospital make about $15/hour with good benefits.

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That's true. I guess my family is clueless. Maybe on purpose. But I tell them nothing about such matters. I also think sometimes even fairly well off people imagine that they have a lot of money troubles because they can't live like a billionaire -- almost everyone has to restrict themselves somewhat.

 

Yes! I've seen people bemoaning the fact that they can't take their entire extended family (of 15!) to the Galapagos Islands because they are too poor. Ummmm......I really don't think that qualifies as poor. Especially when they "settle" for Club Med. :tongue_smilie:

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Yes, we live below the levels of many around us. BUT, we also live without debt. Most of them have credit cards and I know they don't pay them off at the end of the month. (Yes, people tend to talk freely about that for some reason here.)

 

Throw in the complaints about hard hard it is to make ends meet but the entire family is outfitted in the latest and greatest new tec gadget and you have my experience. :tongue_smilie:

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I don't mean this as a vent or to whine. I am more interested in how to deal with the differences in a way that's not awkward. DH and I live on about 1/3 of the income the majority of our friends/family make, mainly because we are a single-income family. 99% of the time it's not an issue, but every now and then something comes up that makes things weird. For example, we are not going to attend my high school reunion because we have had crazy number of unexpected expenses in the last few months and tickets are $100/couple. Several of my good friends from high school are upset that we won't be there and they keep pushing us to let them buy our tickets. Another example would be family vacations. We are often invited to go with friends/family but we are not in the financial position to to do this every year, or twice a year, like some. We manage to go about every other year, and we're very happy with that. Again though, friends often offer to pay. I understand it's because they love us and want to share the experience with us, it's just not something I or DH is comfortable with. I'm trying to think of a way to to be polite and yet VERY FIRM to get across to everyone that we're good! We don't need help! It's so generous and loving but just because we chose this different path doesn't mean they need to help provide for our family! I guess I'm looking for the right thing to say so that this doesn't keep coming up. The longer it goes on the more I think I might start to feel like a charity case, whether that's their intention or not.

 

This used to be us. We just passed on things. No explanations - "sorry, can't do it this time."

 

It's the reverse now - dh is fortunate to be employed still, and we spent all those very lean years getting/staying out of debt and building an emergency fund. Our cars are old and swampy and the thrift store is our "shopping mall", but we're OK with that :).

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Do most people use the internet to detect their friends and family members' wages? :001_huh:

 

My MIL is more thorough than the US Census Bureau. That is why I avoid talking to her. She ask about everyone's pay and tells everyone other people's pay :confused:

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My siblings have/make considerably more money than we do. (At least 5x yearly income.) I've been blessed by their generosity to my family. I don't **expect** them to do anything for us. We have allowed them to help us get to some things that we just couldn't have done otherwise--my dad's 80th birthday celebration comes to mind.

 

I wouldn't be comfortable with friends footing the bill for anything, and most of my friends are in the same financial boat as my family anyway.

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I am somewhat fascinated that, as a matter of course, it is completely obvious to everyone how much money everyone makes.

 

If the individual is a high-enough up executive at a publicly held company, that information has to be listed in the financial disclosures of said company.

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I've been on every side of the financial spectrum, mostly hovering around the edges of lower income or middle class. But, bottom line, it is wonderful when a group of family or friends can be together. If someone volunteers to pay for an activity, it is because he wants the other person there. He will have more fun. And he knows he will have less fun if the other person isn't there. I have had this talk several times with a few friends when trying to convince them to let me pay. At least in my case, it's not charity, it's having a better time.

 

So my vote is to let someone offer a dinner, field trip, or whatnot ever so often. It is a win for both parties.

 

:)

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Throw in the complaints about hard hard it is to make ends meet but the entire family is outfitted in the latest and greatest new tec gadget and you have my experience. :tongue_smilie:

 

I have this experience a lot too.

 

We also have been on both sides. In our case we made a conscious decision for my husband to quit his career and go back to school. Many people expressed amazement that we would go "backward" in that way, giving up a well-paying job to go to school and then into ministry.

 

I've learned to just let it go. When a relative or friend complains about being poor but was one of those scrambling to buy the newest iPhone simply to have the newest cool thing, I just kept my mouth shut. It's annoying, but there's nothing I can do about it so no point in getting upset.

 

It's somewhat easier for me because we have a small and far-flung family, so we're not attempting to do things with our siblings anyway. Our friends now are friends we've made since moving to go to seminary, so they are in pretty much the same financial boat we are in.

 

One thing I admit I can't hide my frustration about - when someone tells me about some app we must get for some purpose, and I have to remind them that we don't have app-friendly devices. Over and over. Or when people say that I would love an iphone and simply must get one. Thanks, you buying? :lol::lol:

Edited by marbel
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If the individual is a high-enough up executive at a publicly held company, that information has to be listed in the financial disclosures of said company.

 

I assumed most people reading this thread asking for support when their family makes significantly less money than those around them, are not high-ranking business executives.

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I can speak from the flip side. We do better financially than my siblings and parents and some friends. There are times when we offer to pay because we feel like blessing others since we've been blessed. We have, for example, paid for my sister, bil & niece or a friend and their kids to go to activities because it would be more fun for our daughter to have friends/cousins with her.

 

We would never consider this charity or expect to be paid back we just consider it a gift. When we weren't in the same financial position we are now I felt the same way you did at first. Our pastor at the time wanted to pay for dh and I to go somewhere and we were uncomfortable taking the money. He gently suggested that we shoudn't turn down blessings and that we should instead commit to bless others whether financially or otherwise.

 

All of that to say, you might re-evaluate why you're uncomfortable and consider accepting some of the offers. There is a big difference between asking someone for money and being offered a gift.

 

Eta: something like a reunion that is an event that only happens every 5 or 10 years is an example of a time where I would look at it as a gift no charity. We don't offer to pay for stuff everyday...just special occasions.

 

 

This is a great point.

 

I live of considerably less than family and friends. I have never had friends offer to pay my way for things, family offers but it comes with strings, so unless it is an emergency I no longer accept the offers. At the same time I am not offered trips etc (I didn't go to my sister's wedding because she had it in Mexico, She and my parents offered to help pay for me and my kids to go, to be paid back with interest so I said no). When we got in our car accident we were 45 minutes from home(on the highway) my sister paid the taxi to drive us home since no one would come get us, and charged me interest for it, along with my mother hounding me every flipping day asking if I paid her back yet until I did after the insurance settlement came.

 

Most people are trying to share their blessing like posted above when they make an offer, but I never trust that anymore. I don't like feeling like I need the help, and I don't like being put into a position of being indebted to someone else.

 

In the case of the OP I think I would just be frank about it. If they are good enough friends to want to cover the cost of things and truly want your company there they are good enough friends to lay it ont he table with and just say "We love your generous spirit but we are good. We love having the years we go on trips and the years we stay home. We love the feeling of saving up for a big trip and then enjoying it. While we love that you have made such a generous offer to cover xyz, we feel more comfortable doing that ourselves" Your friends will still love and respect you for being frank about it.

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This is a good point. We have been on the receiving end of various blessings....and blessings they were. It was still hard to accept and I still feel kind of awkward about it all, but truly....they blessed us in a way I can't even put into words.

 

And those who want to bless you get a blessing too. Don't deny them the blessings of being able to give a gift to a friend.

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I assumed most people reading this thread asking for support when their family makes significantly less money than those around them, are not high-ranking business executives.

 

Umm, I thought the situation that the OP was talking about it when *YOU* are the relatively less well off one. Many of the people in our social circle ARE indeed high-ranking business executives or partners at law firms or specialist physicians or successful entrepreneurs or other "one-percenters" who make way more money than our family does.

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