Frugally Awesome…Or Awkward: Part 4

Awkward 4There’s something about money: It brings out the best, the worst, and the most awkward side of people. Since I’ve dedicated a fair amount of time this summer to side hustling, I’ve had to do some explaining for how I’m spending my time. I get it. A lot of people think teachers have summers off and spend time eating bonbons ice cream straight out of the carton. But even fellow educators have had some really interesting things to say when they hear about my hustling. As usual, my interactions lean more towards awkward rather than awesome.

“You don’t need the money.”

One of the people with whom I teach summer school questioned why I teach summer school in the first place. We were passing each other in the hallway and stopped to chat briefly. In an instant, she remarked, “You don’t need the money.” Not only are we not close — we teach at different schools during the school year — but how in the world could she possibly know what I need? Though, I suppose it could be worse. It could be like that one time a coworker really thought I was struggling.

“I don’t have money like that.”

When I was sharing my post-summer school plans with an acquaintance, she stopped me mid-sentence when I brought up our upcoming trip to Costa Rica. “I don’t have money like that,” she lamented. She then proceeded to tell me how she and her boyfriend were planning on renting an AirBnB home in Michigan for about $400 a night since it was right on the water. Not only is our trip to Costa Rica clocking in below that price point, it includes meals, alcohol, and airfare. I tried to explain that I used to always write off the possibility of international travel, but it was pretty clear that conversation was headed nowhere fast.

“Well, you’re young, so you should earn extra money.”

It is always fascinating to me how people react to side hustles. A few people respond favorably, but the majority of the time people hear about my other jobs, the conversations get awkward really quickly. One teacher who chose not to teach this summer commented, “Well, you’re young, so you should earn extra money.” Fair enough. I suppose a really pithy reply would have been something akin to “Well, at least I’m still young.” I just don’t get this mentality. It’s true that my salary will increase every year that I teach thanks to my salary schedule. What’s less true, though, is the fact that only millennials can benefit from side hustles. Extra cash never hurt anyone as far as I can tell.

So Tell Me…What’s the weirdest money conversation you’ve had lately?

Frugally Awesome…Or Awkward: Part 4

22 thoughts on “Frugally Awesome…Or Awkward: Part 4

  1. I have definitely had several conversations lately along the lines of your Costa Rica/Michigan conversation. Like people who think that they don’t have the money and then go on to detail their frivolous spending. Awkward! 🙂 It’s actually worst among those above me in my company. People who earn tons of money, but I suspect save very little, because of all the usual trappings of wealth, like private school, fancy cars, nice homes in expensive communities, etc. It actually makes me really sad for them if they think that that is the only way to live!

    1. I don’t know which is worse — people thinking there is only one way to live or realizing that they have other options and choosing to fritter money away. Regardless, it does make for some uncomfortable conversations!

  2. The strangest money conversation I had recently was with Mr G’s cousin. Mind you, it wasn’t shocking (the ones we’ve written about who are broke, with a combined salary of over $250K) but it was weird. She bought snazzy blinds for every window in their new home and had them installed. “Do you mind if I ask what it cost for installing them?” I asked her. She looked at me as if I had 2 heads and said, in a very dismissive manner, “Oh I don’t know. I just gave them my credit card.” I later learned the installation was free, due to the amount she spent, but she had no clue.

    1. Oh my gosh! That had to be a lot of money. Window treatments are crazy expensive. We still have paper ones in our guest room — four years later. Ha! I loved that post about his cousins. Definitely a reminder about the importance of financial literacy.

  3. I love your series and title–being frugal can certainly be awkward at times. Someone was recently telling me she had no idea how much debt her family had, and I was kind of at a loss for what to say. She seemed to think it was a problem, at least. I appreciate that you seem to know when to drop the conversation. People really do have to be ready to hear it!

    1. Thanks, Kalie. That’s such a valuable point you make. With lots of things — and especially money — you have to have a receptive audience. Otherwise, it seems to just turn people off to the idea of financial literacy even more. That sounds like a tricky conversation. Good for her for recognizing it was a problem, but that’s definitely a difficult conversation.

  4. When I’m already working part-time in my 30s and within a few years of quitting (and am starting my own side business!!!) and my 60-year-old colleagues gripe about never being able to retire because they’re outpacing the Joneses.
    There seems to be absolutely no connection in their mind between our frugality and backpacking trips and their fancy sports cars and $1500 dinners and the previous scenario…

    1. I cannot even imagine what one would eat at a $1500 dinner! Though, my husband and I had a great time gawking at the menus in Vegas! To each their own, I suppose. I just hope the temporary things bring people some kind of lasting happiness that I don’t really understand. Kudos to you for kicking all sorts of butt, Julie!

  5. Bridgette says:

    Wow! If I were a teacher passing you in the hallway and we stopped to talk briefly, I would have said, “Those kids are truly blessed to have you as their teacher, during the summer.”

  6. Here’s one for you – related to money/side hustles. I wonder if there are a few people who think I can’t “hold” a job. (I was a tenured teacher, administrator and had two tenure track professor positions). I have always had high reviews at my jobs so this is definitely not the problem. I have just chosen to move around now and find jobs I like to do (and that are moving me toward location independence). They all wonder how I “do it” on only side jobs. I tell them I’ll share if they want, but they always say they could “never” do what I did.

    1. It’s so strange to me how people are willing to walk away from advice. And it’s not like they have to take it! But they won’t even listen. Now that I’m more cognizant of these opportunities, I try to really make sure that I’m always open to anecdotes and ideas. You never know what gem you’re turning out! Kudos to you for pursuing your passions and exploring all the various avenues of education!

  7. One of the few good things about being relatively isolated is that I don’t have to have money conversations. The other one is that we’re exposed to relatively few germs — which I’m sure you can appreciate as a teacher.

    I honestly can’t remember the last time I talked about money with anyone other than Tim, my mom or my readers. So I guess it’d be back when we played Magic. There would be guys barely scraping by who showed up multiple times a week to play. True $5 isn’t huge but $20 a week… Not to mention that they’d get drinks, maybe a candy bar or go get some fast food. And while some of them clung to iffy decks because it was all they could afford, a fair number of them (who didn’t even win that much and therefore didn’t win card packs) had pretty up-to-date decks.

    We were paying down debt then saving up for the house unexpectedly early, so I was rather strict about what Tim bought while we were out playing. So when a friend finally came over to our house, he saw it and said, “Wow, this is actually pretty nice.” Um… thanks? Granted, we’d gotten a steal on some nice looking leather furniture ($500 for the couch and recliner) so that probably helped. But he said it a couple too many times for comfort.

    1. Yes! We haven’t done a ton of entertaining (certain family and friends are kind of territorial about this role, I’m learning), so when new people come over, I never know quite what to say. “Goes to show you when you don’t eat out five nights a week, you can buy a nice couch” seems like it might rub people the wrong way. Even little purchases like you mentioned can totally add up!

  8. One of the guys on my softball team got laid off for a week and told me he doesn’t have enough money saved up to pay his mortgage, he is a union roofer and I know he makes well above and average income – I didn’t know what to say without being offensive, so the conversation just ended.

    I should ask if I can do a case study on his finances

    1. Oof. As someone who was RIFed twice, I live in perpetual fear of being let go. To the point that my boss at my current teaching jb said, “You know it’s been six years, right?” This anecdote makes me want to go admire my emergency fund…and possibly add more! You absolutely should do a case study!

  9. My problem is more with the awkward pauses rather than actual conversation. I have mentioned my tutoring side hustle to some of the neighbors, who know I work full. They don’t say very much. They look at me as if they’re trying to figure out a puzzle. They’re probably thinking that we don’t need the money. Of course, people’s attitudes about money are all over the place, so who knows?

    1. It’s so interesting to me how people react to side hustles. I wish I could get more out of people. I used to assume it was because they didn’t want to work more that they thought I shouldn’t either. But I think that’s really an oversimplification. Sometimes I really wish I could see little thought bubbles over people’s heads…or find their anonymous blogs 😉

  10. One of my co-workers made numerous comments about cashflow being a “problem.” I felt so bad. I wanted to suggest money coaching with one of the PF folks offering the service, but it felt so awkward. I really don’t know what to do!

  11. My coworker asked about my weekend plans and I mentioned some of the side-hustle and investing in myself that I do, and she looked dumbstruck before asking how I had the time to do any of it.

    She then got defensive and said that she does not get plastered every night. Plastered. This is what a professional thinks is a good use of any night, let alone, most nights.

    I went back to my cubicle and began listening to another podcast and learning.

    1. Podcasts are my savior, too. That’s really curious to me that she perceived your comment in such a way that she immediately needed to defend herself. Hmmm 😉 Keep changing minds and inspiring, friend!

  12. When a colleague was complaining about how big companies keep on making more money, corporations etc. I said ‘well you could invest in them, that way, you get some of that money for yourself’. She looked at me as though I was mad and had suggested she do a rain dance.


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