I recently came upon one of these roadblocks, and I’ll tell you that it was definitely unexpected on my part. But should I have been so naive?
My recent experience makes for a good post, unfortunately. I would rather have never experienced this whole episode in the first place, but at least it can serve as a great learning experience. I do hope that you readers find some value in my recent predicament. I know I certainly learned a lot about myself, the people around me, the limits of sharing, and what being selfish really means.
I’ve always been incredibly close with my family. Part of this is because my family is quite small. And part of this is because I grew up in a really difficult environment when I was young. My father left my three younger sisters and I when I was just eight years old, never to return. And my mother, unable to cope, turned to heavy drug and alcohol use. Unfortunately, this made her shortcomings more apparent, and it was obvious after a few years that she was unable to raise four children.
So my mother’s younger sister and her husband took control of us four children before they were even 30 years old. Which is crazy to me, because I’m currently 32 and I couldn’t imagine having four children right now.
In retrospect, I suppose there’s some closeness that develops there. Although, I’ve always been particularly close to my oldest sister because we were old enough to remember what it was like and had to kind of bond and work together to get by. We were living in a rough part of Detroit and pretty much had to fend for ourselves.
In view of this, you can imagine how hard it was for me to move to Florida back in 2009. But I felt I had to go. The Michigan economy was in shambles at the time, as the auto industry was crumbling around us. And that was symbolic of my own finances, which were in shambles of their own. Plus, I was burned out on cold, dark winters where I would feel the onset of seasonal affective disorder.
Florida, with its sunshine, strong prospects for jobs, lack of state income tax, free entertainment along the shore, and plentiful public transportation in select cities meant I could get a fresh start. And a fresh start I got. I left Michigan worth less than a baby and returned five years later triumphant, with a six-figure portfolio, thousands of dollars in annual passive income, and plenty of experience.
My Journey Is About Time And Happiness
There are countless reasons to pursue financial independence. Some may want to travel more. Some want to golf or pursue other worthwhile hobbies. I’ve always wanted more time. I’ve been anxious to slow my life way down and enjoy each moment. To make each day unique, rather than an endless routine.
I’ve been incredibly lucky that I’ve recently been able to pursue writing full-time, which has given me a really early glimpse of what financial independence is all about. I’ve had a lot more time, which has allowed me to focus on my passions and do what I would otherwise do if I were already financially independent.
What I ultimately wanted to do was take all of the success I experienced down in Florida and fuse that with my old life in Michigan. A life which offered a lot more time with family and friends. Michigan was where I grew up; where my best friend still lived; where my parents, sisters, and extended family all still lived, worked, and played. So it made sense at some point to take what I gained and learned in Florida and bring that back with me. And the fact that I was now writing for a living made it all the more possible to have more time with the family I had back in Michigan, as it was tough to see everyone more than a week or two per year when living 1,200 miles away and working 50+ hour workweeks along with everything else I had going on.
The Old Life Was Gone
My girlfriend in Florida advised me this probably wasn’t a good idea. She told me that my family and friends had grown up. Many had their own families, jobs, hobbies, and other commitments. I couldn’t just go back and expect to spend time with everyone just because I had time; they were busy pursuing their own lives.
Now, this is more than fine with me. I didn’t expect everyone to drop their life simply because I was back. I simply hoped for the occasional lunch, a Friday night pizza get-together, or just stopping by to say hi here and there. You know, the things that are impossible when seeing people requires months of planning, expensive flights, and hours of air travel.
And much of my time back in Michigan has been wonderful. I was there for the birth of my niece. I’ve had many lunch and dinner meetings with friends and family, little exploration trips around the state to find a great place to settle into, and got to visit some of the places I used to hang out when I was younger. I’ve taken some walks down memory lane, and it’s been fantastic.
But life has a way of moving on without you sometimes. And everyone up here has their own life. I may have much more time to myself, but most of my family are hard workers, and admirably so. As such, their schedules are incredibly tight, and it’s difficult to see some people on the drop of a dime. Even though I’m back home, the scheduling I was used to when I lived so far away is still somewhat necessary.
Cheap Versus Frugal
As I stated above, this journey is all about time for me. I wanted to have more time to spend with people I love and care about. And I largely accomplished this, much earlier than I ever anticipated or planned for. While this is wonderful, it appears that a couple of members in my family resent me for my success.
The first noticeable signs of this came about through small comments or jokes here and there regarding money and some of the success I’ve achieved, but this has escalated over the last few months. It seems that money has become a focus of some conversations I’ve had with certain members of my family, which is disappointing. I started noticing that when certain events were planned that involved money and it came time to divvy up the costs I was expected to pay for more than my fair share because I can apparently afford to.
I also started to get commentary on my lifestyle, and how the only way I could do what I’ve done is to be cheap and mooch off of others. That’s really sad, because while I’ve been a champion of frugality, I despise cheapness. I’ve never been a cheapskate, though I have been guilty of extreme frugality at times. Of course, the difference between living frugally and being cheap is frugality doesn’t come at the expense of others; cheapskates will gladly take advantage of others in the pursuit of saving money. I view frugality as a measure to value expenses in your life properly rather than wasting away money. Being cheap means every decision is made to save money, regardless of the value that could be had.
That’s particularly disheartening to me because I’ve never taken advantage of anyone throughout this whole process. Maybe I’m guilty at times of not going above and beyond what was fair, choosing instead to stick to what was exactly fair. And I was probably most guilty of this in the beginning, when I was still trying to get my snowball rolling. But I’ve certainly loosened the purse strings a bit as time has passed and the level of extreme frugality required to leverage my progress wasn’t quite as necessary.
The final straw came when it seemed to me that the only cure for the disagreement was for me to basically just start handing out money.
I felt heartbroken when getting backed into a corner about finances with certain people in my life. I was hurt that they viewed my lifestyle as somehow harmful to others, when I never took from anyone. I worked incredibly hard to get to where I’m at now, and my whole goal was to share the results, in the form of time, with everyone. But it seems that some people would rather me share my money than my time.
So in a fit of hurt and disappointment I packed everything I own (which isn’t much) and piled it into my Corolla last week. I then left the state of Michigan with the determination to go back to Florida and continue down the path I was on before I left. After passing the border into Ohio I started to wonder if I made the right choice. Did I let emotions overcome logic? Was I turning my back on the rest of my family that fully supported what I was doing? Was it naive of me to not consider some resentment from certain people in my life, especially those who are on uncertain financial footing? Was I not being generous enough? Was I being selfish?
I ended up turning around, ultimately deciding not to turn my back on everyone else in my life that I moved back for. Leaving would have meant spiting everyone else for the sake of separating myself from those that didn’t fully support my journey.
This was very unlike me as I generally consider decisions for long periods of time before engaging. I’m a very analytic person, and it takes me time to think through things. In addition, I’m generally not someone who reacts on pure emotion. But sometimes life and the moment can get the best of you.
The Irony Of It All
I found this experience particularly ironic.
The main purpose behind everything I’ve done to this point has been to have more time. Now, I’ll admit there are selfish reasons at play, as I hated dragging myself down to the dealership day in and out, working at a job I had absolutely no passion for. But there are also very unselfish reasons at the heart of it as well. I want to give my time to those I care most about. Eventually, I’d love to be able to volunteer my time as well to local organizations in the community.
The ironic aspect of all of this is that my journey and lifestyle that led to me having much more time now to spend with the people I care most about led to some of these same people resenting me for getting to the point where results were realized enough to have the time required to spend with them. Money is required to have time, but those with little or no money sometimes resent those people with it. And instead of equating money to time, they equate money only to money, and what it can buy.
I was questioning how selfish I was really being through this whole episode. But then I realized that those trying to hurt me were the ones actually being selfish. I view family as love. And love is unconditional. Therefore, family is unconditional love. And that comes with unconditional support, which I was definitely not receiving.
How To Deal With Resentment
I learned some value lessons with this, and lessons I had not particularly planned on learning. But I’m an eternal optimist. And I view every experience in life as a learning tool, where something can always be gleaned.
I plan to change my strategy moving forward. I’ve been very open about my finances with everyone I know. This is partly because I view money as far too taboo, and the more open we all are the better we can all possibly be at managing money. It’s impossible to learn if we don’t discuss the subject. Furthermore, as a blogger that’s been featured in national media it’s just about impossible to maintain any anonymity with my finances. But I plan to limit my discussions on money with some people in my personal life to basically zero from now on.
I didn’t expect any resentment from those close to me. I suppose because of everything my family has been through there would be extra support for succeeding after coming from difficult circumstances. And I thought family should always root for each other. But now that it’s out in the open I decided to come up with ways to avoid this in the future. The following tips (of which I’m going to personally use from now on) are specifically aimed at those who are aggressively pursuing financial independence, and thus will accumulate substantial monetary assets, possibly well above and beyond what those around you end up attaining.
I view the following strategies as optimal in dealing with or avoiding resentment:
- Avoid discussions on money whenever possible, especially with those you view as most likely to resent you. But don’t turn down the opportunity to help others with financial questions if they’re serious about it and need your assistance. However, I would avoid initiating these discussions.
- Keep your wealth in stealth – accumulate anonymously. Misery loves company, so if others that are struggling financially think you are as well there is nothing for them to resent.
- Rely on the support of those that understand what you’re doing, be it a spouse, parent, friend, or sibling. Keep these people close, and advise them that the information you’re sharing (if you choose to) is private.
- Have realistic expectations. Not everyone around you will be rooting for you, especially if they’re having financial difficulties of their own.
- Be realistically generous and avoid cheapness. While it’s difficult (and unnecessary) to just give away money when you’re trying to aggressively achieve financially independence at a relatively young age, be kind to those you love. Never mooch off of others, which would certainly invite resentment.
A Happy Ending
But this whole experience actually turned out to be a positive one. See, I told you I’m an optimist!
During this difficult episode that occurred last week the romance I experienced with my girlfriend of five years in Florida was rekindled. I relied on her for support after being heartbroken by people I really care about, and she supported me 100%. She advised me that I can’t please everyone, that others sometimes don’t understand what I’m doing, and that I shouldn’t feel selfish at all, as I had never been financially selfish with her.
However, she did point out that I had been selfish in the way I left Florida. Apparently, I wasn’t fully listening to her when I was discussing the possibility of moving up to Michigan. I had thought she had no interest in moving up here, whereas she viewed it as an idea that would require time on her part to acclimate to, and she had a son to think about. She felt the idea was good, but the timing wasn’t quite correct. And she wanted a plan. She also wanted her son to finish middle school before moving him halfway across the country.
So I’m happy to announce that she’s planning to move up to Michigan – with her son and a dog in tow – next summer! I’m actually going to fly her up in October for what would be our fifth anniversary. We’ll get an opportunity to spend time together and I can show her around Ann Arbor (a city she already prefers). We’ll scope out schools both for her son and her (she works in education). And this journey will be both of ours, as she’s excited to join me on this path, start investing, and retire around the same time I do.
So this requires a bit of change in plans. I was previously looking for an apartment for myself up here, but now I’ll be hunting for a two bedroom apartment/condo for the whole family. In addition, this will likely now require that I rent a room from family a bit longer than I originally planned, as there is no sense in trying to find a short-term rental and then furnishing it before moving all over again. We’re both hopeful the next place we find will be our new home for a number of years. It’s a new adventure, which is really exciting.
Furthermore, I’ve decided to concentrate on the family relationships where the support is mutual. I can’t really worry about those that don’t get what I’m doing or maybe do not fully support it. I’ll always love those people, but I can’t be be concerned with trying to make them understand something they don’t or convince them of anything other than what they already believe to be true. I’ve always believed in being the change you wish to see, and that others will eventually change if they want to. I have always tried to lead by example. If others do not see the benefits of that example then so be it.
Resentment is an interesting topic. I’ve seen it discussed at various times and in various forms over the years from others who were marching toward financial independence before encountering it along the way, often unexpectedly. The idea of resentment always came across as weird to me, because I’ve always been the type of person who doesn’t care a bit what other people think about me. In fact, I’m sometimes galvanized by negative viewpoints on my choices or lifestyle, as it allows me to prove others wrong. But it’s a bit different when it’s those closest to you with the opinions.
I actually planned to write about this topic one day, but in general terms. I didn’t anticipate experiencing it firsthand. But I suppose it’s better that I did, as this blog is where theory meets reality. I don’t write about generalities very often, instead choosing to discuss my experiences as I march down this path.
And I’m glad this happened. I know who supports me and who doesn’t. Furthermore, I realized that I hadn’t been fair with my wonderfully supportive partner, and didn’t give her the proper opportunity to move up here with me. I brought preconceived notions into the moving discussions, and just assumed that she didn’t want to come along. It turns out she does want to come, and we decided to stay together as a team. And I couldn’t be happier about it as she has reaffirmed that she totally supports what I’m doing and wants the same thing. She’s an extremely wonderful and loving person, and I’m a very lucky guy indeed to have her in my life.
So if you end up experiencing resentment in your journey, this could very well be the catalyst that helps you realize who truly has your back and who doesn’t. And that’s a wonderful thing. No sense in confiding in people that don’t truly believe in what you’re doing, and better to probably keep those people at a comfortable distance where discussions about money are generally avoided.
Have you ever experienced resentment? How did you deal with it? Have you successfully avoided resentment? How?
Thanks for reading.
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