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I don't hang out with poor people.

And that’s a problem. It makes me less grateful.

I’m middle class. Growing up, I never cared about money or status because my needs were taken care of. But there were two conversations I had with my parents that made me care more about money:

1/ After I got multiple bad report cards in middle school, my mom tried a different approach to stress the importance of education. She said that my family wouldn’t want to hang out with me if I failed out of school and made little money as an adult. She wanted to shock me into studying better. It worked. But I did not like the idea of money being a prerequisite for spending time with the people I loved.

2/ When I started my first job out of college, I read a popular article that said you only needed a $70k salary to be happy. I made $48k at the time. I asked my dad if it was worth struggling on the career ladder and making more money if I could be happy at $70k. My dad’s take: if you’re financially free, you can donate more and help more people. I liked that.

Both these conversations motivated me to make more money. And money also plays a big part in my social life: the people I hang out with are middle class or higher. In some friends and family circles, I’m the poorest. Wealth is relative. I’m still pretty well off.

I’ve been feeling an upward pressure to move into a higher social class. I’m surrounded by people who have either made it, or hustling to make it. Our conversations revolve around making more money or the newest, shiniest objects. Social media worsens this hyper-materalistic pressure.

I don’t care for any of it. Humility and self-sufficiency are in short supply.

There’s a motto I live by: I will always be grateful for what I have by focusing on those who have less, and not be envious by comparing myself to those who have more.

Self worth should not be tied to net worth.

I tweaked this on Thu May 02 2024 00:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)