Learning from Others' Mistakes

In another thread that went way OT, someone apparently was offended when I mentioned that I sometimes peruse the public notices at my county's website to look for signs of financial distress. I suspect that person thought that I was taking pleasure in someone else's troubles (and perhaps I do when that person is a particularly obnoxious poseur); however, I would like to propose a different take on the matter.

 

When I find out that a family who I'm fairly certain has a similar household income to our is in over their heads, it supports me efforts to live a fiscally-responsible lifestyle. My husband (I'm at home) makes a very healthy six-figure salary, we have several hundred thousand dollars in the bank to purchase a house and income-generating investments, yet we live a fairly modestly compared to others in our social circle. I have spent years trying to figure out how they do it. Between college savings, insurance, retirement investments, & healthcare, I can't even imagine going out and buying a $75K German import or a $50k behemoth SUV, much less skiing every weekend or vacationing in Hawaii every fall. So, finding out that some of my peers are living a charade has had a positive effect: it's kept my expectations in check.

 

Anybody else feel the same way?

  • April 11 2008 - US
  • 6
    6Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Be a Good Neighbor. Be respectful and on-topic. No spam or self-promotion! See our Good Neighbor Policy.

Answers (58)

I sure do! We are in the exact same situation.  I sometimes feel like an alien because I don't have all the fancy stuff cars, clothes, houses and vacations and I tell me kids we can't buy all the toys they want.   It feels a bit lonely some times.  Maybe they are the aliens and I am the earthly and I am just waiting for them to come back to earth so I have someone to hang out with that is on the same planet as me.   I am joking of course but that is how I feel.

  • April 11 2008
  • 2Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

People living way beyond their means is a large piece of the puzzle that is this RE debacle - and the entire nation is feeling reverberations throughout the economy.  I am continually surprised by how many people, when given the credit rope, will hang themselves.  I can't figure out how much of the situation is based upon lack of financial understanding, and how much of it is simple lack of impulse control.

 

Are there many innocent, responsible owners that are now caught in the net?  Yes - and it truly is shame.  However, if we take the time to look under the hood, it is surprising how many people in this country acted irresponsibly and helped to bring about their own misfortune.  I truly hope that our country is learning a lesson from this experience.

  • April 11 2008
  • 3Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Apparently, I'm still offending someone based on the down vote. Oh well.

  • April 11 2008
  • 4Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

You can't please everybody, stick to your guns and do what is right!

  • April 11 2008
  • 2Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

I'd simply to like know what they've found offensive about my post. It might lead to a productive conversation. Or not.

  • April 11 2008
  • 3Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Some people simply don't like the message and then down vote the messenger every time the see them.  Can't let it get to you.  I have a feeling that productive conversation is unlikely to result.

  • April 12 2008
  • 2Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

formercalifornian: its called VALIDATION and I see no problem with it, the person who is annoyed by this is the one out there pretending to be something they clearly can't afford.   I have so many times wondered the same thing about how people can afford the vacations, all the jazz-ballet-karate-that all of their kids do, the imports (o-tay we know they are fleased), and it makes me happy to think that at least some of them have drank too much kool-aid and then I don't feel so bad that we don't have all that, or shall I say we simply can't afford it.......we like to eat decent food, health insurance is important, and so is retirement.  It is all about priorities. 

 

Apparently I am the only person on my block who can afford to take the time to keep the front of my home decent (the owners leave newspapers piled up in the drive, they leave the garbage can in front of the garage doors, their landscaping is over-run with weeds.........

  • April 12 2008
  • 2Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for jeremy.b

Other than the fact that you feel compelled to let everyone know that your husband makes a "healthy" six figure salary (when is six figures not healthy?) and that you have a couple hundred thousand dollars in the bank and so on and so forth I agree with you that living within your means and trying to capitalize on opportunities that present themselves is perfectly ok. 

  • April 12 2008
  • 5Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Point well taken. Should have left that part out.

  • April 12 2008
  • 6Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

FC, don't worry about it.  We all choose our paths.  A couple of years ago, I considered "moving up", but when I saw what the taxes alone would be I said fugettaboutit (thank goodness I did, but I still kick myself in the arse for not selling).  If everyone did live within their means, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in today. 

  • April 12 2008
  • 7Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for shanjudy

Let me just say that what I’m posting here is not intended to be boastful but just give you and idea of why make the decisions we make. My husband and I work and we make about $250K together (him $150K and me $100K). He works in the IT sector and I work in the finance sector and both of are jobs are always prone to layoff so it’s comforting to have 2 incomes. We are careful with our money. If one of us gets laid off than the other one’s salary can support the family. If we both get laid off (God forbid), we have 8 to 9 months in emergency cash reserves to pay for health insurance and living expenses (we never touch this money). Both of us max out our 401ks and put 20% of our salary into 401ks plus IRAs so we’re good about saving for retirement. We only live off of my husband’s salary. For my salary after 401k + IRA, $500 per month goes to each of our kids’ 529 college savings plan and the rest goes into savings/investments. We try to be frugal. I always shop for sales and won’t do silly things like buying my kids designer clothes that they grow out of in a few months. We also contribute a lot to charity mostly our church which we’re very active in. We are in good shape financially. We have no debt other than our mortgage.

  • April 12 2008
  • 3Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for shanjudy

Here’s where it gets sticky. We live in nice house (that we can afford- no danger of foreclosure (even if one of us gets laid off), no upside down mortgage, no HELOC or any of that nonsense). We drive German imports. We take European or Caribbean vacations every year. We ski. And I like Coach purses (and shoes too). We don’t do these things to make other people feel bad. We do it because we can (by God’s grace) and we enjoy it. I feel a little creeped out that other people see this and automatically want to give me the evil eye or just assume that we’re wasting our money and are up to our ears in debt. After reading all the stuff on here I’m afraid that all of my neighbors are just waiting for us to have some catastrophic event and be financially ruined so that they can feel better about themselves. Creepy. Just creepy.

  • April 12 2008
  • 6Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for shanjudy

As far as the stay at home thing goes, I’ve been very, very blessed to live close by to my husband’s parents who took care of both of my kids until they were 3 years old. They started preschool when they were 3. So I didn’t have to go through the heartache of dropping off a tiny infant at daycare and going to work. I could have quit my job and stayed at home with them but I’m okay with the fact that I didn’t because I felt that they got a lot of love and attention from Grandma and Grandpa and by the time they were 3 they needed more structure and interaction with other kids anyway.

At the end of the day, we’re happy with our life and the decisions we’ve made. We don’t look down on or begrudge anyone else for the decisions they’ve made. As a Christian, I don’t take pleasure in anyone’s unhappiness or misfortunes (whatever may have caused them). I just hope and pray that others feel the same way towards me.

  • April 12 2008
  • 5Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Shanjudy - your story illustrates that living within one's means certainly does not mean that one cannot enjoy life or even some "materialistic" purchases.  Unfortunately, though, it seems that many people have come to believe that their ability to feel good about themselves is tied up in whether or not they drive that German import (for example)- so they rob Peter to pay Paul to get it.  This often results in folks pushing themselves to the financial brink (overleveraging that bubble equity, maxing out the CCs, etc.).  Then, a major economic event occurs, and all of a sudden we have many folks in crisis.  I believe that this is not only taxing to the family unit, but it eventually weighs upon the rest of society when someone has to come in and pick up the pieces.  It would be nice if society could get back to basics a bit and learn to be happy again independently from the "stuff."

  • April 12 2008
  • 3Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

FL has become one of the states well-known for its RE market crash.  The truth is, at least in my part of Central FL, that many of those folks that bought houses during the bubble would still be okay today (ARM issues aside) if they just didn't HELOC.  However, here we are with all of these foreclosures, many of them prompted by the fact that someone just had to have that Hummer (for example).  Now, the Hummer guy's foreclosure is tanking his responsible neighbor's market values, etc.  This is the same guy that laughed at his responsible neighbor before the market correction because the neighbor drives a Ford.  I find this scenario disgusting - and it is the perspective from which I post.  However, if you really love Hummers and you can buy one without hurting anyone else - more power to ya.  (Okay - no Hummer jokes SoCal).  lol.

  • April 12 2008
  • 4Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

"If everyone did live within their means, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in today."

 

Well put Marci.

 

Now, see, FC.  I said essentially the same thing, with a bit more detail from things that I have personally witnessed, and I have received unhelpful votes.  Whateva.

  • April 12 2008
  • 2Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for Mike_oxafloppin

"We do it because we can (by God’s grace) and we enjoy it. I feel a little creeped out that other people see this and automatically want to give me the evil eye or just assume that we’re wasting our money and are up to our ears in debt."

Amen sister AMEN!

  • April 12 2008
  • 3Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

*We do it because we can (by God’s grace) and we enjoy it. I feel a little creeped out that other people see this and automatically want to give me the evil eye or just assume that we’re wasting our money and are up to our ears in debt."

Amen sister AMEN!*

 

You know, if you think about it, this is actually a by-product of how commonplace overleveraging and overspending has become.  I think many people now often do assume that the people with the most bling are the most in trouble.  Very sad indeed.

  • April 12 2008
  • 2Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for Mike_oxafloppin

It's one thing to take advantage of someone’s misfortune but a COMPLETELY different situation if you actually wish for it.  It would seem that some of the "smug" threads were directed towards this.  It is sad that some here find comfort in other people’s misery. It’s sad to think that largely we have become that type of society.  Maybe it makes them feel validated when they see others fail?  Some here have always taken a stand on being helpful and hoping that others don’t make certain mistakes  but  the others that take the “HA  you should have listened to me  “ stance  rather than being sorry to hear about someone else’s misfortune.

  • April 12 2008
  • 5Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Well, I, for one, do not take glee in anyone else's misery.  However, I do not feel sorry for anyone that lives selfishly and thereby brings about misery to themselves and, particularly, others.  I certainly do not wish misfortune upon anyone.  However, if they deal it, and then they step in it, tough sh!t for them - and I certainly don't want our country's resources to be drawn down because of it.

 

I really hope that you are not referring to any of my threads when you say "some of the "smug" threads were directed towards this" because that is definitely not the case.  Any "smugness" on my part has always been directed at the culprits that have f-ed up the RE market - and perhaps even the economy - with their greedy, selfish, sheeplike behavior.

 

<rant off>

  • April 12 2008
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

People do what they have to do. Judge not lest ye be judged. Whether you believe in anything or not that is still something to think about. Some of you need to get the f over yourselves. This is not directed at anyone purposely but it is directed at those of you who know its directed at your over infalted egos and sense of selves. Walk in someone elses shoes before you pass judgement. What ev You guys are making me feel really angry and upset about your crappy and one sided observations.

  • April 12 2008
  • 6Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for pinksandbaby

Who really cares what anyone else thinks?  Personally, I do not.  Some people make good decisions and some make bad ones.  Everyone lives their own way.  It's sad that so many people made poor decisions in trying to "keep up" and impress their friends/ family, but if they did not- housing prices would not have soared the way they did.  The prices rising had good results for some, terrible for others.  It's a shame everyone is paying for it now, but for some people it worked out just fine.  My Grandmother sold her home in need of a complete reno (roof on down) for over $500K.  She's 85 (almost 86) and she bought a lovely little bungalow by my parents free and clear and now lives comfortably and does not have to worry about her taxes and bills.  She had  trouble paying for meds, food, etc.  She was fortunate.  She can't work and make up for losses like many younger people can.

 

Enjoy your cars and Coach purchases and do NOT feel guilty about it.  You've earned them.  You can't feel guilty for working hard and making good choices just because some others have not.  They will recover.

  • April 12 2008
  • 3Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Shanjudy: thanks for your perspective and there most certainly are many out there like you and my input certainly needed more clarity.  

All one needs to do is look at the outrageous consumer debt that people have and the high % of cars that are leased to see that Americans are living beyong their means.  I don't wish ill will on anyone for what they have or what they do,  my stance is that if I see someone with all the trappings and they go into foreclosure then my empathy may be less for them.  My ex-sister in law is a prime example: her new hub lost his high pay job and the next job paid less & instead of taking steps to downgrade their spending they just kept consuming.......hub got a second job & they eventually filed bankruptcy under the clean slate system: they put cars in her mom's name, got all kinds of stuff for their house, then waited to file....it was done with purpose and it is the rest of us who take on the cost of people like that.  I am not saying that those who may loose their home did it on purpose.....but if you can't figure out general accounting then how the heck can I have a ton of sympathy for ya!  

  • April 12 2008
  • 3Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

I think these discussions have been a bit polarizing and things have been somewhat blown out of proportion on all sides.  For me, there is a line between misfortune (loss of a spouse or a job or an illness, for example) and irresponsibility.  Are there gray areas in between?  You betcha.  My comments are directed at those that definitively fall to one side.  In thinking about it, most people probably fall somewhere in the middle - and I can see how my comments could be offensive to them.  That was not my intent.  My aim has been to direct focus to the cases where there has been clear irresponsible behavior (2 matching Mercedes SUVs placed in the garage 6 months before a foreclosure), and to ask people to consider what motivates such behavior and whether it is worthy of change.  Only a particular individual can know their own circumstances and where they fall on the spectrum.

  • April 13 2008
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

I would like to add that I certainly understand enjoying a luxury good for the sake of superior qualities they provide.  I am looking to investigate the issue of "conspicuous consumption":

 

"Conspicuous consumption is a term used to describe the lavish spending on goods and services acquired mainly for the purpose of displaying income or wealth. In the mind of a conspicuous consumer, such display serves as a means of attaining or maintaining social status. A very similar but more colloquial term is "keeping up with the Joneses."
...
"In recent years, conspicuous consumption is viewed as a contributing factor to behavioral disorders such as compulsive spending and is a major contributor to personal bankruptcies resulting from abuse and mismanagement of credit."

Conspicuous consumption

  • April 13 2008
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Wow! There are some really interesting responses here. I've apparently hit a hot button with many of you.

 

 

 

I've done a lot of thinking about my original post and why some people find it offensive. It probably should creep you out that I can surmise my neighbor's level of financial security just by perusing the public records. Privacy is a problem in this country, no doubt about it, and the ease with which I can research this type of information has inspired me to take a very close look at how I manage access to my own family's information. It's one of the reasons I love renting: no public records.

 

As far as my joy in other people's misfortune. It's not general schadenfreude. There have been a couple of situations in my circle with particularly obnoxious women that inspired my previous posts about finding out someone was living a charade; however, I stand behind my assertion that finding out the truth helps keep my expectations in check. I no longer assume that just because my husband's coworker is living in a  life of luxury that it's also possible for us. I know that a lot of that luxury is bought on credit (the serial cash-out refi's in the public records are a big clue), and it puts the kibbosh on my covetousness. That was my point, and I'm sticking to it.

 

P.S. Shan..enjoy your luxuries. You've obviously earned them.

 

 

 

 

 

  • April 13 2008
  • 3Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

I am kind of feeling a bit like Carrie right about now. This makes me sad. I am nosey too and yes, I look up addresses of people I know on Zillow to see what their house is worth, try to match someones adress on realtytrac, check the county tax site to see their taxes. But to go to the extent of researching how many times they refied? OMG...I would love to know how many of my 'living large' friends and family sucked the house ATM or heloc! Show me!!!! Muahahahahahahahahah!!!!

  • April 13 2008
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for annelisek

***I am nosey too and yes, I look up addresses of people I know on Zillow to see what their house is worth***

 

LMMFAO! I thought it was just me. OMG, I am sooo scared that one day they are all gonna look up their own homes and see that they have been viewed 217 times. (each view is logged and posted at the top right corner) For all my friends who bought in the past few years, I have memorized, street number, street name, zip code, and last week's zestimate!~

  • April 13 2008
  • 2Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Here is also another way to look at life:  I go through the drive through and the clerk taking my money has a perfect french manicure........she can't be making much money, probably gets WICK to help feed the kids, yet she spends $$ to have her nails done.  I am not saying that poor don't deserve a little enjoyment, but if you are taking the dole from gov't or borrowing in some fashion there has to be some accountability.   Years ago we gave my mother in law $500.00 to get her bills paid up and all of a sudden she buys a new $150.00 porch swing.......we didn't expect the money to be paid back but certainly if we are going to take money out of our kettle to help someone then make that money count not to spend on frivilous stuff.  Needless to say we don't give her money anymore and gee wee she makes do just fine.  

 

There is a difference between someone who can afford it and those who merely pretend to. I think our angst is clearly with the wanna bes.

 

  • April 14 2008
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

''probably gets WICK to help feed the kids, yet she spends $$ to have her nails done. '

Wow. Why would you make that assumption she gets government help off of done nails? How much does a manicure cost nowadays? 20 30 dollars?

  • April 14 2008
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

  1. 1
  2. 2