How to handle people who undermine your success

Do you have someone in your life who is a bad influence when it comes to your financial or career goals?

I've known a people like that. Typically this happens when you're trying to make new, positive changes in your life. For example, when I decided to not buy a new car for awhile, one friend gave me a hard time about it, making fun of my choice to save money before buying another vehicle. “I don't get it — what exactly are you saving for?” she asked.

Toxic People Undermine Your Success

I hate to label people as “toxic”, but I can't think of a better word for people who tease you, make fun of your positive life choices, and don't support your goals or respect the time and effort you spend to achieve them.

In my experience, it's not that these people are cruel and out to get you. The real issue is that your success signals their failure.

You've heard the story (or maybe experienced it yourself) of the person who tries to lose weight, and their overweight friend undermines their success by tempting them with food or making fun of how much time they spend at the gym. Likewise, if you've decided to eat at restaurants less so you can a smaller home so you can save for retirement and your friend makes fun of your house, it stings.

At best, it's hurtful. At worst, it can undermine your financial and career success.

Are You Loyal to a Fault?

The real problem with toxic relationships is that we tend to stick with them. According to a joint survey conducted by TODAY.com and SELF magazine, 83% of those polled said they held onto a friendship longer than was healthy because it was so hard to break things off with a friend.

Why is that? Friendships, even negative ones, feel familiar, which makes them difficult to end, even if your “friend” is making fun of your efforts to save for retirement and pay off the mortgage. Also, there's the guilt factor. Despite how selfish or cruel someone is being (or maybe because of it, if you realize it stems from their insecurity), you feel guilty for acting in your own best interest.

Finally, sometimes we stick around because we don't have a choice. It's not easy to cut ties with a family member, coworker, or neighbor, because you still have them in your life in some capacity.

Extracting Yourself from Toxic Relationships

If you suspect that a person in your life is undermining your goals, first, identify how they lead you astray.

Does this person routinely criticize or undermine the positive goals you've set, making you feel like they're dumb or not worthwhile? Do they encourage you to spend beyond your budget, even after you've shared your goals?

If the relationship is harmful, then you have to decide what's to be done about it.

You could do one of two things:

  1. End the friendship. This is a pretty straightforward approach — you cut off communication and the relationship is over.
  2. Learn how to handle the person. If it's your mom insisting you “deserve” to buy yourself a $300 pair of shoes or a coworker teasing you for “sucking up” when you're only trying to do a good job, you can't cut off contact so easily. (Well, maybe you can try, but in most cases the fallout will make things worse!)

So let's say that you've decided (or you're forced) to continue to deal with this person. How can you handle them so that your success isn't derailed? Here are a few options:

  1. Be straightforward and inclusive. Be upfront about your financial goals, and try inviting them to participate with you. “I've been trying to save an emergency fund, would you be interested in joining me so we can do it together?”
  2. Spend less energy on the relationship. If honesty and a “team” approach don't work, you might need to pull away from the friendship. This might mean hiding their Facebook status updates, hanging out less often, or slowly reducing your lunch dates from three times a week to once a month.
  3. Focus on the good. Is there an activity that brings the two of you together in a positive way? Maybe when you do things as a part of a group, your friend doesn't make negative comments. Or maybe when you go for a run together, he or she is too out-of-breath to make dismissive comments! Do more of those things and drop the kinds of social activities where your friend is more prone to undermine and criticize.

Finally, don't forget you can expand your social circle! Find more like-minded friends who share your goals, take a successful coworker to lunch, or seek out a mentor to keep you motivated and on the right track.

I'm sure everyone has their own stories about toxic friendships, so let's share in the comments! How did you deal with it? What lessons did you learn?

More about...Psychology

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Carly+Wilson
Carly+Wilson
8 years ago

My old boss used to do this! He and his wife were living on $100,000+ a year and yet still managing to spend more than they made. He would make fun of me for bringing my own lunch and sleeping on a mattress on the floor instead of buying a bed frame when I was putting everything toward my debt. Lucky for me I was able to keep things in perspective because I knew I didn’t want to be like him! The hard friendships for me are the ones based around going out and spending money (shopping, drinking, eating, etc.)… Read more »

CincyCat
CincyCat
8 years ago
Reply to  Carly+Wilson

When my husband and I were newly married and poor as church mice, we used to take walks around a park (or our local mall in poor weather) just to get out of the house. We didn’t buy anything, but it was fun to people-watch, and it was free!

Holly@clubthrifty.com
8 years ago
Reply to  Carly+Wilson

I agree that it can be hard on friendships when one person is a saver and one person is a spender. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked out to a concert, expensive dinner, or event because it didn’t fit in my budget at that particular moment. Fortunately, true friends will understand and are willing to cook out and play cards..or do other various free things. Those are the friends worth treasuring. Unfortunately, I have some family members who used to try to have birthday get togethers at expensive restaurants..or suggest expensive presents for our parents… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
8 years ago
Reply to  Carly+Wilson

I also have friends that need to be spending money to feel entertained. There have been so many times that I have said no to a concert, weekend trip, or expensive dinner out because it didn’t fit in my budget at that time. Fortunately, true friends will understand. True friends who legitimately want to spend time with you will grill out and play cards. I have family members who used to come up with all kinds of ways to spend everyone else’s money- birthday dinners at expensive restaurants out, expensive gifts for everyone to “go in” on, etc. I have… Read more »

javier
javier
8 years ago
Reply to  Carly+Wilson

My boss will pay off his debt when he is almost a hundred years old. He cannot understand I like to save, that I consider that getting a loan to pay for a old car is stupid in most of the situations, etc. He’s a great professional, but handles his finances like crap. In general, as I have a side income, almost nobody knows how much I’m really making, so they think I make substantially less. That allows me to have more freedom. In addition, I’ve got the excuse of going to a very expensive trip, but nobody know that… Read more »

Edward
Edward
6 years ago
Reply to  javier

I will agree that toxic people like to focus and nit-pick at your problems because it is easier and makes them look good rather than clean their own house.

investlike1percent
investlike1percent
8 years ago
Reply to  Carly+Wilson

indeed. i think the key is to focus on your own goals and objectives and not let others bring us down.

1%

Megan
Megan
8 years ago

I have a few people in my life who fit this description, and it is so disheartening to talk to them. I can’t cut them out of my life – they’re FAAAAMILY – so I learned the hard way not to ask for advice (that opens the door to criticism) and to keep my mouth shut in terms of finances.

getagrip
getagrip
8 years ago
Reply to  Megan

With family I agree with keeping your mouth shut and ceasing to ask for advice. Bumming money monthly from their parents to cover their spending, phone’s ringer turned down because of the constant collection calls, hiding their car in a neighbors garage to keep it from being repossessed, and they’ll still tell you how dumb you are for buying a used car or how cheap you are for not wanting to splurge on take out even when everyone knows they’ll short their share of bill and your mother/aunt/cousin will end up covering for them. They’re like the dirty little secret… Read more »

Rosa
Rosa
8 years ago
Reply to  Megan

Well, you actually can cut toxic family out of your life if you really want to. My mother is scarily like Livia Soprano, with serious mental health issues, & my only sister hit on every guy I dated. I didn’t talk to my mother for five years at one point. And moving thousands of miles away, to a different country, helped too.

investlike1percent
investlike1percent
8 years ago
Reply to  Megan

family – didnt pick them and cant shake them. they are what they are. tap your family when it makes sense. usually better to leave them out

1%

Justin @ The Family Finances
Justin @ The Family Finances
8 years ago

Great article April! In my situation, I find that it’s my family that are the most difficult. They’ve always been poor, bad with money, and in debt, and they have trouble accepting the practices that I use to keep me out of their situation. They tell me things like, “You make good money; you should live a little” when I’m living just fine.

I totally agree that to a large extent “my success signals their failure.” The better I do and the more responsibly I mange my finances and spending, the more it shows that they aren’t doing that.

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
8 years ago

Yes! It’s my family that mostly makes comments like this and it’s annoying because I feel like maybe I should defend myself and my wife and our choices, but then I think I shouldn’t have to. ?? But, many of my family members are in debt and many are overweight, and they constantly struggle with these things…. so my family getting our act together surely could signal their failures.

Clint
Clint
8 years ago

“The better I do and the more responsibly I mange my finances and spending, the more it shows that they aren’t doing that.”

Even MORE unforgivable is that you’re proving to them that it was possible ALL ALONG to do it.

People like to believe they “had no choice” because external factors “forced” them to make the decisions they made. Seeing another succeed is tantamount to saying, “See? There were always choices, you just consistently made dumb ones.”

Megan
Megan
8 years ago
Reply to  Clint

“People like to believe they “had no choice” because external factors “forced” them to make the decisions they made. Seeing another succeed is tantamount to saying, “See? There were always choices, you just consistently made dumb ones.””

This times infinity.

Anthony @ Each Peso Counts
Anthony @ Each Peso Counts
8 years ago

I always choose to handle the relationship by spending less time with the person and just updating them with what i do on facebook or twitter. It’s great!

William @ Drop Dead Money
William @ Drop Dead Money
8 years ago

That’s a good one! Need to remember that 🙂

Isela
Isela
8 years ago

More than friends, I have readers in my blog that were constantly making negative remarks about my financial plans. Last night I was actually reading some of those.

When I read “your success marks their failure” it made perfect sense. There I was in their face showing them it can be possible .

Great post…!

Beth
Beth
8 years ago

Ahhhh! Flashbacks to being called a “browner” and “goodie two shoes” in school! (And probably worse things behind my back.) I didn’t let it stop me from working for high marks, but I did notice those attitudes stopped some of my students. It was ridiculous — no one expected the star athletes to give less than their best in order to spare other people’s feelings. I think the point about how others feel our successes point out their failures is spot on. I’ve had people run me down about things, but when I looked closer I realized there were things… Read more »

Sam
Sam
8 years ago

Since I am secure in our goals and habits when it comes to personal finance, I don’t really have a problem with some push back by friends. Honestly, I like to hear what others are doing or not doing when it comes to finances because I think most people don’t like to talk about it. When we were paying off all our unsecured debt, in 2007, I openly shared the goal with many friends and shared my progress along the way. I can remember being at happy hour and one of my good friends was talking about a planned trip… Read more »

Ant
Ant
8 years ago

It’s like you read my mind! Sadly, my toxic relationships include members of my family. I wish I could go back in time and to never have mentioned my financial and career goals to them. This way they have no ammo.

“If they don’t know your dreams, then they can’t shoot them down.” – J. Cole

notpollyanna
notpollyanna
8 years ago

I think I would have more trouble with this if I weren’t already so open about my financial struggles. My friends and family all have a very good idea of how much I make, how much I owe, that I spend 80% of my money on healthcare and student loan debt, and that I cannot afford to pay rent anywhere in the area. When I say I can’t afford something, no one asks why because they already know. In the future, I imagine this might become more of an issue, but I also imagine that I would explain with things… Read more »

Joe @ Retire By 40
Joe @ Retire By 40
8 years ago

It’s mostly the coworkers who are bad influence on me. They always want to go out and eat and spend money on various events. They are making pretty good money so it’s not a big deal, but I’m working toward leaving my job so it’s not good for me to be spending a lot of money. It’s hard to be close friends to people who are undermining your goals.

Sam
Sam
8 years ago

I have this problem too, the coworkers that eat out every day, I’ve generally solved the problem by committing to eating out once a week with coworkers or clients or an event. I find that if I eat out once a week or regularly with my coworkers, it ends up being about once every two weeks b/c of other lunches with clients, I stay in the loop and up to speed on gossip and the like. Maintaining the social connections with my boss and coworkers are important so its worth it to me to eat out with them on this… Read more »

Katie
Katie
8 years ago

Oh, yes, I have been there! I had a friend who used to heckle me relentlessly to spend more money. We are not friends now because essentially, we grew to the point the friendship no longer worked (she was a very toxic friend and I walked away). In the past 5 years, she and her husband have had every financial struggle (from bad choices) possible while my husband and I are pursuing our dreams. I wouldn’t have walked away had it just been about money, but the money heckling, even with my pushback, was getting old.

Mr. Everyday Dollar
Mr. Everyday Dollar
8 years ago

What I think this really comes down to is being inauthentic. A lot of people don’t believe it is okay to just be themselves. They believe they have to become what other people want them to be in order to liked, loved, and to be friends. How many of us, deep down, are really looking for approval when we buy that new car, that new shirt, or take that trip to Ireland? The need for external validation and approval from others prevents us from being our true selves and actually blocks us from getting what we want – typically healthy… Read more »

Amanda
Amanda
8 years ago

I had a friend like this. She would buy name brand clothes, even for her 13 year old, although they make about $30,000 net a year. OTOH around me she’d act like she was cheap. Some people just need to decide who they want to be. After discussing it with my therapist I cut off the relationship. We still see each other but it’s in a group setting and I try not to talk about finance or much personal. It was hard but I’m happy to not have that influence of money around me when I’m trying to be content… Read more »

Aeneas
Aeneas
6 years ago
Reply to  Amanda

Amanda – save money by dropping your therapist!

Beth
Beth
8 years ago

I think often our default reaction to being judged is to judge the other person/people in return. If we truly are being ourselves, then our goals shouldn’t be a reflection on anyone else. Does doing this or that make us better or worse than anyone else? It doesn’t matter so long as it’s right for us as individuals.

Easier said than done, though! 🙂

Kelly@thehungryegghead
8 years ago

One of my biggest regrets is giving into the pressure of an engagement ring. I never wear rings as I work with my hands a lot. But friends, family, and hubby thought I was crazy. So I caved and over the next three years I probably wore it a total of 20 times. I would sell it if I could recoup the costs. But since I can’t, I keep it as a reminder to not to give into pressure. Whenever well-meaning friends bug me about kids, I remind them of my engagement ring story. Just because everyone else has one… Read more »

Cindy
Cindy
8 years ago

When we got engaged in 1981, we were REALLY broke college students…and put our available money into nice gold wedding rings, instead. No engagement ring, though that was a huge tradition in Michigan, where I grew up. Flash forward to 31-plus years later, and Husband has a huge promotion coming in. Guess what’s on the top of his list — an engagement ring! (And no diamonds…our daughter, a gemologist, says other stones are actually more valuable.) I remember hearing about German couples, who would use wedding rings to announce their engaged status — by wearing the ring on the other… Read more »

Carla
Carla
8 years ago
Reply to  Cindy

I like that tradition, but when one hand (in my case, the right)is larger than the other by 1/2 ring size, it doesn’t work too well.

I like the idea of just having one ring though – the wedding ring, or a very simple band for one or both. I’m not big on “bling”.

Ellen K.
Ellen K.
8 years ago
Reply to  Cindy

I have a Tiffany diamond band that served as both my engagement ring and wedding ring. It was my idea and I have never regretted it in our 10 years of marriage. I didn’t know it was a German tradition — I’ll have to tell my German American husband about this! I can’t say he got a lot of credit for it from our friends and relatives, who thought he was being cheap for not overriding my preference.

TuppenceBeresford
TuppenceBeresford
8 years ago
Reply to  Cindy

ooh, I’m about to go to school to be a gemologist. Did your daughter go to GIA?

Kim
Kim
8 years ago

When my beloved and I decided we would marry someday, he was in a bad financial situation, we were living several hundred miles apart for a considerable time, and I wouldn’t let him buy me an engagement ring. Or a wedding ring once we married and made a home together. Financial security was more important. I’m not much for jewelry, but I had a ring made of colored glass in my collection, so I started wearing that just to send the signal that I wasn’t “available”. When anyone remarked on the unusual ring, I would explain “glass, when properly cared… Read more »

Laura
Laura
8 years ago

There’s a technique, I think in judo (real martial artists should feel free to correct me), where you use your opponent’s energy against them – e.g., when they lunge at you, you don’t try to block them but instead sidestep and then pull them in the direction they’re already going so they can’t do anything to you until they recover. That’s kind of what I do with underminers. Even when I totally disagree with their stance, I acknowledge it in a “wouldn’t it be nice” way and change the subject, or “yeah, you’re right,” and then just keep doing what… Read more »

William @ Drop Dead Money
William @ Drop Dead Money
8 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Hey Laura, I heard a good comeback on that last line. When they you’re a whatever, the best response is: “You say that like it’s a bad thing!” 🙂

Barb
Barb
8 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Laura,
I have a similar response to people who have said something I disagree with but with whom I don’t want to argue with or otherwise discuss the issue with. I nod and say, “I can see why you might think that.” This generally stops or confuses even the most confrontational person as there is nothing to argue with. I haven’t agreed or disagreed but have acknowledged their view point.

Steve
Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Your “opponent” can use Judo against you as well. That’s why in my experience, it’s best to give as little reasoning about your decisions as you can, at least when dealing with toxic friends and salespeople.

Tina
Tina
8 years ago

Great article. My late FIL lived with us until he passed away. When I talked about our savings account, he would get upset and tried to insult me trying to save. I knew he was struggling financially, after all that is why he was living with us. A very noble deed but he sacrificed his financial security to make everyone else happy. My husband was raised to handle financial situations the same way–break yourself to please everyone else. I have had to really work hard to break his habits but even talking about money with him is difficult. He is… Read more »

Kelly@thehungryegghead
8 years ago

Tell me about it! Many people make me feel bad because I am a housewife and I do not have kids. It’s usually men that make these comments and they say things like I should be kissing my husbands feet! They also think that I am like Peggy Bundy or a Bravo Housewife. I am neither. When people meet me for the first time and find out that I am a housewife, they naturally assume that I am rich or come from wealth. And then they tell me that I do not know what it is like to be poor.… Read more »

Valerie Cox
Valerie Cox
8 years ago

I’ve had lots of negativity over the years from co-workers about mine and my husband’s saving habits. However; when my car breaks down, I write the mechanic a check for the entire amount. Yes, we are currently saving a future car payment each month until it dies. When my air conditioner in our house went out and wasn’t covered, we wrote a check for $3500 to replace it. I’m proud of being frugal and I don’t let that kind of stuff get to me. I laugh at my own car, being 10 years old and part of it holding together… Read more »

KSR
KSR
8 years ago

At a very basic level, humans experience pleasure or pain by their actions. Funny how the pleasure seekers tend to exhibit painful exchange and pain takers tend to exhibit pleasurable exchange.

Could just be a botched observation on my part.

Lolo
Lolo
8 years ago

I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and suggest that perhaps your friends and family may tease you as a means of testing your friendship and the social boundaries of your frugality. Instead of them looking at your success and seeing their failure perhaps sometimes they look at your success and wonder if there is still a place for them (including their choices) in your life. Now I’m sure that is not always the case, but it could very well be for many. I know in my efforts at becoming financially free, I have been open about my financial situation… Read more »

Josetann
Josetann
8 years ago
Reply to  Lolo

I don’t think that’s the reason. BUT, I love having my beliefs challenged, and that’s a good argument, and one I may think about some more.

Elly
Elly
8 years ago

I have get this from my brother from time to time. I once had a conversation with him about my current job, and whether they will hire me after my apprenticeship ends. I told him that if they offered me the job then i would accept enthusiastically, but if i didn’t see any growth in my role within 6 months (eg not just doing the same old stuff i’m doing as an apprentice now) then i’ll start looking for another job immediately. He shot me down with; “well it’s not all about money El, i’m happy where i am and… Read more »

chacha1
chacha1
8 years ago
Reply to  Elly

good luck!

amjay45
amjay45
8 years ago

I have had to put distance between myself and my family as they were constantly undermining my pursuit of my goals. They are not horrible people, far from it, but I believe the problem is that they cannot adjust their ideas of me as I make changes in my life. To paraphrase a recent article, there must be a statute of limitations on poor behaviour!! I’ve finally got my financial house in order, with attainable future goals, and have finally learned to live a peaceful, balanced life. This is to be celebrated, not denigrated.

Paul MacPherson
Paul MacPherson
8 years ago

To quote you “The real problem with toxic relationships is that we tend to stick with them. According to a joint survey conducted by TODAY.com and SELF magazine, 83% of those polled said they held onto a friendship longer than was healthy because it was so hard to break things off with a friend.” I disagree. It is impossible to break things off with a friend. But these people “ARE NOT FRIENDS”, they just are not enemies. What is hard is to potentially choose to be alone, It is this social alternative, better to hang with a “jerk” than to… Read more »

Kelly@thehungryegghead
8 years ago

I prefer to be alone instead of hanging around a jerk. I feel that there are so many things to learn and explore in this world. Many need not cost money. Why waste time suffering jerks?

Carla
Carla
8 years ago

Thankfully this don’t come up very often since I tend to keep my lifestyle and finances to myself, but every once in a while I get the, “you should travel this summer, you deserve it” line. When I tell them that I spent over two years paying $700+/month on health care costs on disability income and I need to invest more money in related costs in the next year, that’s when the conversation end. They are right, I could use some time away – the last few years have been Hell on Earth, but unless they can assist with that,… Read more »

Loves to laugh
Loves to laugh
8 years ago
Reply to  Carla

Try this: feign utter delight and thank them profusely for their generosity! “Thank you so much! I DO deserve it, but I never thought a friend like you would offer to send me on a vacation! What did you have in mind?”

This works for other you-should-because-you-deserve-it comments. 🙂

Carla
Carla
8 years ago
Reply to  Loves to laugh

LOL, I love it, especially since for the most part they are more financially well-off that I ever could be. 😀 Its a good idea, but I don’t think I have the nerve to be that bold.

William @ Drop Dead Money
William @ Drop Dead Money
8 years ago

The best way out of toxic relationships is cultivating new ones. Then we naturally become “too busy” for the toxic ones. It’s much harder to withdraw from relationships when we naturally like to have friends to relate to.

On a different note: it also helps to not flaunt our good decisions. Just do it, no need to broadcast it…

Anne
Anne
8 years ago

This term has been going around the internet in this way and I really dislike it. A toxic friend is one who deliberately makes you feel bad (perhaps so they can pump themselves up). It’s not a friend (or relative) who doesn’t agree with your choices or can’t understand them and makes a few comments. It’s likely your friend or relative was always free with the opinions. You just liked them better when they were directed at someone else. I recognize that because I’m different, others are different too. But I also know that others can’t always make that leap.… Read more »

Alexandria
Alexandria
8 years ago

I have loosely experienced this and find a lot of truth in this article. But I do think this is a lot more true when you make a big life change. It’s kind of like AA – you need new/supportive friends and habits. Old friends may mean well but keep you in a bad place. For me personally, I have always had supportive and like-minded family and friends. We have a debt-free lifestyle as our parents did before us. As such, I didn’t quite understand how *weird* this was until we moved to a new city. Starting from scratch on… Read more »

partgypsy
partgypsy
8 years ago

My husband and I were frugal before it was “cool” to be frugal. So many people told us to upgrade our house during the housing boom we did start questioning ourselves. But we stuck with our goals. And now we know lots of people who cut coupons, do “no spend” months, and who much more rather hang out at each other’s homes (BYOB) than go out. We just had to wait until the rest of the world caught up with us.

Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager
Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager
8 years ago

Maybe I’m just lucky (or I don’t let toxic people become my friends in the first place) but I can’t think of anyone who would really make of me for the decisions I’ve made…

Jerome
Jerome
8 years ago

For me this is the main reason why I do not talk about my success with being frugal and living from my investments. I drive a 12 year old but very well maintained car and live in a small house with my wife and our 5 kids. We also live very comfortably from our invested capital, which by the way is still growing nicely. But I never talk about it. Only 2 friends know some of the details, as they are trying to do the same and are slowly succeeding.

Kathleen @ Frugal Portland
Kathleen @ Frugal Portland
8 years ago

Haters gonna hate. And that’s all there is to it. People sometimes by nature like to shoot down ideas — so when you have an idea, and it’s in the fragile egg state, do not talk to people about it, unless those people are KNOWN cheerleaders.

mayu
mayu
8 years ago

I was annoyed about getting a New Year’s Card from a friend of mine saying, “You should eat more!”
I thought, “It’s none of your business! I have a small appetite. Is this a kind of things you have to write in a New Year’s Card?”

People in Japan exchange New Year’s Cards every January.

Barb
Barb
8 years ago
Reply to  mayu

What a weird comment to make to someone! I’d be annoyed too. I am also petite and am a small eater and occasionally someone will say something when we are eating out about they can’t believe that is all that I am going to eat but that is more conversational and not a comment in a card.

cc
cc
8 years ago

thank you for this! the timing is wonderful. i recently released a piece of software after many months of extremely hard work- mostly i got “congrats!” notes, but a few people have taken it upon themselves to point out all the flaws and room for improvement 🙁 guys, this was a really difficult thing to do! please, don’t worry about the font weight, and don’t tell me that you don’t like it! unless you’re my mom or husband, your suggestions/criticisms aren’t going to make it to the list. reminds me of a trip in college to a lead type foundry/letterpress/book… Read more »

Samantha
Samantha
8 years ago
Reply to  cc

I don’t mean this to be rude, because I really don’t understand, but isn’t criticism exactly what you want? Not mean-spirited criticism of course (“this sucks!”), but constructive criticism (whatever a font weight is sounds pretty specific and fixable) is helpful. Especially from people who aren’t your mother or husband – they might be more likely to tell you the truth.

cc
cc
8 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

you’re not being rude at all, you’re being perfectly sensible 🙂 after some thought, i think my underlying issue was the way the criticisms were presented… bless those who preface suggestions with “now, i don’t know how hard it is to do this, but…”. thank you, i’m listening! one of my critics (lol) starts off with “OK now here’s what you need to do next…” then rattles off about a year’s worth of work. i guess i’m just annoyed at the attitude! thank you for the insight 🙂 *i shouldn’t have put in that bit about just momma & dh… Read more »

Ely
Ely
8 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

you’d think so, but ‘constructive’ criticism I’ve found is exactly the opposite. If I’ve spent hours and hours on a project and you take issue with some piddly detail, it’s not helpful; everyone has their own opinion on the item in question and none of it helps the creator do the right thing for their own project. I asked for input on a creative project once; I got back a whirlwind of conflicting, incomprehensible, mutually exclusive feedback that added nothing to the project and only damaged my confidence in my own creation. Won’t be doing that again.

chacha1
chacha1
8 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

I expect the problem is distinguishing between well-meant *critique* and actual criticism, which is nearly always negative.

A person may say “this is constructive criticism” when, if they mean well, they really mean it’s a critique – in the value-free sense of assessment.

And, if they DON’T mean well, they’re just using the term “constructive” to grease the knife. “Oh but I was just trying to help. So sorry that got stuck in your back.”

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
8 years ago

I really don’t have any “toxic” friends or family of the type described. Many of my family members do seem oddly baffled by the fact that I don’t have a flat screen TV. (I have a 27 inch, regular TV that works great.) Several times I’ve been asked, “But don’t you WANT a flat screen?” to which I always reply, “I’ll probably get one when this one breaks.” They then usually ask, “Why don’t you buy the flat screen now and move this one into your bedroom?” (My apartment is around 550 sq feet and really doesn’t require two televisions.)… Read more »

Steve
Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  Ramblin' Ma'am

When people ask me when we are going to get a flat screen TV, I tell them “It’s on the list.” I am referring to the never ending, virtual TO-DO list. Since new items are constantly getting inserted into the list, the odds “buy a brand new TV” is ever going to make it to the top is pretty low.

Marvin @ SJOptions
Marvin @ SJOptions
8 years ago

So this actually hits home for me. My Best Friend is a very “toxic” person. This is how he describes himself, “I’m not negative, I’m a realist”. I seriously hate that line! So this is how I deal with him: I simply cut him out when I want to talk or do anything that involves moving forward in life. I know it’s sad, but talking to him about it just doesn’t go anywhere. These are the type of responses I get from him when I talk about anything positive. Some of you probably know what I mean. Example 1 –… Read more »

Josetann
Josetann
8 years ago

Yeah, we get this quite a bit. People constantly telling us what we’re doing is wrong, that our decisions are stupid “why would you want to do that, why would you want to go there, why don’t you just…?” Gets a bit old. But we just keep doing what we want to do. It was stupid for my wife to start travel nursing when she could get a “good” paying job in Tennessee. Well, she made more in 6-9 months traveling than she could all year in Tennessee. And she got 3-6 months off. It was stupid to buy a… Read more »

Lucille
Lucille
8 years ago

Toxic people cannot be changed; it’s the way they’re wired. I was married to Mr Toxicity himself for many years but finally saw the light and am now happily single. Toxic people cannot bear to see you happy. They thrive on your misfortune but who laughs last…laughs the longest!

Rosa
Rosa
8 years ago

It’s not just finances. When my husband completed his PhD, only one of his friends, Chris – who was not in a doctoral program – congratulated him. All the rest were freaked out or jealous, as they were all making no progress on their own doctorates or had dropped out (most of our friends at the time were from grad school). Twenty years later, the only friend from that time with whom we are still in touch is Chris.

Ash (in US)
Ash (in US)
8 years ago

Good topic. A small point: the link to the survey isn’t working for me.

Jacq
Jacq
8 years ago

OK, I’m maybe a bit older than most commenters – BUT – at the end of the day, be a grown-up and live your own life and make your own decisions. If people don’t like it or don’t approve – %^&* ’em – if they do like it or “approve” – who gives a %^&*? Nobody that I’m friends (or family) with makes any comments on how I live my life or what I spend on. And I wouldn’t listen to (most) of them if they did. I make an exception with the ones I respect. At some point “your… Read more »

Anne
Anne
8 years ago
Reply to  Jacq

I hate the term “toxic” because it makes it sound like someone is inherently bad. I have someone in my family who is regularly pretty critical and mean to me (and other family members). But she’s a good mother and a good friend and good daughter. She’s not inherently bad. Just not good for me. Unlike friends you can’t choose family. Being constantly fed a regular diet of criticism and rudeness does wear you down. (Especially if you’re sensitive about certain issues…) But you’re right. People should do what they want and not worry about what others think of their… Read more »

Davina
Davina
7 years ago
Reply to  Jacq

I’m human and it does affect me when I tell someone who should be supportive such as my mother or a close “friend” my aspirations and they tell me it won’t work. This occurs regularly and I finally learned to play my cards close to my chest. Once in awhile I’ll try again but always get shot down so go back to not telling anyone what I’m doing. You can say that I should grow a pair, etc. but that’s just a cliche and much easier said than done.

Emmy
Emmy
8 years ago

I definitely got this feeling when I went back to school. I think a lot of my friends and family were baffled as to why I would do it, and one colleague was flat out like, “WHY?!” It only really irks me when it’s around finals and I’m super stressed and I get people egging me on to take a study break and go out with them. The paranoid part of my brain wonders if there are people out these who actually WANT me to fail, but the rational part of me is usually pretty good at taking a deep… Read more »

michiel
michiel
8 years ago

The article mentions: “In my experience, it’s not that these people are cruel and out to get you. The real issue is that your success signals their failure.”

I think the truth is easier. People are neither cruel, nor do they (in general) have issues with your success, but they just don’t get it. If a severly obese person suggests you eat more pie since your BMI can handle it, do you contribute it to spite or an intention to ruin your weight-success? Or do you simply accept they don’t have (and want) a clue?

Danielle L. Schultz, CFP
Danielle L. Schultz, CFP
8 years ago

The comment that people exhibit negativity to you when their own finances are a mess sure rings true. I write a newsletter for my financial planning business and send it out to clients and anyone else I think might be interested. It’s free and I hope offers good GRS-type advice. I could tell you immediately which people are in trouble financially (mostly from a church I used to attend) by the few angry “unsubscribes” I got. One of the people I know who is in the most trouble (and who REALLY ought to pay attention to sound financial advice) even… Read more »

Paula
Paula
8 years ago

April; Thanks for another great article. As an older person, I have found that the toxic people in my life have simply left. Because I am a financially successful, positive and cheerful person they cannot stay around me because their orientation (concerning life) is so negetive. I will not co-sign their BS, nor do I validate their whining or buy into a co-dependent relationship. We had nothing in common so why would they hang around me. My spending choices are my own and what others think about how I spend my money does not matter. If they believe that I… Read more »

Christa
Christa
8 years ago

My toxic relationship is actually with a family member, and I’m having trouble cutting ties. I think I will have to be honest and set boundaries that will work for both of us, like seeing each other once per year or something.

J
J
8 years ago

Hey, those $300 shoes are saving me money! Ok, well that’s a very specific example (these shoes are lasting longer than 6x $50 pairs of dress shoes do, and looking darn good while doing it) =P. My response to someone telling me what I should do with my money is to make them justify it. If they don’t give up due to laziness at that point, then tell them some potential consequences (e.g. “If I buy that, I can’t make my house payment this month”). If they still insist, I laugh at them. When they don’t laugh back I’ll say… Read more »

Sri
Sri
8 years ago

The best thing is to ignore those people. Why the hell we need to be answerable or provide explanation for our actions.

I just do not care.

Tie the Money Knot
Tie the Money Knot
8 years ago

I think it’s important to remember that we can’t change people. They are what they are, and who they are. What we CAN control to varying degrees is how we respond to such people, and how much (if at all) we deal with them. Best to go forward with your own goals and not worry about what others think. It’s your life, not theirs!

Lyric
Lyric
8 years ago

Ah, great article! I’ve been criticized for being low maintenance and frugal by family and friends (both terms used loosely). 25 years married and we only spent about $2000 for the whole wedding. We didn’t want to start off being in debt. We work hard for what we have, own our own home outright, no mortgage, no car loans, no credit cards, no “smart” phones, we have pre-paid cell,no excessive consumerism, no high end anything. Got so depressed having “those people” telling me what to do all the time! I don’t shop unless we NEED something. Wants vs. needs. It… Read more »

Kim Fox
Kim Fox
8 years ago

I don’t think it’s always because they want you to “trip up” or because they’re stuff is a mess. Sometimes, they see those actions as having fun, and just want you to enjoy it too. They want to share the joy with you. It’s important when dealing with situations like this that you communicate to your friend/family two things: 1) You’re giving up a small measure of joy now, because you’re headed to a goal that you’re very excited about. Get them on board with your excitement. 2) You’re finding your joy in something else. Sure, you won’t buy that… Read more »

Sherry
Sherry
8 years ago

My son has a few friends that always (in my opinion) go way over board for each other’s birthdays each year. He lived with them for a year, and they were always running done to another city 3 ours away to celebrate something, or planning elaborate nights out for a bday, and one even flew in my sisters brother’ for her birthday (which was nice, but she couldn’t afford it). After my son moved in with other friends, that are a little more reasonable, and started turning them down more often. They couldn’t understand it at first. Unfortunately, two of… Read more »

Sara
Sara
8 years ago

I think it’s a little unfair to label people as “toxic” and assume that they are jealous and trying to undermine your success just because they don’t agree with your financial choices. Different people have different values. I once read on another personal finance blog about a family that saves money by using rags (which they subsequently wash and reuse) instead of toilet paper. Many people — frugal and financially responsible people — commented on how disgusting they found this, and said that no matter how broke they were, they would never resort to it. Well, to some people, clipping… Read more »

Samantha
Samantha
5 years ago
Reply to  Sara

Disagree. When someone is encouraging behaviors that you state contradict your goals and beliefs, this person is toxic. They don’t want you to achieve your goals. Instead they would say okay if you don’t want to eat out we can cook a dinner together or say “Buying a new car is a big decision.” Those are more supportive statements than people trying to ruin motivation and the need or desire to change.

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