Outside Looking In: How Others View Our Spending

Last week, I went running with my friend Mac. As we ran, we talked. Mac asked me how it felt to be out of debt, to actually be saving money. Like many of my friends, he's watched my financial turnaround with interest.

“It feels great,” I said. “I should have learned from you and Pam earlier.” Mac and Pam have always made smart financial choices. They're not misers, but they're thrifty, carefully choosing where they spend.

“I'm glad you've finally seen the light,” Mac said, and though he didn't say anything further, I could tell what he was thinking.

Over the past couple of years, many of my friends have told me, “I can't believe you write about personal finance.” To be honest, I can't believe it either. For years, I was the poster boy for poor financial choices.

Once, Kris and I were riding to an Independence Day rodeo with Mac and Pam. We were talking about something expensive (let's say computers, because I can't remember exactly), and I said, “I just got a bonus at work. Now I can buy that new iBook I've been wanting.”

Pam turned around to look at me in disbelief. “But J.D., just last week you were complaining about how broke you are. How can you afford to buy a computer? Aren't you in debt?”

At the time, I was angry. Who was Pam to tell me how to spend my money? In retrospect, she was absolutely right. Now I recognize that this conversation was a turning point in my attitude toward money. I gained a glimmer of insight that day. I started to see how others perceived my spending habits. I was living paycheck-to-paycheck by choice. I was earning enough to save money, but I had nothing saved, nothing to show for my efforts but a lot of toys.

Tightening the belt
As the economy worsens, I see the effects everywhere. “This reminds me of the early eighties,” I told Kris last Saturday as we drove to dinner at her sister's house. “That was a rough time for my family. The pervasive gloom and the constant bad news feel exactly the same right now. It's eerie.”

Over homemade beef stew, Kris and I talked with Tiffany about the recession. Business is slumping at my family's box factory. It's slumping everywhere. When Kris and I meet with contractors for our upcoming home projects, they're all eager to start as soon as possible. Three of my friends have lost their jobs, and several others are worried they might be next. Nearly everyone we know is looking for ways to save money.

We talked about how belt-tightening is hard for some. Kris and I are fortunate because we've been pursuing a policy of thrift for several years. We've already cut back, and have identified areas where we could cut back even more. (Dining out, for example.) For other people, though, it's not as easy. Some don't have room to cut back — and others who could do so cannot see their own bad habits.

Fumbling in the dark
“I have a friend who complains about how tight his budget is,” Kris said, “but his family shops at Whole Foods. He just signed a long-term contract at a gym. He drives an SUV and bought a hot tub. Whenever I suggest that he exercise at home or forgo the latest gadget, he laughs at the idea. He says he's tightening his belt and trying to start saving, but from the outside, that's not how it looks. If you're committed to buying all of your groceries at Whole Foods, you're going to have to cut back in other areas. You can't have it all.

“Yeah,” said Tiffany. “Our society has become used to getting everything it wants. It's used to instant gratification. Now that things are tight, it seems like people don't know how to choose. What's more important? Eating organic or sending the kids to summer camp?”

“You can't have everything you want at once,” Kris said. “That's a quick way to get in over your head. And you can't have the best of everything. You have to choose what's important to you and make sacrifices elsewhere. I've learned that when I can save money in areas that are less important to me, it doesn't feel like a sacrifice — it feels like a victory. Food is important to me, but I'm not willing to pay full-price for new clothes.”

Tiffany nodded. “It's hard to listen to the complaints when you can see inconsistencies. It's one thing if the person really is cutting back as far as possible and they still can't make it, but it's another when the behavior isn't consistent with the talk. I think we may all need to adjust our expectations of what we deserve to have.”

“That's true,” I said, but I was remembering my conversation with Mac and Pam on our drive to the rodeo. “It can be frustrating to watch others struggle. Like my brother, for example. At the same time, I try not to be judgmental. I've been there. It feels different from the other side. Sometimes when you're making poor choices, you're not even aware of it. Or if you are aware of it, you don't know how to stop. I see my friends who are struggling, and I want to help, but I'm afraid to offer unsolicited advice. I used to resent it, and I'm afraid they will too.”

“Each person has to come to it on their own,” said Kris. “You can't force them to see. It's like when Michael gave you a copy of Your Money or Your Life. He was trying to tell you he could see what you were doing, but you weren't ready to listen. You took the book from him and put it on the bookshelf for a year or two. But eventually, when you were ready, you picked it up and you read it. Then it made a difference.”

Learning to see
As we ate our dessert of rice krispie treats, I thought of my friend Gillian, the woman who is very good at spending money, but not so good at saving it. Gillian is still living the same lifestyle, unable to cut back on cable television or the housekeeper or her cell phone — and still wondering why she struggles to make ends meet. She can't see how her choices affect her financial situation.

Not so long ago, I was in this position myself. With the help of friends, I was able to open my eyes. I began to see how even small choices I made had a big impact. As I learned more about money, as I learned more about my own behavior, everything started to make sense. I made changes in my life. I sacrificed some of the things I wanted. I worked hard to boost my income. Today, as the national economy crumbles around me, I feel relatively secure.

The road ahead looks rough, at least for a little ways. I encourage you to do what you can to tighten your belt. And if you know you have a decent income but still feel pinched, don't be afraid to ask for advice. Sometimes a friend or family member can see things about your habits that you can't.

More about...Economics, Frugality

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the weakonomist
the weakonomist
11 years ago

I find it ever so hard to watch people that I care about still falling into the same traps with money.

It’s great that you were able to see the light with the perception from your friends, but in my experience most of them are just plain offended, and it doesn’t go any further.

By setting an example, I hope that some can turn themselves around. However I suspect most of my friends with bad habits will have to ruin themselves before they see the light.

Writer's Coin
Writer's Coin
11 years ago

Well said–you’re a great example to all the other big spenders out there who haven’t had their financial awakening. You know what this reminds me of? About a year ago when gas prices were off the charts and people were saying SUVs were irresponsible for the environment (and the country). Remember how lots of people responded to that? “I’m an American and that means I’ll drive whatever I damn well please.” I think a lot of people have this concept of the American Dream as being a place where you can have whatever you want (hot tub, shop at Whole… Read more »

Beth @ Smart Family Tips
Beth @ Smart Family Tips
11 years ago

I particularly enjoyed Tiffany’s comment about what we “deserve.” It seems that many financial problems begin (and continue) when people get hung up thinking they deserve things they cannot afford. I had a lot of trouble with controlling my spending during and immediately after college. Since I’ve gotten my financial act together, the peace that comes from not having constant anxiety over the credit card bill and how I’m going to make the minimum payment feels more like a “reward” to me than any of the junk I used to buy because I “deserved” it. I also liked Kris’s point… Read more »

ABCs of Investing
ABCs of Investing
11 years ago

I love this post. I think one of the keys to a financial turnaround is to figure it out yourself.

There have been many situations in the past where I could have made better choices had I consulted with the right people (and listened to them) but I didn’t.

EscapeVelocity
EscapeVelocity
11 years ago

It’s really, really tough to get agreement on spending priorities between two people in a relationship. It’s not going to happen with all your friends. I think all we can do is try to keep our own houses in order according to our own priorities, and try to keep the sniping at other people’s choices to a minimum.

Miranda
Miranda
11 years ago

Thanks for sharing this insight. Sometimes we do get confused about what is a “need” and what is actually a “want.” Therein lies the problem. We have to think of many things as the “basics”, when, really, they are luxuries. But we all have to come to our own financial awakening. No one can make us.

Miss M
Miss M
11 years ago

I think I kept everyone in the dark about my spending problems, but I have sat on the other side shaking my head at other people’s financial decisions. First, I try not to judge other people’s decisions but it’s pretty hard after hearing them whine about their financial state. I don’t enjoy hearing my friends complain about situations that are entirely their own fault, then two minutes later they turn around and buy a new TV.

Beth
Beth
11 years ago

I totally agree with Tiffany’s comment about what we “deserve”. “I work hard, therefore I deserve…” comes across as logic, but it’s very much an emotional approach to money. I’ve seen a lot of people make poor financial decisions because of something they felt they deserved.

I don’t think we can ever get around the phenomenon, but perhaps we can change our thinking? Perhaps “I deserve to live debt-free” and “I deserve to have an emergency fund” would suffice?

Gumnos
Gumnos
11 years ago

It amazes me what people think are “vital”. Coworkers whine that money is tight, but they have their newest-model cell-phones with souped-up unlimited calls/messaging packages, gas-guzzling SUVs spending $50-80 per week on gas, super-duper cable/satellite/dish-TV packages, nights at movies & bars, and eat meals out daily. Meanwhile, we’re content with a land-line, conventional sedans (a Honda and a Hyundai, each needing about one $30 fill-up per month), rabit-ears (yay, DTV!), movies from the public library, and cooking our own meals. So we max out our Roth IRAs, are close to paying off the house, and don’t have any non-mortgage debt… Read more »

Frugal Dad
Frugal Dad
11 years ago

I am a reformed excessive spender who often finds himself behaving like an ex-smoker. You know the type. They smoked cigarettes for years, but since quitting they go around telling everyone else how bad it is, and how easy it is to quit. I sure don’t want to become “that guy!” J.D. makes a great point in the post that really could be said for any lifestyle change – it can only start when you are ready for it to start. External motivators and influences can help get you pointed in the right direction, but the journey doesn’t really begin… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
11 years ago

We talked about a lot at dinner the other night, and I left out one key point. The three of us agreed that you can’t simply point out the things your friends do that cause them pain, but that you can make yourself available. We can set a good example, trying to demonstrate smart choices instead of encouraging irresponsible behavior, and we can be there when friends are ready to talk. Also, I could list many many stories in which people tried to help me see how my choices were causing me financial stress, but I just couldn’t see. As… Read more »

Gene
Gene
11 years ago

Kinda beside the point, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

Whole Foods ain’t that bad if you’re a smart shopper. Just steer clear of the prepared items and the all-organic produce and you’re fine. Their generics are really reasonably priced, and much higher quality than the stuff you’ll find at most other major supermarkets.

Chett
Chett
11 years ago

This goes right along with the comment I made last week about Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Every time Persig tried to impose his know how with motorcycles and how proper care would prolong the life of John’s bike, and his overall “riding” experience, John became further frustrated with the “system” and how he it seems to fight him as he tries to live out his life. Each time the conversation of working on a motorcycle came up, tension mounted. I’ve found the same thing to be true with my attempts to impart financial advice to friends and… Read more »

kj
kj
11 years ago

What, if anything, do you say to the friend who is complaining about being “broke” but is obviously not? My husband and I are friends with a couple who make almost twice as much as we do. They have several thousand in credit card debt, are taking out a loan to finance their $25k wedding, go out for dinner and drinks once or twice a week at around $100 a pop (we’ve been with them occasionally, so we know what a ‘typical’ night for them is like), shop for new clothes several times a month, etc. Now, I don’t have… Read more »

Sal
Sal
11 years ago

I agree with most of this. One thing I do want to say is & I’m not joking, if you know what your doing you can save money at Whole Foods. Their normal/not exotic produce (carrots, lettuce, etc) is the same price as the regular grocery store by my house. Whole Foods red delicious apples are cheaper per pound right now then the local grocery store. Meat – the local grocery is cheaper on steak, hamburger is the same per pound at both places. Rice and beans(dry – not canned) are cheaper per pound at Whole Foods then at my… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
11 years ago

@kj (#14) That’s a tough situation, and almost exactly what I’m talking about. It’s possible to be broke (or living paycheck-to-paycheck) on a large salary because of the choices you make. Your friends really do think they’re broke. That’s exactly how I used to feel. I think your best bet is to bite your tongue, or to make very subtle suggestions. For example, if they’re talking about how broke they are while you’re out at a fancy restaurant, you might say something like, “Yeah, we feel pinched, too. You know, maybe we should go to Cheap Diner X next time.”… Read more »

Kristia@FamilyBalanceSheet
11 years ago

The economy is hitting everyone and those who were being responsible before the crisis are going to be the ones who can make it out of this slump relatively unscathed. I get so angry at the whiners. I have a hard time being sympathetic to people who just weren’t being smart in the first place. Buying non-essentials with credit cards and home equity loans does not equate to affording them.

Sal
Sal
11 years ago

I agree with Kristia – people were using home equity loans like credit cards to make ends meet. I know a couple people who were doing that because their CC were maxed out – UG! Hopefully they’ll see the light. One of those households has been asking me for tips on how to cook from scratch and such so hopefully they’ll get a clue…

You can not get ahead living in debt. If you really want something you save for it until you can pay cash.

Kevin
Kevin
11 years ago

My sister in law babysits for a friend’s son 5 days a week while they work. She charges them next to nothing – basically less than minimum wage if you break it down. However, they sometimes ask her if they can pay “next week” when they get paid or always have some excuse. However, they are always telling her stories about how one of them went out for drinks after work and ended up spending $75 here or $50 there and how they are soooo broke. Not to mention they just bought a 2-3 year old Pacifica that they no… Read more »

KM
KM
11 years ago

New reader, here. I totally agree with #17 and 18. I’ve watched my upstairs neighbor buy Xbox and Wii systems, eat delivered meals weekly, etc while my husband and I lived on 1/2 of our income for the past 2 years to get out of debt. Now that he will be foreclosed on, I get to have my tax dollars bail him out? Something doesn’t seem fair here… Thanks for letting me vent! : )

Shara
Shara
11 years ago

I draw the line in the sand at my feet. What I mean by that is that it is a person’s right to make stupid decisions. But that right ends where my rights begin. I don’t say anything to my sister about dropping a few hundred dollars on their home theater system when I think it’s a bad decision because ultimately they have always paid their own bills and I have confidence they will continue to do so. However my sister in law DOESN’T pay her own bills. She and her husband are constantly needing help paying for such basics… Read more »

John Bardos
John Bardos
11 years ago

I certainly believe in simplifying life and reigning in your expenses but there is another side to this equation: Make more money! Work extra hours, maybe find another part-time job and save some money. Also, the more you work, the less you have time to spend. For many people, an extra few hundred dollars per month can double or even triple their savings. With savings you can invest in a business and really start earning a decent income. So many people have a scarcity mentality on the earnings side, but an abundance mentality on expenses. They have no problem buying… Read more »

slackerjo
slackerjo
11 years ago

I once tried to stop my best friend from making the biggest financial mistake of his life. He ignored my advice and now will be living the next 18 years in grinding poverty. Suffice to say, we are no longer friends.

Never again! People whine to me all the time about their money woes but I say nothing. They are grown ups, let them face the consequences for their stupid choices. Sometimes the lesson is better learned from a bankruptcy lawyer rather than friend.

Maha
Maha
11 years ago

This post couldn’t be more timely, for a number of reasons. We are a large income household, yet we always felt poor or broke. About a year ago, I started this frugal journey. I’ve read this blog and others and learned so much. I’m no longer afraid to ask for discounts, when it seems appropriate (I just bought a new bike plus accessories, and got discounts just for asking!). We eat out so much less; I actually prefer my cooking. I have personal savings, which I’ve never had before. When we started this journey, we were able to save maybe… Read more »

Brad
Brad
11 years ago

Great stuff! So hard to figure out how to feel these days. We are retired and we saved a large portion of our salary in retirement vehicles when still working. We didn’t buy new cars, boats, huge houses, etc. We are not suffering now, and we alternate from feeling guilty about our success and comfort due to our frugality…to feeling angry that we are made to feel that way with others’ refusal to plan ahead and be responsible for themselves and the choices they make. The government seems to never even try to live within its means…and now they want… Read more »

Storch Money
Storch Money
11 years ago

I have reallly been struggling with this question of how much to “push” a friend on their personal finances. One of my closest friends has always spent beyond her means, but I’m afraid she’s now in a pattern that will do lasting or permanent financial damage. She is in law school (starting as an older student but without any savings), maxing out the available student loans, while also maintaining or adding to significant credit card balances. By the end she’ll have more than 120k in student loan debt and probably at least 20k in consumer debt, all while entering a… Read more »

Krystal
Krystal
11 years ago

JD- I love how you pointed out that your friends thought “I can’t believe YOU are writing about personal finance.” I was never raised on good financial decisions, so it does kind of shock my parents and my in-laws when we discuss finances on such a matter-of-fact and in a professional manner. I am all business and they are emotional spenders. When I charged my way into debt, I too was an emotional spender. But a lot of self-discipline has changed me! I think it actually bothers our parents that we are paying attention to their finances, both have medical… Read more »

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
11 years ago

I don’t even try to help people with financial matters unless they come to me and ask, which isn’t really something that most people will do. I’ve also found that as I’ve progressed financially, which is inextricably linked to my progress in my career, that I no longer associate with many people who don’t have basic control over their finances. I work as a professional at a large software company, in a field surrounded by people who are good at math and logic, and the people that I’m around every day tend to be very financially secure. There’s nothing that… Read more »

Steve@hundredgoals.com
11 years ago

Fantastic post. It reminds me of a couple of my friends. They are scraping to get by but refuse to sacrifice any of the luxuries in their lives. I spent a lot of energy trying to talk them through their situation, offering as much advice as I could, but they don’t want to hear that they need to make sacrifices, they want a get rich quick idea so that they don’t have to upset their lifestyle. I have come to the conclusion that whatever I say won’t affect their situation and that they need to come to their own conclusion.… Read more »

plonkee
plonkee
11 years ago

In many ways, criticising someone’s money choices is sort of like saying that they are a bad person. Like, because they spend money badly you think they are greedy and lack self-control. May be you do think that, but I can’t see why anyone is going to like it.

ridiculous
ridiculous
11 years ago

My brother flits from construction job to construction job. He’s constantly getting bailed out by my parents which I think has more to do with the grandkids (mostly medical and dental I think). Yet he’s still making payments on a Cadillac Escalade!my parents have even taken my brother and SIL to see Dave Ramsey. I just shake my head and don’t say anything. I can’t talk to him about politics or religion either! LOL

Amy
Amy
11 years ago

I enjoyed this article! You can’t change your friends, and unless THEY are ready, your comments on their choices probably won’t have the desired affect (them seeing the ‘error’ in their ways). There’s a great quote that sums it nicely for me: “A man who has transformed himself has contributed his full share towards the transformation of his neighbor.” Yes, be there for your friends, yes, be willing to gently impart your view, when they are ready to recieve it, but in the meantime, keep working on yourself and getting your financial house in the best order possible! Actions do… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
11 years ago

I try to avoid giving advice — if people ask for my help, I’m happy to say “I read this book/article and thought it was really useful” or “you should check out this blog…” I think that sets a totally different tone. By recommending something I use, I’m indirectly saying that “hey, I’m in the same boat”. On the contrary, if I say “you should do this…”, then I’m positioning myself as someone who knows more than they do — and it’s a judgment no matter how you look at it. If they haven’t asked for help, then I find… Read more »

FrugalPerson
FrugalPerson
11 years ago

Great article! It is really hard to watch people complain about not making rent or being able to afford basics, and boast about their new xbox game and great dinner they had out in the same conversation, especially if they owe you money. I think I have heard most of the arguments in favour of free-spending, here are the two that annoy me the most: – Money is just a facilitator of enjoying life so you should never deny yourself anything you can stretch out of it. You may miss a once-in-a-lifetime experience, or die tomorrow leaving unused money, oh… Read more »

SavvyChristine
SavvyChristine
11 years ago

When I first moved out, several years before my friends ever did, they couldn’t understand why I wasn’t spending on take-out and new clothes and iPods. Now I have to watch them struggle to learn what I learned when I was first on my own. It’s hard to sit back and let them go through it themselves.

This post was a nice reminder that I can’t do everything for my friends, and I don’t always know what’s going on with their financial situations. Thanks.

stefanie
stefanie
11 years ago

J.D. – I wholeheartedly agree with you on your #16 post. You have to model the behavior you want to see in others and frame choices in terms of yourself, so that people don’t get defensive at your judgment of them. I think that so much of this discussion is about class privilege that goes seriously unrecognized in our culture. The idea that anyone “deserves” one or another material good above the basic needs is all about a feeling of privilege. And likely the reason why its so damn hard to talk with people who say they’re broke but spend… Read more »

PDXgirl
PDXgirl
11 years ago

Great article JD. I have had good feedback from offering to look at my friends budgets with them. I think it’s important the way that this happens though. Here’s an example. Friend: God I’m always so broke I don’t have any money to do stuff PDXGirl: Yeah I know, we can’t ever have it all, huh? I’m glad I’m able to put some money away but it’s hard to resist the urge to spend. Friend: What are you talking about? I can’t put ANYTHING away and my credit card balance is way too high. It’s so frustrating. PDXGirl: Really? That’s… Read more »

CentsInTheCity
CentsInTheCity
11 years ago

I’m always trying to help out my younger brother. When I was about 12 and he was 8, I opened a bank for him since he wasn’t the best at saving money. I taught him how to write checks, keep track of his balance, and stored his money in a lockbox with a one number combination. I’m not quite sure how I knew all of this myself; I guess I was just a natural. He eventually broke into my bank and took back his money and some of mine! Fast forward about 10+ years and we are still in the… Read more »

Kim McGrigg
Kim McGrigg
11 years ago

I find this post very helpful. At work, I give budgeting and debt repayment advice all day, every day. However, I have such a hard time knowing where to draw the line with people closest to me. This usually results in me saying nothing much at all. It is great to know that I am helping just by listening and supporting. Thank you.

Sam The Butcher
Sam The Butcher
11 years ago

This posts brings two things to mind: One, something a high school teacher of mine used to say: “You can’t tell someone something they already know.” As in, you can’t tell someone who smokes that it’ll kill them. They’ve heard it, and they don’t care. Like you say, J.D., you have to *want* to make that change. The other thing is that the truth can be hard. People think of “truth” as being good, like it’s always a trip to the candy store. But sometimes it can hurt, like tough love, but you’ve got to be able to see what’s… Read more »

KF
KF
11 years ago

This issue is so, so frustrating! I have so many friends who self-righteously complain about how broke they are and how underpaid they are (many of my friends work in the public interest field). Yet from my perspective, they live lives of luxury compared to 95% of the rest of the world and even many Americans. Yes, they feel poor when the compare themselves to their friends who earn hundreds of thousands a year, but they aren’t actually “poor” just by virtue of comparing themselves to rich people. Furthermore, all of my friends who consider themselves “poor” or on a… Read more »

Jay
Jay
11 years ago

I agree with #5. Unless you are on the inside you just don’t get a say. From the outside some of my financial choices have been questioned, more than once by some not-so-tactful people. But they are CHOICES. Just because my priorities don’t line up with yours doesn’t mean that I’m doing it ‘wrong.’ I eat organic, I buy original art, and my daughter attends a private school. All are “luxuries”, and are the last things I will give up. I don’t do many things that other people consider “necessities” (no car, no big house, few/no dinners out, no drinking,… Read more »

Suzanne
Suzanne
11 years ago

I was one of those “spend it like those I know do”. We acquired the requisite extra vehicles (trailer, ATV’s), bought a new personal vehicle every 3-4 years, ate out whenever we pleased, bought household goods when we wanted (not when we saved for them), etc.

Now, I have finally come around to seeing the “richer” way to live and have begun saving for retirement, building an emergency fund, identifying money leaks in my day-to-day living, etc. To be honest, I enjoy this life so much more because this is more me.

My Life ROI
My Life ROI
11 years ago

Does anyone else here lose a little bit of respect for someone when they claim hardship but you observe otherwise?

i.e. the person at work claiming they can’t afford to invest in their retirement… meanwhile they just built a new in-ground pool.

Those people just give me a feeling of superiority in that they seem to think they are OWED something. Any one else or just me?

Joshua
Joshua
11 years ago

Great post! I think that one of the major problems with our current economy is that of spending on want’s vs. needs. From the government, to big businesses that are in major debt and are begging for a bailout, to the homeowner that can’t pay a mortgage, our society in general does not know how to manage money. As a person it might be easy for me to look a company and be critical at their choices, but, at the same time, how are others seeing my choices? Thanks J.D. for the thoughts!

Sarah
Sarah
11 years ago

What to do?
I’m a saver. My neighbors are trying to get out of debt this year (ala Dave Ramsey) and have shared their plans with me. But then they invited me over to a lavish dinner and sent me home with a gift of gourmet hot chocolate (a year supply).

Should have I told them I couldn’t accept it?

Des
Des
11 years ago

@Jay (#42) I don’t think anyone has an issue with what you choose to spend your money on. If you can afford it, buy whatever you want! No one will fault you for that. The problem comes when people start complaining that they don’t have enough money, then going out and buying extravagant things. I think the general sentiment here is “Don’t use my shoulder to cry on if you’re not going to *do* anything constructive about the trouble you’re in.” I think that’s totally reasonable. You can spend your money however you like, but you cannot have my sympathy… Read more »

TheNormalMiddle
TheNormalMiddle
11 years ago

I do have to add that you CAN eat organic for cheap….you just need to know how to do it and put the work in. When times are tight that doesn’t mean you and your family have to survive on .99 boxes of hamburger helper and cheap food. You can eat healthy cheaply, you just have to learn how to do it. Being organic and healthy is not an elitist thing. Whole foods IS, but not being healthy. There is a difference. 🙂

Caitlin
Caitlin
11 years ago

In part this is probably a cultural thing because summer camp is not a big thing in my part of the world (Australian living in the UK). However, I would definitely prioritise organic food over summer camp. It’s a far better investment in our children’s future – it’s better for their health as individuals, it’s better for society because it’s better for the health of farm workers and people in rural communities, and it’s better ecologically for the future of the planet. I would not, however, buy from Whole Foods, which I agree is unnecessarily expensive. I would buy from… Read more »

Shara
Shara
11 years ago

I have noticed reading at GRS how most people a) take responsibility for themselves and their choices and b) expect others to as well. It does my heart good because it is amazing how often “don’t judge my choices” turns into “don’t hold me responsible for consequences”. From a practical perspective, you aren’t going to change someone’s behavior with lectures. But at the same time I think we all need to make sure that by our silence we aren’t unintentionally condoning bad behavior. It’s amazing how often people take silence for agreement. And to the parents out there: make sure… Read more »

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