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Interesting Interactions

July 8th, 2017 at 02:00 pm

On Thursday I took MM(13) and his friends to the water park. Everyone he invited could go!! (Rare for a summer birthday party). Except for a mutual friend (mutual with his brother). Which worked out because DL dropped out at the last minute. Probably for the best because I don't think he'd really want to have been there all day.

The kids had a blast.

There was probably absolutely nothing frugal about this trip. Except I did bring in bottled water. They did allow those and it was a million degrees. I just grabbed a 6-pack on my way home the night before and threw them in the freezer. That worked out perfect.

The kids were very polite about lunch and tried to order frugally. (We served them dinner and cake at home, afterwards).

MM bff's father called me the night before because they had been vague on details. He told me his son had just told him about the party that day and he didn't have a present yet. He mentioned something about bff picking MM's brain during the party. I told him, "Good Luck." The kid doesn't want anything. Anyway, he didn't skip a beat and said maybe they'd take him out some time. I think that sounds perfect! (& it was nice to skip all the hounding about how he's a teenager and he must want SOMETHING). This is a lot of why I chose to just take him to the water park in the first place.


For the rest, I have to back up. We are from the Bay Area, where housing prices are out of this world. It probably never occurred to me that I could even afford to buy a home (until my husband ran the numbers with me in our early 20s).

In the end, we could not afford a single family home and decided to move to a city with 70% cheaper housing. From our perspective it was dirt cheap. & if making such a big move solely to afford a home, might as well splurge a bit. So we bought a fairly nice home in a high-end neighborhood. I am guessing by most measures our house is pretty average, but probably feels like a mansion to us. We do live in a community with big and expensive homes, and some people with big money live here. I think we forget a lot of the time because we really just don't care about that stuff. If we cared, we would have bought one of those homes. We more bought the modest home in the fancy neighborhood. (Our buying considerations really had nothing to do with the specific neighborhood. Just to underscore how much we could care less).

In the early years I believe we got a lot of raised eyebrows. We were only 24 when we bought this house and we had actually planned to only have a $150k mortgage (should have sold first home for another $80k cash). It was just SO CHEAP to us, so after that fell through that we just stayed the course, even with an additional $80,000 to borrow. But I share just to say that our intent was really for this was not to be any kind of big financial splurge. In the end, our $200k mortgage has been smaller than average most years we have lived here. & it sure as heck beat having a $400k+ mortgage for a house half the size. Anyway, back then it was presumed we had family money or just made bank on Bay Area real estate. Honestly? After like 75% of your income goes to the roof over your head... Even when MH lost his job, this mortgage was never of any concern. *shrugs*

After the housing bust I was in awe of people's short term memories. During that time it was so ubiquitous to be on the verge of foreclosure, everyone would ask us what we were going to do about our housing problems. We'd always say, "We don't have any housing problems?" Some people would realize that we didn't buy during the bubble and would seem to understand. But mostly people would be completely unable to comprehend how this was so. I'd think back to all the crazy assumptions we got just 6 years ago about family money or hitting it rich somehow, but even those excuses seemed to have flown from people's consciousness during that time. Confused

You just never know how people are going to react.

So... MM's friends are all very sweet boys. One of them spent some time in the shade with me (at the water park) and asked a lot of personal questions. I think if it was anyone else, I don't know. But he just seemed very genuine. Most the kids around here lived in some McMansion their parents could not afford. If our mortgage has generally always been $200k or less, keep in mind that our house was worth $650k at the peak. So a lot of people seem to presume we paid that much and/or that is the size of our mortgage. Just for some frame of reference. (It would never occur to anyone that we put any money down, because mostly no one does that).

Anyway, this kid clearly is more lower middle class? He lives in a very modest house. In this city, is not something I've generally seen. Everyone was just over-buying for the most part. Even when they lost their homes, the tendency was to continue living far beyond means. (In addition, so many people move from more expensive cities and buy bigger homes. Most our immediate neighbors are from the Bay Area or LA, so more view this as "cheap" housing). In contrast, this kid lives in a rough neighborhood. Maybe not super rough, but certainly compared to our current neighborhood.

What this kid doesn't know is that all we could afford was an apartment in a rough neighborhood, old city. We thought that would likely be where we raised our kids.

So the kid asks me when we moved into our house and if we own it. The way he asked and how genuine he is, I didn't mind. He asked my about my profession and so on. I think he's genuinely curious and somewhat thinking to his own future. I can't say these were any questions that weighed on my mind as a 13-year-old.

I tried to give him some sense of the above, but he was not comprehending at all.

Anyway, THEN he changed the topic to movies. I told him about the free advanced movie screenings. He was completely incredulous. He asked me two or three times, "You mean you don't have to pay anything!?" I just think he would really and truly appreciate it. I told him that you have to wait in line and it gets crowded, so keep it on the down low. My husband is probably annoyed that I told anyone, but if he was there he would have done the same.

3 Responses to “Interesting Interactions”

  1. My English Castle Says:

    What an interesting conversation. It's interesting how kids learn about money. It sounds like it was a real treat for him to spend the day with you.

  2. snafu Says:

    Interesting concerns from a 13 y/o. It's rare for children to get factual information about money. I suspect he catches snippets of conversation about money worries at home and doesn't know how to put facts together. I don't think families discuss spending priorities at the dinner table any more. Is that a carry over from the generation that struggled through the Great Depression?

  3. rob62521 Says:

    I was going to say what snafu said...the boy probably has heard conversations from parents. It is interesting that he had good questions though. I think it is wonderful that you talked to him in such a way that he felt valued and answered his questions honestly.

    You were smart when it came to your housing. That's rare. It was rare when we bought a house 27 years ago...(we always have spent less and didn't go all out.) When the housing bubble came up and then burst, our house was paid for. After 19 years of being here, our house is worth more than what we paid, but I wouldn't say we would make a killing. It's not a huge house, but is more than sufficient for us. When we went to get the loan, the bank wanted to know why we didn't buy a bigger house and did we want to borrow more than what we asked so we could fix it up?

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