Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Grace and the Green-Eyed Monster

For starters, let me say that I love my baby sister.

Which is not to say that I am not jealous of her a lot of the time.

There is a history to this. She's barely a year younger than me. Growing up, I was the chubby and smart kid while she was thin and popular. You better believe I would have given up "smart" for "popular" any day of the week. Add to this the fact that my sister is a genuinely nice, generous, and all-round wonderful person. It is not easy being related to such a paragon, and it doesn't help that she's nice, generous and pretty much an all-round wonderful sister as well.

So she and her husband were in town last week-end for the wedding of a mutual friend. My sister is an upper-echelon banker. (Somewhere along the way, she became "smart" though I never did become thin or popular!) Neither she nor her husband have children. What they do have is an utterly enviable lifestyle. While in town, they treated me to brunch and dinner at two of this city's better restaurants. They gave me leads for my trip to Japan--though I never wrote down many of their recommendations, knowing that the cost would be out of my league.

What I coveted most was their laissez-faire attitude toward money. They wanted to see my city's Chinese Gardens. Without thinking, I offered the Two-for-one Entertainment Book coupon. They just looked confused. In their world, Entertainment Books do not exist, and who uses coupons. They could go where they wanted, eat what they wanted, get in taxis, whatever--all without any concern as to what the cost might be.

Is it whining to say that I want that, too?

Mind you, I just want their money.

I cannot imagine working for 30+ years at a bank, even a prestigious international bank. I cannot imagine NOT having children. I cannot imagine having to wear high heels and designer clothes. I cannot imagine making small talk to people who bore me.

So I don't want my sister's life. Nor her job. Nor, much as I like him, would I want to be married to her husband.

I just want her money!!!

And I want the lifestle having her money would bring me!


CT Mom said...

Hi Grace - I used to be jealous of my younger sister, too. I was really upset when she and her husband were able to take advantage of the real estate market and trade up to a gorgeous house, my dream house.

Then a couple of things happened. First, I found out that she and husband are mortgaged to the hilt, which limits her options as far as job and spending more time with her kids. She will always have to work. Second, I finally got moving myself. I stopped looking at what she had and started doing things to make my situation better. It took ALOT to get past the jealousy, but 3 years later I feel much better.

Louise said...

I have (awful) siblings, one has no kids,they are wealthy, they have investment properties and a VERY comfortable lifestyle, mainly because they stole my fathers house out from under him in his early dementia and invested it in property.(nothing I can do, it's a long story)
I do know what you mean thouhg, I'd hate to be them, and I don't want their lifestyle at all, but I would love to have thier money!

Sharon said...

Perhaps it's not as nice as it seems. You have children that adore you, and in my book, that's worth far more than any amount of money.

Shevy said...

I'm an only but I understand how you wish you had the same kind of financial basis your sister has.

It would be really nice if things were easier and you didn't always have to make trade-offs (like orthodontics vs retirement savings or home repairs vs vacation).

However I remember a (religious) class I took quite a while ago talking about money/the ability to make a good living, health and children. The idea was that the majority of people have one of those things. People have wealth, or they have kids or they're very healthy and strong even though they have to work hard.

The lucky ones get two. But very few people end up with all three at the same time in their life.

I've seen it. One couple I can think of was wealthy beyond what you or I could think about. But he had a rare disease that required long hospitalizations and they had no kids, even though they would have dearly loved to. Eventually he passed away leaving his wife a very young widow.

All I could think was, what good is having all that money and going to the best doctors in the world for his condition if it couldn't save him and he couldn't have any kids?

I wouldn't trade places with his widow for anything.

DogAteMyFinances said...

When I was in college, we used to play a game. It was Love, Money, Kids, and Career. Pick three.

The more I think about it, the more true I think it is, especially for women.

Carol said...

Hi Grace, I've blogged a little about my brother before--the one that graciously paid off one of the debts that I was struggling to pay?

For many years, he judged me. He called me a "failure" because I did not use my college degree where I work. He did a lot of putting down my lifestyle, and all that involved. But it pretty much went off my shoulders, because I never would have wanted his life anyhow. Now, as he has children, I think he is seeing that maybe I've taken a better path all along.

I have to say that I used to be jealous of his situation. I still am, inasmuch as I wish I made his kind of money because then all this stuff would be paid off, but my jealousy has lessened greatly, as I've seen more of who he is, who he pretends to be, and how sucky that must be.

There are some things that I've realized about him, and I no longer feel jealous (most of the time, LOL) despite our polar opposite living situations:

1. Having never faced adversity, when he does have to face it, it will be very very painful. Everything has always been easy for him. I suspect that will not hold true throughout his life. I see serious warning signs now. He drinks too much--every weekend. His marriage is shaky, at best. He could end up with a major downturn of his life's circumstances, if he doesn't take steps soon.

2. He has no clue as to how to "do it himself". Tonight, he was telling me how his ceiling fan didn't work right, and now he has to call an electrician to put in a new one. I'm no mechanic, but even if DH was in the hospital, that ceiling fan could get changed out without paying someone!!!!

3. I never would have the financial sense, frugality, and homemaking skills if I had an income like his. I can get DD a "new" wardrobe for $25 at the thrift store. He spends $25 on one shirt, and then some!! I can cook a yummy dinner for 4 for about $4, and have leftovers and compliments....you don't get that when you go out to eat every night...

4. Despite DH's struggles, our house is filled with love. My brother has already confessed that "no matter how loud he yells
", his kids aren't listening. (They're 3 and 1 1/2!) He is just appalled when I tell him that in our house there is no yelling. DD still gets consequences sometimes, but there is no yelling, unless she is having a tantrum. My brother has confided to DH that he knows his wife cheats on him. The last time DH went out with my brother, my brother spent the entire evening trying to "meet" someone to go back to his hotel with him. I see how superficial his life is, where I didn't before. They have our family over for a lot of things, and always put on their best face(s). I think that all that money doesn't come close to buying happiness.

And, I always tell DH, if the economy (or just my financial life) should end up in the toilet (worse than it is right now), it would hurt me a lot less than it would hurt my brother, because he would have much farther to fall!

I do love my brother. But I think in life experience, mine has been far more rewarding and interesting than his. And I take pride in that. Part of me hopes that he never has to deal with anything like what I've been dealing with, but part of me wishes (I know it's bad) that he did have some adversity, because then he'd find out what he's truly made out of.

I think any time there's a huge disparity between siblings, it's hard for the one with "less" to not feel jealous. My jealousy has lessened, though, as I see that I might have "less" money, but he has a lot "less" of things that I think are more important than that.

Bouncing Back said...

Grace, I have to applaude you for saying exactly what so many of us feel about our more successful siblings/relatives/friends. There may be facets of your sisters life you don't want (the 30+ years in work, small talk), but what I think you are saying is that you would like to be able to have the financial freedom to do some of the things they do-with out coupon books and endless budgeting.

That being said. You are lucky to have your sister around to do things like take you out to fabulous dinners, give you travel tips, etc.

It's OK to want what she has because I know you are grateful for what you have.

Fabulously Broke said...

I'd rather have kids than be DINKs.

Money isn't everything but I do agree that the freedom money can bring is a welcome thing .. to not worry about cash flow or anything is wonderful

Living Almost Large said...

I think that in life nothing is fair. And it's okay to be jealous! But be happy for your sister too.

I have angst over our house. Can't help it when the parents compare which home they want to live in! What are you supposed to think when you are 2nd in housing?

It's not easy but you know what? It doesn't matter.

By the way my sibs are paragons as well. Good people, nice, and generous.


Cassie said...

I get jealous sometimes too. It just makes you work harder, I believe!