I had an interesting discussion with friend this week-end. We were dining at a trendy local restaurant during their "Happy Hour," (4 pm to 6 pm) taking advantage of the daily $5 cocktail special, the $4 Fontina Burger, and the $2 sweet potato fries.
She is 66 and thinking of retiring in another year or so.
She was comparing her financial situation to that of a much older sister who retired in 1999. Both have limited savings. Both have reduced lifestyles.
But my friend says it is much easier to be poor these days. When she suggests having dinner during "Happy Hour," as she did with me, folks no longer pity her or object. Like me, they are happy to comply.
But her sister had to watch her pennies at a time when no one else was. Her sister's friends were flying to Tahoe to ski, had vacation homes, and travelled at will. They either had no money worries or refused to acknowledge them. Either way, her sister felt like she was the only one behaving frugally.
Nowadays, frugality is practically the national pasttime. My friend is not seen as cheap, but smart.
I found her point of view interesting and, quite possibly, correct. I do know that I am less envious than I used to be of those with money. It seems like the recession has equalized the playing field and I don't feel as much the "odd person out."