We have been pleasant with our neighbors for many years, till just lately. Someday, they launched us to their monetary adviser…

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My spouse and I have been friends with a neighbor couple for decades until recently. In our early 30s we worked, struggled and tried to improve our lives. This included career changes, setbacks and successes, vacation and fun, working on our respective homes and dinners.

Our approaches to life were different, but we remained quick friends nonetheless. For example, we went camping trips in the mountains while they enjoyed trips to Europe.


In our early 40s, our friends invited us to meet with their financial advisor.

We dug trenches, poured concrete foundations, and worked to build our house. They hired contractors. They often traded cars; We ran into the ground.

Our idea of ​​a fun evening was special at the local chinese restaurant while they hit it in town. In fact, their combined income was twice ours – probably more – and we have had setbacks in unemployment. But we never had relationship problems with the so-called wealth gap like so many friends. During an evening together, we divided, handled or handled the bills evenly. It worked.

In our early 40s, our friends became interested in early retirement and invited us to meet with their financial advisor. We accepted and had a great time. Well, they made fun of us for parting too much of their penny. It was a good experience and my spouse and I took it to heart, and so did our friends, we thought.

After all, they talked about finances all the time, had conversations with their financial advisor, and often forecast their future. Our friends had absolute plans to retire at the age of 55 with their current lifestyle, which at the time seemed out of our reach, even if the underlying financial concepts seemed solid. We have largely taken over the financial advice.

We stopped discussing finances for the next decade, enjoyed our lives, and enjoyed each other’s company. In the mid-1950s, finances began to pick up again. They asked us about our plans and we reminded them of the meeting of financial advisors so many years ago.


We stopped discussing finances for the next decade or so and enjoyed our lives.

We announced that we had just completed our last five-year plan and were ready to retire at 55 years old with no debt, a steady stream of income, full and almost free life-long health insurance, and a healthy nest egg. This includes a nice capital gain exemption on our home sale.

We assumed they outperformed us on their income, but no, the same financial advisor tells them they need 10 more years of work to meet their retirement income goals. You have mortgage and credit card debt and incomplete health insurance.

You cannot downsize your home and sell it for a profit, nor is your home configured to be easy to sell. The topic came up a few more times, but then they lost interest and we stopped discussing it. Now they have withdrawn and we haven’t spoken in a long time. We meet in the city with polite nods or thousands of meters of glances.

Maybe we can understand how they feel, but it’s confusing. What happened?

With best regards,

The future is bright for us

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Dear Bright,

Your letter was convincing from the start. It exists in that bittersweet place between friendship and hardship, romance and finance, that says too much and too little, good neighbors and bad manners and good manners and bad neighbors. When I read, “In our early 40s, our friends were interested in early retirement and invited us to meet with their financial advisor.” I knew we had reached a turning point, or an intersection, or – maybe for your friends – something like a spaghetti cross.


It was an equal friendship in terms of dinner checks, but that doesn’t mean it was the same.

– The money is

They lived well and they were also comfortable with you and your wife, who did not live quite the same way. But you agreed to it. And you are right. You can have as much fun camping in a five-star hotel as in Europe. More in fact. Plus, you can enjoy a home that has been lovingly renovated over time with the sweat of your own forehead, if not more than if you hired contractors to turn it into a marble-encrusted suburban palace.

It was an equal friendship in terms of dinner checks, but that doesn’t mean everything was the same. It may not have been a 50/50 relationship in the eyes of your friends. They wanted to help you when they believed you needed their help and the propensity to compete with others did not develop in your company. It might be hard to say that they found it easy to perceive you and your wife as outsiders in this relationship, but it definitely seems so.

If they have lived beyond their means and lived a lifestyle to which they have become accustomed – and they cannot blame you or their financial advisor for their credit card debt – it suggests that they may not be 100% happy with skin. If people are unhappy and take a short break from those emotions when they buy a smart TV or face cream that promises to make them look 10 years younger, then it might not be that bad having friends who don’t have access to this one Have luxury.


Pull up a chair because now I’m going to tell you a story about friendship.

– The money is

Look back without anger or diamond-studded rose-colored glasses. Was your friendship as real as you think? Pull up a chair. I’m going to tell you a story now. My father died 20 years ago, and after reading the obituary notice in the newspaper, my best friend from elementary school called. He dropped me in high school. I was downcast, but I also realized that having just one “best friend” wasn’t healthy. We hadn’t seen each other since then, so I was curious to reconnect.

We arranged to meet for dinner at a restaurant in Dublin. When I arrived he said, “Why don’t you sit down there – and relax.” Why did he tell me to relax? I was relaxed! Now I didn’t feel so relaxed! The evening started on that strange, condescending tone and from there it went downhill. He asked many questions that soon had a common theme. All roads led back to money, money, money: “Where do you live? How many bedrooms do you have ”

Late in the evening and too many pints of Guinness later, he asked me on a slow, blurry train: “Does it bother me when I ask, ‘How much did you pay for your apartment? ‘“I told him again. He could do whatever calculations he wanted, but it wasn’t skin off my nose. My friends were and will be the most precious thing in my life. But at that moment it finally hit me: A childhood friendship that I had locked in a special snow globe of my mind was actually hard to endure, as it was tonight.


Your frugal life took you where you are today and retired in your fifties.

– The money is

Memories came back. Bad. Summer vacation when he didn’t return my calls. Recalls that he had more money, a recurring topic. When I remember these experiences, I feel bad for the younger me. It wasn’t that he had changed, it was that he hadn’t changed. He was the same. This high / low status was the dynamic of our childhood friendship. I was so happy to have a boyfriend back then that I came to terms with it. In 2001, however, one night was enough.

What did I learn from it? If someone is no longer in your life, it could be for a good reason. It’s okay to have a smaller home or less money than everyone else. So head to that class reunion that is full of pride in your old Jalopy! Listen to how you are feeling and take action. When spending time with neighbors or old school friends who are not healthy for you, make time for yourself and the days and nights you spend with others. Time is infinitely more valuable than money.


They and they alone are solely responsible for their own finances.

– The money is

Likewise, your friendship with these neighbors may not be exactly as you remembered. It’s revealing that they made fun of you for taking too much time with their financial advisor or for asking too many questions. It shows that there was an invisible line that could not be crossed. You could take a share tip or two, but just enough to stick in your proverbial box. In no doubt, your investment and thrifty life took you where you are today and retired in your 50s. Nobody is responsible for this except you.

You never asked your friends what went wrong. They may not give you an honest answer, but you may feel better acknowledging that friendship has become a cropper. They may have serious financial problems and while it must be difficult for them to deal with, they – and they alone – are solely responsible for them. Some people will only be there for the good times. Others will enjoy the bad times. But true friends will party and have compassion and be there for both of them.

If that friendship doesn’t recover, that’s fine. What was your part Did you also quietly compete with them? In any case, I believe we travel through people, and just because a friendship ends doesn’t mean it wasn’t a success for the time it lasted. Sometimes they just run their course. After all, every challenging experience we have and every person we meet is here to teach us something. And what did these decades of friendship teach you?

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Quentin Fottrell is MarketWatch’s Moneyist columnist. You can email The Moneyist at qfottrell@marketwatch.com with any financial or ethical questions. By emailing your questions, you consent to them being published anonymously on MarketWatch.

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