It was my husband’s Christmas party for work, and I was a nervous wreck. Even though my husband had worked with these guys (and a few ladies, although law enforcement is a pretty male-dominated field) for almost six months – and had nothing but nice things to say about them – I had yet to meet any of them.
“Are you seriously nervous?” my husband teased me in the car. When I told him I was, he laughed, reminding me that he considered them not just his colleagues, but his friends, and that all would be well.
He was wrong.
When his coworkers saw us walk in the restaurant door, they proclaimed – almost in unison – “Wow! I can’t believe your wife let you come out!”
Turns out, my husband’s coworkers all think I’m cheap. Over the course of the night, they joked about how my husband always brown bags his meals; they teased about how he still doesn’t have a GPS unit or even a smartphone for his patrol car. The list went on and on, and in every case, the clearly understood reason behind my husband’s actions was sitting right next to him: me.
I played it cool – well, as cool as I could – and went along with the good-natured ribbing; it was, after all, not intended to be hurtful. And the thing is, I know that I am, in fact, cheap. It wasn’t all that long ago that me and my husband were living under the strictest of budgets; it’s only in the past few months or so that my freelance work has really taken off, giving us disposable income for the first time in years.
What hurt me, though, wasn’t what my husband’s coworkers said; they, of course, couldn’t make this stuff up unless someone else was feeding them the insider information. That person? My husband.
I know he hadn’t told stories about our frugal habits to his colleagues to make me look bad; he’s a wonderful man, a generous husband, and that would never,ever be his intention. I’m sure he was just trying to get his fellow deputies off his back when they egged him on to splurge on lunch at a restaurant during their shift. It’s easier to blame someone else than to own up to your own financial priorities sometimes, so I can understand why he chose to say, “Naw, my wife’ll get mad at me,” instead of, “My wife and I have a budget for eating out, and this meal isn’t a part of that plan; that’s why I pack my lunch – to save money.” In fact, I probably told him to put the onus on me at some point.
But meeting a new group of people – and realizing they’d come to the table (literally) with preconceived notions about me – was a tough pill to swallow. It was also tough for me to bite my tongue, and not explain to the guy next to me that the reason he didn’t have enough money to visit his out-of-town family for the holidays was because he was spending $15 a day on lunch!
In one of my first posts for Broke Professionals, I talked about the definition of broke, and how different people have different financial priorities. Usually, my frugal habits are lauded – by my family members, by my friends, by my fellow personal finance addicts – which is why I’m not used to being teased about them. It was a reminder for me not to judge others’ financial habits, since it’s never fun to be on the other side of even the most kindhearted ribbing.
Reader, have you ever been called out for your frugal habits? Has saving money ever made you the object of teasing?