Guilt over good money news due to COVID?

So, the title might be a bit strange but I have an issue that is really hard to discuss with people right now. So I thought I would take a chance here and see if there are others who are in the same boat who might be struggling with it as well.

My husband and I are very lucky. I work for a Canadian provincial government. My job is quite secure at the moment (always subject to change but no immediate danger). My husband is a real estate appraiser and works as a contractor.  He has been very fortunate and things are looking fairly steady for him. He does mostly commercial work so there are things that still need to happen. Plus, looking forward there may be foreclosure work in the future depending on how things play out. So, we are stable due to the situation in part without having to be on the front lines to accomplish it.

There have been a combination of things leadi ng us here as well. All four of our kids are on their own now. No support unless we choose to help. Our issues with exes are generally behind as the kids have moved out (mental stress significantly reduced!) We downsized and moved back to the city which helps. We are both at good spots in our careers.

My guilt? Working from home has allowed us to really look into the budget, reaffirm and see where we can go. That is good. However, by working at home, we have seen our expenses really reduce and we are able to use the extra money plus some other adjustments to get ahead on our debts. In a time when others are struggling to know what to do, we are actually doing well. We don't want to celebrate because we know others are not as fortunate. But we have really gotten into a good spot now.

In my mind, I have been telling myself that I am taking the opportunity to really look at what is important to us, focus on it and make sure we are in the right place going ahead. Am I overthinking things??

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  • You have a lot to be proud of. Be happy about all of it. You know you're fortunate, and that's the best circumstance under which to review your budget. Knocking out debt and feeling relieved for having stable jobs are two amazingly good blessings. Big, bug kudos 👍🏻

    Like 4
    • dangerosity Thanks for the encouragement. We are quite happy with the solid plan to knock out debt. I even joined the 2020 Debt Smackdown to keep accountable once things open up again to keep focused on the prize!

      Like 1
  • No guilt necessary.  Use your good fortune to help others if you are able and feel the desire but in no way is your good position something to feel guilty about.  The situation may have worked in your favor but you put yourself in the position to take advantage of it.  

    Like 5
    • Herman That's a great way of looking at it. We did do a lot of work to get ourselves out of the CC float and long term debt (I don't like looking at what we have paid in interest over the years!). Definitely feeling better now with the feedback from everyone.

      Like 1
  • We are in a similar,  yet different, situation. We both make more on unemployment than we did when we worked due to government programs related to COVID-19. This has been our reason for joining YNAB and getting our finances under control; right now the budget doesn't look as scary and offers us an opportunity to get ahead. We, too, feel a little uncomfortable sharing that with the general public. 

    I agree with others that have posted in that there is no shame or guilt necessary.  While we still choose not to share the news, we try to help others when we can, we continue to learn how to be good stewards of our blessings and we recognize that only with work and effort will this feeling of plenty continue after the government programs cease.

    Like 3
    • Christina Slachter It is interesting the different scenarios that are facing us with this pandemic. I wasn't recognizing the work and effort that it took to get here to be in the better than anticipated position and the work ahead. 

      We try to help others as well. I have to recognize that I have a good knowledge of government financial programs due to my job so I can do more to share that and how to access them etc. Thanks for making me think of other ways to help!

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      • EP
      • Substitute Teacher
      • Epphonehome
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Christina Slachter I'm in pretty much the same boat. My partner is a PhD student and is keeping the same income as he would have had prior to COVID-19 (i.e., a meager stipend through May, then a month of summer funding for a research position). I'm out of work, and have been since March 11. It took more than 2000 phone calls, several desperate emails, and a few letters to my representatives to get my unemployment claim to be processed, but my backpay just came through last week, and it's more money than I've ever had in my account at one time. I feel relieved and so thankful that my partner and I can breathe this summer and save, but I also feel like I've somehow scammed the system? It's a strange feeling. Your post has helped me sort out some of these feelings, and I feel a bit better about it having read your perspective :)

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  • Thank you for all of the replies! They have all been very helpful to realize it is okay, that we have done the work both to get ourselves into our debt in the first place and now to be in a position to put the serious work into getting it paid off. 

    Like 2
  • Envy is a really terrible emotion.  Don't let it get to you.  Yes, a lot of people are struggling right now, but that doesn't mean they should resent you for doing well.  Great job!  

    Like 2
    • PhysicsGal Envy can do some pretty terrible things! I guess it also falls into the limited ways to see people is through social media too and feeling disconnected so we (in general) fill in the story with our own thoughts and ideas which may not align with reality. 

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  • I have actually spent a good deal of time thinking about this topic - and the broader one - why is it that in our culture it is frowned upon to be happy/successful/positive, particularly in a situation where someone else may be feeling/doing less than what we have in the moment.
    It's some bizarre twist that we are not allowed to be better than the person next to us, and if their situation goes backwards, we especially can't talk about how we may be 'better' than they are in the moment.

    It's a really screwed up mentality, and I think that we all have a little work to do to get over it.

    I'll be honest with you - we're in a little bit of the same boat. Our only struggle at the moment is the BF's hours getting cut back to 40 when he normally works 50-60. That has hit us hard, BUT, we are still in a pretty good position. I did the math a minute ago, and we could pay the mortgage for 5 months with only what is sitting in the bank. We'd need other money coming in to cover the rest of the bills, but what we have right now would at least cover THAT. That is ALL thanks to tax returns, and our little $1200 government 'stimulus' that we were sent. We had earmarked most of that money (the taxes anyway) for projects and various things, including a new vehicle that the BF desperately needs, but right now we're just going to hold onto it until his hours begin to pick up again more like normal and we know that we won't have to dip into that should something happen.

    My situation is similar - my job is still hanging on (though there was mumblings that my hours could get cut at some point), but my personal business is still continuing, thanks to some amazing clients, AND the part time job that I have worked on the veggie farm is BOOMING, so they actually NEED my help right now, so that's extra cash flow that makes up for missing the other clients that I would normally have in my small business.
    So, yeah, as of right now, we are sitting in a pretty good position. We're both a little frustrated that he has the time to do projects, but we'd rather not spend the money at the moment, but other than that, we're doing great. Things could be so much worse than they are, and I am thankful that they aren't. I don't feel guilty about it, but I also don't boast about it. I'm really grateful that I've spent so much time working with YNAB because THAT'S why we're doing just fine right now. I know exactly where our dollars are, and what they are doing, and so even though his pay checks have dropped a bit, there's no worry in there for what is happening. Even the increased grocery budget hasn't bothered me all that much, and I'm the one that pays for all of that.

    Like 1
    • farfromtheusual You are very right. There is always someone who is better off than you and someone else worse off than you. There is a whole context around what that means for every individual that what I see as worse off,  in someone else's world, the same situation could be seen as a vast improvement. 

      I am hopeful that at least in some ways we will take this "away" time to think about how we want to shape our lives going forward. For some, with advantages such as in my situation, that may be easier. For others, it may be a desire to never be stuck in a similar situation again although it may be tough. 

      Glad to hear that you guys can make things work even though you are facing reduced hours and other changes. Having multiple income streams is really beneficial in a time like this. All the best!

      Like 2
    • Navy Blue Pegasus I agree - this time can be so valuable to really assess what is and isn't working, and what should stay and what should go. My boss likes to say that's not true now that should be true in 90 days? I agree with that thought pattern and taking the time right now to evaluate it.

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    • farfromtheusual I really like the question from your boss. I have done it a bit backwards in a way when there is a suggestion and someone says "we tried that already and it didn't work". I always asked why didn't it work? Is there something different today (technology or other) that might be able to support it now? Maybe it was a good idea then but the timing wasn't right. 

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  • There is a difference between feeling guilty about doing well in tough times vs how/if you share that good news. It comes down to a) don't feel guilty about having succeeded in being in a good place (financially or otherwise), even if it's through dumb luck, and b) know your audience.

    We just closed on a house this week. The low mortgage rates were a catalyst but the ability to qualify for the mortgage was something we had worked on for years. Paid off debts slowly, watched our spending, made financial sacrifices. I would be lying if that was all there was to it: our household relies on income from a very secure gov't job. (But even that has been a sacrifice invisible to others: We made a decision long ago to put job security over much larger paychecks in the private sector for the same work.) Basically the stars all lined up for a change and we made it through the home buying process. No need to feel guilty there.

    However, will we be telling everyone we know about the new house even though it's very exciting ? No. We are only separated from family and friends hit by financial hardship by 1-2 degrees, and a few friends are suffering far worse (death in the family due to the pandemic). Others simply have their plates full with trying to safely treat patients, reopen their businesses, or afford groceries. Those friends are not in a moment where they can identify with our news. Bottom line: our news can wait.  It is undoubtedly more exciting to us than it is to anyone else (including you). Right now the best thing we can do to support others is to listen to them, and support them however we can.

    Like 6
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 3 mths ago
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      Aquamarine Lion Congrats on your house!

      Like 1
    • Aquamarine Lion Congratulations on your home! That is very exciting news for anyone at any time. But yes, your comment about it being more exciting for you than anyone else rings very true! It is like anything else, no one is paying as much attention to you as you think they are. One of my ongoing jokes when talking about something that happened to me is "Didn't you get the memo? It's all about.....me!" :) 

      Thanks for your insight on the difference between being guilty about doing well in a tough situation and sharing that news with others. It is all a balance. While financially we are doing well, fitness wise I am struggling because I have figured out that I am definitely a group fitness person! I need that interaction. So, I will do more work on that since we have our finances in order.

      Like 1
  • Same boat here. Paid off our final cc debt this month. My spouse had her 1 year temp job turn into full time stable employment. Doing really well, and don't want to share that as others are hurting. But grateful for our ability to do this at this time.

    Like 2
    • Rambling Guy Glad to hear that there are others in a similar boat. In the "solo" world, it is hard to judge what is reasonable when all you have is your own house for reference sometimes. 

      Great to hear that you are doing well and I hope that it continues!

      Like
  • Same here except we have no debt. We already have a big emergency fund, but are using the stimulus resources to pad it even further. If I wasn't with a job, I'd be terrified (so, SO many of my friends are laid off or furloughed), so I do think one can never be too careful.

    Like 1
    • Lauren E Agreed! That is why I am not taking my job for granted but I do have comfort that it will not be tomorrow that it goes away. 

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  • I too have actually made more money this past month than any normal month I've ever had. One thing that Ive dons is to use a small portion to bump up my eating out category order something for delivery and tack on a nice big tip For the delivery driver.

    Like 5
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 3 mths ago
      • 1
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      Navy Blue Foal Yes, me too. I'm one of the lucky ones where my income is unaffected. Not only that, I'm spending a lot less money since I can't go out so it's a double whammy in the positive direction. So, I too am leaving big tips for my delivery drivers.

      Like 1
    • Navy Blue Foal we have been saving a lot of money by not eating out as it was one of those leaky spots for me.....We have been making sure to order from local rather than national chain restaurants as much as possible.

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  • I'm in the same boat, and actually appreciating all of the changes that the pandemic has brought to my life so far! Gratitude, rather than guilt, is probably the best mindset here. Those less fortunate would certainly appreciate having these advantages, if they were given them tomorrow, so why waste this random gift from the universe by feeling guilt rather than gratitude?

    Help others where you can. Appreciate what you have. There isn't much more that any of us can do, than that.

    Like 2
    • Gold Pilot What a great way to look at things. I am really glad that I raised this thread because it gave me things to think about and how I view life in general. Thanks for taking the time to reply!

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