Showing Your Financial Brushstrokes
Rosamund Lannin
7216

“My parents grew up poor.”
Translation: This may be true, but comes off both condescending and defensive — the unspoken implication, intended or not, is that they made it out of poverty and so you should too, something something about bootstraps and not acknowledging unique life circumstances and systemic inequality. How about, “It’s great that my parents are able to help me out now, they couldn’t always do that.”

“My parents grew up poor” is not the same as “my parents are able to help me out now, they couldn’t always do that.” What you’re really saying is “financial honesty means describing your life in such a way as to make me feel like you had tons of privileges I am not privy to.” Like what if someone grew up poor? Should they opine about the privileges of subsidized housing and reduced tuition?

Some people are really privileged. Some people really did pull themselves up from their bootstraps. It seems weird not to acknowledge one half of the spectrum in pursuing “financial honesty.” The former group shows us the limits of hard work. The latter group is the one that encourages us privileged folks to work a little harder.

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