One word I would be okay with never hearing again would be the word Mooch. Being a Mooch isn’t something I ever set out to do- or be- but the word attached itself to me once I started doing my year-long Spending Fast the subsequent Spending Diet and began living my newly and drastically frugal life.
Whether I wanted to admit it or not (and whether I liked it or not) I found that money interjected itself into just about every relationship I have.
When I started my Spending Fast in 2010 my goal was to eliminate my $23k-ish in debt. I naively thought that my goal would not affect my relationships with others. My reasoning was that since I was the only one doing the Spending Fast and since I didn’t share a bank account with anyone (not even my husband) that I would do my financial thing and they would do theirs. Same as always, right? I’m sure you can tell where this is headed and I’m sure you can see that what I’m going to say is “I was completely wrong” and I was.
Announcing my plan to eliminate all my “non-need” spending elicited VERY strong feelings from those closest to me. While out and about my friends would empathetically say “I’ll get it”. They felt sorry for me and I would have to reassure them that I chose to do this. I reminded them that I WANTED to do whatever I had to do to get rid of my oppressive debt and even though I would still participate in the most free way possible I knew that the dynamic of the room had changed, at least for the moment, and I only hoped that the strain on my friendships wouldn’t be long-lasting.
Doing without my frivolous spending meant I had to get creative about ways to be with others without being in “money-spending situations” and I had to find ways to be okay with not spending money even if I was surrounded by spending. I had to stand strong and hope that even though I was going through a lot of awkward social situations that it would pay off at the end. I didn’t want to be the person who “could never do anything fun”. I wanted to do the same things I did pre-Spending Fast but without the spending money part. It was as difficult as it sounds. I was happy to discover that as I got more used to my new frugal way of life so did my friends and family. Once the getting-going-beginner-glitches got sorted out things the Spending Fast got increasing easier.
While I insisted on not accepting money or things from friends my view on accepting things from my family was the exact opposite. They bore the brunt of any mooching my friends didn’t. The person who got the bulk of my mooching was my husband Aaron. He says that I mastered the “non-verbal” mooch which includes: a long face and sad eyes. He says I also expertly perfected the “subtle mooch” which was well, subtle, I hoped.
Here are some mooching examples from my husband:
- Upon a suggestion of doing something Anna would say “your treat!?” It was not so much a question as it was a statement.
- She would say “you fly, you buy!?”
- Sometimes Anna’s mooching would have a purposeful aloofness to it. Here’s an example: I would ask if she wanted to go see a movie and she would pretend not to be interested in it. She would say, “I don’t want to see that movie. I’ll go, but you have to pay because I don’t want to pay for a movie I’m not into.” She’d do the restaurant version of that too. Saying: “I don’t want eat there but I’ll go if you pay.”
- Other times we’d be at a clothing store and she would admire an item and say “I’ll LET you buy it for me”. Gosh, thanks.
- Anna would also do the classic extremely-slow-wallet-pull-out so she’d hopefully get me to cover the bill. It worked, sometimes.
Despite my natural inclinations to mooch from my husband I eventually settled down with it after the first couple of weeks of the Spending Fast for the sake of our relationship. Saddling him with spanking new mountains of debt while I hopefully had none at the end of my Spending Fast was definitely not part of the plan.
I guess I’m a Selective Mooch and not so much of a General Mooch. Either way, I’m getting better and better at balancing my sometimes shamelessly-frugal-money-saving-techniques with my desire to keep my relationships intact and learning how to remove mooching in all of it’s forms.
How do you feel about the M word – Mooching? Have you ever mooched? Has anyone ever mooched off of you? Is is REALLY all THAT bad? What are the boundaries? Would love to hear your thoughts!
P.S. Here’s another post about The Social Side of the Spending Fast that you might like.