I got a text the other day from one of my rich friends. They were asking me to Zelle over $644 for a one week share we were all doing on a beach house in the Outterbanks NC in August. I had said yes to this crowd, that my husband and I would join them at this beach house share because the fees at the nearest campground to them had doubled to $1400 for the week. At that time, our $644 share sounded like a bargain. But if you now throw in the cost of round trip gas and the fact that my rich friends like to eat out in restaurants for both lunch AND dinner, plus go out for drinks, amusement and entertainment, I hesitated to respond so quickly to the text.

I know these people for over fifty years. We all grew up together. Our backgrounds are the same. We’re first generation Americans and our parents were hard working Italian immigrants who made it big in this country. We all lived in the same rich neighborhood, in the same kind of big mansions, with a water view and outlet so our parents all had yachts. New cars every year. Unlimited funds to travel and buy expensive clothes. There was only one difference. I left this life at the age of 32. They’re still in it.

When their parents died only the sons got inheritances. The three daughters (my friends) got nothing. In my family, both the sons and the daughters got sort of equal splits of the bounty (I got the least). My friends continued to live their high lifestyles. Today, when you meet them, all in their late 60s and early 70s, they have mortgages, car loans, lease loans, credit card bills and they all have outside jobs, despite collecting Social Security checks. I may not have invested my own inheritance as well as my sister and brother. Nonetheless, I’m 71 years old and I am still getting a monthly income from what I did invest my inheritance in. My brother and sister live on $100K a year. I live on $42K. I paid cash for my house so we have no mortgage. I pay cash for our cars and we have no credit card, consumer debt (except for my RV) It was my choice. My decision to leave the family empire. I suffered for it accordingly and never looked back.

Till now. I can not be friends with rich people. I don’t have the resources nor the desire to be with them. One of these girlfriends made a comment to me that really irked me. She said “Cindi, you have nothing to show for all your money.” What she meant was that I had no external accouterments. No jewelry. No designer duds. No fancy cars. No mansion-styled home. No manicures or pedicures. No monthly trips to a beauty salon to get my hair coiffed. It didn’t matter that I was living a debt free life. They had no respect for that.

For the past year I have been hanging out with this crowd and I have come to realize how near impossible it is for me. Unless I go into debt or refinance the equity in my home (like they all keep doing) I don’t have the cash to join in any of their reindeer games. One is leaving for Positano, Italy for a two week romp in a rented villa. One is planing a super serious wedding extravaganza for her daughter (which there’s no way in hell I could afford to go: new suit for hubby, new evening gown dress for me, travel and hotel costs plus at least a $500 cash wedding gift…..and then there’s the bridal shower….kaching! kaching! kaching!) I see all their travel adventures on Facebook (doncha just love that on Facebook?) skiing up in Vermont, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard in the summer, all their brand new designer clothes………all on credit and all from people I would normally never associate with. I wish them well. But this lifestyle is unattainable and unmanageable for me. I’m going to pass.

I knew once I told them I wasn’t wiring any money to them because we declined to join them in OBX, that would be the end of our renewed relationship. And it’s just as well. I had to make a conscious decision to sever all ties with them because I just could not afford the friendship. Hubby and I will be just fine this summer, staying home and enjoying our community pool. Life for us at the beach is reserved for the winter. We’ll be RVing back in Florida this winter, at an Atlantic beach side RV resort paying $3,000 for three months vs their $6,500 per month house rental! (BTW, the same person who told me my lifestyle was lacking visual money told me she wouldn’t be caught dead in an RV. Not for her, she lamented). For now, the summer, we’ll continue to enjoy our life up here in the Catskill Mountains. In fact, we’re so close to the other mountains in our area, we booked a one week stay up in the Berkshires with our RV. A full week there costs $220 and since it’s only 75 miles away, gas, at whatever price it becomes, won’t put too much of a dent in our budget.

This is my life. Hubby and I love it! We’re happy and content. And you won’t find us posting any photos on Facebook. I’m not here to impress anyone. I love my life just the way I designed it.

We’ve got a nice secluded, peaceful spot waiting for us, up in the Massachusetts Berkshire Mountains.

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