Yuppie Guilt and how to deal with it delicately

I was just thinking about this the other day.

I had a friend come up to me and over a cup of coffee, guiltily confessed that she felt bad for making so much money especially in this ‘recession’ or economic crisis.

I told her that she deserved the money, and that she was just being paid what she was worth, so making good money is not anything to be ashamed of.

She kind of agreed, but told me it was hard to feel that way, knowing that other people around her – friends and family – were losing their jobs and entering into a kind of panic mode. She just felt so guilty, she wanted to start giving her money away to help people.

I told her she couldn’t save the world, but she could (if she wanted), step in and offer assistance IF she thought it would be appropriate and if they would not be insulted and accept the gift. I told her that people had a lot of pride and they’d rather go into debt in some cases, than accept help from others.

But now she’s feeling more pangs of yuppie guilt. She can’t even talk about the new shoes she bought (Loubous) without feeling guilty because that $600+ she spent on the shoes could have been enough to feed a family for a month and a bit if they scrimped.

She just felt so guilty for having those shoes when that amount of money could’ve gone to something worthier (in her eyes) that she felt like her enthusiastic and excited purchase of the shoes were dampened and a bit ruined for her.

On the site that I love Trend Watching, they’re coining the term “Luxyoury” as being the new chic thing in 2009. The basic idea is that luxury is now defined by YOU, and it’s almost got a feeling of bohemian, shabby chic.

For example, there are hotels out there now called “Deluxe Bohemian” or “Rough Luxe” that include re-upholstered furniture from salvage shops or flea markets, and now have small funky rooms with carefully positioned touches of ‘rough luxury’.

I’m a bit lost as to the whole concept, but I guess the idea is to be conscious of not being opulent, or flaunting your wealth, and using second-hand items coupled with top notch service that you still pay for through the nose, but feel better about it because it’s carefully crafted to be bohemian chic.
Trend watching concludes:

Whatever angle you may go for, luxury in 2009 will comprise much, much more than ostentatiously flaunting wealth (which, by the way, will still enjoy considerable popularity among emerging middle classes around the world).

I think this is a recurring feeling for many of us who have very good jobs in this economy (Not me! I am unemployed as of yesterday with no new project in sight :P), and I’m noticing that my friends who I KNOW have good jobs, are starting to scale back on their shopping and to (guiltily) hide their purchases, not talk about them or feel like they have to go along with the crowd and moan about how they have no money.

They HAVE money, they just feel like they should fit in too, or become ostracized. And they want to enjoy their money, but feel like if they go to a Four Seasons hotel, they’re going to get snubbed by their less fortunate friends, so they say they went to a Rough Luxury hotel (see Trendwatching above), and they feel better about the choice because now they can enjoy luxury, disguised as a clever marketing campaign.

Now when they go on vacation, they can talk about other aspects of their hotel and trip rather than how fabulously opulent it was – they are able to focus on how the hotel (for example) has second-hand furniture that’s very eco-friendly.

And to them, it’d be a win-win.

They get to go on vacation, stay in an interesting hotel that still boasts top notch service that you’d get at Four Seasons, you still pay through the nose, but no one thinks you did because the hotel used second-hand furniture.

But what’s the point? If I go on vacation, I’d like to GO ON VACATION.

I may not gush about how expensive and opulent it was, and how much of a fabulous time I had, but I’d like to think that my friends and family are HAPPY for me that I took the time off to go on vacation.

Sure, they can be jealous (I get jealous of them too!) but overall, the mood should be Good for them. I’m glad they got away, they needed the break. Maybe next year we can save and do that too once we get through this.

And then on top of that, throw on the pile of guilt we feel as DINKs (Dual Income No Kids) and all the free money that we’re just stashing away, and you just clam up when people talk about money and how much they’re losing or not making around you.

See, it’s why I need a blog!

Has anyone experienced pangs of yuppie guilt?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.