It’s Christmas holiday time, and in Australia that typically means that your immediate family travels back home to spend time with everyone. Our family is no different, and this has meant that my wife’s siblings have returned to our fair city with their families to enjoy the festivities.
All of this was going swimmingly (and it still is really), but yesterday my wife said that she was looking up something on her internet banking app when her sister crept up behind her, looked over her shoulder and said with some shock “How did you get that much money in your bank account?!”.
My wife was quick to calm things down a bit, as this sister, while being no FTW, isn’t exactly swimming in cash, so seeing a bank account with $155k in it would understandably look like we’d won the jackpot. We aren’t in the habit of keeping cash sitting around earning 0.5% interest, but this account was actually our offset account that then counters off our home loan. It therefore saves interest at the effective home loan interest rate, which is somewhere around 5%. My wife was quick to explain this, which made things slightly better, but the logical inference is therefore that we have paid off our home loan (which we essentially have).
After this brief exchange my wife was quick to change the subject, but that wasn’t the end of it…
Your secret is not safe with me
Another sister (my wife is one of four) caught her later on and said that she had heard about this exchange, which isn’t surprising since they obviously all talk and couldn’t keep a secret if their lives depended on it. This particular sister just had to ask how we got so much money in the bank, but I’m not sure that my wife’s answer was really what she was expecting.
My wife thought about it and gave what was probably about the best answer that you could give, which was to explain that as I have earned more we have kept our spending the same, and therefore saved the difference. This is essentially the truth, but it probably didn’t make a lot of sense to that sister since most people typically just spend more when they earn more. Saving the additional earnings must be a very foreign concept for many people out there.
While I was quite happy with how my wife handled this series of exchanges, I must admit that I was initially dismayed at people finding out even some minor details about our situation, and even more dismayed when I heard that one sister had talked to another. It’s therefore fair to assume that they have spoken to the third sister (FTW) as well as their parents, and all of their spouses will also be aware.
Now I’m left being a bit self-conscious about what my wife’s family thinks about us. Previously they just assumed that I had a high income and we must therefore be “rich”, but for them to see a heap of cash in the bank probably makes them think we are even more “rich”. Thankfully they couldn’t see the value of our investments that aren’t visible on an internet banking app, otherwise they would well and truly freak out!
Where to from here?
This whole series of events has made me wonder what will happen next now that someone has some concrete “evidence” of our wealth (evidence that is in actual fact very understated). Some of the questions buzzing through my head include:
- Will they start judging us for being cheap? (e.g. “How can someone with that much money drive a $5,000 car?”)
- Will they ask us for a loan? (Someone asked my brother for a loan recently, and I wouldn’t be surprised if people thought that we had a fair bit more money than him, especially now)
- Will they tell other people outside of my wife’s immediate family?
- Will they try to talk to us about it again?
- Will they try to get some financial advice from us since we are “rich”?
None of these things will really be the end of the world if they happen, but it does make things a bit awkward. I certainly don’t want to get asked for a loan from family as I’m not a fan of that concept at all (but that’s a whole other issue for an entirely different post).
I’m interested to hear whether others have had a similar issue and what (if anything) it has changed about their interactions with these people. If you have any experience in this area then I’d love to hear about it.