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I Can't Believe the Money These People Have!

August 18th, 2006 at 04:24 am

By "these people" I mean many of the refugees I work with. One family came to me a few months ago needing help purchasing airline tickets online (they wanted to return to Turkey and visit family). I showed them how to buy tickets online and put the charge on my credit card since they don't have one. They gave me $8500 CASH for the tickets. Today I just did the same thing for three other family members who want to visit family in Europe (another $2500 CASH).
Anyway, I started thinking about how they do this...they have 9 kids and only the dad works (full time and makes maybe $35,000 a year) yet they can still save incredible amounts of money. From what I can tell here are the things they don't do...
--they don't eat out. Ever. No Starbucks, no McDonalds, no restaurants at all.
--they don't have credit cards or purchase anything on credit.
--they don't buy new cars. Only used cars and of course they pay for them with cash.
--they don't have cable TV, cell phones, internet, computers, digital cameras, et al.
--they don't go to the mall. Ever.
--they don't go to movies, amusement parks, or any other pay-to-be entertained place.
--they don't buy "stuff", only necessities. Can you imagine a house with nine kids and absolutely no clutter? Pretty amazing.
--they don't have dozens of pairs of expensive jeans, shoes, jackets, purses, etc.

With the amount of money I've made over the last 25 years, if I had spent like they do, I would be a millionaire and retired by now!!!


6 Responses to “I Can't Believe the Money These People Have!”

  1. Unregistered Says:

    I don't want to sound rude or anything (and maybe it's just my paranoid gene kicking in) but have you really considered what you are doing? What you call 'cut to the bone' living in order to save money is what terrorists call "going under the radar." Leave no trace. Getting you to buy tickets under your credit card means they can keep out of the government's sight. Have a bunch of kids in the house? Couldn't possibly be terrorists.
    There is no way someone making $35,00 a year, even if they didn't pay taxes, could support 2 adults and 9 kids (paticularly in Seattle's housing market) and still save as much money as they supposedly are in cash. 9 kids means minimum of 4 bedrooms, 1 for adults, 3 for 3 kids each. Pretty tight squeeze. Rent for a 4 bdrm house in Seattle's market is somewhere on the order of $800-$1000. Even if they were able to get it down to $500, that's still $6000/yr just for housing. Then you've got utilities, clothing, food, medical, misc, etc. Not saying it can't be done (done in Appalachia all the time, but it's under the poverty level and without all the cash to throw around.)
    Like I said, it could just be my paranoid gene, but it's something to think about anyway.

  2. LuckyRobin Says:

    Don't jump to conclusions based on American assumptions of what can and cannot be done.

    I live in a community that is made up of about 60 percent immigrants from Russia and Ukraine. I have seen up close and personal how they are able to save such vast amounts of money on small salaries. When they first come here, they will have three of four families living in one home. A clean, uncluttered home with few possessions. The house we bought from a Russain family for instance was owned by two sisters and a brother and they all had spouses and children. This is a four bedroom house. The babies slept in with their parents. Two of the bedrooms had four children to a room, one was a boys bedroom with two sets of bunk beds and one was a girls bedroom with two sets of bunk beds. One set of parents slept on a hide a bed in the living room with screens put up at night for privacy. Every adult worked in that house but one who stayed home and ran the house, took care of the kids and she and the kids planted an extensive garden. The entire front yard was a garden when we moved in.

    They lived in this house for six years and saved up enough money to each buy houses of their own. In cash. And you know what they did then? The each brought in a family to live with them who had recently immigrated to help them get on their feet.

    Most of the Russian women I have talked to distrust credit cards. Or think interest is horrific. They like cash, they can see it and hold it and use it and know that it is solid, not some wishy washy idea of fake money or credit. And they save that money and they bring other famililes members over with it and return to visit with it.

    The immigrant community here helps each other out and they help the rest of us, too. They are good solid people. And they work harder than just about any people I have ever met. They share tools among them. It is not uncommon for one lawn mower to make it down the block in the course of a day and for a weed whacker to works its way in the other direction. Sergei owns a band saw, Timophy has a pressure washer, Lubyov has a pressure canner, Nikolai has scaffolding, Oksana has 3 umbrella clothes lines in her back yard that others use on different days of the week. It all goes around the block.

    We are, by the way about 90 minutes outside of Seattle. Housing can still be found inexpensively enough in my community (though not the larger citywe are a suburb of) that what MsS posts about is entirely possible and highly likely.

    I'm not saying there is no possibility of a terrorist family living like this. Of course, there is. But I am saying that the conclusion should not be jumped to that they are just because they have all that money and that they can't save tremendous amounts of money on a low income. It is amazing what you can do with no debt. Look at Amy Daczyzin. Or my sister who had lived below the poverty line for years with her husband and four kids and yet because they have no debt and own their home, they get by just fine and have money in the bank. If I could live off the grid, I would. I'm a dyed in the wool American, born and bred, but I think the government knows entirely too much information about me anyway.

    Just another view point.

  3. Broken Arrow Says:

    Conspiracy theories aside, I really like the way these families think!

    I'm all for simple living and saving lots of money!

  4. MsSuperSaver Says:

    They are Muslims but they aren't terrorists. They only used my credit card because there was no other way for them to get a good price on airline tickets except online and the only way to pay online is with a credit card. Robin is right. I have also worked with Russians, Chinese, Filipinos, Guatamalans, Mexicans and Sudanese who have the same mind set as my friends.
    My point was that many Americans think living a certain way is a "given" (eating out, cell phones, cable, etc). I have seen people an inch away from banruptcy yet they still have a cell phone, cable TV and insist on eating out a half dozen times a week. While many Americans wouldn't even consider it, it is possible to live a certain way--like my friends--and become debt free, even millionaires, just be changing from the "American" mindset to the "refugee" mindset.
    Many things immigrants do seem odd to us but make complete financial sense to them. Only turning on the shower to get wet then turning it off while you lather? Saves money! A dozen people sleeping in shifts in a two bedroom apartment? Saves money! Taking the bus instead of driving a car? Saves (lots!) of money!

  5. annab Says:

    I agree w/Lucky Robin. The immigrants in my community work together and support each other in terms of connections, jobs, education, etc. And they work really hard to get their families settled. That cooperative mindset and hard work ethic can really transform a situation. Plus, you have to figure if they came from another country that had a lower standard of living than is in the US, they have a good distinction between necessities and luxuries. And they've seen people make the most of what they've got. We don't typically do that as a matter of habit.

  6. baselle Says:

    Not to mention the fact that their social network is self supporting. All of their social connections are equally frugal, which means that no one has friends that are whining, "you can afford this", or believing that shopping equals freedom, or laughing at their habits, or giving them the hairy eyeball if they walk or take the bus.

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