Playing Pretend – Navigating Family Dynamics and Hidden Wealth

man angry at bills he needs to pay

In a world where financial stability is a coveted achievement, the line between generosity and personal boundaries can often become blurred, as seen in the case of a middle-aged couple’s strategic choice to withhold their newfound retirement riches from family members facing financial difficulties.

A Comfortable Retirement Beckons

The original poster (OP) and his wife, both nearing fifty, have recently embraced a semi-retired life. OP, a dedicated systems engineer, now works part-time for less than twenty hours per week, while his wife, a former registered nurse, is fully enjoying her retirement. Together, they possess four million dollars in savings, including one million in home equity.

Despite their newfound financial freedom, OP is committed to projecting a modest image. OP has also made it clear to his wife not to disclose their financial situation to their family and to pretend as though they are struggling financially.

While his wife’s family is aware that they are doing well, they don’t request financial assistance. However, OP’s family constantly asks for money.

OP’s family, including his parents and brother, are grappling with financial instability. OP’s brother faces financial struggles, along with battling alcoholism and a second divorce.

Moreover, both the father’s and brother’s careers in oil and gas oscillate between prosperity and layoffs, leading to debt and credit card reliance. Their lack of foresight and financial irresponsibility stand in stark contrast to OP’s prudent savings.

Caught in a Tricky Situation

The story reaches a climax when OP’s son inadvertently reveals their retirement to cash-strapped grandparents. The family’s extravagant vacation pictures shared on Facebook have also triggered money requests from the family, prompting OP and his wife to fabricate a story about having won some money to pay for the vacation.

Since OP’s parents and brother have lucrative careers and his father is still working in his 70s, OP feels no obligation to help them financially. Now that their semi-retirement status is revealed, OP contemplates the ethics of feigning inability to help when faced with money requests.

Online Opinions

Comments on the post provide a multifaceted perspective on the situation.

Nubianxess lightheartedly criticizes OP’s method of maintaining the ruse, suggesting it’s time to “grow a pair” and stand up to his family. The commenter advocates for the importance of openly expressing control over one’s hard-earned wealth, liberating OP’s wife from the cloak of secrecy they’ve woven.

Lovebeingadad54321 urges OP to view their savings with caution, emphasizing that the security of their retirement may be jeopardized by unforeseen medical expenses. This perspective highlights the importance of balancing generosity with prudent financial planning, especially during retirement.

Entirelyintrigued offers a tactical phrase, “we’ve retired and are on a fixed income,” as a means of gracefully avoiding revealing the extent of their wealth while defusing inquiries about their financial status. The phrase suggests that financial details are not up for discussion, preserving both their privacy and their relationships.

Thowawayforrbn provides a diplomatic suggestion that encapsulates both truth and subtlety, suggesting that OP respond with a modest acknowledgment of their semi-retirement while conveying a sense of financial constraint. This approach maintains the image of limited resources while remaining honest about their situation.

Wonderful_Quiet5818 congratulates the couple on their early retirement but underscores that they bear no responsibility for the poor financial choices of their family members. This viewpoint reinforces the idea that each individual is accountable for their own financial decisions, and providing for reckless relatives is not an obligatory duty.

Background-Dog1426 provides a balanced approach, endorsing OP’s choice to maintain boundaries and refuse to be pressured into funding their family’s financial mishaps. At the same time, the commenter acknowledges that this decision might attract resentment and harsh words, yet reiterates the importance of protecting oneself from abuse.

“I would not be surprised if this makes them angry and say horrible things.”

The Verdict

OP, a diligent systems engineer, and his retired wife possess substantial savings. While OP’s family struggles financially due to poor decisions, OP’s desire for modesty has led to deception. This predicament has prompted him to seek assistance and advice from online sources.

Commenters express varied views, as some advise openness about retirement, emphasizing boundaries and financial planning for the future. Others acknowledge the right to privacy but encourage respectful communication.

Ultimately, OP isn’t obligated to financially support his family, but honesty, compassion, and consideration are crucial in managing these delicate dynamics. OP stands at the intersection of familial responsibility and individual autonomy, reminding us of the intricate interplay between financial stability and emotional bonds.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Do you think the OP from this social media post was wrong?

Featured Image Credit: photography33 /

This article was originally published on Ash & Pri.

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Annika Stepanov

Annika is passionate about personal finance and travel, pouring her extensive experience into her writing on these topics. She has a diploma in Creative English Writing and has been working in the industry since 2016.