"We are a collective geezer." Uffish, to Katya
Question #91010 posted on 03/11/2018 2 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I am wondering why it seems like everyone (students) that go to BYU seem to come from well off families? It seems off putting when trying to date someone and you don't seem to come from a "well off" family like theirs.



Dear A,

My first thought when I read this was "I don't know how I can quantify this but MAN OH MAN CAN I RELATE."

Then, I found out that I didn't need to quantify it: the New York Times had already done it for me, reporting on The Equality of Opportunity Project

If you follow that first link, you'll see that it's not just in your head: a full 60% of the student body comes from families whose median household income is in the top 20% of households nationwide. If you restrict it to the top 10%, you still cover more than a third of all BYU students. Add in the fact that only 1.8% of the student body comes from families in the bottom 20%, and you get the idea that BYU students are a fairly well-off bunch, in general.

But, like I said, I relate. I haven't had this experience so much in dating, but I've seen it in relationships with friends and roommates. It happened before I even technically came to school here: in the early summer of 2011, I found out who my future roommate in Helaman Halls was going to be, so I added him on Facebook and he added me back. Shortly later, it was that roommate's birthday, and he announced to all of social media that his parents had bought him a brand-new Macbook Pro for his birthday. In contrast, I was going to school that fall with the 6-year-old Dell Inspiron that I'd bought for myself in the seventh grade using all of my life savings and a summer's worth of lawn mowing and other jobs. Now, don't get me wrong, I was super proud of that laptop and I didn't want my parents to buy me a new one, but it did make the difference a little stark when I finally got to the Y and noticed that a huge majority of my hall-mates and ward-mates were sporting similarly new and expensive computers. And, with the passing of time, it hasn't really stopped. I used to room with two guys who were both really well off. One of them owned two nice cars and made purchases that frankly made my head spin (he didn't like his iPhone 7, so he bought a Google Pixel when it came out. A year later, I saw from his Snapchat that he'd become enamored with the iPhone X and had decided to purchase one of those, too). The other guy was much less showy about it, but he never worked while he was in school and bought lots of adventure gear (though in a sense he doesn't really belong here because he got his money through Deadliest Catch-style salmon fishing in Alaska every summer). 

Here's the thing, A: don't get too obsessed over this stuff. I'm not saying you are, I'm just saying that I kind of was for a long time. I compared my station with those around me, and deep down, I was probably jealous. That jealousy manifested itself in a weird sort of pride (like, the sin type of pride) where I assumed I was better than all of these rich kids because they'd never had to struggle before.

But THAT WAS AN INCREDIBLY STUPID THING TO THINK, in large part because to someone else, I was one of those rich kids. Maybe I was paying my own way for all of my freshman year expenses and maybe I didn't have money for all the fun trips and fancy things that my friends had, but there were so many advantages I had that other people would have killed for, if only to make things just a little bit easier. In addition, it was giving me this weird complex where I felt like people who had more money were somehow less righteous than those who were more poor. I hope I'm the only person in the world who has thought that sort of thing, because again, IT'S INCREDIBLY STUPID. There is nothing unrighteous about being able to provide for your family and their needs. Just...no, Frère. Get your head screwed on straight.

Obviously this has been something I've needed to deal with for a while, and I feel like I have a better attitude about it now than I did before, which is good! Progress is good. But, getting back to the gist of your question, just know that this is a potentially powerful subject and that everyone has to learn how to manage different attitudes toward money with their future partner. This can even happen between two people that seem to come from different financial backgrounds and seem to feel similarly about money matters; no two people are alike, so chances are you're going to encounter some difference of opinion about money somewhere.

If you're dating someone and their attitude towards money is annoying you, talk to them about it. If you feel judged by their family about your background, also talk to them about it, but know that in no way is that an okay thing to do. Don't be afraid to re-examine your own beliefs about money to see if there's something that could be improved on there, too.

And, finally, if you just need someone to vent to about things like this (like how you're walking home at midnight after staying on campus late to finish your homework so you can get good grades and keep your scholarship and it's really cold outside and you're hungry and then you walk through The Village and see a bunch of dudes and dudettes just chilling in the hot tub ON A SCHOOL NIGHT because apparently they don't need to study or work or do anything productive with their lives because they are apparently just flush with cash and don't have any cares in the world), my email inbox is WIDE OPEN.

-Frère Rubik

posted on 03/14/2018 12:13 a.m.
I wanted to note that where you live largely determines the socio economic status of your ward, which may make it feel like there are even more of these people. Moving might help you find the people who have a more pragmatic approach to money.

When I moved to centennial apartments (which are cheap, far from campus, and kind of run down) I suddenly found myself in a ward where everyone worked and everyone was paying their own way. It was so much easier to relate to people and make friends, because I didn't have to feel left out due to not having the money for an activity.