I hate that money often divides people. It shouldn't be allowed to. We control how we feel about any given subject, and we must work hard to moderate how we feel about our money and other people's money.
Life is a game of priorities. We choose how we spend all of our resources: time, money and energy, to name a few. I think of it like a pie chart, with sections greyed in to represent what I do with all of the resources I have. Each of us has to answer for our choices, and it doesn't benefit anyone to blame others for the choices we make.
Obviously, certain things are out of our control, like losing a job, the economy tanking, or interest rates on the rise. But we still make choices, every day, on how we spend the money we do have, or how deeply to go into debt for things we value and want to purchase.
I am getting better at accepting responsiblity for my resource choices, but I know I still have a long way to go. It's a waste of time to compare myself to others, I know that for sure, and it only leads to jealousy and hurt feelings. We should not be competing with our friends and family for any kind of status or lifestyle.
Years ago we had friends who were in a much higher income bracket than we were, and it was challenging to make plans with them as they always wanted fine dining when we could afford fast food. They went on fancy vacations that we couldn't attend with them. It could've divided us, but we made it work. We did what we could together, and the rest of the time we bowed out, or made plans that weren't so pricey and they happily came along with us.
I remember my friend telling me how devastating it was when she went to someone's house and they made disparaging comments to her, saying, "I know this is pretty crappy compared to your house, but it's all we can afford." My friend didn't create that dividing line; the other person did. They allowed it to get in the way of the friendship and then it was always there.
Friendship is not meant to be a competition. We must put that aside in order to get along peacably in this world. If we can't set it aside, it becomes a prickly thornbush in the middle of the relationship, and there's no way to get around it without someone getting hurt.
Money is a sensitive subject. It requires great care not to judge other people's choices and expect the same courtesy in return. If we stand up and own our financial choices, good or bad, maybe we won't be tempted by jealousy over what others have or where they go on vacation. Sensitivity can go a long way to smooth the bumpy road of different income levels, but don't allow it to divide your relationships up. Be confident in who you are and where you are at in life. Your value as a person is not connected to your bank account or mortgage. If we all worked harder to separate ourselves from our possessions, the world would be a much brighter place.