When I was 19 my father died, leaving behind a significant inheritance. I’m 24 years at the moment, and the assets are in a family estate of which my mother and I are the owners. Although I won’t say I’m overtly wealthy, I can’t deny either I have had a cozier life than most people in my country.
I might be biased in my opinions about myself, but I can assert I’m not eager to flaunt. For example, I drive a secondhand car, cheaper than most of my friends’ cars, I’m renting a regular room in my area, I don’t have memberships in expensive clubs or gyms, etc. And to be clear, I don’t do it to fabricate a facade of normalcy. I simply was raised in a family with a pragmatic sense of expending and still approach money in that manner. The only luxuries in which I indulge are things like buying tailored clothes, having vacations and collecting books and movies, or going to concerts. In the same manner, I’m not trying to be overtly frugal. I don’t shun away from spending if needed, like signing to a congress or a course with my own money if the company isn’t paying, or just walking into a store and buying a new Mac when my old one broke beyond repair. Basically, being debt-free and able to build assets from my inheritance allows me to do this.
As I said before, I don’t flaunt, but eventually people get to now of my situation when questions like what your parents do or where were you during holidays come around. During my previous and current job, I have seen people trying to bully, shame or harass me because of my financial position. Some of the behaviors I frequently see:
If we go to a bar someone will eventually say something of the sort: "Hey! When are you showing your Black Card?" I don’t have one!
Someone questioning why I don't have a better car or live in an upper-scale area.
People joking in my face that they should buy me caviar for the weekly happy hour or other absurd variations of “we will have to please him with something expensive”.
Someone joking that I’m a gangster or that my family has obscure ties.
People assuming that I’ll get preferential treatment or promotions.
People assuming I'll loan them money. I did this once. It wasn’t a good idea. The money never came back; the friend never spoke to me again.
People assuming I have an obligation to donate to good causes they promote.
I tried three strategies to deal with these situations without much success. Ignoring them; explaining how I use my money – like showing how much I save by not having a car loan or that, instead of having dozens of shoes, pants and shirts, my wardrobe fits in 23kg suitcase, so it is not as if I were expending extra money, rather I simply have fewer objects –; being outspoken, letting them know that these jokes aren’t funny (I'd rather have my father alive!).
I’d like to add two details:
- I don’t believe (most of) my coworkers are ill-intentioned. They’ve just been running an in-bad-taste joke for too long.
- My personality is of the shy type. I usually get mental block when someone makes a joke about me and this have probably given them basis to keep joking. Also, I’m terrible at lying, I get all red-faced and stutter, so learning to lie and conceal doesn’t seem an option.
How to deal with this situation? Should I sit one-on-one with each and every of my coworkers and tell them they should moderate their behavior? Maybe it’s me the one who needs to mature and stop letting myself get triggered by these comments. I don’t want to get my manager involved. This is the type of thing I think may effectively make me look like the spoiled child of the company and become a hindrance for my career.