It’s so easy to be so judgmental. I do it. I know other people do it too.

Contrary to what our culture often seems to say, judgments aren’t always a bad thing. You have to use good judgment to determine whether a place is safe to be, whether you need to get out of a bad relationship, whether someone is trying to scam you. Sometimes there’s a fine line between using good judgment to avoid a bad situation, or just being judgmental in a racist way, in a sexist way, in a generally profiling way, or whatever else.

But right now I’m talking about the latter kind of judgments–the ones that are making assumptions about other people.

See, I see pictures like this:

No Job refrigerator vs. Middle Class refrigerator

or this:

iPad, smart phone, and food stamps

and it makes my blood boil. (Figuratively, of course.)

I actually tend to be fairly conservative, politically speaking. But generalizations that becomes stereotypes really bother me.

See, we have very little money. We do have some government assistance. We have as little as we can help having, but we have some. We could probably have more if we sought it, but we won’t do that because our goal is to get off assistance, not to acquire more of it.

But we also have a smartphone. Why? Because my husband needs it for his job. And I’m getting a tablet. Why? Because one tablet is cheaper than the cost to fix or reasonably replace my laptop–especially since we found it with deals.

We also use our food-oriented government assistance toward buying things that are as healthful as we can get. We budget it throughout the month, and yes, occasionally we splurge and get some ice cream or something. And what assistance we get is in addition to, not instead of, income through a job.

I know people who have EBT and are very smart shoppers who buy designer labels second-hand or at steep discounts. I know people who are on WIC and qualify for state-sponsored health insurance and yet have very nice manicures and pedicures and stylish haircuts–ones that they’ve done themselves or their friends have done for them. Or ones they gotten at heavy discounts because they were willing to go to a beauty school and let the students practice on them.

I have also known people who are on EBT or WIC or state health insurance who do not manage these things well and, yes, maybe spend a lot of money on junk. And I’ve known people who do not qualify for any such things but use their money poorly, wasting it on every new gadget or whatever other whim they might have and then not having money to pay their bills.

Growing up, we didn’t qualify for EBT. We didn’t have state health insurance. We were far from rich, but we had a lot more money than I thought we had. Our cupboards and fridge sometimes looked like the left side of the first meme, and sometimes closer to the right side. I think I’ve written about that before, but it’s not really my point today. My point is that there are a lot of different possibilities–those who have more money but use it so poorly they might as well not; those who have more money deprive themselves even of things that others would consider needs, to the extent that they might as well not even have money; those who have very little money but use it so frugally that they can, through discounts and second-hand shopping and such, they don’t appear to not have money; and those who have very little money and happily live on the provisions of others, misusing government assistance that’s provided by the tax money of others and writing it off with a watch-out-for-number-one, “Hey, it’s there, I might as well use it” type attitude.

All I’m saying is, sometimes we get a really good deal on something that seems way too expensive for us, and I’m afraid to even tell people. I see so many memes in my Facebook newsfeed like the ones I posted above that, after a lifetime of feeling the need to keep a “perfect” appearance to homelife that has translated into my current homelife despite being significantly better than how I grew up, I fear being judged by people who care more about the appearance that we’ve overspent than about the explanation of how we didn’t.

Which boils down to this: I fear being judged. Why? I don’t know. It shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter what other people think. But, particularly in matters of finances and housekeeping, I’m extremely sensitive to what others think. I want them to see me as fully capable and responsible. More than that, as I said, I spent all my growing-up years trying to put on a good face and make things look like they were better than they were. But the fact is, if you have nothing and look like you have nothing, people will judge you for having nothing. If you have nothing and look like you have a lot, people will judge you for looking like you have a lot. If you, in fact, DO have a lot, people will judge you for having a lot.

People will judge you no matter what. So my three goals right now are these:
1. Be open and honest so people can see that what I have isn’t necessarily the result of misspending.
2. Don’t care how people judge me as long as I know I’ve done my best to be responsible and to be honest.
3. Don’t judge others in the way I don’t like to be judged.