Russian attitude to money

Lynn Visson’s “Wedded Strangers” explains:

“For Russians, being stingy is the ultimate sin. Americans are seen as determined.”

Russians and Americans have completely different views on money. This is understandable considering that Russians were raised under the Soviet system and Americans were raised under a capitalist system.

Under the Soviet system, the Russians had money in their pocket, but no place to spend it. Jobs, medical care, apartments, pensions – the basic necessities of life – were provided by the state.

The problem was that the state decided what to produce. Choice of goods was not available. That was if the product was even available. Goods were scarce. You couldn’t make a comparison shop even if you wanted to.

You didn’t have to worry about spending too much money because there weren’t too many goods to spend money on.

There are stories to illustrate life during Soviet times. If you were walking down the street and saw a line of people, you lined up, even though you didn’t know why the line was forming and what you were waiting for.

Whatever it was, it was scarce and people wanted it, so it was better to get in line before you missed out.

Conversely, Americans have more money, but they have a thousand choices of how to spend that money. The entire American consumption system is designed to make you spend money on whatever product is advertised. They complement the myriad of choices with easy credit.

The trick in the American system is to figure out what really matters to you. It becomes important to make wise choices as there are so many choices available. Shopping for bargains and a good price becomes necessary to survive American capitalism. Your choices are virtually limitless. You could spend hundreds of thousands of times your income in America without thinking about it.

The problem is that you soon find yourself wallowing in consumer debt.

Americans value their ability to strike a good deal and find a bargain. They brag about the great deals they get. They pride themselves on their ability to get the most out of their money. Living at the highest possible standard of living is the goal of the American consumer society.

For the same reason, American men are proud of their success and the wealth they have built. They think they can attract a Russian woman by telling her they can take care of her.

They boast about their income and their wealth to impress her and then they turn around and tell her how good they are at negotiating the best price for things.

These traits are valuable in American society. But all this money talk makes them sound like Ebenezer Scrooge to the Russian woman they’re trying to impress.

To a Russian, who earns one dollar for every fifty dollars an American earns, an American sounds incredibly cheap when they talk about the hard bargaining they went through to buy something.

You sound more like a miser to them.

Talking about how you got a great price on the plane tickets to see her completely takes the romance out of the picture, as far as she’s concerned. Your meeting takes on the atmosphere of a commercial transaction rather than a romantic interlude.

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For a Russian you either have the money or you don’t. You can afford something or you can’t. You don’t brag about how you downgraded someone. You don’t talk about money. It is considered bad taste.

“First they brag about how much money they have and then they complain about the prices,” the Russian women say. “How they count their money!”

America is a trading company. Talking about money is normal for them.

Russians know that Americans earn much more than they do. But they don’t understand the kinds of expenses the typical American has.

Russians have monthly expenses for rent, food, telephone, hot water and heating in winter. These expenses may cost them fifty to one hundred dollars a month.

If you tell them that you make, say, $3,000 a month, they’ll subtract $100 for expenses in their mind, and they’ll think they have $29,000 to spend money on the things they want.

Russians have no idea about the types of payments Americans make every month. They don’t understand that recurring payments such as mortgages, car payments, insurance, cable, phone, and other expenses make up a large portion of their monthly check.

The average American family has a standard of living accessible only to the highest income class in Russia.

Russians don’t pay income tax and they don’t realize that you have to pay as much as twenty-five to thirty-five percent of your income for income tax, plus property tax, sales tax and other excise taxes.

A Russian woman is certainly interested in your financial situation. She wants to know if you have a steady job and can take care of her and any children. Tell her you have your own house. Tell her that you can take good care of her and her children.

Tell her about the shopping and cultural facilities where you live. Tell her about the restaurants and cafes. Tell her about the weather and local recreational facilities. Tell her about television, movies, and other lifestyle considerations.

Tell her about the schools. Tell her what you like about your job, your family, your home, and the community in which you live. Tell her why she will like it too.

Just don’t go into a lot of financial details. No matter how much you try to explain, she just won’t understand. Don’t talk about money unless you have to.