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Russian Attitudes Toward Money

Lynn Visson's "Wedded Strangers" explains:

"For Russians, the ultimate sin is being stingy.

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

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

The problem was that the state decided what to produce. Choice in goods was unavailable. That was if the product was even available. Goods were scarce. You could not compare shop even if you wanted to.

You did not have to worry about spending too much money because there were not too many goods to spend money on.

There are stories to illustrate life during the Soviet times. When you walked down the street and you saw a line of people, you got in line, even though you did not 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 on how to spend that money. The whole American consumption system is designed to get you to spend money on whatever product is advertised. They supplement the myriad choices with easy credit.

The trick in the American system is to figure out what it is that is really important to you. It becomes important to make wise choices because there are so many choices available. Shopping for bargains and good value becomes imperative to survive American capitalism. Your choices are virtually unlimited. You could spend hundreds of thousands times your income in America without giving it a second thought.

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

Americans value their ability to negotiate a good deal and to find a bargain. They brag about the great deals they get. They are proud of their ability to get the most for their money. To live at the highest standard of living possible is the goal of America's consumer society.

For that same reason, American men are proud of their success and the assets they have accumulated. They think that they can attract a Russian woman by telling her about their ability to provide for her.

They brag about their income and their wealth to impress her and then they turn around and tell her about what a good negotiator they are in exacting the best price for things.

These tracks are valuable in American society. But all that talk about money makes them sound like Ebenezer Scrooge to the Russian woman they are 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 what a hard bargain they have driven to buy something.
You sound more like a miserable to them.

When you talk about how you got a great price on the airline tickets to see her, it takes the romance right out of the picture, as far as she is concerned. Your meeting takes on the air of a commercial transaction rather than a romantic interlude.

To a Russian, you either have the money or you do not. You can either afford something or you can not. You do not brag about how you whittled someone down in price. You do not talk about money. It's 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 merchant society. Talking about money is normal to them.

Russians know that Americans make much more money than them. But they do not understand anything about the types of expenses that the typical American has.

Russians have monthly expenses of rent, food, telephone, hot water, and heat in the winter. These expenses maybe cost them fifty to one hundred dollars per month.

When you tell them you make three thousand dollars per month, for example, they mentally subtract one hundred dollars for expenses, and they think they have twenty nine hundred dollars to spend money on the things they want.

Russians have no idea about the types of payments that Americans make every month. They do not understand that recurring payments like mortgages, car payments, insurance, cable, telephone, and other expenses add up to a large portion of their monthly check.

The average American family has a standard of living, which is accessible only to the top income class in Russia.

Russians do not pay personal income taxes and they do not realize that you must pay as much as twenty five to thirty five percent of your income for income tax, plus property taxes, sales tax, and other excise taxes.

A Russian woman is definitely interested in your financial situation. She wants to know that you have a stable job and are able to take care of her and any children you may have. Tell her that you own your own home. Tell her that you can take good care of her and her children.

Tell her about the shopping and cultural amenities where you live. Tell her about the restaurants and cafés. Tell her about the weather and the 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 where you live. Tell her why she will like it too.

Just do not go into a lot of financial details. No matter how much you try to explain, she just will not understand. Do not talk about money unless you have to.