Recently, a very dear friend began to confide in me about her financial situation. Over the course of the past few months, I had begun piecing together that things weren’t going so well for her, but I had no idea just how bad it was until she slowly started to talk about the numbers. Before I continue, I must say that I’m in no way passing an ounce of judgement on my friend–especially because I’ve been in financial dire straits in the past and I know how hard it can be to make ends meet when there’s much of nothing coming in.
Sharing is Caring
I share a bit of her story and what we’ve discussed because I’m genuinely interested in hearing your advice for her–and I know firsthand that reading about someone whose financial situation is different than yours is a fantastic way to entice you to look over your own budget, spending, and saving habits. I also have to admit that I’ve wanted to write about this on my own blog, but I haven’t had the heart to lest she finds the post and clams up now that we’re making some serious progress in helping her through this latest chapter of hardship.
This story is being shared in the spirit of helping; not embarrassing, judging, or shaming.
Head in the Sand, Credit Card in Hand
One of the biggest issues my friend is struggling with is her inability to manage her spending. A while back, she lost her full-time job for a variety of reasons. In the months that followed, she continued to spend as she had while still working–pricey dinners out, new clothes when she wanted them, expensive hair cuts and colors, etc.
I could see that she was clearly depressed and in denial about her situation, but I didn’t have the heart to say anything because I didn’t want to alienate her. Instead, I pushed frugal ideas such as cooking at home (I bought the groceries and wine and had her come over) and exercising as a way to socialize. This worked well, except for the times we weren’t together (which is every day of the week minus one!).
I’m not sure reality hit her for months until one day when she found herself unable to make the minimum payment on her credit card (and with zero dollars to give her roommate for her share of the month’s utilities).
It was on this evening that she decided to fill me in on the details of her struggles…and the picture she painted was far from pretty. But what struck me the most was that she was sharing because she wanted me to give her money. And she had already collected money from a few of our other friends. While I wanted desperately to help her, I have a strict ‘no money to friends’ policy–I won’t lend a dime because I don’t want the friendship to be marred in money issues (and I won’t give unless it’s to charity because I’ve seen in the past how it becomes a crutch).
However, what I will do is offer food, shelter, transportation; even the clothes off my back if the situation warrants it.
A Cold Dose of Reality
Explaining this to her was not easy, especially while we had discussed how well my new freelancing efforts were going the night before. However, it seemed to be exactly what both of us needed–a wake up call for her that she needed to get a handle on her situation and a way for me to help her without enabling any negative behaviors. Moving on from that night, we’ve since discussed a new budget for her (she set it up the following evening after we talked) and I shared some of the things I did to pull myself out of my own financial abyss years ago.
While I know her future is bright, there are a ton of difficult steps in front of her. I’m here with her every step of the way, and I’d love to hear what advice you have for her so please leave a comment about your tips/ideas for getting out of debt, reducing spending, managing a budget….all of the above!
This post was written by Jen, a staff writer from The Happy Homeowner
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.