I really don’t like constantly discussing my friend in my blogs. I don’t want people to think that I use my blogs to ‘gossip’ about or trash other people. It’s never about that, it’s about trying to work things out in my own mind, by writing about them, and perhaps getting some feedback or ideas from others who don’t have the emotional involvement I do.
I know that sometimes our own perspectives can be slanted, so it can help to write something out and go back, outside of the emotion or stress, and revisit a situation to try to better understand the dynamics of a given situation or relationship.
I’ve written about my friend’s health and how it’s recently impacted her financial situation. She’s lost her assistant manager position, lost full-time hours, lost her salary taking a dollar an hour cut in pay as the result of an extended medical leave to have surgery to remove her kidney.
I’ve written in the past also about her ongoing financial issues, her spending habits and inability to maintain any kind of budget. It’s frustrating, listening to her constant complaints about not being able to pay for basic necessities, trying to help her brainstorm ways to handle some of her debt.
This past week, I paid her back for the Lakota language course she insisted on buying for me, as she bought one for herself and for me. I wrote her a check and handed it to her, telling her I know she needs the money, I always intended to pay her back. She accepted it and cashed it the next day.
She visited on Wednesday. During her visit she spent a lot of time talking about her financial troubles. She talked about having not gotten out to put in any applications yet, to find a new job. She’d not sent out any of the resumes I’d updated and printed out for her. She explained that she had no clue what she wanted to do.
She explained to me that she is getting a few food stamps each month. She’s bringing home half the income she was before her surgery. She reiterated that her father had paid 12 months of rent for her, to help her out. She said that her father had also given her a couple hundred dollars for her birthday, and of course, I’d given her the money for the language course.
She started to tell me how she’s thinking about going back to school. I asked her if she was thinking about expanding on her Associates Degree in Business Management, as she’d talked about wanting to work in accounting or bookkeeping. She made a face and told me she didn’t want to go back to school to get a career, she was just thinking about taking some random courses, things she was interested in.
From there she told me she needed to get a new laptop and wanted a tablet as well, in case she decided to take online courses and to watch television since she doesn’t have a TV (respectively).
I tried to redirect the discussion, explaining that I’d heard of a new store in our local Mall and that my hubby and son had decided to get me a gift certificate for the store for my birthday the first week of March. She excitedly talked over me telling me she knew what store I was talking about and had just spent about $100 in that store, that she wanted to go back to buy a blanket she’d seen, for $40.
She went back to her finances, telling me she’s not made a single payment on her doctor or hospital bills and she’s not even gotten them all yet. She’s estimated her portion of the bills will be about $10,000.
She said she thinks she can put together about $700 every two months, which she wanted to pay on rent, to extend how long her rent is paid in advance. I asked her if she thinks she can put that much money aside every couple of months, why not put that toward payments on the hospital bills. She definitively responded “those bills aren’t going to get paid.”
She went on to explain that she needed to extend the rent payments, in advance, in case it took her a year or longer to find another job. I asked her if she really thought it was going to take that long and she said she doesn’t want to go out while it’s so cold outside.
She indicated she was going to have to go to the city bus depot to buy another monthly bus pass, that the one she already bought ran out before her next follow up appointment with her surgeon. She said a month pass costs $41. She’d only used it maybe three times in a month. I asked her, if she’s not planning on going out often in the cold, why not buy 5 day passes for $10 and put them in her wallet, so when she has an appointment or decides to go out, she has a pass available, but isn’t under a time restriction for using them. It would save her a lot of money, especially since she’s not planning on making maximum use of the monthly pass. She said she’d already decided to get the monthly pass.
She went on to tell me she plans to buy another cell phone. She’s already got 4 of them, one she uses for playing games, one she uses as an mp3 player, one that she says doesn’t have enough volume for her to hear it and another she uses as her only phone. She wants a new one that has a bigger screen, wants to buy a sim package so she can use whatever phone she buys with any service.
I was sitting here thinking, the whole time she was talking, “What are you talking about?” I just couldn’t wrap my head around all the things she was rambling on about. Nothing she was saying made any sense to me. With only $600 of income coming into her home each month (her son also gives her $250 for staying with her, but is now planning to move out as soon as possible), how could she really get by? All kinds of things went through my head, things I wanted to say, could have said, but chose to bite back and be silent.
I was thinking how my husband and I have more than three times the monthly income my friend has. We own our car and pay upkeep and insurance for that, something she doesn’t have to worry about, having never learned to drive. Our mortgage (including insurance and taxes) is less than her monthly rent. We have a triple play package for phone, internet and cable, an electric bill, recycling bill and garbage bill, a quarterly water/sewage bill, as well as credit card payments (something she’s let default in the past). We are living paycheck to paycheck. We can’t go buy new clothes or necessities when we need them, have to budget for them and save… how can she be making so little, can’t afford to pay her own rent, her doctor’s bills, buy groceries, etc. and still go out and buy $100 worth of frivolous merchandise, be planning to buy a laptop and tablet, a new phone, etc. ?
How can she have huge bills, like her medical expenses, insurance premiums, etc., and not feel some sense of responsibility, some sense of urgency to secure another job, increase her income? How could she be so flippant about her situation?
She’s just turned 52 this month. Her father is still paying her bills, bailing her out and picking up the pieces after her disastrous choices and poor money management. I don’t want to see her lose everything, but as long as her father keeps bailing her out, she never has to take responsibility for her own life, she never has to stand on her own two feet, never has to mature and act like an adult.
I just don’t understand the way she thinks. She’s accused me of being jealous of her father giving her money and helping her. I’ve never understood why she would think that, as I never accepted help from my own father, even when he offered, because I valued my independence, wanted to take care of myself, make my own decisions and be responsible. When I left home I was told I could never go back, there was no option to fail. I took that seriously. I either had to make it on my own, or fail and live with the consequences of that.
I think she should decline help from her father, when she does accept his help she should pay him back. I would be embarrassed, ashamed, if my father were bailing me out at every turn, especially at the age of 52. He’s not helping her, he’s enabling her, rewarding her bad decisions and preventing her from experiencing the consequences of her actions. She’s not matured, she’s still a teenager, with her hand out, expecting Daddy to fix everything.
I have heard her financial nonsense many times in the past 39 years, but Wednesday I have to say, I was stunned, stunned by how tone deaf she is to the seriousness of her situation. I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to be able to hold my tongue and not give her a healthy dose of tough love.