Author Topic: Older mustachian struggling with the struggles of older friends  (Read 1724 times)

tipster350

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I'm in my mid 50s. A few of my good friends ranging in age from late 40s to late 60s are living the consequences of their poor financial decisions. At a certain point in life it becomes harder, if not impossible, to turn the ship around. It is painful to watch, and I also worry that I will be faced with feeling like I need to help them or watch them go homeless. There is one friend in particular I will focus on for this story. He's 50 years old.

We have been friends for years. We are like family to each other. He has stepped in to help me with my own difficulties numerous times. He has offered to lend me money when I know he didn't have it. But he consistently makes very poor financial decisions, living way beyond his means, and has for as long as I have known him. He's always been able to get out of an immediate financial crisis by a combination of luck and skill in negotiating better employment opportunities. But it's all coming crashing down now as industry conditions change and ageism kicks in, a very real issue in his area of expertise.

Just as conditions worsened for him and his income slid down the cliff, he went on two vacations. Both were partially paid by others but to me this is extreme face punch territory because they still cost money and during those extended trips he was not doing anything to find another job. I do judge, i can't seem to help myself, but it's mainly out of concern for him and feeling like somehow I'll feel obligated to help. I know I will feel that.

I have tried to help him with advice from time to time, and I make a point of talking about my own choices, goals, and habits from time to time. But we all know that a person has to be ready to hear the information.

I am not sure what I need, but maybe pointers in how to manage myself in these situations. It's hard to watch people I care about suffering even if it is by their own choices.

meatface

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Re: Older mustachian struggling with the struggles of older friends
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2017, 12:24:04 PM »
What I do is offer advice when asked, promote MMM when relevant, and never give them money ever.

tipster350

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Re: Older mustachian struggling with the struggles of older friends
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2017, 12:28:16 PM »
One of my main concerns is I have a house with extra rooms.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Older mustachian struggling with the struggles of older friends
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2017, 12:44:58 PM »
One of my main concerns is I have a house with extra rooms.
That's great, you can rent him a room. I assume you like roommates? Watch Golden Girls and that's your future, a large house with random arguments. The whole premise was elderly people trying to cohabitate and their inevitable fights.

prognastat

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Re: Older mustachian struggling with the struggles of older friends
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2017, 12:52:01 PM »
Be very careful with letting people stay at your house though. We had a very close friend that lost his job and we wanted to help by letting him stay with us to help him get back on his feet.

In the end it didn't help him, it lead to him being passive in improving his own life, costing us money, taking money from us without letting us know and ended up staying with us for nearly two years at which point our friendship had completely disintegrated.

BFGirl

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Re: Older mustachian struggling with the struggles of older friends
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2017, 12:59:27 PM »
I have 2 friends who are in similar positions.  I try to sympathize with them, but I'm not going to loan them any money.  Both are in their positions because of the choices that they have made, and while I hate that they are struggling, both have spent money, enjoyed things and essentially had sabbaticals, while I have worked and planned for my future.  I'm tired of being responsible and making sensible choices while those who live life as they choose think the rest of us should rescue them when it's time to pay the piper.

GenXbiker

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Re: Older mustachian struggling with the struggles of older friends
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2017, 01:30:18 PM »
I wouldn't recommend renting the room, either.  He might not end up paying, and you will have trouble getting rid of him.

NAEByrd85

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Re: Older mustachian struggling with the struggles of older friends
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2017, 01:37:09 PM »
Be very careful with letting people stay at your house though. We had a very close friend that lost his job and we wanted to help by letting him stay with us to help him get back on his feet.

In the end it didn't help him, it lead to him being passive in improving his own life, costing us money, taking money from us without letting us know and ended up staying with us for nearly two years at which point our friendship had completely disintegrated.

I've experienced a similar situation. "Helping" financially irresponsible people is actually just enabling them. One of my family members stayed with me over a year and was surprised when I told him it was time for him to move...

Bicycle_B

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Re: Older mustachian struggling with the struggles of older friends
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2017, 08:32:57 AM »
Visit Alanon or do some other act that allows you to learn how to draw boundaries and love from a distance, or to be close without getting burned.

Be a source of encouragement, good ideas, calmness; not expensive gifts or open rooms.  If you want the empty rooms filled, rent them to someone else.  (You could make money and also say "Sorry, the rooms are filled.")  If you want them empty, be strong and don't let the friends in.

I had a friend whose weakened work history and sketchy spending brought him to the edge of homelessness.  I had an empty room.  I scouted "how to be homeless" techniques.  When he confided his $ troubles, I asked if he had explored x and y homeless techniques.  Had he thought about where to sleep if evicted, bought a sleeping bag, considered a gym membership to for shower access, applied for food stamps?

He had not, and was taken aback.  Offering these suggestions instead of money stopped him from asking again and gave him fruitful options to pursue.  He did apply for food stamps.  The savings on food helped him make rent for a while.  Later he went completely broke.  At that point he moved in with a family member.  My empty room stayed empty and peaceful.  We remained friends, conversing by phone and visiting in person.  He was glad of the company.  Offer info and encouragement, not resources.  Think of it as learning a sustainable new love language instead of the codependent one that will sap your own security. 
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 09:06:17 AM by Bicycle_B »

lizzzi

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Re: Older mustachian struggling with the struggles of older friends
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2017, 09:59:01 AM »
Just posting to say I agree with all the excellent advice the OP has been given upthread. I couldn't say it better. No need to enable these kinds of people--they are everywhere. Offer moral support and good information, but no money and no rooms in your house. Just do you--take care of you, yourself--you are entitled to your own peace and good karma within your appropriate boundaries.

sequoia

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Re: Older mustachian struggling with the struggles of older friends
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2017, 10:26:15 AM »
@tipster350 thank you for posting. We know people like this, and as we grow older, sometime we chat and wonder what will happen to them when their poor financial decisions finally caught up with them. While we are not there yet, I can see we will be facing similar situation in the future.

Just posting to say I agree with all the excellent advice the OP has been given upthread. I couldn't say it better. No need to enable these kinds of people--they are everywhere. Offer moral support and good information, but no money and no rooms in your house. Just do you--take care of you, yourself--you are entitled to your own peace and good karma within your appropriate boundaries.

Thank you @lizzzi and everyone for confirming what I believe. It is very hard to not help (money or room or whatever)  someone close to you.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 10:31:29 AM by sequoia »

bestname

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Re: Older mustachian struggling with the struggles of older friends
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2017, 10:38:52 AM »
Try not to judge your friend. He is probably already deeply ashamed.

TrMama

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Re: Older mustachian struggling with the struggles of older friends
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2017, 11:10:59 AM »
This issue is not much different from watching loved ones suffer because they've neglected their health for decades. I'm sure we can all name someone we care about who's in this boat. Just like with finances, as we get older at some point it's just not possible to do a course correction.

What do you do when people like this complain to you about their physical ailments? I bet you don't offer to give them a liver, or carry them up the stairs. You probably just commiserate and may suggest something they could do to feel better; like improving their diet, or getting an assisstive device. Since there's nothing you can do to make a sick person feel better physically, other than offering moral support and advice, I bet you could do the same when faced with loved ones who've fallen on hard financial times. Listen to their woes and offer advice if they're receptive.

Laura33

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Re: Older mustachian struggling with the struggles of older friends
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2017, 11:56:24 AM »
Different people work with different kinds of capital.  You have taken the standard Mustachian route of financial capital.  But it is also pretty well established that communities without a lot of financial capital rely on social capital; their experience is that money comes and goes, and so when you have it, you share it, and when you don't, those that do will share theirs.  And to each side, the other's choices look stupid -- "why are you spending your money on THAT when you have all of these other needs?" meets "I can't believe he'd turn his back on his friend like that!"  This may be why you feel guilty/pressured to help him, because his willingness to share with you when you were short creates a social expectation that you will return the favor.  [This mindset, btw, is also one of the reasons that many poor people stay poor -- it's not just that they don't understand the concept of saving a windfall, it's that that runs exactly opposite of the value system they have been taught.]

I do object a little to the tone of some of these responses, which seems somewhat harsh in a "reap what he sows" kind of way.  Sure, you can do that.  But it sounds like this is a guy who has worked all of his life -- and who was willing and able to work to pay his debts until recently -- and who was also generous with his time and money when he had it.  That's not the same as someone who expects everything to be handed to him, who is trying to mooch off of the system.  Yes, he made poor money decisions, but no more than a large portion of the population as a whole; there are many, many decent people who are only a paycheck away from the same situation.  It's easy to say, well, tant pis, they made their bed, let them lie on it.  But if they are friends who you care about, it is a natural and generous instinct to want to help.

If your friend is 50+, I would not expect him to be willing/able to change his value system at this date.  Of course, that doesn't mean you have to adopt his, either, and therefore take him in and support him for the rest of his life.  But take a look at your own interactions, and think of it from the perspective of "what has he given me over all these years," in terms of both financial and emotional support.  And then come up with some way that suits your own value system to help pay that back -- doesn't need to be giving him a room in your house, but like Bicycle_B noted, maybe pointing him towards the available social services, offering to help him work through applications/forms for benefits, helping him review/revise his resume to be more topical, thinking of some contacts you can point him toward to help in his job search, etc.

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy