Author Topic: Friends who are hurting  (Read 6917 times)

A mom

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Friends who are hurting
« on: July 30, 2014, 05:29:09 PM »
I'm much closer to normal retirement age than most of the posters here. I read this blog mainly because I am frugal by nature and so enjoy the reinforcement and new ideas. Our frugal natures and my DH's good income mean that I have no concerns about financing our retirement, which will come as soon as that sounds more fun than working.

BUT I have friends my age who are totally fed up with their jobs, as in not knowing how they can go on, and have NO savings. They will qualify for pensions that will support them minimally when added to SS, but they really need to put in 5-10 more years to get the pensions and SS up to a point where they can live off of that income, especially since they are not good at handling money or budgeting to begin with. Changing jobs is not even an option because that would mess up the pension.  My heart aches for these people. Obviously they could have saved, but they didn't.... now it's a bit late. I can sense the rising panic, but what can I do? I can't finance their retirement for them. I have tried to gently offer budget advice in the past, but that has not been well received. They are convinced they simply have always made too little money to save, but in fact have made well over the average US household income and in a relatively low cost of living area. These people were just not born with money skills and not raised by people who could teach them either.

Well, any thoughts on how I could be helpful here? Any advice for me other than try to think about something else?
« Last Edit: November 22, 2017, 05:54:22 PM by A mom »

DoubleDown

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2014, 06:07:48 PM »
Unfortunately I don't think there's anything you can do unless they specifically ask you for advice. Then you can give some general pointers, such as spending far less than you earn to quickly increase your financial security. But even then, we must tread lightly because a lot of people will feel threatened if their past, poor decision-making is illuminated. I wouldn't get upset about my friends free-wheeling spending and inadequate planning for their futures, but I'm a pretty heartless bastard about those kinds of things!

A mom

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2014, 10:05:18 AM »
Thanks for responding, DoubleDown. I guess I continue to feel bad despite their obviously poor prior decisions because I know they did not have the advantages I did. When you are raised in a chaotic situation, there is no one teaching you or setting a good example regarding handling money. I guess that's whey we really need to get personal finance taught at the high school level.

Threshkin

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2014, 10:12:13 AM »
When my daughter was a senior in high school, she took a class in economics.  During the class, her teacher asked if anyone had a IRA or 401k account.  My daughter was the only one to raise her hand.  She told me that she felt both embarrassed and proud.

I was proud of her!

nawhite

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2014, 10:20:25 AM »
When my daughter was a senior in high school, she took a class in economics.  During the class, her teacher asked if anyone had a IRA or 401k account.  My daughter was the only one to raise her hand.  She told me that she felt both embarrassed and proud.

I was proud of her!

Wow that is awesome. Talk about ways to feel rich as a high school student. I wonder if other kids in the class had an IRA set up by their parents and just didn't know it?

Chunk

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2014, 10:35:23 AM »
It's hard to watch people in those situations. My parents are in situation similar to that of your friends. It tears at me and I have tried for about 10 years to help them out. I don't push the issue and am very respectful - they are my parents. My dad knows how financially stable I am so he asks me questions from time to time. Those are my opportunities and he's very open to my ideas when he asks. My mom? Not so much. :)

This is hard but I try hard to not take responsibility for their actions. Everyone has (and should have) complete free agency to sculpt the life they want to have. Some people have more advantages than others, sure. But, the world is full of amazing resources that can help these people out. I didn't start with many advantages and didn't have parents that taught me about money. They are a disaster financially. But, I found books and read them and more importantly, acted on what I learned.

It's sad though because most of the time, they honestly believe that they are just too poor for anything they do to make a difference. Both my parents and sister are 100% convinced that they are too poor to save money. My sister just bought a Lincoln Navigator this year and my parents bought a Ford Excursion that they commute 20 miles per day in. My parents refinanced their house to pull out all their equity so that they could add on to their house. They already have 5 bedrooms for 3 people. The list goes on.

It's hard but you just have to love them and help them out if/when they have questions.

EricL

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2014, 10:41:48 AM »
That is a straight up bummer.  Unfortunately you just can't go control freak on other peoples lives for them.  People who try to do that run short of friends pretty quick.  And you don't want to be anyone's cash cow.  The shame of owing or giving money kills friendships just as much as being a control freak.  Even if you give them dough with conditions attached you'll put real strain on the friendship.  Probably the only silver lining is if they're really old you can just flat out give them money or goods on the sly and they'll drop dead before they either get a clue or suck you dry. 

MsSindy

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2014, 10:52:02 AM »
Look at the bright side - your friends have a pension!  Most are not so lucky.  They may have to work at jobs they don't like (haven't most of us??), but they will not be out on the street or starving.  You've tried to offer some advice, they've declined - doesn't mean that you have to stop trying if you really do care about them.  It often takes people hearing the message several times before they begin to believe/accept it.  However, in the meantime, free yourself of any 'guilt' (i.e. I had advantages and they didn't) - guilt (or your heart aching) is not useful for anyone.  Yes, it would be nice if our friends and family could have made the same good decisions as we did....but they didn't.  Don't lose any more sleep over it, it's outside of your control. 

Numbers Man

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2014, 12:21:39 PM »
I don't see what the problem is since your friends will be getting pensions and social security. Don't you live in a low cost of living area? Plus, they still have 5-10 years to start saving some money. They should start living on what they will be receiving in retirement ASAP.

hybrid

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2014, 02:55:29 PM »
There are always going to be a lot of folks like your friends - I see this at work as well. You can lead by example, you can coach if the opportunity presents itself, but at the end of the day you can only lead a horse to water.

I'm watching a few friends make similar decisions and fully realize they will work a lot longer than me and probably will never have financial security. There isn't a whole lot to be done about that, they have made their own bed.

scrubbyfish

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2014, 03:06:53 PM »
I would (and do) just refer them to resources. One of my favourites is my banker. It took me at least four tries to find a good one, but now I have free, awesome help with how to move forward despite the challenges I face.

If people are convinced that nothing can change, that there's nothing they can do, it's unlikely any words from you will ever change that. I "broke up" with a dear friend recently because I couldn't listen anymore to his multi-year insistence, despite all sorts of major advantages, that he can have nothing. My mum, though, I don't break up with. I just repeat my suggestion that she see one of the professionals that can help her for free -a poverty relief advocate, a seniors financial advocate, adviser at the bank- or an accountant. She won't go, or do anything else, so I leave it only at that.

I think that's the only "practical" thing to do. Other than that, I would focus your energy just on empathizing with them (reflective listening, etc) until they find their own desire around it.

snshijuptr

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2014, 03:21:53 PM »
My parents, thankfully, are not in such dire straights, but my mom constantly bemoans her remaining years of work. I just point out to her (because we talk about money pretty freely considering she is my accountant) that she chooses to live the way she does. I don't put down her choices, but I point out that they CHOSE to buy a Chevy Tahoe and commute in it. They CHOOSE to drink nice wine. They CHOOSE to take RV vacations. They could retire right now if they gave up wine OR camping but they won't choose that path.

As an aside, I make a point of always discussing WHY I have money whenever the topic of our money comes up with anyone, which doesn't happen often. We live simply. We don't shop. We have one car. We attended public universities and are grateful to the support of our parents in reducing our need for loans. We have been lucky and frugal. Our few friends who know we have money also insist they wouldn't CHOOSE to live this way. They want to go clubbing or buy the latest board game or video game. We don't get hassled about our great financial situation because we emphasize that it was a choice.

me2bfree

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2014, 04:49:51 PM »
I have this problem with my younger brother. He's in his 50's and has only made enough money to barely get by for years. I am early 60's and plan to quit my job next year to work on my little inhome business. My brother always needs a few bucks here and there. I just sent him some money to help with the August rent. I've tried to gently suggest ways he can start to save so he doesn't get into bad situations, but he's always 1 day late and 1 dollar short. He doesn't make enough money to survive the usual problems that come about, like a speeding ticket or a car repair. I don't know what to do, but I am forcefully letting him know that my plans are to cut expenses extremely close and I won't have the money to throw at things like I once did. I don't want to see him end up in the street or be his mom. Not sure how to handle it and still be a good family member. I'm trying though!

G-dog

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2014, 05:09:12 PM »
You cannot want this more than they do. You can say 'I am sorry you are having these problems/are unhappy/stressed. I ran across this <resource> you may find helpful (like MMM blog). Would you like me to forward it it you?
Then the ball is in their court. Let the resource provide information they can review, digest, and act upon or not. No advice from you - just information that adults can decide to use or not however they want. The choice is always theirs.
It's nice that you care so much, but you really can't do anything to directly change their situation.

t-rymz

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2014, 08:05:59 PM »
Let them know Mr. Money Mustache. 5-10 years can still make a big difference in retirement savings. But don't pontificate. You can point financial advice out to a horse, but can't make it save ;)

A mom

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2014, 09:09:10 AM »
Thanks all. I know I didn't do a very good job of explaining things. I was just feeling upset. I think I will send a link to MMM.

davef

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2014, 10:00:32 AM »
I had a similar situation. I have a some friends, in their late 40s, both lost their jobs last year, and they don't appear to have much savings. They started doing odd jobs to pay the mortgage, Pressure washing, cleaning windows, etc. Since then I have been offering to pay them to watch my dogs whe I go out of town (I have other friends that would do it fro free but they need the  $$) I've had them pressure wash 2X, (and paid $100 each time) and weve had them over for dinner a few times. I dont believe in handouts, but I do believe in helping people that help themselves.

arebelspy

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2014, 08:13:38 AM »
The best you can do is be a humble example.  You can lead them to water, etc.

If they're really looking for a solution, it'll present itself, and they'll reach out.  Otherwise they're just living with the choices they've made, and continue to make.
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nereo

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Re: Friends who are hurting
« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2014, 09:20:32 AM »
I'll just add that you can take some comfort in knowing they will still have their most basic needs met.  SS and even a small pension should allow them to have a roof over their head and food in their bellies.  Medicare/medicade - while basic - is still far better medical coverage than half the world gets, and better than what was available when our grandparents were this age.

They may not get to travel the world, eat in nice restaurants or even buy clothes from a typical retail store, but they will live, and they can still be happy and with 5-10 years to go they can drastically alter their fate.