A reader wrote in with this question, and she’d love to have your input in the comments.
I have a question on how to handle a friend who has found herself in a hard life situation. After leaving a bad relationship she finds herself trying to raise 2 girls while working full time but she is having a very difficult time making ends meet. She has asked for my frugal wisdom (what I have of it) but rejects every idea I offer. Even something as simple as eating leftovers she turned her nose up at.
Eventually she made the comment that I don’t even need to sacrifice because my husband makes good money. True, we are in a better place but not all frugal ways are for money alone. She keeps pestering me for more ideas but I find myself a little weary of giving more, especially after her comment.
Perhaps you or your readers might have ideas?
I’m so sorry to hear that you’re being placed in a difficult spot with this friend, especially when you are trying to be supportive and helpful (and she probably does need lots of support during this tough time!)
I don’t know exactly how close this relationship is and how much honesty it can handle, but it sounds like you probably need to be (kindly) frank with her.
When she asks for more advice, could you say something like, “I’d love to help you, but it seems like when I offer suggestions, you don’t want to take any of them. When you don’t have extra money, you often have to do things that are inconvenient/hard/distasteful in order to live within your means. Do you actually want my advice? Or do you just want a listening ear? I don’t want to give advice if it’s not really what you want.”
And maybe that will open up a conversation about what she’s really looking for from you and from the relationship. She might not even know exactly what she wants, especially since she’s in the midst of a traumatic and stressful situation, so perhaps a conversation could help her figure that out.
Her comment about your current financial situation seems rather irrelevant, so I’m not sure why she brought it up. A good frugal idea is a good frugal idea whether you’re scraping by or are financially comfortable. Mr. FG and I aren’t scraping by anymore, but that doesn’t mean I’m fresh out of legitimate frugal ideas now. 😉
I hope that you’re able to iron this out with some good, honest conversations, and I hope things start looking up for your friend soon.
Alrighty, readers! How would you handle this situation? Help a fellow reader out by leaving your advice in the comments.
Friday 15th of July 2016
There is a wealth of good information on this page. You (all) are so much more perceptive and understanding of others than I am and I enjoy learning from you. You see the possible pain and motivation behind your friends' comments and behaviors. This is something I struggle with, looking beyond the words and actions. So, thank you for your comments, all.
Often I give unsolicited advice. Not a good habit I know, I'm working on that. But I think that advice is only that. It is my opinion, suggestion on a matter. The recipient of said advice can respond as he chooses. Hopefully he will seek advice from others as well and find some good options for his situation, as in all the suggestions you have offered.
Wednesday 13th of July 2016
My friend went through this situation and the stress she was under was extraordinary. She had so many things on her mind that her brain was scrambled and she couldn't focus on what she needed to do for any one thing. She needed a lot of patient listening and support from me. She was pretty pessimistic at the time, but she gradually pulled herself together as she adjusted to a new normal.
One thing that seemed to help with her, (and others) was asking questions that would lead her to feel like she was coming up with her own ideas and plans. For instance, "What are your biggest financial issues right now?" "What could be done in that area to cut expenses?"
Good luck to you and your friend. I'm sure she'll always remember that you were there for her.
Tuesday 12th of July 2016
If you do point her to this website, make sure she reads the comments too! I often find that many of the websites I really enjoy (thanks Kristen!) have the best circle of consistent commenters that take the idea presented and add to it. Sometimes it points me toward a different way of thinking.
I will have to add that I'm not a huge leftovers fan, because as a single person that can be a lot of leftovers, but I do try to eat them or adjust my recipe for the next time. I'm not huge on leftover meat because I think the texture gets strange, unless it's pot roast and then I can eat the whole thing myself. :)
Tuesday 12th of July 2016
I agree with kate-this may very well be about grief and a sense of loss (and lonliness). A heart-to-heart might work, as others have said, or it may not. I think the most important thing is to be there for her right now, and don't judge her too harshly. When she's complaining about having to be frugal, and turning up her nose at leftovers, she may very well be trying to hide the fact that she's devastated about WHY she has to do these things.
Also, it may be helpful for you to plan a fun day of free or extremely cheap activities for you/her/her girls/your kids if you have them (I'm thinking something along the lines of Katy's "Day of Adventures" from the nonconsumeradvocate). It would take some work/planning on your part, but it could show her that frugality can be extremely fun, and it would also help drive home the fact that she and her girls are not alone. Are there free "movie in the park" events in your area? Is there a park with a splash pad/fountain area? What about free concerts? A groupon to a favorite restaurant/coffee shop/ice cream place?
Tuesday 12th of July 2016
Semi-relevant anecdote: once I asked a friend for some help learning golf. Turned out I still hated it. In hindsight, I suppose I should have maybe apologized in addition to offering thanks. It wasn't the best use of time -- his or mine.