Saturday, May 7, 2011

I'm Over Irresponsible People

I can't say I've always been completely financially responsible, but this week I've been overwhelmed by the refusal of people in my life to get their acts together.

One of my family members is going through a divorce. Her soon-to-be-ex keeps threatening to turn off her cell phone, which would cut off her contact with any of us. He knows she can't pass the credit check to get a phone of her own because she's always been a stay at home mom. She just found a job, but she left with zero money and can't even afford a prepaid option right now. Being the stupid nice person I am, I offered to add a line to my cell phone plan if that happens. I figure the extra $10 a month is worth knowing she is okay and able to talk with her family.

Was that good enough? Oh no, of course it wasn't. She has decided she wants an iPhone so she can have internet access. Which raises the cost to $25 a month. I told her flat out that I'm not willing or able to pay for that. She promises she'll PayPal the money every month. But I know she isn't able to - she would be depriving herself of something else she needs - and I'd end up paying it. Also, she wants to activate the phone right now (even though he hasn't turned off the old one) so she can call and text without him knowing who she's talking to. Um, not my problem.

I have a coworker who is drowning in debt. She's going to end up filing bankruptcy, I can already tell. In the meantime, though, she spends like she's rolling in money. Yesterday at lunch she offered to buy an appetizer and drinks for all of us. What did she use to pay for this? A credit card. And as a bonus, she had to call the number on the back of her card to check the balance first. I can't judge too harshly because I've been there myself, but I couldn't help being annoyed.

What is it that makes people care so little about themselves? I'm asking this question as much about my former self as anyone else. How do you get to the point of justifying stupid stuff - not something like using a credit card to buy groceries in an emergency, but just buying a bunch of crap at a restaurant because you want to show off? It blows my mind. It makes me thankful for the financial epiphany that stopped my stupid behaviors (for the most part), but it also makes me sad to think that I used to be the same way.

This was the real kicker of the week. S called me on Wednesday and said our son was out of money on his lunch account at school. Could I pay for it this time since S is broke? Well, Wednesday was May 4 and S got paid on April 30. "How on earth do you spend your whole paycheck in five days when you spent three of them working 12-hour shifts?" I asked. "Well, I took out a cash advance and had to pay that back, and my electric bill had a late fee, and I was overdrawn at the bank before my paycheck hit."

Really? REALLY?!?!?!

So I added money to my son's lunch account because he is my child and he will never go without because of his dad's stupidity. But I didn't like it. S doesn't pay child support, but he is responsible for Jay's lunch money, school clothes/supplies, and health insurance. Compared to the things I pay for, that's nothing. And he can't even follow the budget THAT I MADE FOR HIM BEFORE WE DIVORCED to make sure those things are taken care of.

S said, "I don't know why you're so upset. I know you've got all that money stashed away in the bank." Um, yes. Because I saved it! Because it's not just sitting there for me to squander away covering his mistakes! I can't believe my emergency fund is being thrown in my face like I've done something wrong. Ugh...

I'm just over it. It's so hard to keep my own goals in mind when everyone else is driving me crazy with foolishness. I think I need new friends who don't stress me out with their stupid choices. Any PF bloggers want to rent my basement? :)


Out My window said...

The world is full of stupid people and they used to be me! But not any more. I love your blog.

Andrea said...

Thanks! I love yours as well. I love knowing there are other people out there going through similar struggles. Makes it so much easier to behave myself - when I'm tempted to do something dumb, I think, "Oh no, I don't want to have to post about this! What will the other bloggers think?" :)

Rhitter94 said...

Wow! This post hit home more than you know. I am in debt partially due to my ex and my stupid willingness to try to please others. BTW - I love your blog!

Andrea said...

@Rhitter94 That's the thing - in every one of these situations, my choices matter as much as those of the people who are annoying me. No one forced me to tell my family member I would add her to my cell phone plan. I didn't have to allow my coworker to buy my drink knowing she couldn't afford it. Instead of rescuing my ex, I could have insisted he find a way to come up with the money for my son's lunch.

They say the things that bother us are usually a reflection of something in ourselves, and I think what's bothering me so much is (1) the fact that I used to be just like these people and (2) the knowledge that I am, at least partially, enabling their bad decisions.

Rhitter94 said...

Andrea - I hear you. We're on the same ship. Trying to get to Planet Debt Free, but there is a lot of obstacles and pit stops.

Alex | Perfecting Dad said...

You pissed me off :) I know people like that too. These people end up whining about how lucky everyone else is and how unlucky they are and how we need some government wealth redistribution to send some money their way, making the world a fairer place.

You're going to make it Andrea! I like your charity with your iPhone family member. I don't know how people like your ex can even exist ... if I had a bill to pay for my son`s lunch; just doesn`t seem like much for a guy who is taking out payday loans.

I`d be curious about how your ex changed, or whether it was you who changed. Was he like this when you got together or what? I know a lot of people get divorced, but it's like they are surprised by the people their spouses are and I'm curious as to how that happens. My Dad was bad with money too, and my parents got divorced -- not exactly for that, but it contributed to the bad situation.

Andrea said...

@Alex It was definitely me who changed. I don't know how two compulsive spenders found each other, but I was every bit as irresponsible when we got married. Of course I was also 19 years old, but that's no excuse.

Money wasn't the sole reason for the divorce, but it was part of it. I wanted things to be different but he didn't. I was tired of living life on the edge, always wondering if there was enough money to last until payday or avoiding collection calls. I didn't want to be 50 years old asking my son to loan me money! I firmly believe my ex will never get his financial act together. It makes me sad for him but glad I'm out of that situation.

Alltid Blakk said...

I pat myself on the back and say to myself, so glad that I changed. think of it .. I could still be doing the same mistakes. It's a measure of how far I've come. Same with people that are sensible with their money. It's a symbol of how far I can get.

TeacHer said...

I think we all become especially aware of the irresponsibility of others as we start to clean up our own acts. It's hard to feel bad for irresponsible people when you're busting your a** to save an pay off debt.

When I tell people that I've paid off my credit cards and almost half my student loan debt, they act really amazed, and usually say stuff like "I could never do that" while slurping down a Starbucks in a new pair of shoes. It always amazes me because I'm like, "guys....I'm a NEW know I don't make a lot of do you THINK I did it?!"

Not really the same as your situation, but it really gets my goat that people think there's some kind of secret, special trick to paying off debt. I don't have a magic wand people!

Anonymous said...

My hope is that financially irresponsible people will "get it" before they get too jammed up. It is hard to be patient with the folks we love who blow cash like no tomorrow.

Everytime I even think about doing something financially out of character I think about my ex-best friend and her situation. She was a very accomplished woman during her professional years but she dropped cash like it was hot. I guess she thought that she could rectify the situation by marrying someone whom she thought was rich. Well, that wasn't the case. Ten years into the marriage they were both living off social security, medicaid and food stamps.

During their heyday both were rich and very successful. But they spent it all. When her husband was alive, their combined SS was $1200 per month. He died and now she receives $700 per month. That's it. The terrible thing is that right before her husband died, he got her into $20K dollars debt. She is in her 80's and not in the best health. To be born into money and to be so rich for 70 years of your life but end up in poverty with ill health is the most scariest thing ever.

I was gonna take her in but I have a new boyfriend so now that's not an option. Plus I can no longer deal with her stress. I did not create those bills. I am giving her son-in-law a good job because he is qualified. He'll take care of her. I'm gonna give her some cash as a gift but that's the best I can do.

I had her on a good budget a couple of years ago but she's blown a lot of that cash I helped her save. I can't save her or the world.

We as a nation must get our debt under control and we must save save save. Because the rain will come.

I'm very proud of you Andrea. You are well on your way to financial freedom.

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