I’ll admit it; I am obsessed with the helping. I have this deep seeded need to help improve the lives of those I love. I want to take away their stress. I want to take away their worry. I want to share what I’ve learned from my mistakes in order to keep my family members from repeating them over and over.
In response to my continuous offers to help, my mother DOES come to me. A Lot. With her hand out.
There never ever fails to be a crisis in her financial life. The car is getting ready to be repossessed. The mortgage is 2 months behind. The car was just repossessed and she needs $2000 to get it back. The electric is going to be shut off. Someone that she hasn’t seen in 10 years died yesterday and she needs gas money to make the 600 mile drive to the funeral. Notification of the emergency is always followed up with “Do you have $200, $400, $1500 that I can borrow until…?”
These emergencies are a weekly occurrence, at minimum. It is exhausting to constantly say “No, I can’t loan you the money.” No matter how many times I remind her that we are working toward getting out of debt and Mark is trying to get a business off the ground, she still tries to cash in at the bank of Mark and Momma.
Yesterday, I tried a different tack. I offered her free Household Finance Coaching. She has seen and heard about the differences our budgeting and moves toward frugality have made in our family’s life. She just hasn’t managed to make it out of her victim mindset. She still thinks and speaks in the language of the perpetually poor.
I offered to help her create a budget. She said “Go ahead and do it then.” When I said that I’d need to come over and go over her bank accounts and bills with her to get a realistic budget together, she said “Eh, that’s too much BS to deal with. There isn’t any money to budget. Every penny we have goes to getting out from under the past due bills and bounced check fees.”
I offered to help her lower her grocery costs. She said “I don’t have any money to go to the grocery store.” I have to admit that I was scratching my head over this one. They eat at Burger King 4 times a week because they “can’t keep food in the house”. (This was stated while she smoked her cigarette with one hand and held her 3rd 20 oz. Diet Pepsi of the day with the other.)
I offered her FREE grocery coupons. Sensing defeat, I changed the topic and went to the other side of the room to start clipping my coupons for this evening’s grocery shopping trip. There is a sale at Kroger on an item that I know she uses, and with a coupon that I have 4 copies of, she’d get 4 of that item for free. I clipped the coupons out and said, “Here, you can get 4 of these for free at Kroger. Don’t you guys use them?” She replied “Yes, but I don’t shop at Kroger. You can go get them for me and bring them by.” Um yeah.. I don’t think so.
I offered several ideas to lower energy costs. She spent a good bit of time, while I was clipping coupons, lamenting over her lack of money and the conversation turned to utilities. Now, at this point, I was just letting her lead the conversation because I really don’t want to keep offering suggestions for her to shoot down with excuses. But if we never talk about her money problems, she can’t ask me for any. So she perseveres. I said “Well, we ended up shaving a considerable amount off our monthly electric bill by just installing a programmable thermostat and setting the temperatures to 78 during the summer and 68 during the winter.” She looked horrified and replied “That’s just crazy. Our air conditioning is on 24/7. I won’t tolerate having it set any higher than 60 degrees.”
Today, when I get off work, she and I are going shopping. Last week, she found a $100 JC Penney gift card in her purse that she didn’t realize she had. Upon realizing she had the gift card, she declared that she NEEDS new shirts. The walk in closet full that she currently has is not enough. Since she doesn’t drive “in town”, I got the call to go with her for some Bonding Time.
I do wonder if I’m a glutton for punishment. Honestly though, I’m taking notes. I’m making sure that all of these conversations go into the research for my Coaching business, and my upcoming book. OH.. and I’m ordering her the book Make Money, Not Excuses. Not that she’ll read it. But…