“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”

Posted by idawrites on June 9, 2008 in Family, Finance, Frugal Tips |

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…


  • The Q Family says:

    Wow..Look like you are such a patient person. I don’t think I can have a conversation with her past point #1. 🙂 Isn’t that funny that people complain about not having money but when you offer the solution they won’t even consider it.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’m glad to find a local blogger.

  • frugalbabe.com says:

    I second the idea that you are a very patient person!! I wonder what else there is at JC Penny besides shirts – something that she might actually need? We got some gift certificates to Target and Wal Mart when our son was born, and we used them on food. We didn’t need any more baby clothes or any more “stuff” at all really, but you can always use food. I guess that’s not an option at JC Penny, but maybe there’s something more practical than clothes that you could steer her towards? Good luck!

  • Anonymous says:

    You really should just ignore her. I mean, if you can’t get through then you may as well shut up. Nobody likes to be preached at.

  • Momma says:

    @ the q family
    HAHA.. I don’t know how patient I truly am. I’m really just tired of being hit up for money by someone who doesn’t handle their own finances, and that I don’t have much of an option but to have a cordial relationship with.

    I keep hoping that if I make enough suggestions about her cleaning her own finances up, that she’ll stop asking me for money just so she doesn’t have to listen to my suggestions.

    I’d love to be able to to steer her toward something useful, but she has an entire house full of every piece of “stuff” she could ever need. In the end, the path of least resistance was to stand in the aisle and say “uh huh, that would look lovely on you.” and get it overwith as painlessly as possible 🙂

    Thanks for commenting!

  • jaysfan says:

    “Obsessed with the helping” is a gentler way of saying “inclined to interfere”, no? I mean, your advice is spot on and could of course help someone open to it, but if she doesn’t want it then back away gracefully and be a friend in other ways. This post smaks a bit of superiority and distaste. You’ll want to avoid that in any coaching you do.

    • Momma says:

      @Jaysfan Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I wouldn’t say that I’m inclined to interfere, as much as try to offer solutions when people come to me with their problems. Unfortunately, the person referenced in the post sought me out for help, but wasn’t thrilled that the help I could give wasn’t the blank check that was being requested (on an almost weekly basis).

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