The Grass Is Browner On The Other Side Of The Fence

by Kelly · 5 comments

in Thoughts On Frugality

I have a friend, who I’ll call X, who’s in an even bigger financial hole than we are. She and her husband consistently finish the month more than €1000 overdrawn in their accounts. What’s worse is her feeling of helplessness. She has abandoned most efforts to get their debt under control, rationalizing ‘Well, what’s another €20 here or there’.

In some ways, and I cringe as I write this, it’s nice to have someone to whom I can feel superior: ‘Hey, look at me! I’m getting my act together and you’re not!’. But for better or for worse, she and her husband have become one of the models by which my husband and I judge our own behavior. We think ‘Is this something that X and Y would do?’. Talking about their situation has helped us to brainstorm solutions for our own life. Comparing ourselves to them has helped us to put ourselves back on track.

I try to help my friend X. I send her relevant posts from my favorite blogs, especially Lynnae’s, as X is also a Christian. I’ve introduced her to my budgeting system. I’ve told her about my price book system. I’ve tried to help her brainstorm additional income strategies.

But the truth is you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help theirself. I’ve put my help out there; she knows I’m here for her. But until she herself wants to change, nothing I do or say will do a thing.


1 no more spending February 23, 2008

Hi, just wanted to say hello having found you through ‘The Snowflake Revolution’ 🙂

2 Sophie February 25, 2008

Hey, it’s funny you mention this because my wife and I went through the exact same thing with our neighbours E & C.
My spouse went there and came back to me saying she just couldn’t believe their attitude. I felt that feeling superior to them motivated her and helped her being more frugal and optimistic.

But I am not helping E & C. They receive so much help from people and just don’t make an effort.

3 Dana July 25, 2008

I’ve been there.. thinking what’s $20 more. I then started to write down all my purchases. I was amazed at much those little purchases added up to.. sometimes they were hundreds of dollars in a matter of weeks.. on just stuff. This month on my blog I am writing down all my “extra” expenses. I was amazed at not only the amount I was spending but also the patterns – ie. I was going to the grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, just to pick up a few things almost daily! That’s sure changed!
I hope your friend is able to see the light and turn things around

4 Emily August 24, 2008

Oh, I’m with Dana. Once the Counting the Cost ezine asked how much you spend on groceries a month. I estimated, then spreadsheeted every expense for the month…I was shocked at how far I’d lowballed it! Ever since then, I’ve accounted for every penny, and I publish it on my blog monthly.

The punch line is, my sis came in to Ohio for a visit over July. She was gobsmacked that I took the time, and admitted she’s be terrified to try it. Now THAT made me feel superior, that I had the courage to do this, and continually challenge myself to do better each month.

The icing on the cake? The first month’s grocery spending was $530, August is shaping up to be just under $200. Success!!!!

Love your blog, Kelly. I look forward to seeing it in my reader! 🙂

Emily’s last blog post..Leftover Pies

5 Meg from FruWiki June 22, 2009

I try so hard not to judge people, but you’re right, sometimes it is worth comparing. And I never have to look far to see someone being…well… an idiot when it comes to money (or other things).

I have an ex-friend/roommate that certainly could use some growing up. She’s gotten away with a lot of poor decisions — or lack of decisions — because her parents have paid her way thus far. I still wish that I could help her, and goodness knows I tried for a long time — and indeed, without being judgemental or looking down on her. I helped find her a job. I drove her to her first day and offered to teacher her how to drive (she never took me up on the offer but was quickly canned, anyhow). I gave her discounted rent. And I gave her my shoulder and ear as needed while biting my tongue time and time again, especially as she did NOTHING around here except vacuum ONCE when the internet was down and she couldn’t get online to play WoW.

And how did she repay me? I’m a “control freak” according to her. At first, I was very hurt to hear this from mutual friends. Though, I shouldn’t have been surprised considering the number of roommates she’s had and always something seriously wrong with THEM according to her. But you know what, I am now proud she called me that. Why? Because I’m proud that I have control of my life. I’m proud that I have control of finances. That someone as out of control as her would see this as freakish behavior is sad, but predictable. And heck, considering what passes for “normal” these days, maybe it’s better to be a freak.
.-= Meg from FruWiki´s last blog ..FruWiki talk:Copyright information =-.

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