An anonymous reader has given a mouse a cookie—and now the mouse wants a glass of milk.
Except the mouse is a person, the cookie is money, and the milk is yet more money. Keep up, people!
This thorny dilemma comes from our Tumblr, which you should definitely check out! Piggy answers tons of questions for readers there, and posts lots of exclusive stuff you won’t find on the blog.
How do I handle a friend whom I’ve lessened contact with because I’m afraid they’ll ask me for money?
I let him borrow some when he moved into his new apartment and his roommate refused to actually pay rent or split utilities while my friend was crawling out of maxed credit cards. He paid me back but since then has asked more than once. I have five figures saved so I feel pressured to help out, but I want him to actually learn some lessons instead of coming to me for a loan.
And as a followup: how can I know what is financially expected as you get older? I’m self-employed (internet work with hard depression) but all my friends have adult jobs. Yet they also all still have student loans and credit card debt. I paid off my student loans, no credit card debt, have 25k saved and just bought a house thanks to my techie significant other. I still have a broke mentality since my significant other has six figures saved. It’s hard to relate with my friends when there is such a mismatch of finances. We’re all in our mid twenties.”– An anonymous Tumblr follower
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Episode transcript (click to reveal)
Theme Song 0:00
If you need some dough
You don’t know where to go
In this patriarchal capitalist hellscape
Well here’s the ‘sitch
We’re gonna help you, sis
Because bitches get riches
Bitches get riches
Bitches get riches
Bitches get riches
And so can you
So he called last night because he’s having tomato troubles and I just like laid into him with like all the tomato knowledge I have and he was like, “Wait, hold on I need to take notes. So you mean I should just like use crushed up eggshells and coffee grounds and banana peels instead of the really expensive fertilizer I’ve been buying?” and I’m like, yeah.
Oh my god.
I know. So like I was like, let me explain compost to you and how it works and saves you lots of money. But yeah, he also needs a much larger pot. He’s got this like, one of those shallow like window pot thingies the like long rectangular ones.
Yeah. So he’s got a tomato plant in that.
I was like, go find yourself a Home Depot bucket.
Yeah. Home Depot buckets are great.
Yeah, I’d like go put it in that. Um, so yeah, I’m rooting for his tomato plant. He’s also overwatering it. Cause he’s like, “it just keeps getting bigger and it doesn’t have any fruit” and was like, yeah, cuz you’re over watering it. It needs to be stressed. So anyway!
Exactly. As usual, there’s so many like weird gardening things that, to me correlate to like real life and one of them is that like, people do not start to produce until they feel some fucking pressure! They need to feel their own mortality before they’re like “Shit! I gotta have some kids!”
Tomatoes have biological clocks. They’re like, “Oh God! We need to start making some fruit here!”
You know all the tomatoes I’ve ever eaten – when you think about it are the product of that tomato plants midlife crisis.
So you subsist on the midlife crises of plants is what you’re saying?
I support that lifestyle.
Thank you. That lifestyle supports me. So I’m Kitty.
I’m Piggy…and I’m eating.
We’re the bitches in Bitches Get Riches and we’re so hungry.
So hungry! Actually we are a pair of notorious libertines who contracted syphilis and died sometime in the late 19th century.
Yet somehow we’re here to tempt you down the path of debauchery and licentiousness.
Our time on this planet is limited.
So let’s get started.
Today’s letter comes to us from our Tumblr, which you can access at BitchesGetRiches.Tumblr.com. That’s right. Right?
Okay, great. All right. How do I handle a friend who I’ve lessened to contact with because I’m afraid they’ll ask me for money? I let them borrow some when they moved into their new apartment and their roommate refuse to actually pay rent or split utilities when my friend was crawling out of maxed out credit cards.
They paid me back, but since then they have asked me more than once for more money. I have five figures saved, so I feel pressured to help out, but I want him to actually learn some lessons instead of coming to me for a loan. And as a follow up, how to know what is financially expected as you get older. I’m self-employed (internet work with hard depression), but all my friends have adult jobs, yet they also still have student loan and credit card debt. I paid off my student loans, no credit card debt and have 25k saved and just bought a house thanks to my techie significant other. I still have a broke mentality since my significant other has six figures saved. So it’s hard to relate with my friends when there is such a mismatch of finances. We’re all in our mid 20s.
There is a big red flag in the middle of this and I just want to address it first and foremost. It’s the line where they said “I feel pressured to help out, but I also want him to actually learn some lessons instead of coming to me for a loan” and it’s that “I want them to learn a lesson” thing that kind of gets my hackles raised, because I guarantee your broke friend, they know how broke they are and they know they shouldn’t be coming to a friend for a loan in an ideal world, and they probably don’t want to complicate your friendship by asking you for a loan. It’s never a comfortable thing. It’s something you do as like a last best option, and it’s not ideal. So, your friend has no lesson to learn, you know, they know that this is a shitty situation and they shouldn’t be doing this.
Yeah. I think there are a lot of truisms about lending money to friends and lending money to family that basically all boil down to “Don’t do it!” Because it does really complicate your relationship.
The general rule that everyone says is if you’re going to loan that money, be okay with never getting it back.
Because otherwise you’re just going to ruin the relationship and you need to decide, you know, which comes first, the money or the relationship.
And I think in general, if this is a friend to friend or a family member to family member loan, like you need to just accept the fact that the money is a gift.
And if you get it back, great. If not, you’re going to be fine with that, because it was a gift, but looking at it as a loan, and like pressuring the other person to pay it back, that’s what leads to bitterness and shittiness and, basically, you know, look at as a gift, and don’t give more than you’re willing to lose.
Yeah. I think that’s all really good rule of thumb to follow. I remember once, I think was like back in maybe high school. I remember saying out loud that I was doing something with a friend to teach her a lesson and like the person I was talking to turned and looked at me, and like actually looked me up and down like, “I CANNOT believe you had the temerity to say that out loud.” Is temerity, the right word? Shit! What does temerity mean? Hold on. It means excessive confidence or boldness, audacity. Okay, good.
Everybody chill out. All right.
So I think that is a very immature impulse. Your friends, your family, they’re not dogs. You don’t want to feel like you’re in a position to train them. That’s a really gross way of thinking about your relationship. But, that said, there are some people in your life who just can’t fucking get their shit together and can’t seem to learn and you will see them make the exact same mistakes again and again in their life, whether that’s with money, with the kind of people that they date, potholes that they seem to just like keep running into the same thing over and over again. I think you have to take people as they are, and say, “For right now, you are a flawed person. And I’m deciding that regardless, you’re a great person for me to know” and that may change if this person was a great friend for you to have earlier on in your life, but now the nature of your relationship is changing and this person keeps coming back to you and asking for money in a way that doesn’t feel like oh, they just had some really hard luck, but rather, does this person only ever call me because they want a loan?
You should always be looking at the ways that your relationships are changing and you can always change the terms of those relationships or just kind of walk away from that friendship.
It took me a long time to figure out that the people who are right for me to be friends with at 15 weren’t the people I needed to be friends with at 25. That changes and it doesn’t mean you’re a sellout. It doesn’t mean that they’re garbage. Like it’s just people change and relationships need to change to reflect that.
Yeah, and I think that really addresses the second part of the question about, you know, what your obligations to others are. You know, again, like there there are going to be people who you know, genuinely like they don’t need a lesson, they understand like this situation sucks and they don’t want to be asking friends for money and yet they are. And then there are people who you know, constantly find themselves in that position, or you know, constantly make the same mistakes and end up you know, maybe overstepping their bounds and taking advantage of friends. In either situation, it doesn’t matter where the person’s coming from, whether their intentions are pure or whether they’re a serial manipulator. You cannot control their behavior. You can only control your own behavior. And I think it’s very important to recognize that you don’t owe anyone else your hard earned money. It is nice to be able to help people you love financially, but you are not obligated to do so.
Just having money or being the friend who is financially stable does not mean you have signed up to loan people money freely whenever they request it like that is not an expectation. And a really simple script to do that is to just say, “I can’t do that. Is there anything else that I can do?” I don’t think you need to give a reason.
Yeah, you don’t owe an explanation.
And oftentimes providing a reason I think invites a certain level of bargaining over whether that’s a yes or no.
Absolutely. And this isn’t a bargain again, like this is them asking you for a favor and you saying no. I do want to point out: no is a complete sentence.
And I do like what you said, Kitty, about, you know, offering other forms of help. Saying, like, “I can’t give you rent money this month. I can’t help you pay the rent, but I’m on my way to the grocery store. Can I pick you up anything?” Like that way, you know, you’re still giving some form of financial help and that you’re freeing up more of their dollars that they would spend on food for rent, for example, but you’re doing it in a way that’s on your terms and that you’re more comfortable.
Yeah. Can we talk about sort of a totally different aspect of this letter that I think is worth looking into?
NO! I mean, yeah.
The podcast is over. Everyone go back to your home.
Thank you for joining us!
So, I do see here, something that I want to own that it resonates with me and I wish that it didn’t. Which is, there’s a certain level of judgmentalness in this in this letter about being someone who is savvy with your finances, and is really careful with your finances and feeling like you’re surrounded with people who are careless with their finances. And the world is full of people who are poor, not because they deserve to be, but because of circumstances. But the world also has lots of people who maxed out their credit cards on dumb crap they don’t need and dine out every night and buy rounds of drinks that they can’t afford for people, like the world does have plenty of folks who have from the outside will really frustrate someone like I think you and I and probably a lot of our listeners who are very…
Very frugal, and sometimes it feels really good to be judgmental towards those people and say the reason that I don’t make the same mistakes that you do is because I see through it all. I have taken the correct color pill from The Matrix and I see the way that capitalism is trying to trick me out of my money and I’m not gonna fall for it and, and like, good job
Good for you. Pat yourself on the back that you were lucky enough to be born with a lot of the skills and to have accumulated a lot of the knowledge and self control that it takes to save up five figures, congratulations. That is really something But also like, letter writer, you yourself say that, like, you bought a house thanks to your significant other. So like, you know, not everyone has the same buffers and advantages and what you don’t want to do is contribute to an atmosphere where people feel like they can’t get started because they’ve been rebuffed by judgmental people. I’m on like, a lot of Facebook groups for like personal finance stuff and I see people asking pretty innocent questions like, I’m buying a car for the first time. Should I do this, that or the other thing and people just like jump down their throat.
They come out of the woodwork!
And they’re like, “What kind of MORON would be thinking about buying a brand new car?!”
“Who buys a car?! You should be walking everywhere!”
“You should be buying this kind of car and you should be buying it with 500,000 miles already on it and if it costs more than $30 you’re wasteful!” Like the judgmentalness this repels people and slaps their hand when they’re like reaching out to ask you a question. You know, when you have friends who are coming to you with an open palm saying, I don’t know how to manage my money, can you please give me money? A perfectly valid thing to say is, no, I cannot give you money, but I learned a lot about how to be smarter with my finances by reading this blog or listening to this podcast. Have you ever heard of this person? And obviously we hope it’s Bitches Get Riches, but if it’s not, we’re not mad about that either.
It should be Get Rich Slowly or Afford Anything. Let’s be honest.
Offer them the opportunity to tell you what else they could use from you that isn’t monetary, like what other form of help would really, you know, make their lives easier. And if that’s you know, teaching them how to budget, if that’s, you know, sitting down and helping them eliminate things from their expenses, great! If it’s not, then, you know, you shouldn’t push that on people, like people will learn when they want to learn.
Yeah, definitely. There’s only kind of one last thing that I just wanted to pick up on.
That’s something I think I needed to learn as I aged, and that’s the idea of honor. I will tell people up and down like, always ask for help, like, you know, leverage your network, do all these things. And then when it comes around to like me actually doing those things. I’m like, Oh, god, no, I’m never asking anyone for that!
Asking for help?! Perish the thought!
People have very different values when it comes to what they feel like they can and can’t ask their friends for. So if you feel like you are someone who money and honor are very mixed up, I think it would be healthy for anyone with that perspective to work to separate those two things because money is often a reflection of our values, but the inverse of that is that money problems must indicate that we have committed some kind of moral sin.
Which isn’t true at all.
Exactly. And we can use you know, “I don’t have money problems, therefore I am a virtuous human being” like that’s not a very healthy way of thinking about it and if you kind of feel stuck on any one issue as being the one best signal of your sense of ethics, just dig in there because life’s messy, and you can’t possibly predict that shit.
Yeah. I also want to say just to add on to that, the person who’s asking for money, it might also be a source of shame for them, and they also might have their honor sort of wrapped up in asking for help. So just, you know, be sensitive to the fact that it might be a really big thing for someone to ask for help, which is why you should always be direct and kind and answering those kind of requests, even if your answer is no, you know, be sensitive that this might be something that’s really hard for the other person to ask.
I think a lot of times if you drill down into that inaction or that recklessness, what’s there is shame, there’s ignorance, there’s shame about the ignorance, there’s ignorance about the shame. So…
It’s just cycles.
It is! Nobody hands you a handbook. That’s just the way it is.
Are you good with that?
I am good with that. Yeah.
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Yeah! Although I will say it will never be Blue Apron because I’m pretty sure I slam them along with every other subscription box service in classic BGR article “Fuck Your Blue Barking Birchbox.”
We have turned off literally every potential sponsor by being like, “You probably shouldn’t do this or no we don’t think this is a good use of money.” Again, that’s why we’re always reppin that sweet Patreon dollars because y’all are our permissive bosses.
You pretty much are, so, hey, is there anything else they should know?
I think a really cool animal is a maned wolf. If you don’t know what one looks like, just go to Google Images right now. I’m going to do it with you ready? Look up maned wolf.
Aren’t they cool? I was just gonna say if somebody just like put a fox on the rack and stretched it.
Just stretch it out a little bit, but he came out of that rack experience just really feeling himself.
Just elegant and free.
Good to know!
Kitty & Piggy 18:58
Huge thanks to Purple at A Purple Life for her help creating these transcripts!