DH has a relative with money problems. We won’t go into detail, but let’s just say this relative tends to learn things the hard way. We used to offer advice, but then realized that ze is finding hir own way at hir own pace and nothing we say (or books we could send) is going to change that. So we just listen and make appropriate affirmative or laughing sounds depending on the story. (Like Sally in When Harry Met Sally when her friend, played wonderfully by Carrie Fisher, is like, “He’s never going to leave her.” Sally: “Yes.” Friend: “You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right…”)
Anyhow, this relative’s partner really wanted something expensive. A piece of stuff. In the past, the relative would just buy it with a loan. In the more recent past, the relative would not buy it. This time the conversation went something like this.
P: I want it.
R: We can’t afford it.
P: You always find the money somehow.
R: Yeah, by not paying our bills.
P: How about I find the money?
R: I’m listening.
P: This thing costs, what, $X00 and $Y for upkeep. What if I cut down my cigarette smoking and have a garage sale and use that money for it?
R: That sounds like a great idea. We could do that. What if we run out of $Y?
P: Then we’ll just stop using it. We can even get rid of it.
I’m not sure if it’s possible to explain what a major paradigm shift this is for said relatives. First off, they’re not fighting about it… and there are a lot of underlying issues that they could be fighting about and have fought about in the past. (Couples counseling really worked!) Second, they’re getting the idea that there are trade-offs, that money has to come from somewhere. Third, they’re putting a priority on bill-paying on time over Stuff. Fourth, they’re thinking creatively and doing something that’s a win-win situation; cutting down on cigarettes could have other positive benefits. Fifth, they’re planning their spending, and waiting until they can afford it before buying.
Anyway, they made enough from the garage sale and cutting back that they’re getting the thing, and we are very happy for them. Now if they could just do the same for an emergency fund!
Do you know any folks who have to learn money things the hard way? How has that turned out?