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my friends financial lives sound like a soap opera

September 18th, 2009 at 11:44 am

I've been getting to know a friends' friends over the past two years. They're all very lovely people, albeit on a different wavelength to myself most of the time. The main friend, A, I completely click with - the others, while I love to see them, I can go a few weeks between visits Big Grin. I think I must just be a little old for my age *shrug*

So, two things have happened recently which just completely shock me, only because it's something that I could never see myself doing, and because I think it's very irresponsible and just... plain crazy, to tell you the truth! I don't know, maybe it's not as bad as I think?

So the first thing to happen is this:

B is a friend of A's. B and her boyfriend own a house one suburb away from mine, she's only three years older that myself. B and I are quite similar in a lot of things (which is probably one reason why I was so shocked to begin with). We've had coffee a few times, and they're going to start trying for a baby next year. B's boyfriend J is a tradesman, he earns good money and she is studying business and event management at university.
So I found out that, B likes to go shopping. That's all good and well, except that she buys up big, obviously feels a litte guilty, and then when she gets home, she draws a line through the price, writes 'special' on it, and then writes a lower price on the tag . I asked A, in shock, does J not notice the money coming out of his and B's bank account. A snorts at me, "Whitestripe" she says "it's J we're talking about". Ummmm... ok?

So if that isn't enough, today A and I have coffee. She's trying to get my advice, because apparently I give good advice (?huh?) about an issue a friend of hers is having. She starts off by telling me she can't tell me. She then tells me the story, but doesn't tell me who it is. Then she tell me who it is. *sigh* Don't you just love gossip?

So, N is also a lovely girl. I've spent more time with her than I have with B. She's actually the girl I went shopping with, the one that has the two boys. (The friend I always go grocery shopping with, is the above friend 'A'). Anyway, so N has a two year old and an 8 month old. N and her partner R (the father of the two boys) have been together for two years (yup!). So apparently before N was with R, she had a major gambling problem. A would get calls from N, who lived a few hours away, crying because she'd just spent all her money at the pokies and had no money to get her car out of the car park. Ah huh. That bad.

So when N got together with R and popped out the kids, she had no time or will to go to the pokies, so this little problem seemed to go away.

Until, someone told her she could gamble online (seriously, who does that?). Well, last night she maxed out a $2k credit card on an american online gambling site.

She hasn't told R, because she's mortified, and because he didn't know about her previous problems.

She told A, and A has no idea what to tell her. My initial reaction was to tell A, to tell N, to stop being a fracking idiot, act responsibly, tell her partner, sort it out and never do it again.

So obviously A wasn't quite taken to that idea.

Here's the best part though. N thinks she can win it back. Apparently she was down to $1900 on the credit card, and she won $2000. She the gambled it all away again. This is all in one night.

N doesn't want to tell R. She's worried about what to do, because she is going to New York in a month, and that is when the credit card statement is due, she is worried R will open it.

R is also a tradesman, makes good money, works more than full time hours. N works one day a week, does online study at university and is home with her two boys.

A is really worried about her friends. I would be too - I am worried, but not like A, because I am not as emotionally involved as A. I have not known them for a long time.

I am afraid I did not give the greatest advice. I have, as most of you know, had a lot of experience with gamblers. Personally it does not hold one ounce of interest for me. I find it stupid and boring. When I was 18 I lost $33 on the pokies and felt empty and deflated, it felt like such an anticlimax. But, I do understand why people become addicted, and I KNOW that some people cannot be taught, cannot be told, cannot be shown. They must learn the hard way. Sometimes they do not learn the hard way, even. Sometimes you can't tell a gambler that it is not worth it, that they won't win, that the odds are against them.
And this is what I told A. Of course, I told her, after that, to tell N to talk to her partner and sort it out.

But honestly - does a rational person spend $2000 on a credit card, on an online gambling site? No. They don't.

And so they probably won't take the rational advice either.

But oh dear, I hope she does. Just this one time. There's a glimmer of hope right? She COULD take the advice. Just this once...?

-----

Maybe my form of gambling is watching other people screw up their finances and then hoping they take my advice so they can fix it? It does have a familiar feeling to it, empty like a spent balloon...

7 Responses to “my friends financial lives sound like a soap opera”

  1. mrs. Says:


    Wow! That was a tough one to follow. I bet you feel pretty financially responsible after discussions like that.

    I have given up worrying about other people's finances - and money woes are pretty pervasive in the family and friends right now. Two can't make their mortgage payments. DH and I are pretty basic in what we spend and I'm a saving hoarder by nature. We have an unexpected $685 OOP car repair. We agreed that we are glad to be able to make it without much tightening of the belt.

    If only they'd just listen ...

  2. Ima saver Says:

    I have given my best friend financial advice for over 30 years. She just won't listen to me.

  3. Jerry Says:

    Wait a minute... that WASN'T from a soap opera? =)
    I think these problems, the gambling and the shopping, are not going to be fixed any time soon, and they will lead to a disaster of some sort. It's just waiting and wondering when. I mean, I HOPE not, but really? It's coming down...
    There is simply no insurance against a gambling addiction ruining a family's finances. None. Unless you can put the person in a cell with no internet and no travel and no phone, right? She needs professional help, and soon. Good luck!
    Jerry

  4. monkeymama Says:

    Yikes!

    (At work we always joke that the truth is stranger than fiction - as all sorts of soap operas unfold with our clients).

    But anyway, um, Yikes! What else is there to say?

    Reminds me, a relative who is losing their home talked once about online gambling. He just mentioned it offhand and I remember my dh thought it was quite stupid. I hadn't thought about it since, but wonder if it is related to his impending foreclosure (the house itself cost him pennies - though he quit a good job and that is really his main problem - hasn't worked in a LONG time).

    Gossip never ceases to amaze me though. One of my better friends here is quite a gossiper. Things like that, I would certainly never tell her. Wink Though I hear plenty of juice about others. & it's kind of like a train wreck. I can honestly say I don't partake in gossip, but it's hard to look away when you see the train wreck, KWIM? People tend to hide their financial problems a bit more though - they must REALLY trust A.

  5. homebody Says:

    I don't understand the gambling either, holds absolutely no interest for me... but what a great shopping tip! Ha Ha. Only kidding.

    Gambler needs professional help, Gamblers Anonymous or something. Shopping friend.... probably nothing can be done for her except don't make it a social event to go with her.

  6. Nika Says:

    Wow.

    That woman obviously has a gambling problem.
    Anyone who does not have a problem would never gamble with the money they NEED, or COUNT on winning as a strategy. And no, she will never win it back - because she does not know how to stop. So even if she had a streak of luck, she would still eventually loose more chasing it.

    We can gamble a little when we go to Vegas or Atlantic city, but it is clear that this is "entertainment" spending. Say we allocate $100 per person. And when few hours are spent at a blackjack table before loosing it, I count it as a good night - hours of excitement that I look at on a "cost per hour" basis.

    As for your friend, I am amazed that people who are not ready to be married feel they are committed enough to have a baby. Baby is a bigger commitment than a marriage -- it is irreversible and truly for life.
    I just don't get this.

    There is already no trust in that relationship. And, from the way she referred to her husband - no respect. Why would you have a baby with someone you don't even respect?

    If I could give her only one piece of advice, it would be "don't have a baby yet". But I know it is easy to say on a forum and not so easy to a person's face. People won't take that kind of advice well. Embarrassment

  7. baselle Says:

    Bwahhhahhhhha.

    What you have here is definitely the Young and the Restless. Big Grin I think you gave the best advice you could. (without being truly, truly soap-opera wicked, force A's hand and threaten to tell R yourself about N) What are you going to say? You heard both of these stories second-hand, through A. While you click with A, it is quite possible that A is embellishing a bit. You also have no idea how A is going to relate your advice back to N.

    I just have to shake my head and ask, "who told N about online gambling in the first place?" Inquiring minds want to know.

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