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living paycheck to paycheck

December 15th, 2009 at 02:08 am

There are two people in my life who are dear to me, who both live exactly the same way.

The first is my closest friend T, and the second is my mother.

They both smoke and drink heavily, and buy impulsively. They both have been/are bankrupt. And they both live paycheck to paycheck.

I admit there have been a few times where I have had to 'wait' until my next wage payment to buy something, or have had a feeling of relief when payday rolled around - but all those times, I have had money aside that I could use if I wanted to, I just chose not to.

There are many of you on this website who do live this way currently because of past choices, but are trying extremely hard to turn the cycle around, and many of you who have overcome this and no longer live this way.

I am worried about my friend as she is only 24 but I can see her staying the exact same way for the rest of her life - and turning out like my mother.

I guess I am wondering, how do you help someone who lives like this? How do you make them realise you don't have to live this way?
T does not seem to have a problem with it. When we meet for coffee on Wednesday, I cannot meet her before 3pm because her wages go in at 3pm. She cannot even afford a drink. I don't want to harp on it too much to her - but I am still unable to understand how she can think this is normal? And my mum too - but she has been like this her whole life, I can't try to help her any more than I already have. I guess I have kind of shifted my energy onto someone that might actually change. They are just so similar it scares me.

And they buy items that are totally unecesary. Atleast, to me I think that. Maybe, well, obviously, they are very much necesary to them. Like a sewing machine (to make curtains), or a surf board because suddenly T is interested in surfing lessons, and 'needs' a surfboard. They both have these obsessions that last about a month, spend a ton of money on and then aren't interested in them anymore.

And I think it's crazy.

Personally it would stress me out too much to live this way. I know it's not an 'ideal' situation, but aren't you meant to live like that temporarily? Aren't you meant to strive toward NOT being broke every payday?

4 Responses to “living paycheck to paycheck”

  1. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Hmm.. others may have better suggestions, but I think there probably is no other way to help her, but to be an example to her. Say it's a week till payday for you and you're not stressing over having enough money to do xyz. Given time, she *may* notice this, and eventually ask how you manage to do that. Then you can tell her. Until she really wants it for herself though, I don't think there is really much you can do for her.

  2. nmboone Says:

    I feel your pain with your mother. My parents would be ripped apart if they told their situation on this site. My only advice about your friend is maybe you talking to her will one day realize what she's doing to herself. Don't be a nag of course but just ask her why she apparently enjoys never having any money to spare.

  3. ceejay74 Says:

    I agree w/frugaltexan; with my friends who continue not to pull it together financially, I try to casually drop in bits of news that show them it can be done, and how. For instance, sometime you could mention that you're saving up buy a luxury for yourself. If she asks why not just put it on the credit card, or why you don't have the money when you just got paid that day, say "Oh, I've got enough money in the bank to buy it, but that's my emergency fund, so I'm going to save up slowly by setting aside my spending money." That could lead to a discussion of how not all money is the same, to be randomly thrown at the nearest moving object; how paychecks should be divided up and allotted to various needs and, if there's some left over, wants.

    My friend only got on track once, for a short period, but he's at least now aware his situation isn't healthy, and is trying not to splash out on impulse purchases for every new hobby or interest that catches his attention. And he knows he can lean on me for advice and that I'll give him a clear-eyed no-nonsense perspective that can sometimes cut through his and his partner's self-delusions.

  4. whitestripe Says:

    thanks guys Smile unfortunately I guess it's one of those situations where I will just have to sit in the background and drop hints occasionally. I have helped her with her budget a few times, and every so often when we can't do something 'until payday' I do a friendly 'huff' about it. she gets it sometimes - and once in a blue moon she will decide to shape up, but then it just all goes downhill again after a week or two. *sigh*

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