Casting stones: When is it okay to judge?

I've been stewing over something for the past few days, and I'm finally ready to write about it.

I'm not a fan of judging others and their actions. Like Atticus Finch, I believe you never really know a person until you stand in their shoes and walk around in them. But I'm human. Like everyone, there are times I can't help passing judgment. And although I know that judging others isn't productive, sometimes I'm at a loss to do anything else.

Rock Bottom

I had dinner with my buddy Michael last week. Michael's moving back to Portland after several years away, and his financial life is a mess. He's had a rough couple of years:

  • He lost his home to foreclosure.
  • He lost his job.
  • His wife is out of work, too.
  • And, last month, Michael filed for bankruptcy.

Not all of Michael's problems are due to the economy. He's brought plenty of woe upon himself due to a typical consumer lifestyle. He knows that.

Over a meal of southern-style fried chicken — my treat — we talked a lot about his financial situation. We've chatted some in the past, but I never feel like what I say makes much of an impact. I don't want to be too pushy, for one thing, but I also get the impression that Michael isn't ready to hear the message. Now, however, that may be changing. He has a haunting, hunted look about him.

Michael told me about the mistakes he's made and the lessons he's learned. He also confessed that he borrowed money from a family member, but had never repaid the loan. “It tears me up inside,” he said. “I feel so guilty.” Once he gets everything worked out, his goal is to pay that money back as soon as possible.

Michael explained how he's hoping to set up a budget; he wants to set money aside for things before buying them. “Plus, I want to pay myself first,” he told me. “I've been reading about saving. I want to open a savings account and set aside $400 per month. My wife thinks we should use the money for other stuff, but I really think we should save.”

Old Habits

Because Michael is a good friend, I want to help him and his family. (Michael and his wife have two kids.) I've been watching for cheap rentals in the Portland area, and even found a house where he could stay for $500 a month (which is incredibly cheap). There are some drawbacks to the place, and I wouldn't suggest that he and his family stay there long term, but it'd be an awesome temporary home be while they get back on their feet.

“Thanks for finding that place,” Michael told me as he took a bite of mashed potatoes and gravy. “But we've decided to rent someplace else. We found a place in Rock Creek for $1300 a month.”

“Wow,” I said. “That seems like a lot.”

“Not really,” he said. “That's pretty good for similar places in Portland. Plus, it gives us space for our two dogs.”

I sighed inside. Sure, that may be a good price compared to similar houses, but I know there are tons of places to live in Portland for less than $1300 a month — if Michael and his wife are willing to make some sacrifices. I wanted to pursue this line of questioning — What about getting rid of the dogs? Why not look at the $500/month place I found? — but I let it go. You can only argue with your friends so much, right? We moved on to other topics.

Michael mentioned that although his wife is still looking for work, he's managed to find a job. (He was vague about what the work entailed and how much it paid.) He even has transportation. “I'm borrowing an old beater until I have a chance to buy a new car,” he told me. Michael's last vehicle belonged to his employer, so he came to town not only homeless and jobless, but carless as well.

“You might want to wait to buy a new car until you're more sure of your situation,” I said. “There's nothing wrong with driving an old beater. Heck, where you'll be living, you could ride the light rail into work.”

“I hadn't thought of that,” Michael said. And from the way he said it, I could tell he still wasn't thinking of it. In his mind, he needs a car — and a new one, too.

Further to Fall

Before we parted ways, Michael gave me his new cell phone number. “What happened to your old phone?” I asked.

“It was the company's. I had to give it back,” he said.

“That makes sense,” I said. “What did you get instead? Did you go with a prepaid phone? That's a great way to save money.”

Michael evaded the question, but when we stood up to leave, I noticed the phone hanging from his belt clip: a brand-new iPhone. Later I learned from a mutual friend that Michael didn't just buy a new iPhone for himself, but he bought one for his wife and for his 11-year-old son as well. (And he bought his 9-year-old son an iPod Touch so he wouldn't feel left out.)

This is the part of the story where you now have to imagine a little black squiggle hanging over my head, like in the comic strips. This is the point at which I go from being sympathetic for my friend to judging him — and not favorably.

The Mote in My Eye

But as I began to silently judge Michael's choices, I thought of my recent trip to Alaska. I spent ten days on the boat with my neighbor, the “real millionaire next door“, and in those ten days I often felt like I was being judged.

  • Before the trip, I bought a $120 backpack at REI. My goal is to use this for much of my travel during the coming years. It fits in an overhead compartment, and is a great way to limit what I carry. John frowned when he saw the new pack and asked, “What's wrong with a duffel bag from Goodwill?”
  • On the first day, Mac and I tore a paper towel in half, and we each used our half as a napkin for several days. Eventually my napkin became grimy and gross, so I went to tear off another half a paper towel. When John saw me, he scolded me and told me I ought to use a cloth towel instead.
  • Near the end of the trip, I threw a molding orange overboard. “I wish you hadn't done that,” John said. “I could have cut out the bad part and eaten the rest.”
  • On the last day, I went to the bookstore in Sitka and bought a copy of Bruce Chatwin's In Patagonia, which I've been wanting to read for a long time. (After our trip to France and Italy this year, Kris and I hope to save for a trip to Argentina and Chile in 2012 or 2013.) When John saw I'd bought a new book, he shook his head. “I've got a lot of perfectly good books here on board,” he said, indicating his library of old paperbacks.

Throughout the trip, I felt like I was under pressure to, well, be more frugal, to make the same choices John would make. And you know what? That pressure sucked. It felt awful. I didn't like the feeling of being judged, especially by somebody I look up to.

To Judge, or Not to Judge?

So, I'm torn. As much as I hate to judge others, sometimes I can't help it — and now I'm judging Michael. He says he wants to change, he says he's learned his lesson from his bankruptcy, but his actions say otherwise.

He has no savings, no car, no home. His wife is out of work, and he's only just started a new job himself. Yet he's decided to rent a $1300 house, is looking to buy a new car, and has signed up for at least $180/month in cell phones. (I'm ignoring the start-up costs of the phones.) These are just the things I know about. Michael is talking the talk, but he's not walking the walk. (I'm reminded of a previous conversation with another friend.)

I know how tough it can be to change your behavior. I've been there before. I used to talk about changing, too, without making any actual change. I'm sure my friends just shook their heads at me. (In fact, I know that some of my friends used to wonder at my foolish choices — they've told me so.)

I hope Michael turns things around, but I can't help but judge his actions right now. And I don't know how to help him.

Footnote: During dinner, Michael told me that he's been reading personal-finance books. “Like which ones?” I asked. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” he said. That should have been a big clue that things weren't right yet. Rich Dad, Poor Dad has some interesting entrepreneurship lessons in it, but it's a terrible, terrible book to base your financial philosophy around. If I could remove only one book from the hands of people just learning to manage money, that would be the one.

Footnote #2: Okay, folks. No need to leave any more “I can't believe you said that about the dogs” comments. You've made your point. In fact, I'm now whipping up an article for Friday where we can spend all day talking about the relationship between dollars and dogs. (And cats.) So, please: Save your pet-related discussion until Friday.

More about...Debt

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Kristen@TheFrugalGirl
10 years ago

Gosh, that’s a tough one. I see your situation and your friend’s situation as two entirely different things. Perhaps your neighbor’s comments would be justified if you were in financial trouble or were being irresponsible, but the fact of the matter is that you’re not. So, I’d be inclined to say something to your friend but not to you. In either situation, though, I think care needs to be taken when it comes to HOW something is said. From what you’ve said, it sounds like your neighbor offered his comments in a judgemental way that was lacking in humility. It… Read more »

ami | 40daystochange
ami | 40daystochange
10 years ago

This is a universal issue. There are always people doing ‘better’ than us at saving, scrimping, investing and making money. There are always people doing worse. It’s so easy to judge and be judged. One thing I didn’t see was your friend asking for help – which makes me think he’s still not ready. But he may not be ready until he truly hits rock bottom. (funny – I thought the court took away credit cards and such when people filed bankruptcy, hmmm). If you haven’t already gone there, I suppose you could identify 2 or 3 BIG picture things… Read more »

Alex
Alex
10 years ago

Sounds like your neighbor is a cheapo. I’d rather be debt-free, happy, and able spend consciously than to be a millionaire living like a pauper.

Van
Van
10 years ago

I don’t think you should feel too guilty for “judging” your friend. I would have told him straight-up (but not in an insulting or condescending way) how I felt about his bad financial habits and what he could do to change. He might not take your advice but at least you would have told him exactly how you felt. Your neighbor apparently lives a life of extreme frugality. He already has millions saved- I don’t see the harm in spending some of your hard earned money. Like the saying goes, “You can’t take it with you” – so you better… Read more »

Mike Choi
Mike Choi
10 years ago

what’s missing from the picture are his goals. Like with anybody, you need a goal to strive for.

If your friend has a goal to pay off debt, perhaps he’ll be mroe conscious of his consumer choices.

Having your friend set a goal and having you follow up on how he is acheiving his goal is a better approach than asking the questiong “why are you buying such and such?”

peachy
peachy
10 years ago

You can’t help Michael. I have a friend in the same situation and although he says he wants to change, he doesn’t mean it. He can’t afford to pay his bankruptcy lawyer the $750 to start proceedings. Another friend, he and I go out to dinner once a month, and he puts his share on his card (not sure if it’s prepaid or not, and don’t really care), and my other friend and I put ours on our cards. I would never offer to treat him. Rich people save their money, poor people treat everyone. Michael’s thought process is similar… Read more »

JonasAberg
JonasAberg
10 years ago

There is one glaring difference in my opinion between the two situations. Michael NEEDS to change. That lifestyle will ruin him and his family. If you were to live even more frugally it would be by CHOICE. You don’t really NEED to save more whereas Michael most definitely does.

GettingMarried
GettingMarried
10 years ago

I’m in the same situation with a girl getting married a few months after me. We have made every effort to save money for our wedding and are paying for everything with cash. My acquaintance doesn’t have two dollars to rub together and speaks of saving money but never seems to. She also has a brand new iphone! At the beginning I passed along money saving tips I had found but now I just avoid all talk of it since it seems to make me enjoy my planning less. I feel terrible no matter what I do so now I… Read more »

Marc
Marc
10 years ago

The millionaire next door sounds very judgmental and not someone I would like to travel with. As long as your decisions do not negatively impact your life – everyone has different goals and what they do with their money is their business. Your other friend might learn, but will more likely file for bankruptcy again without ever paying back his family member. I doubt saying anything would change him – so I would keep my mouth shut – but he definitely is wrong, a liar and a cheat (he can’t be that torn up over the loan, if he is… Read more »

lostAnnfound
lostAnnfound
10 years ago

“During dinner, Michael told me that he’s been reading personal-books.”

Since he has already brought up this subject, this would be a good opportunity for you to pass along one or two of your favorite personal finance books that you feel might be better in helping Michael learn to manage his money.

KAD
KAD
10 years ago

lostAnnfound beat me to it! Perfect opening to lend him “The Millionaire Next Door.” Not sure he’s ready for YMOYL yet…

Randy
Randy
10 years ago

Great, thought provoking post.
I disagree with the idea that you can’t help your friend. I do agree that you can’t fix his problems for him.

Your journey to financial responsibility was a long process. You knew you needed to change, but it took awhile for the light to come on as to what change really meant. It may take awhile for your friend as well, and I know it is frustrating that the light is not coming on for him. You can’t always bring someone around to the truth over a single fried chicken dinner.

Money Beagle
Money Beagle
10 years ago

That’s sad. I agree with a previous commenter that the ‘I’m torn up about the loan I never paid back’ is probably a lot of lip service (both to you and even to himself) since I’d bet that a good chunk of whatever he owes could have been paid back by not having iPhones.

Sheesh, it’s stories like this that make you realize that as much progress as we might be making on trying to get out of the debt cycle, we can only go so far. People just don’t get it.

eva
eva
10 years ago

I’m with you…except for the part where you suggest him “getting rid of” his dogs. Pets are a commitment. You don’t ‘get rid’ of them the same way you do an object.

arg
arg
10 years ago

How could you think of suggesting he get rid of the dogs? The other things, fine, but once you have a pet you have made a commitment, in my opinion, anyway. I’m sorry to be harsh, but I think it’s an irresponsible thing to even voice on this blog, especially so cavalierly in just a passing sentence. Newspapers have been full of stories over the last couple of years about the uptick in animals being dropped off at shelters and killed. I thought you were a pet lover so I’m surprised and disappointed.

OpenRoad
OpenRoad
10 years ago

The first thing I did was go to the restaurant link you posted and judge your tab at eating out instead of making some scrumptious chicken at home. Then, I finished reading the article.

Hey – I read this blog, would you expect any less? 😉

CB
CB
10 years ago

As a culture, we frown on “judging” in any form yet we have more lawyers and judges than we know what to do with. Everyone has an opinion. It will be interesting to watch the comments to see how people react to your judgement of your friend (I predict 99% will support you and your handling of the situation) and how they react to your neighbors judgement of you (Again I predict 99% will be against him). You should not feel guitly for wincing at the new gadgets your friend has or the new car that he wants. You know… Read more »

Dave
Dave
10 years ago

I think ditching the dogs is a valid option – they are a luxury expense, and they also have the potential to cost you a ton of money at a moments notice (i.e. emergency vet bills). You’re right JD, this guy doesn’t want to change things, he wants everything to be fixed for him (and by fixed, he wants himself and his wife to get great paying jobs so they don’t have to change a thing about their lifestyle). I wouldn’t waste your breath, he will likely just resent anything you have to offer at this point. Using half of… Read more »

ipad
ipad
10 years ago

You can’t just ‘get rid of’ dogs. They are living, feeling, thinking things, not an object you own until its inconvenient. All a dog wants is to be part of a pack. To expel him from the pack, because you are having financial difficulties is a horrible thing to do.

If he wants to save money, maybe he should consider getting rid of his wife and kids instead, they are much more expensive to keep. Yes, I know that is ridiculous. But its the same thing. Dogs are not possessions, they are part of the family.

Rob Bennett
Rob Bennett
10 years ago

Always judge the action, never judge the person. That’s my rule. It is impossible to make intelligent decisions without judging. All thought follows from judgments. Is this right? Is this wrong? Everything you decide follows from good or bad judgments. What to eat, what to drive, what to wear, what to do, what to say, on and on. But, no, you cannot judge the person. Because you don’t know what they were able to learn from their past experiences. And you do not ever know what is in the other person’s heart. A person can do an objectively stupid and… Read more »

Jim
Jim
10 years ago

Your neighbour sounds like the judgemental type that I can’t stand. I have never once met a vocally self-righteous person (this seems a fitting description) who realised that their pride was at least as weighty as their own supposed virtue.

TheMadTurtle
TheMadTurtle
10 years ago

If your friend genuinely asks you for your advice and help – if he truly wants to know what you think because he thinks you can help him, then be honest and tell him about the things you noticed.

If he doesn’t ask for your help or advice, you can offer it, but don’t be pushy about it. Offer it once and if he doesn’t take you up on it, let it go.

John
John
10 years ago

Friends like that in my experience will never change. They will simply continue on and then eventually in my experience view you negatively for trying to help. I have learned to have very frank discussions about frugality. People are either on board or not and it seems to me he probably just liked talking about his problems to his friend who would listen which is fine but I have leared to now not get emotionally vested in anyone else’s issues.

Jennifer
Jennifer
10 years ago

Arg: I would argue that a mortgage is a commitment too, but that’s already been thrown away in this case as well.

JD: How about giving him a copy of your book? 🙂

getagrip
getagrip
10 years ago

I agree with JonasAberg in comment #6. It’s one thing to own an Iphone, new car, nice house, etc. when you have no significant debt, a big emergency fund, and are meeting your other financial goals. Your friend is no where near that point, it’s not judging, it’s seeing someone running full steam towards a cliff and debating whether or not to call out a warning because you’re thinking they’ve got to see the edge of the cliff, surely they’ll stop. You’re millionaire next door friend has been living alone too long and has come to the conclusion his ways… Read more »

Eileen
Eileen
10 years ago

It’s a GREAT question you are posing here. I was brought to my knees last year from debt and totally insufficient income. I’ve changed my ways, and it took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course to get the job done. I brought many guests to the course with me while I was in it. None of them enrolled in the course, but I’m clear that the introduction to it alone made a difference. I will use a phrase from one of my good friends…you cannot pee for people. Someday, they will be brought to their knees just as I… Read more »

asf
asf
10 years ago

Your millionare next door sounds alot like the generation of adults raised during the great depression. Save everything, plus some. Do not take it personally that when he fusses at you for throwing away half a paper towel. You would have the same attitude if you saw someone fix a huge meal and then watched as they threw away all of the left overs. As for your friend, if you value your friendship you should probably not discuss finances unless he brings up the topic, and then only provide advice if he asks for it. Otherwise let him make his… Read more »

Allie
Allie
10 years ago

You shouldn’t encourage him to ditch family members. I agree, it is like telling him to get rid of his kids because they are too expensive. Yes, dogs can be expensive, but you make a life long commitment to them. 3-4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters every year because of irresponsible people. Please don’t encourage more people to make this decision.

aj gail
aj gail
10 years ago

JD, I wanted to make a point that you might not have noticed. On your trip with the RMND, he told you what he thought about your expensives point blank. When he felt you spent to much money on a backpack or a book he said something. When Michael spent to much on a iphone or rental place did you say something? Someone who cares about your financial health will say something. I have a similiar friend with money problems. When she tells me about bad choices I say something. For example, “$500 on a bag, did you put that… Read more »

MissPinkKate
MissPinkKate
10 years ago

Sounds like your neighbor is a cheapo. I’d rather be debt-free, happy, and able spend consciously than to be a millionaire living like a pauper.

Seriously. I’m all for being frugal, but I’m not gonna be eating rotting fruit any time soon.

Nancy L.
Nancy L.
10 years ago

I am acquainted with someone who seems trapped in a cycle of poor financial decisions combined with self-sabotage when it comes to employment. I finally had to make a conscious decision to stop taking on any worry or concern about their choices, as I’d find myself getting worked up over a situation that I had little or no control over. It’s takes a lot of mental energy just to stay on top of my own situation–the last thing I need to do is start putting energy into trying to help someone who’s not even helping themselves. As a matter of… Read more »

Jason
Jason
10 years ago

I’ve learned over time that it’s best to mind your own business and lead by example. For example, I have some friends who are in a financial mess. I also have some friends who are very responsible, too. I’ve talked about money with all of them. What’s interesting is that I’ve learned something from talking to both. But I don’t tell them that one way or another is “right”, just what worked for me. It’s similar to dieting and exercise. I’ve lost 40 lbs and kept it off by tracking calories and changing my lifestyle. I still enjoy some sweets… Read more »

olga
olga
10 years ago

I often find myself judging, although rarely voicing. In fact, over the weekend I managed to have a couple of arguments with my husband whom I love dearly (and who is not a spender by no means) for silly things like using a dryer and spending a few bucks at vending macine over the course of 2 weeks. Believe me, we are neither in debt, not struggle. We save a bunch and put away, and live comfortably. But like the dude on the boat, I often find where else it could have been saved (and yes, then drop a grand… Read more »

Holly
Holly
10 years ago

Do dogs really think and feel? Do they love? Or do they react (Pavlov)? I’m betting they ‘love’ the owner who feeds them; do not confuse the ‘affection’ of your pet with real feelings…only humans have that capacity.

Nothing against animals, but family and people are more important. You can’t get rid of the kids (RELAX…it’s a joke, people!), but pets, unfortunately, are a luxury. BTW, we have two dogs.

Nice post, J.D.

Jean
Jean
10 years ago

It sucks even when people you don’t look up to clearly show their disapproval of your actions. The need for belonging and approval is strong in most people, and the hurt and anxiety of disapproval kick in even when we know, logically, we shouldn’t care. The differences I see in the two scenarios above is that the first scenario seems to contain an element of asking for advice, and the advice-giver seems to have backed off when he started getting signals that the advice wasn’t wanted (Michael didn’t want the cheaper house, started shying away from financial questions, etc.) The… Read more »

Luke
Luke
10 years ago

First of all, I don’t think John was ‘judging’ you. More likely he was pointing out things that, to him, seem like waste and making suggestions for alternatives. I’m assuming that he knows that you respect the choices he has made and admire his lot in life? If so, it’s perfectly sensible that he’d try to drop a few words from his store of canniness – he no doubt sees himself as something of a mentor. This is no bad thing, wish I knew someone like him. I’m not entirely convinced that some of the people criticising him in their… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
10 years ago

I don’t think John is a skinflint. I just think he’s very very frugal, and that frugality has been successful for him. But, at the same time, I’m frugal too. But John and I are just frugal in different ways. (I’ll never own a boat, for example.) I think there are things that I could learn from him still, but I don’t see the point in foregoing half a paper towel. As for the dogs, I think some of you are missing the forest for the trees. I love animals, and I’m all for being responsible to the pets you… Read more »

Renae
Renae
10 years ago

It’s frustrating to talk to people like this. Many times they seek out people (like us savers) for advice on how to get their lives on the right track financially, yet they aren’t willing to control their finances and basically have some self control. In my line of work I see women on welfare complaining about how hard it is to live. But, they have the fake fingernails, trendy new clothes and $1K purses! They aren’t ready to listen.
One more thing. KEEP THE DOGS! They provide a great deal of happiness in our lives and ask for very little.

LMN
LMN
10 years ago

Get rid of the dogs? Seriously? Get rid of the fancy phones first. Dogs are members of the family, devoted, loving members of the pack who’d lay down their lives for you, all for the price of a bit of kibble and a warm place to sleep, a pat on the head, and some excercise each day. And what would that teach his boys? That when a beloved family member is inconvenient or expensive, we just get rid of it, to an almost certain death? Kids generalize… and it’s not too much of a leap for kids to think, gee,… Read more »

Elle Robb
Elle Robb
10 years ago

I was surprised at your get rid of the dogs suggestion. True – it may be necessary to find homes for pets in a dire situation. In this situation, however, the iphones and new car should be sacrificed before a pet. When someone gets a pet – it is a commitment that should be honored if at all possible. Too often people think of pets as disposable and I think that is extremely unfortunate (and says a lot about our society).

Lisa
Lisa
10 years ago

Hi, J.D., What an interesting and thought-provoking piece. It is interesting to me that your thoughts today are based on the Bible. In fact, both the judge not and the mote ideas are from Matthew 7. What interests me most is that many people live by the judge not saying (and most of us without knowing where it comes from!). What we need to realize is that shortly after saying not to judge lest we be judged with the same yardstick, Jesus says to cast out the mote in our own eye in order to see clearly enough to help… Read more »

David
David
10 years ago

So I’m not the only one with friends like this. We have some friends who went overboard building a new house, constantly have to have every new consumer electronic, have a large library of video games and DVDs, and are drowning. He is working 2 part-time jobs in addition to his full-time job. She is doing a couple of (legit) work-at-home jobs. And, even though my wife and I have done budget counseling with them, they will not change their spending habits. They truly believe they are under-deposited and not over-drawn. I do agree with the above commenters that getting… Read more »

Matt
Matt
10 years ago

This is a really interesting and intelligent post. Thanks! I would like to suggest two things that I did not see in the comments so far. 1) Regarding Michael, making bad decisions is its own punishment in life (just as making good decisions is its own reward). In other words, Michael’s decisions are already making his life miserable, so there is no reason for you to make it worse by being judgmental towards him. It seems pretty clear that he suffers from an addiction to material consumption. I doubt that you can help any addict by telling him that he… Read more »

Tiffany
Tiffany
10 years ago

Sorry, but dogs are like kids, you can’t just get rid of them in hard times. Certainly, you shouldn’t take on dogs when you’re not financially able to (and similarly, you should do your utmost to not have kids when you can’t support them). If you’ve already got dogs when the financial hard times hit, well then too bad, they’re still your responsibility. You can’t get rid of the kids, can’t get rid of the dogs. No real pet owner would want to, either.

Marguerite
Marguerite
10 years ago

I think it’s great your friend feels open enough to talk about his situation with you – that’s step #1 in my opinion. And he’s reading personal finance books – I’d suggest a few for him to read. After that his actions have to be his own without comment unless he asks for advice or your opinion. Peoples spending habits are very personal and something that means nothing to you and is a waste of money might be his most important thing. It’s the same with people that have no hobbies, don’t read unless they have to and I have… Read more »

Money Smarts Blog
Money Smarts Blog
10 years ago

I don’t think there is anything wrong with judging – it’s pretty hard not to. However, I think keeping your opinions to yourself is the right thing to do.

I have a family member who sounds like Michael – I’d love to help but any conversations about money go nowhere fast.

Bottom line is that you have to let people find their own way.

Slackerjo
Slackerjo
10 years ago

I know a lot of people who whine about their financial situation and my offer to help is very precise. I say that I have a system (the envelope system) and I could show them how it works. They can try it out for 14 days and if it’s not for them, then 14 days is not a huge time investment. And then I say nothing. I put the ball in their court. I never pester or follow up or preach. If the person is interested or serious about fixing their finances, they will follow up with me. I don’t… Read more »

Karen
Karen
10 years ago

JD, What’s amazing to me is that in this case you HAVE been in Michael’s shoes, and yet you are still judging him. Stop it. Really. It just makes you sound like a a jerk. Most of your readers have read your stories — we know you were still buying CDs and comic books when you had loads of debt. It took you years for things to really click and for you to make big changes. And remember, when you hit your hardest times, you were lucky that it was times of general economic prosperity AND you had a family… Read more »

Bets
Bets
10 years ago

Another bad sign is a financially challenged person reading “The Secret”.

Jason
Jason
10 years ago

Regarding the dogs, I’ll share one of my favorite tools that I use when dealing with a design problem, or any problem for that matter. Generally when faced with a problem, people will come up some solution to a problem and then think that’s the only way — they quite literally fall in love with their first idea and then stick with it. The exercise is to come up with at least three ways of accomplishing the same goal. So in Michael’s situation, he could have a lot of starting points to his problem of “saving money” or “getting my… Read more »

Lisa
Lisa
5 years ago
Reply to  Jason

The main issue as I see it here – he doesn’t want advice. he wants to go on as before – then complain when the situation doesn’t improve.

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