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How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Posted by rileysmom17 (My Page) on
Tue, Jan 20, 09 at 14:09

So here's a real story for the folks on the recent Suze thread. Because I am puzzled. I do not understand.

My cleaning lady (oops I have just identified myself as part of the awful upper middle class) often asks me for an advance on her month's pay, which is not a problem, I always do it.

This time, it was because she had a huge electric bill.

The electric bill was huge because she got behind on her payment, called the power company, and made an arrangement to make a partial payment on date X. No payment, no power.

She made the payment on date X + 1. Power had already been turned off, reconnect fee was an EXTRA $160.

She quite honestly admits that she simply was wrong on the date. The original arrangement was over the telephone, she didn't make a firm note of it, like in giant red letters on a sticky by the phone. There was no impediment (such as travel) to making the payment on time.

So she is out $160 which she does not have, and she didn't buy anything with that money that is useful to her, ie she did not buy kilowatt hours.

She is an intelligent person who works hard and is raising a daughter on her own. This is not the first time "management slippage" has cost her money.

I don't see how Suze could help her. I don't see how anyone can help her. I don't understand how these things happen to her. But when I hear about them I do feel that wealth typically accrues to the diligent and organized and I don't see why this is wrong or that there is any way to stop it.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

I should add that she was aware of the reconnect fee.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

she was aware of "no payment,no power",was told the date it was effective, and forgot? I have zero sympathy for this person,i'd have had the $$$ there days earlier to be certain power stayed connected..


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

I'm going to weigh in on this even though I don't have a cleaning lady. Wish I did - would consider it a way of "paying myself first".

This type of situation has no solution from any kind of outside prompting if there is no willingness to take some personal ownership. I've seen it before many times with colleagues coming in and out of my life over the years in the workplace. One common thread I noticed is that it's hard-wired, it's endemic. It's the kind of undisciplined carelessness that knowingly and willingly accepts mounting monetary penalties for bouncing checks, putting the wrong check in with the wrong bill, not signing a check all in the vain attempt to buy time..... it's not ever a step forward; it's a constant backsliding. There is nothing to show for it other than the tangible loss of real dollars. Orman or anyone else dispensing financial advice can only offer ideas or a plan - getting someone to follow it is the hard or impossible task.

What would she do without so generous an employer providing her advances on her wages?

Some of us are fortunate in having gotten good financial advice from the time we were kids with our little piggy banks through finishing school and getting our first paycheck. Diligence and organization is just part of the package as is knowing and understanding the value and power of a dollar - those things really can't be underestimated and are much more difficult to get on board with later, or late, in our lives.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Suze (purple Barney) doesn't have a canned response for this... but her male counterpart, Dave Ramsey (we can label him tickle-me-Elmo) has a PERFECT declaration for this type of situation.

Ramsey calls this a "Stupid Tax" and its one of the things I thoroughly agree with from him.

Carelessness about money is the problem... literally, the housekeeper "couldn't care less" about money... and her disdain & chosen ignorance regularly bites her in the butt.

Beware of this person... she is carrying a financial disease, and even if you don't get infected by it personally, she can have her drama infect your life if you allow yourself to become identified as her "financial saviour."

Its a very fine line to walk... that of caring & supporting people on their path of growth. You *MUST* (as a financial adult) identify those who are progressing, and those who are merely nursing their addictions and chosen deviations, and avoid getting sucked in by the latter like the plague... as they are, indeed, a financial plague.

Luck,
Dave


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Dave -

Is there any understanding of how someone who is really pretty poor could not learn to avoid the Stupid Tax? How can a person scratching to get by be indifferent to money? What Is The Deal?

Everyone -

Of all the negative net worth folks out there, what percent are simple over-spenders and what percent chronically pay large Stupid Taxes? As representatives of the prudent slice of society, we can have hope for changed behavior from overspenders but it sounds kinda hopeless for Stupid Taxers.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Some of you sound a little harsh here. Some people are just different, where money for them is not that important. Yes it is inconvenient when they run out but their thought and priorities are elsewhere. And in my experience, this is part of inborn personality not something you learn or is affected by upbringing. And, no, they are not necessarily stupid either.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Oh, come on!

Paying an extra $160 - which, by the way, the lady did not have - IS stupid.

Surely you don't think that was a smart thing to do???


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Hi RileysMom,

Is there any understanding of how someone who is really pretty poor could not learn to avoid the Stupid Tax? How can a person scratching to get by be indifferent to money? What Is The Deal?

Difficult questions (especially that 1st twisted sentence,) but they definitely have answers on a per-person basis.

Everyone -
Of all the negative net worth folks out there, what percent are simple over-spenders and what percent chronically pay large Stupid Taxes?

I doubt you find very many of one who are not also belonging to the other. Unconsciousness and disdain for personal finances is the problem, and it shows up in both symptoms.

As representatives of the prudent slice of society, we can have hope for changed behavior from overspenders but it sounds kinda hopeless for Stupid Taxers.

It is actually NOT hopeless, believe it or not. You see; *I* am a "recovering financial derelict" myself.

Seriously... if there are any of you readers out there who see me as a being "financially powerful" please also understand... I have risen from the ashes of complete financial ignorance.

I grew up in a family who paid little attention to the financial details (in fact, after 40 years, it was exactly that which lead to my folks ultimate divorce... and personal finances lead to the GRAND MAJORITY of divorces inour society!)

I could sing you a long, sappy, sad song about my background (don't worry, I'll save it for another time,) but be very assured; ANYONE CAN learn how to become conscious about their personal value, their time, and their money.

I won't say it is easy.
I won't say its quick.
I won't say its automatic nor permanent (any recovering alcoholics know what I am talking about... its "one day at a time!" FOREVER!)

NOBODY is "born" with a curse of being ignorant of their value (which is all it means to honor & respect our time, relationships, and stored value (which is money.)

MANY of us are "indoctrinated" into financial ignorance... for many diferent potential reasons.

ALL of us have the ABILITY to learn respect & honor... IT IS POSSIBLE.

Cheers,
Dave Donhoff
Leverage Planner


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

So Dave, for those of us who are fiscally responsible, but not overly knowledgeable, where does one start to learn more about finance in general and how to make our money work better for us in particular?

I've started the learning process many times, but get overwhelmed before I reach any great enlightenment. I'm not afraid to learn, just don't want to waste my time learning things that are overly complicated and not particularly useful :)


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

There is saying along the lines, as long as you have not walked in her shoes, do not cast stones. Obviously, her priorities do not lie where yours do, that does not make her stupid.
David, this is one time that I must disagree with you. Our human worth does not translate to money, at least not for everyone. Some people put dollar signs on everything of cause.
Also, like I pointed out earlier, you can come from very financially astute background and still have personality where one does not care about money or finances.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

"Suze (purple Barney) doesn't have a canned response for this."

Actually, Dave, Suze does have a canned response for people who have the money but have trouble remembering to pay their bills.

It's called automatic bill pay. I have all of my bills auto-paid on the date I've specified so I haven't had a late bill in years, thus avoiding late fees and a low FICO score.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

You know, everyone here is being so righteous, so all knowing and so judgmental, but why not instead offer to help such people, who in all likelihood never had much to begin with (or would they really be cleaning someone else's homes?). Offer to sit down with them one time, go over their finances in a general way, show them how to organize paperwork in accordion files, encourage them to actively designate one hour a week, or one day a month to the work and give them any tips you think will help them stay on track to working things out? Is that such a big deal?


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

It's called automatic bill pay.

There are a lot of people out there who don't have checking accounts. They cash checks (or get paid in cash) at a place that charges them a check cashing fee then pay bills with a money order that also requires a fee.

Having different priorities or an indifference to money doesn't make one stupid in the sense of being obtuse or incapable of learning, but stupid in the sense of tending to make poor decisions or careless mistakes - which is exactly the scenario as outlined by the OP.

This would be one time where walking in the shoes of another is not an object lesson I'd be advocating as the only route to understanding. Having different priorities isn't really an excuse - if so a night losing at the baccarat table in a casino would mean the phone bill doesn't have to be paid. I think most people, monied or not, see the flaw here and understand there is a down side to this.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Hi jbspook,

So Dave, for those of us who are fiscally responsible, but not overly knowledgeable, where does one start to learn more about finance in general and how to make our money work better for us in particular?

Fiscal responsibility is 99% of the victory, seriously. If you simply do the follwing, you win;
A) live on less money than you make, and continually seek to make more so you can live on more (not the reverse,)
B) do whatever you can to ATTRACT more money (not just working harder) while learning more, UNTIL,
C) you've SAFELY saved & invested enough to cover your reserves appropriately, (safety is more important than growth in the beginning, and in the end...)
D) diligently save the balance between what you live on, and what you earn,
E) focus on enjoying life WITHOUT burning through money... "find the beauty all around, and experience the universe's prosperity,"
F) contribute to society frely & continually (if not money while still in poverty, at least volunteering of time & expertise)* (*yes, I hold this as critically important as the other parts. People who see themselves as "poor victims" never succeed. People who see themselves as contributors develop a naturally healthy high self esteem, and give off a signal of worthiness to everyone around them.)

I've found it much more important (in my experience) to perpetually focus on HOW TO THINK (i.e. wealth psychology, or prosperity consciousness) than the mechanics of money. Once "the gut" is comfortable with the true idea of being wealthy, and having money (and KEEPING money,) then the mechanics stop being Greek and pretty much fall into your lap.

I've started the learning process many times, but get overwhelmed before I reach any great enlightenment. I'm not afraid to learn, just don't want to waste my time learning things that are overly complicated and not particularly useful :)

For beginners, I strongly recommend an audio course by Fredric Lehrman, called "Prosperity Consciousness."

http://www.nightingale.com/prod_detail~product~Prosperity_Consciousness.aspx

Fredric is very much a NON-'guru', and very A-B-C in steps to take, as well as very explanative about both the psychology and spirituality of our cultural perspectives of wealth, prosperity, and money. I was initially introduced to his stuff 13 or 14 years ago, and eventually got introduced to him personally (turns out he lives here in the Seattle area.) Eventually I gathered together about a dozen people, and as a group we hired Lehrman as our "consultant" to teach us his principles in monthly meetings for a full year (as a group we actually met EVERY week to hold ourselves to tasks.)

It was the very beginning of my financial learnings... and it set me on course to where I have ultimately arrived (so far, anyway) today. I strongly encourage you to try his course... its got a full money back guarantee I believe, so nothing to lose.

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Hi punamytsike,

David, this is one time that I must disagree with you. Our human worth does not translate to money, at least not for everyone.

You misread what I write, please scroll back up & read my post again. I never said our human worth is translated into money. What I said was;
NOBODY is "born" with a curse of being ignorant of their value (which is all it means to honor & respect our time, relationships, and stored value (which is money.)

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Hi Sephia,

Actually, Dave, Suze does have a canned response for people who have the money but have trouble remembering to pay their bills.
It's called automatic bill pay. I have all of my bills auto-paid on the date I've specified so I haven't had a late bill in years, thus avoiding late fees and a low FICO score.

Well... that's a cute, but completely worthless response, in my opinion.

CONSISTENT financial irresponsibility isn't just forgetfulness, it is a disdain and disrespect for one's own personal value... AND/OR ingrained conditioning and emotional corruption that equates receiving wealth as a negative experience.

All the "financial training wheels" in the world can never overcome somebody hellbent on sabotaging themselves.

MONEY ITSELF is not a complicated subject... all of the misery we attach to it comes from our own emotional issues. Master the emotional issues around money, and wealth becomes a cakewalk.

Cheers,
Dave Donhoff
Leverage Planner

Here is a link that might be useful: Fredric Lehrman's


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Dave, I will have my very smart son here tomorrow, whos 1st language is English and I will let him read your sentence and explain me what it means, because I still read it out as their value is somehow counted in dollars :-/ Even this "CONSISTENT financial irresponsibility isn't just forgetfulness, it is a disdain and disrespect for one's own personal value... AND/OR ingrained conditioning and emotional corruption that equates receiving wealth as a negative experience." leaves me the same impression. It might be my lack of finesse in English language creating a problem, we will see ;)
As for myself and many here, it is hard to understand how someone is so forgetful or careless as to miss payment by a day, and pay $ 160.00 fine. But in order to help those people, first we need to understand them. Just calling them STUPID will not help anyone. I have a very close family member with similar problem. I am trying to understand him, so that I can help him. It is very hard, because I see the world very differently than he does. But I have made this my priority to try to understand and help him not to be victim of his own doing or the companies that pray on people that least can afford those kinds of "stupid tax/fees".


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Can someone please explain how people can "live on less money than you make" if, in fact, they don't make enough to live on in the first place (and cannot find something better just for the asking at a given time, putting them into debt, and starting a vicious longterm cycle of it)? There are people who just don't want to be on welfare, and are trying desperately to do things right, but circumstances (everything from having kids who you thought would be taken care of by now-absentee spouses, to illness) can conspire against them. Lack of education about money, or even something like dyslexia can make life very, very hard to organize as easily as we think it 'should' be - when we're sitting in our nice suburban places with good, full time jobs we got following college educations. Life can overwhelm people with not many resources, and blaming them for their bad management skills is not always the best way to help.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Sorry about the "twisted" first sentence in the original post, it was really a grammatical disaster wasn't it?

I've read that people with less money tend to pay more for things that people with more money. They pay check cashing fees. They pay higher credit interest rates. They may not be able to travel to the lowest cost shopping areas. They are forced to buy in smaller quantities and can't get the super-jumbo discounts. I think this pretty much describes my cleaning lady, who, to the best of my knowledge, does not have a checking account.

But she is an intelligent person with a working car. As I alluded to, this is only the most recent and really egregious example of cause-and-effect breakdown. Pay late (cause) = huge reconnect fee (effect).

You might say she has a cause-and-effect problem in general. But when it comes to money this problem is very damaging to her life. I don't really see how "sitting down with her and going over her finances" is 1) any of my business, or 2) likely to help. I suppose what would have helped was acting as her secretary and reminding her to pay her bill (after having paid her in advance so she could do it).

I guess my puzzlement is that this kind of slip-up would almost never happen to someone for whom it would be much less damaging. This person is not ignorant or lazy. It's like she dropped $160 in a parking lot. Why did this happen?


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Life happened. I am sure she juggles many things, has many worries and once she had the money to pay the bill, this suddenly was not the most important thing on her mind, hence it slipped and she thought she had one more day to take care of it. Something else had become the current emergency that took all her mental concentration capabilities.

I so agree with your first paragraph and that state of affairs makes me very sad. I have started a blog where I teach young people how to avoid at least some of those fees. Many of those fees, they do not even know about, until they hit them. I did not know about them either, because I have never been hit by them but in the process of helping the young man I mentioned earlier, I have learned a lot and it is not pretty picture. Banks are set up to take advantage of young people who pay much more than you ever will for all kinds of imaginable and non imaginable fees.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Are you serious? If this person had a drinking problem would you continue to supply money or alcohol? Do you really consider this as just a problem of hers? You are abetting her by giving her advances, why should she want to learn money management?

Learning money management is no less important than taking driving lessons before driving (insert you cliche of choice here).

Does it make you feel smug that you are in a position to bail her out? ("oops, ...part of that awful upper middle class")

If you are sincere about this, insist that she learn to manage her money before you advance her any more funds.

To the other part of your posts, re people in underprivileged conditions I certainly agree that helping them is in the best interest of all. That includes hand outs if necessary, but also helping them attain skills necessary to better themselves.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Gee Calirose, do you have some "class" issues going here? What about my first and subsequent posts made you think I feel "smug" about paying my cleaning lady one week early, from time to time, so that she can keep her lights on, keep her car running, get her daughter's teeth cleaned, or whatever?

I am not her mommy nor her money manager. I'm not in a position to "insist" on anything vis a vis her financial behavior. It doesn't harm me to advance her, it helps her (at times) quite a bit. I was just struck by the particularly pointless expense, truly money lost, because (completely by her own admission) she didn't write down the date payment was due. If it was going to cost ME $160 to make that mistake, I would know the date.

So I don't know how to help her because I don't understand this behavior. The original reason for my post was to hear from people who maybe had greater insight. I guess the most useful response thus far was "problem temporarily solved, distracted by other issues, living from one mini-crisis to the next". So maybe she needs a day planner?

My reference to the "awful middle class" was in response to some earlier threads where admitting you have household help seemed to brand you as a baddie, a supercilious bourgeoisie. I was trying to defuse that issue which you have so nicely ignited. I would guess you have some image of me getting my nails done while my Lexus gets buffed. In fact, one reason for my frequently garbled grammar and highly compound sentences is that I am writing, for a little mental stress relief, in between patients.

You also have no idea of my so-called "class" background in childhood. So get off the high horse named Preconception, okay?


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

LOL - I don't know, rileysmom, but you sure took my post awfully hard. I did't make any comment about your class that you hadn't made. I certainly didn't make any comments about your lifestyle or your childhood. I don't make assumptions about people, especially those I have not met. Please, get off your own high horse!

Your post asked for help, yet your remarks make excuses. Maybe I sounded harsh to you, but I have known people on both sides of the tracks.

The issue was her not remembering to pay a bill and therefore cost an additional $160 to turn the utility back on. The issue was not you helping pay for her child's dental cleaning. A single sheet of paper, lined off, with the months at the top and the payable down the side (or vice-versa) perhaps with the date due, would be a simple way of keeping up with bill payments.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

rileysmom17, your last post just reminded me something. At one time in my life, when I was under very large amount of stress, I also forgot to pay my credit card bill on time. We always pay it off full, as not to pay interest. I do not remember anymore, if I ended up paying late fee or was I forgiven, as I have never been late before or since, but this was a wake up call for me. Since then I have set up a system in excel to track when things are due and mark what is paid and what is not. So even the financially knowledgeable can slip when under enormous stress.
If she has computer, then maybe helping her set up a excel sheet where she can track her major bills and due dates will help. Also most all my bills are due around 1st of month. This helps also to pay them on time, as they are all clustered together. Thirdly, if she does not have already, she might want to look into prepaid credit cards. You can use them for automatic bill pay and if you pick wisely, some of them do not have over the limit fee, like for example Walmart MoneyCard (Visa,MC). Just some ideas that might help her.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

"My cleaning lady (oops I have just identified myself as part of the awful upper middle class) often asks me for an advance on her month's pay, which is not a problem, I always do it."

When you hired her were regular advances part of the agreement? How are her house cleaning skills, does she do a good job?

She knew what the consequences were going to be for 'forgetting' to pay her bill on time yet CHOSE to put herself AND her child in the dark because of her carelessness. Not a nice thing to do to a kid....

There isn't much you can do for someone who refuses to take responsibility for their own actions. Instead of enabling irresponsible behavior, I would nip this behavior in the bud before you end up cleaning house for her and paying for the privilege.

Tell her you don't mind helping out with an occasional 'emergency' but you do not want to keep giving wages in advance. Explain that you have your own bills to pay and have a certain amount budgeted for this as well as for paying her salary.

If she can't remember when her electric bill payment is due then tell her to bring the bill to your house and you will make sure its paid on time, from her wages.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

>>If she has computer, then maybe helping her set up a excel sheet where she can track her major bills <<

Wow, I must know different poor people than you guys do. If the woman doesn't have a checking account (and about 10 MILLION people in the US don't), then I sincerely doubt she has a computer. And I really, really doubt she has the time, much less the inclination, to learn Excel.

If she comes from the kind of background I grew up with, it's hard to get the "traction" to be successful because you never learn the kind of social habits that successful, middle-class and upper-middle-class people take for granted. You know NO ONE intimately that can teach you those habits, because your peers don't know any more than you do. You can be very smart, but without some self-discipline, ambition, and encouragement, you will get nowhere, fast.

My advice? I don't think you can be the support system for this person unless you are willing to spend a lot of time to get involved with her life. She can change, but she needs the personal ambition to do so. Without willpower, she will accomplish nothing.

The sad thing is, children learn from their parents. It is hard to break the cycle of self-perpetuating failure. Not impossible, no - but very, very hard.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

I think it has something to do with denial of the consequences. Don't think about what needs to be done because it's daunting and don't think about what will happen if you don't.

Its sort of like someone with an addiction. If you ask an alcoholic why they fell off the wagon or if they were thinking of the consequences, the only answer is, "I just wanted a drink and nothing else mattered."

Some people just don't want to pay their bills and nothing else matters. It makes no sense because they want a good life, they want their children to thrive, they don't want to be in debt but the hole is so deep, what does it matter? Well, it matters when the electricity gets turned off. My DH calls these people "lizards." Lizards don't think about much except, "It's too hot, move to the shade." "It's too cold, move to the sun."

You know, stimulus and reaction.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

jkmom51 -

I think you have captured the essence of the problem and your take on the overall social and home situation is correct. Although it seems bizarre, I believe it just never occurred to her to write down the payment deadline. I do not believe it is laziness or denial. She is not lazy, she works very hard and takes a lot of ownership in her work. She was capable of paying her bill sufficiently to keep the power on. She needed an advance because the $160 fee wrecked her weekly finances for the following week.

I had a kind of epiphany moment when I first started practice. I push a lot of educational brochures and dedicate a lot of time for talking. The brochures are designed for a very modest level of literacy (I think fourth or fifth grade).

I realized that there are some people, perhaps many people, who CAN read with decent comprehension. But they do not have the concept of learning from reading. I mean learning as in gaining useful knowledge immediately relevant to their lives. Learning was a school task (chore). They expand their knowledge through personal experience or through the advice and received wisdom of friends and family.

Maybe these issues are connected through lack of social example?


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

This is the sort of fee that well-educated, articulate middle-class folks can usually talk their way out of paying. Often, people like your cleaning lady are more intimated by authority and bureaucracies, and meekly pay up.

Yes, she was a doofus, but it's not like she stole kilowatt hours from them and the reconnect is flipping a switch, not having a guy climb a pole. Utility companies love to manufacture these fake fees.

I don't think you can jump in and get all paternal/maternal, as she's a grown woman, but maybe in the future, you can give her some pointers on dealing with this sort of stuff.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Don't think about what needs to be done because it's daunting and don't think about what will happen if you don't.

Exactly. I have a friend who is hopeless about money. Actually, she's just hopeless...about everything. And she's not unintelligent. She has a college degree in programming. She could easily be making a very good salary (I know -- I have the exact same degree, and I make good money) and now that she's approaching her 30's, she should be fairly comfortably off. But she's one of those people who just makes stupid decision after stupid decision. She is deeply in debt because she keeps buying stuff that she shouldn't, she has no personal belongings because she keeps picking up and moving from place to place and so she just gets rid of everything when she does so (all that stuff that she got in debt for!), she can't hold a job to save her life...and yet she wonders why her life is such a mess? She looks at my husband and I, and always make envious comments about how "easy" and comfortable our life looks. Well, no, it's not, but I really want to say, you know, if you stopped acting like such a spaz and made some real decisions in your life, maybe you'd have a "comfortable" life, too. It's all about the decisions a person makes, IMHO.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

I guess my puzzlement is that this kind of slip-up would almost never happen to someone for whom it would be much less damaging. Of course it does. All the time. Including to me, btw, and no it is not a disdain about finances. I'm sure there maybe are people who would fit that description, but there are also plenty of people out here, who, despite our best efforts, really are that disorganized/forgetful/etc. It is not just about money, either. I run out of toilet paper. I lose things. I lock myself out of my house. I drive off with the gas cap on the top of the car. I once arrived in Puerto Rico by air with luggage and passport but no cash, credit or atm card, drivers license, or checkbook. I was once arrested for failing to renew my car registration, getting a ticket for it, putting ticket in glove box and forgetting about it (therefore getting arrest warrant for failing to appear in court). I have been known to run out of gas. Back before cars were made to beep at you if you left the lights on, I regularly wound up with a dead battery from forgetting to turn them off.

Now, I do my best to manage my "disability". I keep a list on hand of what I need to buy, (although it tends to be incomplete, since i often forget to add something to it when i see I'm running low). I keep a driver's license one place and passport somewhere else so if I lose one I can still prove my identity. I keep cash stashed in my glove box so if I find myself with no wallet I can still buy gas or lunch. Back when I used to leave the car lights on, I carried jumper cables. I keep a window unlocked for when I lock myself out. etc. Yes, automatic bill pay has vastly reduced (almost eliminated) late payments. I use netflix to avoid late movie returns. etc. But I haven't completely outsmarted myself yet. If I were your housekeeper, I *would* write down the payment deadline, then misplace or forget to look at the piece of paper I wrote it on.

I also have a good job, live below my means, overall make responsible financial decisions, and can absorb the occasional "stupid tax". Since I can absorb it without much impact, I wouldn't *need* to ask my employer for an advance, or a friend for a loan, so there wouldn't necessarily be any reason for anyone to know what boneheaded thing I just did. Just because you only hear about people already on the financial edge having these problems, doesn't mean they are the only ones who do. They are just the ones you hear about because they are more likely to need help to fix it.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

"Hi Sephia,

Actually, Dave, Suze does have a canned response for people who have the money but have trouble remembering to pay their bills. It's called automatic bill pay. I have all of my bills auto-paid on the date I've specified so I haven't had a late bill in years, thus avoiding late fees and a low FICO score.

Well... that's a cute, but completely worthless response, in my opinion.

CONSISTENT financial irresponsibility isn't just forgetfulness, it is a disdain and disrespect for one's own personal value... AND/OR ingrained conditioning and emotional corruption that equates receiving wealth as a negative experience."

I don't get it Dave. Why do you think this "is completely worthless response, in your opinion?"

If you make statements such as yours, please provide an explanation.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Thanks, quirk!

Regardless of where they are on the social or fiscal ladder...some people have brains that don't work right. Sometimes meds help. Sometimes counseling helps. And, some people are so tired or depressed they can't think straight long enough to seek out help that is usually out of easy reach for them.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

I know some one like this, a person very close to me. She is well educated and has a good job. But,she never has money and is always broke! Why? Traffic tickets ( then drive slower, park in correct spots-duh), late fees (why not write due dates down?), overpays (why not check for sales?), and it goes on and on. Advice doesn't matter, there is always another problem and she is always the victim. I sometimes wonder if some people think there should be different rules for them? T throw money away like that would make me crazy.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Hi Sephia,

I don't get it Dave. Why do you think this "is completely worthless response, in your opinion?"
If you make statements such as yours, please provide an explanation.

Sure... and tell you what, I'll downgrade my enthusiasm to merely say it is a MOSTLY worthless response, rather than "completely worthless."

The reason I say this is because putting a system in place to pay bills in a timely fashion is the LEAST of issues for most folks who fail to manage their money properly. The reason for most folks' financial chaos is that they don't understand what money is, and they simply have no respectful regard for it. Its not that most people DIS-respect money (though many do,) but rather that most people HAVE NO CONCERNFUL UNDERSTANDING about money... so they ignore it, forget it, and make it a distant thought priority.

Putting an "automatic bill paying" service in place for someone who has no concern about money is a thin patch, at best... because their lack of concern & respect remains, and the automated system (which is addressing the management of something the person doesn't care about) simply gives that person more freedom to even FURTHER ignore their money issues.

Here is an analogy I hope can be appreciated by bosses & employees alike;

Something I learned when I started my own company (having always been a foot soldier or an entrepreneur, and never having been a boss in anyone else's company, nor observing same from my parents,) is that in order to effectively delegate anything, you REALLY have to have a minimum level of direct competence in that item yourself. When our mortgage firm was young, I had to dig in and personally do the detailed rat-hole document processing minutea myself (which I absolutely abhor... *NOT* my personality strength,) before I could ever effectively delegate and manage others to handle it. When I tried to delegate it before I had done it, my management efforts were futile and very clearly clueless.

You can see the opposite in many workplaces as well... completely incompetent "bosses" who delegate out responsibilities that they couldn't do themselves if their very lives depended on it... and the results are predictable; corruption, disrespect, dysfunction, and mutinous, pissed-off employees who're ready to frag their so-called "leader."

BACK TO OUR TOPIC;
People who understand money, are functional & capable of balancing their budget and checkbook, and have effectively done so on their own... are PERFECTLY suited to delegate that resposibility to an automatic payment service.

Those who are blind to it all are simply delaying AND ACCELERATING their failure. They have no idea what to do if the service burps or fails, they have no idea how to be a "responsible boss" of the service providers, and they simply still have no sense of responsibility.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE;
In the military (of all nations, for virtually forever,) in order to be promoted to a position of leadership (aka "command") you must first do a "rotation" through virtually all the jobs & positions below that level of command that you will then be responsible for. Even the 'privileged Officers' go through diligent formal education & training to learn the jobs of the foot soldiers they will lead, and the entry level for Officers is always several notches of respect and responsibility BELOW a midmanagement Enlisted position (who then 'trains' the Officer how to be an effective "boss.")

Managing money *IS* being a boss.

Hope that makes more sense.

Cheers,
Dave Donhoff
Leverage Planner


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

buy your cleaning lady a big calendar to hang in her kitchen, and a red pen so she can write in the due dates for bills.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Thanks, Dave, for the clarification. I understand your point about people needing to understand (and probably value) money. I was thinking about a fail-safe way to avoid not paying a bill or late fees as the OP originally wrote.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Rivkadr and Jenie16 - Your 'friends' sounded very familiar to me, and I think they DON'T belong in quite the same category as the cleaning lady, or some of the other examples above. They sound more like people I've known who came from privileged backgrounds, and who've had others asking "how high?" all their lives, while they blithely just learn to be 'scatter brained' ("how charming, how childlike") and 'helpless'. There is NOTHING wrong with their brains whatsoever I bet, and in a pinch (say, in a foreign country) they would somehow manage to save themselves after all, especially if there just wasn't the right man (or put-upon aunt) around. They cry poor, or stupid every time there's something that needs paying for, and everyone antes up for them, but if you do check deep into their banks, you may find, if not a huge chequing acct, lots of very interesting investments, or trust funds. Being helpless and 'dumb' can be quite an act for some people (guys are just as bad sometimes) but be sure who it is you're helping out, or feeling sorry for, and where they've 'come from', before picking up their tabs.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

rileysmom and lucy: exactly my point. The difference between the cleaning lady and Dave/jenie's examples are literally, a world apart. They stand on the same planet, but that's about it.

I grew up in the worst ghetto west of Harlem - the slums on 47th St. on Chicago's South Side. Some of us made it out - most of the Asian Americans, for instance. AsAm culture prizes education and pushes their kids to do well in school.

By contrast, most of the African-Americans I went to high school with, did NOT make it out. When senior year started, there were 587 kids. By June graduation there were less than 300 remaining. At the 20 yr reunion, about 30% of the AfAm males were already dead.

It has been shown, time and again, that throwing money at the dropout/college prep problem, does not work. The parents have to support the kids - there are some serious issues with the fear of having their kids be ashamed of their parents or going out into a world the parents cannot relate to. The kids need the support of their peers - you wonder why kids who have been taken out of the ghetto for fear of their lives (having informed on gang or drug activity) get shot when they go back for a visit? It's because they have been removed from their friends and familiar environment, and even safety doesn't make up for feeling like a fish out of water.

I think people like the cleaning lady feel very powerless. Especially for lower-income women, it is extremely difficult to grasp the concept of personal empowerment. It has nothing to do with intelligence or book learning. And it is, perhaps, situations like this that show each of us what kind of person we are, when we are faced with someone who does not "fit" our notions of what is right.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

buy your cleaning lady a big calendar to hang in her kitchen, and a red pen so she can write in the due dates for bills.
I think that is the best suggestion yet.

I had a friend and coworker who was always broke, and had so much trouble paying things on time. Forget about doing the automatic bill pay thing, as she didn't balance her check book, but instead called the automated bank message system to see what checks were in and her blance so she had a 'rough' (that's putting it mildly) idea of how much she had in her account.

She asked for my assistance in getting a system set up.

I made a log sheet with the months across the top, and the different bills and due dates down the left side. It 'worked' for one month...the month we did it together and after that she usually didn't even have a clue as to where she had put it. Sorry to say, I gave up trying to help. She is now in assisted living, with someone else seeing that her care is paid for and handed a little spending money.

Sue


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Organization is a skill just like any other. There are different reasons why different people may be good or bad at it.

A kid with a lot of natural athletic ability may just innately be able to pick up a bat and hit a baseball with ease. An average kid will be quite clumsy the first time they try, but with a decent coach who can show them proper stance, how to hold a bat, how to judge a pitch, etc, and some practice, can become pretty decent. A natural clutz can eventually learn not to hit the catcher in the head.

A day-planner or a calendar with a big red pen would be worthless for me (the organizational clutz). I know this because I've tried them. (dayplanner for example just adds steps to the bill-paying process, any one of which can be forgotten, plus there's the -quite high, actually- risk of losing the dayplanner) But if housekeeper is the equivilant of the average kid who's just never had anyone show her the proper way to hold a bat, offering a little help along those lines hey, Mary, you know I keep track of xxx by doing yyy, want me to show you my system? could do wonders.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

I think there have been some excellent suggestions - including the calendar.

We're college educated people who are computer savvy who happen to live in a low income & blue collar neighborhood very close to where JKom grew up so we can definately relate to all he is saying. Many people in our neighborhood don't even have a computer or a checking account which unfortunately keeps the currency exchanges & pay day loan stores very busy.

The calendar is a nice $5 - 10 gift from OfficeMax. Years ago, before we had online bill paying & MS Outlook Calendar for reminders, I used the same exact method - a paper calendar - to track all monthly bills. It's a very cheap and effective way not incur late payments. I used to pencil in the grace periods as well.

A temporary fix and one that I wouldn't advocate for the long haul, is suggesting your cleaning apply for energy assistance for this calendar year. This would allow her to get caught up on her utility bills.

In IL they have programs through the county & some charitable organizations which assist people by allocating a small lump sum payable to the electric & gas companies.

Also depending on how comfortable you feel, perhaps sit down with her and actually explain & demonstrate how she should plot out her monthly bills on the calendar. Simple as it sounds some people as jkom as suggested may not have a basic understanding or background of how it works.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Personally, I'd call up the utility as her daughter and harangue them into a refund, but I tend to like to rescue people and mix it up with people in jobs with petty authority. Makes my day.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Dave wrote:

The reason for most folks' financial chaos is that they don't understand what money is, and they simply have no respectful regard for it. Its not that most people DIS-respect money (though many do,) but rather that most people HAVE NO CONCERNFUL UNDERSTANDING about money... so they ignore it, forget it, and make it a distant thought priority.

Dave I appreciate that you expanded your comments. I heard an interesting story today that fits perfectly. A friend's father had a live in caregiver; the father died last week. The caregiver has 2 cats. This person was saved from homelessness by the friend's family and found a wonderful niche as an excellent caregiver. But basically think "homeless person life management". While relocating to a mobile home (gift), she left the cats in the house and turned the gas log fireplace to "high" so that the cats would stay warm. So it was 85 degrees in there and probably a $200 - $300 gas bill based on duration. When my friend, in some horror, pointed this out to her, it was clear that the entire concept of exchanging money for anything non-tangible was foreign to this lady. She could understand money for cigarettes (and I would guess food), but really had no awareness of 'money' as a method of exchanging goods and services between unrelated people or entities. She also had no concept of not-spending-money and used her modest monthly stipend for internet shopping and cigarettes. She would be homeless now were it not for the kindness of family. I should add that she does not seem "simple" or in the grip of an organic psychiatric disease.

My friend and I agreed that we don't know how to help people like this, a calendar seems unlikely to be of benefit.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

RM,

I'm not sure what nationality your cleaning lady is but sometimes, at least where I live, things are best received and explained by another person they feel comfortable with such as a friend or relative or someone from their background.

Sometimes cultural, class, language barriers & even trust issues prohibit them from understanding what they should be doing by the person trying to help them.

You mentioned she had a daughter - perhaps she is old enough (in my neighborhood that's usually 10 or older - they grow up fast here) for you to explain to her what her mother should be doing in order to keep the bills in check, she perhaps then could influence her mother.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

I'm sorry that the cleaning lady could not get away with "careless", "avoidable", and "unintentional" errors.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Gonativegal - I fail to see how culture, class(?) 'and even trust issues' would prohibit anyone from understanding basic money mgmt... language maybe, but not the others, and it strikes me as a rather racist idea that they would be responsible. It's also one thing for a child to act as translator for parents in everyday situations such as 'how to get to' whatever location they're trying to reach, but except in the specific case of language issues, I don't think a 10 or even 15 yr old would be an appropriate person to try and educate their parents in that kind of thing - it would put a burden of responsibility on them they don't need (could even be frightening) and it also expects them to have enough of a concept of the subject themselves to be able to convey it meaningfully to parents, and I think that would be beyond their years (however fast 'they' grow up).


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Wow...who would have ever guessed that this thread would have turned into such a hot topic? Not I said the little red hen.

Sue


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

My cleaning lady is Anglo (is 'white' a non-PC term now?). Her daughter, to judge by the stories, is struggling hard with cause-and-effect too...as in, if you carelessly spill a soda into the land-line phone machine, your mom does not have the money to just run out and replace it. If you run up a $300 cell phone bill, ditto. And the child is 16 years old. I was vastly more cost-and-consequences-aware at her age, despite living a little further back from the edge of poverty.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

I've thought about this and wonder if anyone can truly get into the psyche of another to understand what makes them tick - especially when they tick differently than we do or than we think they should. Has nothing to do with race, creed or gender but has everything to do with what we internalized, what models we did nor did not have, access we have to resources, what regard we have for things that are generally accepted as being important.....

A lot of the suggestion are for the mechanics of dealing with personal finances; the marking of a calendar could be as irrelevant as paying bills if one is not predisposed to it. If the marked up calendar is immediately abandoned to the bottom of the bill pile, what has been accomplished? Something we feel good for having done until the next advance on wages is requested, I'm thinking. We can bail out an immediate problem, but not guarantee there won't be other similar situations coming. A real reversal of circumstance or just getting back on an even keel is a process; not quick fix with a highlighter.

I'm not advocating withholding help when asked, but I often think about the social experiments local fundraisers, etc. conduct - sleeping in a cardboard box on a winter night to heighten awareness of homelessness; grocery shopping for a family of 4 with only a 20 dollar bill. All valid and worth doing and pledging support and money for, but for those of us who can afford to make choices, or can distinguish between a good choice and a bad one, we gain some insight, but we also have to accept the fact that we know full well we're going home to a warm house with all the utilities intact and a fully stocked pantry when the experiment of walking in someone else's shoes ends.

I'll never fully understand the situation in the OP because I don't live it daily and don't feel inclined to stop paying my bills in a timely fashion just to see "what it's like".


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Hello everyone! Ive read all the interesting comments (havent visited this forum in a long time), and I am prompted to respond first to Lucy:
"You know, everyone here is being so righteous, so all knowing and so judgmental, but why not instead offer to help such people, who in all likelihood never had much to begin with (or would they really be cleaning someone else's homes?)"
Wow! Ouch! I found that comment itself to be really judgmental; did you really mean to say that? Not all ("such") people who clean other peoples homes grew up underprivileged/in poverty, or live in poverty. I grew up in a very nice middle class home and neighborhood, and after marriage lived in a lovely area and beautiful home, but years ago following my divorce, and until I went back to school, I spent 5 years cleaning other peoples homes. It was my choice; it enabled me to set my own hours and be present for my children. (I did spend one later period of time living in poverty when going to school, however, so I have an intimate understanding of what that can mean!) (Interestingly, now that I am educated with my advanced degree I can only afford to live in a tiny home in a kind of roughish area.so you never know!!!)
That said, I work every day with clients who often have behaviors that fit the description of the posters cleaning lady. Some people grew up with and are used to having chaos in their lives and often unwittingly continue to replicate instances of chaos by manufacturing one crisis after another through poor money management, unstable/ toxic relationships, risky behaviors, co-dependency, addiction, etc. For some the need for chaos rises to that of addiction.
IMHO, since the cleaning lady, not a stupid woman, is a grown adult who is well aware of the consequences of her behaviors as she has experienced multiple consequences in the past - "She is an intelligent person who works hard and is raising a daughter on her own. This is not the first time "management slippage" has cost her money" she is smart enough to know how to buy and use a calendar; the fact that she continues to experience crises suggests a larger problem, or she would have taken steps to resolve her problem after the first or second "slip"; intelligent poor people are no less capable of self-improvement than anyone else but like anyone else, the motivation for change has to come from within. Many people benefit from mental health counseling or programs that offer skills-learning to change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors along with possibly individual counseling to examine their own roadblocks. For this woman, something is getting in the way of her success, but it will likely elude her until she is ready to change and seeks help.
Also, it has always been striking to me how many clients in the population I work with mainly poor, often on disability, etc. - spend large amounts of money on fancy cable service, cell phones, video games, gold jewelry, etc., sometimes spending impulsively money meant for rent and other bills. Of course impulsivity can be due to increase in symptoms of MI (a person with Bi-Polar Disorder becoming manic, for example) but for some it seems more a lack of impulse control (I want it now) coupled with I suspect the lack of need to worry about (i.e. save for) the future (guaranteed check/subsidized rent). Obviously many, many people who are poor dont have the luxury of lots of expendable money, or blow money for bills on frivolous purchases, and are having a terrible time making ends meet, but it is hard to know if the posters cleaning lady was frittering her money away on scratch tickets or whatever why was she not paying her electric bill all along? Did she have to make some ongoing repairs to her car, for example, and thats why she got so far behind, or does she have difficulty prioritizing her bills, spending the money on presents for others, etc. If so, there is no red pen and calendar in the world thats going to help. I agree with duluthinbloomz4: "This type of situation has no solution from any kind of outside prompting if there is no willingness to take some personal ownership", Calirose: "You are abetting her by giving her advances, why should she want to learn money management?"(and I would add why would she NEED to learn money management) and also agree with the poster, Rileysmom: "I don't really see how "sitting down with her and going over her finances" is 1) any of my business, or 2) likely to help." And of course "acting as her secretary and reminding her to pay her bill" is just plain enabling. (when it happens repeatedly)
Sorry for the length of this! Penny G.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Penny G's point of noting that many people who clean homes(or provide services or "chores" for others) do so for different reasons..To have flexibility in hours is a top one..AND the pay isn't too shabby either..The "chore" provides her family with a 6 figure income,and the ability to be home when needed...


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Penny G I would guess you are a halo-wearing underpaid member of a social services department somewhere. I found your comment about foolish impulse purchases and "can't live without it" costly frills like cable to be right in line with my professional experience.

Puts me in mind of a Medicaid patient who proudly told me that he had received the latest PlayStation thing, and that he had all the earlier versions too, he had promptly upgraded every time.

It is easy to understand why productive, working people become resentful of welfare entitlement programs.

Do you have any thoughts on ways to control these spending patterns? You can't spend food stamps on gold jewelry. Do you think converting benefits to a "scrip" system or "payment voucher" system whereby the individual gets very little actual US cash could work?


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Maybe my thinking is a bit linear, not outside the box. But social services departments are geared to dealing with aftermaths and not root causes.

It's one thing to be able to provide a complete range of money, goods and services - yea even counseling - but does any of that end up meaning more than what a client simply has "to go through" to get these goods and services?

For those who might have grown up in the system, surrounded by chaos and drama and dysfunction, often the one element missing is the motivation to break the cycle. It must be impossibly hard when you just don't have the background to understand how.

Hit me hard if you must, but we're asked to dig deep these days to try and level the playing field. I have nothing against any of these, but I'm sure you also see many solicitations come for Heat Share (in the summer it's provide fans or air conditioners), Electric share, Rent share, Land Trust to help people buy rehabilitated homes, food drives, ten or fifteen different Christmas toy drives, back pack and school supply drives, new school clothes drives, winter coat drives.

And it's possible, for some, that it might be this kind of largesse that, although it doesn't teach anything of any lasting value, frees up money to be spent in a manner that we of a different bent think unwise.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Huh, well I just talked to one of my staff who said that since NC gives "food stamps" as a debit card with no signature on the back, recipients are selling the debit card for cash to buy their bling.

Social services is so overworked and underfunded that there is no way that consistent follow-up can be done. It does seem like a modest investment in an "eligibility review" system could reap a large savings.

No one has come up with a social answer to the Biblical truth that "the poor will always be with us".


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

No one has come up with a social answer to the Biblical truth that "the poor will always be with us".

But what was the question?


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Yes, Rileysmom, I am a shockingly underpaid mental health worker, but the "halo" is wearing very thin. For personal reasons I have stayed with my job, but as soon as the economy improves I will be exploring positions elsewhere both in and out of the field, if necesary, in order to find employment that provides a relatively decent pay with at least occasional pay raises...I enjoy and am good at helping others, but I need to help myself first(be able to contribute to my retirement, save, replace my car someday, afford my own home if taxes go up again, etc.!!) And although I truly don't need the fancy cell phones and full-package cable tv services etc. that my low-income clients enjoy, sometimes, as I adjust my tin foil antenna, I do find it disconcerting that although I work fulltime, I can't afford them. I don't have any answers to how the system could be fixed, I only know that it is horribly flawed. I do know though, that when I was on foodstamps, I stretched them out, bought basic foods, and made from scratch meals. When my brother's son worked at a grocery store years ago, he would get very angry that people would buy luxury-type foods and fancy snacks with food stamps - items like bags of shrimp and piles of steaks etc. that his teacher parents could not afford. There is something not right about this. I have often thought the food stamp cards should only accept certain selected "basic" foods, but that could be difficult for people on special diets, etc.(I also think food stamps SHOULD cover laundry and dish soap and TP)
What do taxpayers think about the thousands of dollars in lump sum back payments many people who qualify for social security disability receive, and then are forced to "spend down" (spend it) in order to not lose other benefits? A claimant is entitled to receive payment back to time of original application, I believe, which after appeals and so forth which can be a very long process. I'm sure people are thrilled to get these sometimes very large sums, but, again, something is not qute right...I have a lot of mixed emotions because I know some people are so in need of assistance, and struggle so hard with so many burdens, but then there are so many others who are capable of contributing in some way to society but do not because it is not expected of them, and the system is set up to discourage productivity.
duluthinbloomz4-I suspect the greater amount of money is freed for those receiving the gov't check who also benefit from subsidized rent. Those paying full market rent likely really need those food drives, clothing drives, etc.; those with subsidized rent pay only 30% of their income, and may still benefit from lower telephone, electric rates, fuel assistance, and so forth.
ps. I don't understand qdognj's response:"The "chore" provides her family with a 6 figure income,and the ability to be home when needed..." ?????
-Penny G.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

I can't help myself, I have to weigh in on this one! I known friends and co-workers over the years whose approach to handling money was and still is like that of Rileysmom17's cleaning lady.

Most of these are reasonalbly intelligent people, some with what should be more than enough funds coming in to take care of their needs - although not always.

Some come from a family that always lived this way so to them, this is what feels and seems normal. Others, even though they were bought up to be finacially responsible still aren't.

One co-worker years back, a single Mom was constantly right up against it financially all the time. She was fairly young and I thought she just needed help understanding how things work. Nope. That had nothing to do with her problem. She was going to spend money she didn't have, having to have a lavis lifestyle in area's most of us know we can't support, not if we are going to have money we for our very real everyday needs. Then she did the sighing and hand wringing and asking for advice. She created the drama she needed because she had emotional needs that the drama somehow helped to meet. And I truly believe she had no idea she did this.

Another co-worker at a different job told me how she and husband had never ever paid their light bill on time. Oh, they didn't let it get to the disconnect state, but they paid those late charges every single month, year in and year out -and not just on the light bill. They also paid the highest price for things they had to have because they never had the money to purchase something when it was on sale, might have been a good buy.

I eventually realized that both of these co-workers had no clue that they thrived on the drama that living this way provided them. In different ways they were both living lives they were not happy with and that unhappiness had nothing at all to do with their money problems. They both felt hopeless to change the circumstances that made them so unhappy.

They needed emotional support and this was how they got it even though they had no clue that was why they made the choices they did with their money, created the bills they did and how they paid those bills.

Of course there are those who do have true crisis they don't create and job losses they couldn't control and so much stress that they overlooked due dates, making deposits, etc. But for those people it is a temporary thing. For the others, in my humble opinion, it isn't temporary and until or unless those emotinal needs are eventually somehow met, there won't be any lasting changes.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Very interesting thread! I have to agree with just about all the posts that speak of drama, how we are raised, etc., that teaches us about money management. I am 38 and most of my close friends are all fairly conservative in their finances. Most are also financially secure, so they can easily afford little extras that others can't. But I've seen others my age, and younger of course, who are so clueless about how to handle money and spend money they don't have on stupid things. I work with a divorced mother of 3 (2 of whom are disabled) who is in pretty dire financial straits. She makes a decent income for her position, but has pre-existing financial problems related to the divorce. But a lot of it is bad money management. She frequently goes out for lunch instead of packing one, frequently buys stuff out of the vending machine, spent her IRS refund last year on a vacation instead of paying her bills, etc. I think she may finally be learning because I heard she chose to spend the last $20 in her checking account on food for her kids instead of on cigarettes (I think she has since quit). It just makes me scratch my head.

And back to the OP, a calendar is a initial great idea, but really, someone will have to work with this lady for MONTHS in order to get her to change her thinking about money management. And that definitely should NOT be the OP, it's not her place.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

You know, sometimes a person with next to no money in the bank has a hard time disciplining themselves to always bring their lunch, or keep from buying "those little extras" (even when they haven't addressed the big things) not because they're 'undisciplined' by nature, or uneducated about money, but just because they want to feel like they can. You can say they're feeling sorry for themselves, which they probably are, or have a sense of entitlement, which they probably rationalize as being valid after seeing friends able to spend on even small things, but in the end it's just that the rewards of saving and 'being good' come so slowly, and sometimes we/they just want to feel special, or even just part of the crowd, and not always scrimping, or going home to the TV for company. It's being human... not very profound, but the truth, I think.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Lucy,

I remember having almost the same exact conversation with my Auntie Nancy years ago when I was in college - I quizzed her why she would go out and buy a brand new set of towels when she was managing on foodstamps and behind on the utilities.

Now, she was normally very frugal person but she said to do something like this once in awhile made her feel that "she still mattered as a human being."

Cindy,

Bringing up the IRS refund had me thinking about how many lower income people every year get taken advantage by those tax services like HR Block and the banks they are affiliated that advance the refund as a loan and outrageous fees they charge to do it.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

I admit I haven't read all of this, but I did find the discussion on valuing money interesting.

I have a friend whose household makes a decent wage, but she spends it on luxuries she can't afford...somethings she had for 15 years before I did, like a video camera, and I haven't carried debt for years. She gets suckered in by 'a good deal!' as if there will never be a good deal ever again. But I think a lot of it is what Lucy says - she just wants to feel 'normal'. She wants to feel that she can eat out now and then. I totally get that, as hard as it must be to be in that situation.

Regarding the housekeeper...I think some people are addicted to chaos and chaos causes these things to happen repeatedly. I have a friend who lives in chaos despite being very well off and I would venture to guess she pays a lot of Stupid Tax. She saves as well as she can, but then she's late on a bill or waits til the last minute for this or that and then overpays. Some people just live that way.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

IRS refunds ... I'm always confounded by people who purposely have too much tax withheld so they can "get some money back."

Teenagers where I work do that. "Why did SHE get money back and I didn't? I want some back, too!" I've tried to explain, they look at me as if I'm the dumb one. :-)


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

I read this thread over a week ago and decided to walk away without comment. But it keeps circling around in my mind and I can't seem to let it go.

Rileysmon17- when you ask "Gee Calirose, do you have some "class" issues going here? What about my first and subsequent posts made you think I feel "smug" about paying my cleaning lady one week early, from time to time, so that she can keep her lights on, keep her car running, get her daughter's teeth cleaned, or whatever?"
I have to wonder if you recall a post just above that where you wrote "As representatives of the prudent slice of society, we can have hope for changed behavior from overspenders but it sounds kinda hopeless for Stupid Taxers."

I have to wonder if you are aware how that reads?
Different people handle things different ways. There are some aspects of behavior that we can never understand and I think this is one of them.

It's the tone of your posts that struck me. They certainly say, at least to me, that you see yourself as a superior person because you are better at handling finances. You are not. You are no better and no worse.
The "class" issue, as you put it, is yours.

I may have made financial mistakes in my life and clearly do not enjoy the advantages of someone who has the benefit of a better education or who married "better". But I daresay there are many things I do well and egads! even better than you.

One of them is being aware that one needn't make other people feel small in order to feel good about ourselves.
We can all be "big".
This type of arrogance is simply not necessary, and frankly makes me wonder what you are compensating for.

I don't mean this to sound like a flame, although it will most certainly be perceived as one. I just felt as if perhaps you were not aware of how disparaging a couple of your comments were. Ask yourself how she would have felt if she read your comments about her- if her feelings would have been hurt in any way then perhaps it was a post that should never have happened.

Give her the advance or don't give her the advance- it is of course up to you. But I do hate seeing one clique snickering at the problems of someone who isn't even here to either explain or tell us to mind our own business.
How she runs her life is up to her.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

[warning - long and rambling]

Dear c-bill,

Did you read the thread from top to bottom? I did not coin the term "stupid tax". My post containing the words "prudent slice of society" and my conclusion were a reflection of 1) the fact that nearly all the respondents provided thoughts and suggestions that indicated that they had basic management systems in place to avoid these types of mishaps - and 'prudent' is a perfectly good term to use to describe them, and 2) many of the respondents are frequent contributors on this bulletin board and and at least some of them are professional money managers, and I did not hear of any of them successfully assisting a non-relative (or even a relative) to learn to avoid these costly errors.

So I was attempting a mid-point summary, and if you took my comment to be 'classist' in any way I think that's your interpretation. There were several objections to the term "stupid tax", which could be construed as more denigrating than anything in my post.

As regards the earlier poster describing me as "feeling smug" or words to that effect because I had the power to advance my cleaning lady, talk about shocked?! Where did that come from? Why should I feel smug about paying her for work she is going to do anyway? It was my suggestion that I pay her for multiple weeks of work, in advance of the work, when I first hired her. I didn't do that to feel smug about it but to decrease my check-writing hassle. When she calls me needing an advance I don't feel smug, I just write the check and wonder what happened this time; I don't ask her but she always tells me. Several posters thought I was aiding and abetting her mishaps, but I am confident that these difficulties predated our employment arrangement and I would like her to have heat, light, and food. Maybe callierose would feel "smug" in saying "no", as in "no, you naughty child, you must do better next time, you must be more like me, I don't do those things."

If I was going to exert some form of class power, I would do it by saying no, not by saying "sure".

Thanks to the many posters with interesting personal anecdotes and thoughts. I think it was a good back on forth on several points. If there is another utility bill or mortgage mishap I do think I will try to encourage the calendar concept, or a general budget concept. The 'you can be in charge of your money not the other way around' concept.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

In the united states all electric companies have special programs to help low income people pay their bills.
The electric company gives you a form and you have to state your finances on the application. They verify your money before they assist you.

BINGO......that is why the housekeeper doesn't do it. She doesn't want an investigation from the light company. It is that simple.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Wow, everyone makes great points. I'm sure the reasons for lack of financial responsibility are varied depending upon the person. It can be extremely frustrating for an onlooker to watch, much less understand. (especially if you've had your own finacial scrapes and recovered)

From my own experience, you can't help someone change if they don't want to. If you do help in a significant way, watch out - it's very possible that they'll eventually turn on you. Hard to beleive, but I've seen it many times.

Finally, I have always thought that money is not 'just money.' I feel that each of us attatches our values to our dollars. No one can ever have enough, so prioritizing your spending is a must and we prioritize according to our values (whether we know it or not). It's this concept that makes money such a contentious subject.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

cbearhaill, the points you made about the thread originator ring quite true to me, especially since I've read some of her comments on other forums. Her statements seem innocent enough at first reading, but have always left me with a strange feeling of disquiet and doubts about her motivations. There are people who don't at all see themselves clearly and, barring this one statement, I won't comment further since experience has taught me that it serves no purpose.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

While there has been a lot of great replies here, I just sort of wish this thread would die.

I dislike seeing the assumptions, and attacks that have gone on here.

Rileysmom,

I am sorry you have had to endure some of what has been posted here. You have my sympathy, and empathy. I too have been attacked and accused of having ulterior motives, and it was not a good feeling. I was misjudged. I have seen it happen here before too.

When one makes a post asking for assistance in trying to help someone, they should not be subject to what you have been here.

You all can flame me if you like, but that's just the way I feel and see it!

Have a good day!


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

Rileysmom

If you want to help her stop bailing her out with early payday's. She knows that if she screws up she can come to you and get money early to get her out of the jam she is in. If she has to deal with the consequences of her actions more often she might just wise up and be more careful. It may not be an inconvience for you to do it but that doesn't mean you should. I could see if it was for an emergency like someone in her family is in the hospital and she needs the money to help pay the bill but to call being careless about bill paying an emergency I don't think of it that way.

I am the worst at keeping up with dates and even when I do I have a habit of walking around with the mail in my purse and forgetting to put it in the mailbox. I got others to help me. Started mailing the bills when I left work and would have a coworker remind me on the way out the door to put it in the mail. Now I'm pretty good at doing that myself. If she doesn't try she won't get better. Let her sit in the dark for a few days and I bet next time she will be better at doing what needs to be done on time.

How do you help people like this tough love. I speak from experience.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

was in response to some earlier threads where admitting you have household help seemed to brand you as a baddie, a supercilious bourgeoisie.

I really don't see why anyone should complain about someone who can afford household help. Those who pay for housecleaning, yardwork, manicures, etc. are actually helping the economy by keeping people employed! I am getting tired of hearing about people who are giving up these types of services "because of the economy". It's appropriate if your own personal economy is threatened right now, but I feel that too many people are giving up things that they can afford and therefore putting people out of work and hurting the overall economy.


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

I have read this entire thread in three sittings. I am so glad everyone contributed; the best way to learn anything, imo, is to see as many sides of an issue as you can.

I have been on both sides of the dime. My DH works in the financial sector and we've learned a lot lately. We certainly don't bring in a ton of cash, but we do spend less than we bring in. We save; we buy most of our groceries and clothing on sale. We do have some vices, but we've cut back on those a great deal in favor of increasing our savings.

You'll have to forgive the paraphrasing, but there's this story about the dog who keeps rolling over on the same nail on the front porch and he cries out every time. When a neighbor asked the owner why the dog kept doing that, the owner said, 'when it hurts enough, he'll stop. I think we got to that point over the past year, and that's why we are rebuilding our savings again.
It's never too late to learn!
(not that we're old, mind you. :)


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RE: How to 'help' somelike this this - Suze says?

This is a really interesting thread. I know it's old, but I've been reading the old posts, since I just found this forum. I agree rileysmom, that diligence and responsibility help you to hang on to money. I had to approach my finances as a relationship. Once I put in daily time, care, attention to detail, and focus, they really improved. Some people are not concientious by nature. They don't pay attention to details like due dates. I think when you are working hard, and struggling financially, you feel like you "deserve a treat." It's a complete shift to save, invest, plan ahead, etc...ironically, when you have enough money, you don't have the urge to overspend. There is a lot of helpful information out there. Simple living is a great start. I also agree that it's hard for the poor to "break the cycle," if that's all they know. It can be a form of self sabotage.


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