Good Samaritan is Running Out of Cash

Dear Lisa,

My friend has an adequate income from a reliable job. However, he has been a single parent and put his kids through college. One of them also had some health issues that was not covered by insurance and he footed that bill while his son was in school. He refinanced his home twice to swing all these expenses. Now his salary barely covers the mortgage, utilities and some debts that remain following putting the boys through school. My own salary went down during this period from a ¾ time professional position to ½ time. I have sold some things to help my friend and I have ignored my own bills to help my friend. How can we both dig our ways out of this financial hole, and keep it from damaging our friendship, too?
Strapped for Cash,

Dear Strapped,

I think it’s so great that you are helping your friend out.  You should get a Friend of the Year Award!  While I think it’s wonderful that your friend is a devoted single parent and you have ignored your own needs to help him out, I would tread carefully on this situation.

Firstly, I think you should cease to ignore your own bills to help your friend.  Again, this selfless act is admirable, but you are only creating a similar situation for yourself.  Always make sure your own bills are paid before paying someone else’s.  Sure, there are certain instances where you have to sacrifice in order to help a friend, but it looks as if this might be a habit of yours.  Break that habit.  He made the decision to have children, not you.  Ultimately, it is his responsibility.

Your friend could probably benefit from a financial advisor.  Without knowing the specifics about his financial situation, there may be certain programs that he could take advantage of.  He could also consider asking his children to help pay off their school debts, as many parents do.  But again, these issues are your friend’s responsibility, not yours.

As for you, while you have been generous in the past, you have a perfect excuse to slow or stop your monetary contributions: your salary has been cut.  Focus your energies on getting back up to full time – or doing some side work, like tutoring, bookkeeping, or whatever work it is that you do.

I have a feeling that this friendship might be a little romantic in nature – which is fine, of course!  Just make sure that you take care of your own needs first.  I know you are worried about damaging the friendship, but what kind of friend wants to see the other dig themselves a financial grave?  If he truly cares about you, he’ll understand.  Now go get on or!

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