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Ask Dave

How to Help a Friend With Finances

Gina in Texas is trying to help a friend who is going through financial and job difficulties. Dave gives her his take on the matter, and says the friend needs to do more to make things happen.

QUESTION: Gina in Texas is trying to help a friend who is experiencing financial problems. Her friend is between jobs at the moment and only bringing in about $600 a month. Even when her friend is working regularly, Gina says she doesn’t budget and manage her money wisely. She’s always looking for more money, too. On top of all this, the friend is holding out hope for a dream job in another state – one she interviewed with several months ago and hasn’t heard a response from since. Gina asks Dave what he thinks she should do to help her friend.

ANSWER: The way you describe her makes her sound kind of impulsive and flighty. I’m thinking that maybe she’s a little bit immature, too. I don’t mean this as a put-down so much as an assessment. I’m just trying to get a handle on what we’re dealing with here.

So really what we’re talking about is how to get your friend to grow up a little and quit chasing rainbows. There’s nothing wrong with going after a dream, but you have to be realistic and practical at the same time. Right now, I want her chasing about six smaller rainbows at once so she’ll actually have a chance of catching something. When you chase just one, you end up with nothing in most cases.

The first thing I’d tell her is that the most employable people are the ones who aren’t broke. When you go into an interview and you’re broke, you’re tense and you don’t make for a very good candidate. The answer to that, when you’re basically unemployed, is to work any job – and six any jobs. Wait tables, walk people’s dogs, deliver pizzas, cut grass … I don’t care what. Just generate some income. Work all the time — and smile! You never know when you might be talking to your next employer. You could be walking someone’s dog one day and end up in their marketing department later. But none of this will happen if you’re not out there trying to make stuff happen. Sitting at home watching Oprah reruns, and trying to feel better about yourself that way, isn’t the answer.

In all this, I’m assuming that she’s willing to listen to you a little bit because you’re friends. But if she won’t, all you can really do is pray for her. It’s like the old saying goes, “Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.”