Friend doesn’t share money troubles
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DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend is struggling in life, but she didn’t bother to tell me. I recently met up with her for lunch and found out that she had been evicted from her home. When I asked her why she didn’t tell me that she couldn’t afford to pay her rent, she said she had been too embarrassed to say anything.
I wish she had said something to me; I could have helped her before things got so bad. I’m a bit hurt that she felt like she couldn’t ask me for help. How can I help her now? — Trying To Help
DEAR TRYING TO HELP: It is important that you not take this personally. Your friend’s embarrassment is reflective of her state of mind, not of how much she cares about you or whether or not she believes you would help her. It can be excruciatingly difficult to ask for a financial lifeline — even when you desperately need it. Stop focusing on your emotions around your friend not reaching out to you, and put your attention on her.
When someone is in extreme financial distress, the best thing you can do for them and yourself is to give them whatever you can afford to give as a gift rather than lending money. The weight of having to pay someone back when you are drowning in debt can be too difficult to bear.
Figure out what you can offer to your friend financially and give it to her — making it clear that it is a gift. If she needs a place to live, that’s a different story. Offer to let her live with you only if you think you can manage that for a stretch of time. The point here is to offer what you can without making promises that are impossible for you to fulfill. Make sure she knows you love her and want to support her.
DEAR HARRIETTE: In January, I leased an apartment for 12 months. My father was my co-signer. At the time, he told me he really wanted me to focus on school, so he promised to pay my rent up until November.
It is May now, and he just told me that since I graduated, he no longer wants to pay my rent because he feels that I should handle it. This feels totally unfair. I am preparing for grad school and didn’t expect to have to work. I don’t have the time. I think it’s so wrong that he went back on his word. What can I do? — Keep Your Word
DEAR KEEP YOUR WORD: Sit down with your father and remind him of the agreement you made together. Describe how you are spending your time and why you need him to continue to support you through November. Assure him that you are not wasting your time or his investment in you. If he won’t budge, look for a roommate and get a part-time job, maybe through your grad school. You have to be realistic even if it hurts.