When a Friend is Deep in Debt

I’ve mentioned my friend Jessica* a few times before, often discussing her poor spending habits. Now, Jessica is a great girl with the best intentions. She’ll always put a friend or loved one’s needs before her own. I don’t have that kind of patience or selflessness, and I admire that trait in her. However, I’m worried about her debt, even though it’s not my problem, and wish there was a way I could help her.

This month, she revealed to me that she is $12k in debt. While that isn’t terrible, what is painful to watch is that this girl, with all her talent and skills, could easily obtain a job (even a minimum wage job) and pay off her debt within a year or two. But, being selfless as she is, she refuses to leave her administrative position with the family’s business, which has suffered greatly with the economic collapse.

Jessica consolidated a few of her credit card balances and has managed to pay off $3k of her debt, bringing it down to the current $12k total she owes. She works a few small jobs here and there, but what the small jobs do is make it impossible for her to obtain steady work. Without a college degree, I know it would be hard for her to find a decent job, but isn’t it worth working a job you dislike for a little while to pay off your debt and build an emergency savings fund?

It hurts me as a friend to watch her constantly worried about her debt, her bills, and how she’s going to afford the next month. She lives in a house owned by her parents so luckily doesn’t have to pay rent, but it sounds like there have been months when the parent’s house has been close to going into foreclosure. The whole family is so nice and I just wish I was rich enough to buy them all out of debt, but then I also wish I could buy the whole country out of debt and teach everyone to live within their means. Too bad no one would listen.

Today, I asked Jessica what games we’d be playing on New Years at her party night and she said she might buy a new game with her Christmas money. I just wanted to write back and say don’t buy a game, however much money you got, put that into savings. Pay down your debt. Don’t buy a game with it. But I can’t do that. I can’t help at all.

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2 thoughts on “When a Friend is Deep in Debt”

  1. Couldn't you suggest that in lieu of buying a new game, she could have other people bring games and then bank the money? Offering a money-saving alternative that gets your guests involved helps it not come off like a lecture.

  2. The sad thing is you can't fix anyone who doesn't want to be fixed. You just come off as a nag. Let her know that you're there when she's ready to be helped and until then, just be a good friend.

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