Y’all will have to forgive me with this post. I am usually super transparent on here and share every gory detail, but this post will be slightly more vague. Not because I do not think you do not deserve to know the whole story, but because this story involves someone else and I am not okay with sharing their name or their relationship to me without their permission.
This post is all about one of the most challenging decisions I have ever had to make. This post is about someone that I love dearly and someone that is related to me. I will be using the name “Tim” in this post but that is not their real name. Again, please forgive me for being more vague than usual but I feel that this is still an important story to share because many people are in similar situations.
Tim is a great person and is a true “rags to riches” story. Tim grew up poor and spent many years of his childhood sleeping on a fold out lawn chair because his family did not have the money to purchase a bed for him or his siblings. When he married his wife, he had four dollars in his pocket and was every bit struggling to build his business.
Several years later, Tim went from making an average American annual income to well over a six-figure income. He worked hard to get to where he was, but unfortunately, Tim never learned the secret to money – you must manage your money and not let it manage you.
Tim spent money as if it was water and the more and more money he earned, the more money he spent. The problem was that Tim did not spend enough time saving money and building up an emergency fund or retirement account.
I can remember when I was in high school visiting Tim, he opened his desk drawer and there were two huge stacks of credit cards all with balances on them. To Tim, this was a big deal because having so many credit cards meant that his credit was great.
Factor in over a decade of insane uncontrolled spending and the economy tanking and Tim was left with no money. This happened about a year after my own personal financial struggle so my heart bled for Tim. I can remember when I was struggling I asked my mom for money because I was about to be evicted and she told me “no”. Not because she did not have the money but because I had “not learned how to manage my money” and if she just gave me money to save me, I would never learn.
I decided to help Tim out. The problem was that my hubs and I in just over a years’ time bailed Tim out to the tune of about $5,000. Pat and I were still trying to finish paying off my own insane debt and we were newlyweds, so $5,000 might as well have been a million dollars because we were scrapping by to take care of Tim.
When in another attempt to help Tim learn how to manage his money, I suggested to him to sell off several of the items he owned to help make a dent in his enormous debt and to help put money away in savings. He had an old school square body Chevy Silverado that many teenage boys would die over and in fact, I personally knew many people that were willing to buy it from Tim. The only problem with the truck was that it needed a new engine block so Tim said he could not sell it because he would not get what it was worth out of it. When I argued that he could not afford to not sell it because he had no money was about to be evicted he still refused to sell.
I then attempted to convince him to sell his four wheelers, jet skis, lawn mowers, camper, log splitter, and various other items that he owned. He refused to sell any of it.
That night on the way home, I told Pat that we were not bailing Tim out anymore. He was my family and I loved him but if he was not willing to help himself, we were just donating money to a lost cause. My hubs did not like that idea because he knew that meant that Tim was going to lose his home and was going to truly struggle, but my hubs knew that we could not afford to support Tim anymore.
Trust me; it was not easy watching Tim lose his home and struggle to find a place to live. I kept thinking that after he had found a cheaper place to live and had gone bankrupt that he would change. He would start at least trying to manage his money. I was wrong. He still refused to manage his money and still spent money foolishly on things he did not need.
He was evicted again and again. I finally understood the reason behind my mother not giving me money when I was struggling. I had to accept responsibility for my own actions and had to learn how to manage my money on my own. Thankfully, the threat of being evicted and having $0.21 in my checking account and no food in my home forced me to make my first budget as an adult*. Once I took ownership of my mistakes and started managing my money, I was able to save myself.
I wanted that for Tim, but unfortunately, Tim has never learned how to manage his money. He is not a bad guy, just one that refuses to see the error of his own ways. If you are struggling with supporting a family member or friend financially, it may be time to stop. This is not an easy decision and I can tell you that it is not fun to watch someone you love struggle but sometimes the struggle will in fact make that person stronger. I know that it made me stronger and it could have made Tim stronger if he had been willing to try.
Have you ever had to make the difficult decision of letting someone you love struggle?
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