I don’t mess around with platitudes and greetings. I prefer to cut right to the chase and show that I truly care about someone by helping them. I’m just not that good at saying so. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no recluse, I truly care about people I don’t even know, and regularly help complete strangers, but my personality just doesn’t lend itself to a whole lot of socializing in the process.
Also, while I’m not prone to thinking a negative thought about someone without a good reason, there are a few things that really set me on edge. Money mistakes—some of which I’ve made myself—really bother me. The ones that make my list are rooted in impulsivity or lack of self-discipline, which are items on my short-list of things I won’t bail friends out for.
Consider yourself warned… don’t complain to me that you have money problems if you’re currently doing anything on this list. I just won’t be sympathetic. For sympathies, try DebtKid, he’s nicer than me.
Here’s my list. I’d love to hear from readers if you have any to add.
1. “Ghetto Wheels”: Don’t put $2,000 wheels on a $500 car. First, you can’t afford them. Second, they’ll get stolen. I’m going to make a sub-category here for any kind of fancy wheels on mini-vans and station wagons. What are you trying to say with the fancy wheels? I’ll tell you what I hear “I’m impulsive and I like shiny things.” I’m all for fancy wheels when you can afford them (not in debt, not behind on taxes or other essentials), but make sure your ride is worthy of them.
2. “Ink”: If you didn’t pay your taxes or you’re behind in your credit card payments, or receiving public assistance, but you got a new tattoo, don’t tell me. You’ll get an earful from me—and I don’t mean another piercing.
3. Eating/Drinking out: I’ve been out to dinner with friends and had their bar tabs reach more than my mortgage payment. I never add myself to a tab. I pay cash for my food and drinks. And if you just ordered your third $9 margarita, I really don’t want to hear about your money problems—even if you’re funny when you’re blitzed.
4. Money-making schemes: A little part of me dies when broke people fall for money-making schemes like “order this software” and “buy this tape system” and multilevel-marketing programs. Starting a new “independent representative” business is a great idea if you have money. If you’re broke and in debt, it’s a bad time to start a new business. Please don’t. It breaks my heart and I’m not tactful enough to plead that don’t without hurting your feelings.
5. Rent-To-Own anything: If you’re on a payment plan for your 56” flat-screen, well, all I can say is please don’t breed.
6. Spoiled Children. Children can be ruined with stuff. You’ll impart a sense of entitlement into their psyche that is not a blessing. It will be an albatross they can’t shake off. They don’t learn respect for their things. I have a soft spot here for parents because I know that we all want to give our children everything. We just have to be the grown-ups in the equation and know when they have “enough.” It’s for their own good. Just remember, you’ll be able to spoil all you want when your kids grow up properly and provide you with grandchildren.
7. Car leases: You’re not taking advantage of the auto industry. You’ve not somehow found a new trick to work the system. You’re getting financially raked over the coals.
8. Using home equity to pay off credit cards: Why would you convert an unsecured debt to be a debt secured by your home? Also, why take a short-term debt and stretch it over 30 years? When asked if gravity was the most powerful force in the universe, Albert Einstein (a pretty smart guy) replied “no, the most powerful force is certainly compounding interest.”
9. Lottery tickets: Lottery tickets (and other gambling) are not an investment scheme. You are not entitled to win after 30 years of faithfully buying a ticket every Friday. Don’t plan on winning it. And for heaven’s sake, if you’re buying tickets, don’t tell me about your money problems. Would you have money problems if you could get back every dollar you’ve ever spent gambling?
10. Smoking. Cigarettes, medical expenses, taxes, etc. This habit is too expensive for the broke. Buy yourself some really spectacular cigars when you celebrate your freedom from debt. Champagne too. Why not? Please note that I get twice as cranky about people who are using illicit substances while complaining about their lack of funds. If you can afford your drugs, you can afford your bills. Furthermore, you’re flirting with legal and financial disaster for the consequences of those actions, so stop it!
11. Entitlement Vacations: You don’t deserve a break simply because of the stress of being broke. I understand that being broke (or even on a budget) is sometimes not fun. But hey, be a grown-up. With some self-discipline and hard work it won’t last forever. Don’t even think about busting out the plastic right now to hit the beach and then complaining to me about your money troubles when you get back . I’ll be irritated for your mistake and jealous of your tan.
Dear readers, what do you think? Anything I should add or remove from the list? Be sure to know I’m not going to accost a stranger on the street for their expensive wheels or smoking habit. I’ve just found that I’m not able to muster sympathies when a friend comes to me complaining about their financial difficulties