Monday, March 12, 2018
I have a friend who runs from pillar to post with money, always on the verge of bankruptcy, lurching from crisis to crisis. For years. I am extremely fond of her and I have always found that criticizing or being helpful without been asked is dynamite to meaningful relationships. So I listen for a while and ask if she has developed a method on improving on this and a rambling type of conversation ensues. Her sense of humour is immense and she could make a statue laugh.
Mark you, she has never asked for help in dealing with her money issues.
Her image to others is important, I think I am one of maybe 2 who know about her real financial situation which is heart breaking. Single mother, not a dime from deadbeat dad through the years, a gambling addiction she has licked with a likeness for weed and booze replacing it. She is my age now and has never gotten ahead even in good jobs with pensions. She cashed the balance of all such accounts out last year (she had me review the papers) due to "hardship" so now her hardship has returned and it's none of my business what she did with the money and she has never volunteered any information as to its disposal.
She got herself into an awful pickle at Xmas. She likes to impress her grandchildren with outrageous gifts ("they're all I have") and she runs around with them in her jalopy, picking them up and dropping them off and utilizing a lot of gas. She can't afford to get her car fixed so it roars off out of here with an ear-splitting decibel level like some mad teenager with a beater.
I, too, had many years of financial struggle, taking in boarders for years, taking in tourists, working two jobs, always behind the 8 ball financially. Always stressed about money.
My path could be Stella's*.
I feel mightily privileged that I have a bank account ergo with not too much in it, but enough to bury me, enough to buy me yarn, to give Grandgirl a small bonus now and again (she knows how impoverished I am)and to fund my car payments and my rent and my groceries and bi-weekly cleaning of my apartment. There won't be any travel in my future and I'm just fine with that. My joy is being in the here and now, cherishing those who are dear to me: my chosen tribe and Daughter and Grandgirl.
I don't imagine Stella is unusual at all. The crisis of single female elders is worldwide, some living in their cars or on the grace and favour of their children. She took out a payday loan** before Xmas, and, an intelligent woman, she did not realize what all the fine print said about fees and usurious interest rates and truly that one can never pay it off. These places are owned by Big Banks and the Canadian government refuses to regulate them. They prey on the hopeless and the poor and the old like Stella. She texted me during the week to tell me how hopeless she felt in the maws of this bloodsucking vulture. She didn't ask for help. Though my care-taking instinct kicked in, I suppressed it. She needs to figure it all out for herself.
And yes, I'm very aware that some lessons never get learned.
And lurching from crisis to crisis is just another addiction. An adrenaline high.
*not her real name
**In 2004, a Toronto Star investigation revealed payday loans carried annualized interest rates ranging from 390 to 891 per cent.