Thursday, May 3, 2012

When to Help

If you're like me, you like to help people in need. It's something that cannot be controlled and is part of you. I like helping people when I hear about a situation and know they are doing their very best to get out of it, but are struggling. I've also found that it's hard to help someone who won't help themselves and are just looking for a hand out.

Sometimes, for me, these lines get a little crossed. I recently found out that a good friend of mine doesn't always have enough food to feed her and her husband. In fact, it's gotten so bad that they have even needed to go to the food bank sometimes. I knew that they were struggling, but not this much.

Being me, my first inclination is to buy them some groceries. Yes, we have done this before and we have also given them some of our food to take home (I stockpile non-perishables when they're on sale). I've even offered to help menu plan and to help them budget, but when they say that they can only afford $10-20 a week for groceries, it's a little difficult.

At this point I don't know what to do. Part of me (and my husband) says that there are things that they should obviously cut in their lifestyle to be able to buy groceries. Things like eating out and buying nicknacks. The other part of me just wants to swoop in and help.

I've tried to explain couponing, budgeting, and shopping at stores like Aldi's, but it falls on deaf ears. For my husband and I, that's where it stops. If you are in a poor financial situation and are asking for help, but not making changes, then our help is just enabling you to continue to make bad decisions that will continue your way into debt.

It's a harsh reality and a hard decision, but we know that we want to make sure that when someone needs help, they are going to try to make the necessary changes to get themselves out of the situation they are in. Enabling is just as bad as giving them a "free pass" and letting them continue to harm themselves.

At this point, we can only offer advice and see if they take it. We're on a budget too and it would be wrong if we put ourselves in a compromising situation for someone doing the same.

How do you handle friends in need?

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