Discovering You’re Bad at Advice

Recently a family member of mine was struggling financially, she wanted to make a big purchase to the tune of 10 Grand. Because of the same money mistakes we all make, debt, consolidate debt, make more debt, try to consolidate again, keep trying to get more debt to cover the debt we’ve already gotten, etc. this family member was unable to get a loan for the purchase without a $400 a month payment, which who can afford with $300 a month minimum payments on already outstanding credit cards and a mortgage as big as an elephant and a measly job that only covers part of the ever growing debt monster. Then you have banks who literally try to talk you into a second mortgage to pay for a debt consolidation/big purchase loan. No! No! No! No!

Now my answer was simple, just don’t make this big purchase, it’s a want, sort of a need, but a need that could wait.   Well, that wasn’t the answer she wanted to hear. So I suggested she sell some things, cars, boats, golf carts, motorcycles, you know all those toys you just had to have; hell! Sell your house, pay off the mortgage monster, use any extra to pay for braces, pay off your credit cards, whatever. Rent something for a couple of months, then buy a new house later when you’ve learned your lesson. None of that made any sense to her.  I realized then I didn’t know anything about people or how to give them advice.

Remember “Little Shop of Horrors”? Remember how Seymour fed his little plant his blood until he had no more blood, then began to kill people to feed his plant. He would look at it and see a sweet little plant softly saying “Feed me Seymour”, then one day when that plant tried to eat his girlfriend, he realized he loved her more than that stupid monster of a plant and stopped feeding it. Well, everyone has a monster they feed money until they have to sacrifice themselves and eventually others to feed it and no matter how many times you beg them to stop feeding it and while they still love that little monster, you are wasting your breath giving them advice on how to feed their monster.

The real advice you should give them is the need to evaluate which relationship is more important, the “no more debt, spend less than you make” plant that needs watered twice a year and doesn’t cost you a thing, or the money monster plant that is debt, debt and more debt to get what you want right now and pay with blood, sweat and sacrifice later. Allow them to see the money monster for what it is, an unhealthy, selfish monster that will eventually force sacrifice of something on you like relationships, homes, and even big purchases for your kids. Because eventually you’ll run out of bodies to feed to it (in this case bankers, loan officers, friends, family will stop giving you money) and you’ll have nothing left to give it.

So now I hope I know a little bit of something about advice and I hope I can give it better. But for now, that family member is still feeding her money monster to the tune of an extra $300 a month, so I guess when she runs out of bodies, she will be forced to switch to the no more debt plant. I guess it’s a lesson we must all learn at some point.

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