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Giving and Debt

Friday, April 04, 2008

Here's a nice little article about giving and debt by April Borbon. It goes along with my belief that giving must be backed up with the wherewithall to give. You can't give what isn't yours, and if you give from a position of lack, or from a position of not having taken care of you first - it will just create problems. As always, I'm curious to read comments, ideas, opinions, and whatever you guys have to say on the subject.

In debt? Credit cards maxed out? Credit score circling the drain? So often when people have a lot of debt, no money and a poor credit rating they are thought of as living extravagantly. People think they must be doing all of the things that one isn't supposed to do with their money such as taking lavish vacations, wasting money on frivolous trinkets or shopping excessively for themselves. A strictly unscientific poll has exposed an explanation for this, and believe it or not, many of these people aren't indulging themselves. Let's call them "those who give too much."

These people indulge everyone except themselves and they make up a sizable population of those suffering from debt. Divorced dads who try to make up for their absence by spending money they don't have on their children. Women who take care of their shiftless boyfriends by paying their fines, child support and car payments, subconsciously knowing they will never recoup a cent. Parents who co-sign for cars, boats, motorcycles, even houses and businesses for their children and get stuck holding the financial bag. Sound familiar?

How do you know if you are one of those who give too much? Consider how you are feeling when you make your purchases. Are you buying out of guilt or so that someone will "love you more"? When looking at your debts, are the majority of the purchases made for someone else? Are people always around to take, take, take but never come around to give back? Do you have a queasy feeling when you are making a purchase or co-signing for a loan because you know you can't afford it, and whether you admit it or not, you know you probably will not be paid back?

Today it's time to stop all of that foolishness. First of all, buying out of guilt is a very temporary fix. If it was a permanent fix, you would have bought something out of guilt and that would have been it. Obviously, it didn't work because you need to keep buying to assuage your guilt. It's time to change tactics for a more permanent solution.

Next take a look at the person you are buying for. They may be cute, charming, charismatic or related but actions speak louder than words. If they often ask you to buy something for them and promise to pay you back but never do, there's your sign. If they are obviously financially irresponsible (late payments, creditors calling, repossessions, etc.), there's your other sign. Stop helping them dig themselves in deeper. Instead of helping, you are actually turning them into a financial cripple.

Finally, there's only three words for co-signing loans, don't do it. If a person needs a co-signer for a loan, they either aren't credit-worthy enough, don't have enough down payment and/or are living beyond their means. Better to teach them financial responsibility by suggesting alternatives to huge loans that they cannot afford.

Believe it or not, after (often stringent) resistance, setting yourself financially straight will pay off for everyone in the long run too. Being debt free and in charge of your life will actually cause others to respect you more. Banishing the guilt and doing what you can and nothing more will cause others to have to stand on their own two (financial) feet. They will also develop more self-esteem and learn financial responsibility, both of which are very good lessons. Finally, remember that if you can't take care of yourself, you can't take care of others. If you spend all of your money on wants for others, you will be unable to help out during a real crisis when your money is most needed.


Anonymous said...

Too funny, when I read her line about "If they often ask you to buy something for them and promise to pay you back but never do, there's your sign", I heard that redneck guy - Bill Engvall?? - in my head saying in his hick voice "Here's your sign." So funny. And so true. If you keep giving and giving to your own personal detriment, you SHOULD have a "Stupid" sign. But I do it too, so there you go.

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