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To be worried about my friend's financial situation?

(24 Posts)
windymila Fri 14-Nov-14 11:41:42

This is my first post on MN, sorry if I break any rules! I'm going to try to be as vague as possible - although it'll probably be quite lengthy...

I have been friends with "Sarah" for 13 years, we grew up together and see each other at least twice a week.

Recently I have become worried about her money situation, or her lack of. She used her free student overdraft facility while at university (as many people do, including me) then, when she graduated, she got a job. The overdraft facilities for students aren't huge, we both only had £500 to help cover rent etc. I managed to get myself out of my overdraft within a couple of months, but every time we ever met up she would express concern about her lack of money. It never stopped her wanting to buy things or go out for a meal so I presumed it was okay, she was just moaning a bit.

This was two years ago and she has gone back to university and last week I had a big talk with her about her finances. It turns out she never got out of her overdraft, and as her free overdraft facility has expired now, she is paying fees every month. I am really worried about her as she didn't seem to realise that this was a bad situation at all. She still spends money she doesn't really have on clothes / food and visits her boyfriend in London every 2/3 weeks. I said she should open another student bank account with a free overdraft as she is a student again, and at least this would mean she wasn't losing ~£30 a month on fees, but she has done nothing about this yet, and still, last night when I cooked her dinner (so she wouldn't suggest going out for a meal) she still brought round expensive wine and had bought a new coat for the winter.

I'm so worried about her, she lives with her parents currently, but how will she ever be able to move out or look after herself if this is her attitude to money? I am concerned that she has not been in the black financially since before she was a student originally.

AIBU to be concerned and want to help her out (not by giving her money), or should I butt out and leave her to realise her issues herself? I really care about her and it makes me sad that she doesn't realise this is a bad situation to be in.

NickiFury Fri 14-Nov-14 11:45:43

I take it Sarah is a grown woman? You sound very over invested in her and her finances and I think you should butt out and enjoy the friendship quite frankly.

If she moans tell her you've given her a load of advice already and she might things a bit easier if she follows it then leave it at that.

Winterbells Fri 14-Nov-14 11:48:32

It's understandable to be concerned about a good friend. But would you both be comfortable talking about this issue or would it affect your friendship in a negative way?

Jumblebee Fri 14-Nov-14 11:49:06

Honestly, I recognise that you're looking out for your friend and want to help, but I would butt out. I don't think she would appreciate you giving advice about her money and spending, despite your good intentions, as finances are a personal thing.

I was the same up until a couple of years ago. Overdraft constantly maxed out, running out of money the week after pay day, constantly getting charged for not having enough money for DDs. It took getting pregnant and having my LO to really get to grips with my finance. Really I think it's the responsibility of the person in the situation to sort everything out and unfortunately it may take a big financial shock to be a real wake up call.

windymila Fri 14-Nov-14 11:56:01

Thanks both.

She is 23 Nicki

She brought up the subject the other week, and I talked about it with her, gave her some advice, but she hasn't done anything about it. I'm not sure I would want to bring it up unprompted now, to see how it's going, but because of our chat I feel uncomfortable doing things that involve her spending money, which is difficult as we don't live very close to each other and would generally meet for a meal or drinks near where we both work.

NickiFury Fri 14-Nov-14 12:00:42

I was ridiculous with money in my twenties. I would buy my bus pass so I could get to work and then blow the lot. There were times when I literally had £5 to live on for three weeks (sack of potatoes and 7p cans of beans yum!!). I think a lot of us are a bit daft. She needs to learn herself.

TurnOverTheTv Fri 14-Nov-14 12:01:14

Is it just the £500 overdraft, or is she in thousands of pounds of debt? You sound very overly concerned and stressed about the situation. Why are you so upset? I want to say it's 'only' £500 but I know that is a lot of money for some people.

youareallbonkers Fri 14-Nov-14 12:03:12

what's it got to do with you? Not unreasonable to be worried, but unreasonable to talk to others about it

windymila Fri 14-Nov-14 12:07:41

I am not upset, but she was last week, which has made me worried for her, and I wasn't sure how to deal with the situation. I think you are all right though, IABU to want to be involved and am going to try and forget about it and just be supportive if she needs me to be (and look for some free things to do!). Thanks everyone smile

TheCraicDealer Fri 14-Nov-14 12:11:00

I've just turned 26 and only paid off my student overdraft (also a modest £500) a few weeks ago. Slightly different in that it was interest free until I'm 28, but still.

You have pointed out that this is costing her money and told her how to rectify the issue. She has elected not to take your advice. I don't know why you're stressing about this, 23 is still relatively young, £500 isn't a massive amount of money, and as it's an agreed overdraft it's not having impact on her credit rating. You sound overly invested to be honest.

I have a friend who I think makes really shit decisions; I tell her, "I think you're bloody daft, why don't you do x y z". Then I shut up. If you go on and on and on about it, instead of giving advice you're just lecturing.

Tierradelfuego Fri 14-Nov-14 12:14:06

I'm in my 40's and still crap with money, not sure if many of my friends have sleepless nights over it though!

redexpat Fri 14-Nov-14 12:16:47

YANBU. Student loan is not a bad debt, as you only pay rate of inflation on it, once you start earning above a certain threshold.

Bank charges are extortionate. Perhaps reiterate that she could easily get a student account with interest free overdraft.

Think you both did amazingly well to only go over by 500!

It could be that she is struggling to get used to being on a lower income after having a regular wage - that is quite an adjustment.

I once heard an article on radio one (was years ago) saying that if you get it right first time, then it saves a lot of money and stress. If you get it wrong it can follow you into your 30s.

windymila Fri 14-Nov-14 12:27:00

I just want to clarify, the other week when we had a chat, she brought it up. I didn't mention anything about it at all before that, but it was obviously praying on her mind. The debt isn't just the overdraft, she has some credit cards which she uses etc. It isn't huge amounts though, I am mainly just concerned because she was so upset about it at the time. We've chatted and, as I said, I am going to be supportive if and when she needs me to be, but she will learn in time I'm sure, as most of you have said.

WitchesGlove Fri 14-Nov-14 13:35:51

How does she pay her post graduate fees?

Are her parents wealthy? Are you sure they're not just paying for everything and she's too ashamed to tell you? Some people are jealous and spiteful towards those with family support, not suggesting you are, you sound like a good friend.

KnackeredMuchly Fri 14-Nov-14 14:41:13

I was similarly awful. I'm so glad it was only around £500 and I learnt my lesson. It could have a ended up £10000 with credit cards and all sorts

Enjorasdream Fri 14-Nov-14 14:50:50

I think you are being a little vicarious, being very worried about her. You have offered her advice, and she may or may not take it. It's not your problem to give yourself grief over. She's a grown woman, with family.

lynniep Fri 14-Nov-14 15:03:38

Honestly, I'd butt out in general, but if she brought it up with you, maybe you do need to have another chat. You say she has gone back to university. Is that to complete the previous course or to do a new one?

Just to give you an idea of reckless spending - I was 32 before I paid off all my student debts. I'd managed to run up £22k of debts (£12k was a career development loan to see me through a year long masters degree - £4k of that was interest) I paid off my student loan first, then took out a consolidation loan (which I should have done in the first place) for £16k and paid the rest off at about £500 a month which began when I was 28.

I didn't really think too hard about it whilst I was a student. I was reckless and figured it would all turn out ok in the end. It did. But I had WAY less money to spend after I started work than I should have done because of my debts. I didn't buy expensive things, but I spent more than I had. If someone had explained to me at the time that I'd be 32 before I paid it off, I may have listened (but I was a tw*t so it would probably have gone in one ear, and out the other!)

lynniep Fri 14-Nov-14 15:04:54

(my sums are wrong - I didn't pay back £500 a month - that was my rent - it was about half that!)

ScarletFever Fri 14-Nov-14 17:07:04

"She still spends money she doesn't really have on clothes / food and visits her boyfriend in London every 2/3 weeks"

I think she knows what she is doing, and with the greatest of respect to you op - i think you have to keep your nose out of her business. You have spoken with her, and all you can do now is be there if she asks for help. If you try to get more involved with helping her financially a couple of things can happen - either she will rip your head off for stickybeaking, or your 'help' will be enabling her to carry on living like this - you're not her parent - you've done your bit.... now just be there if she asks for help

missymayhemsmum Fri 14-Nov-14 17:51:58

There are lots of people like this, she will either get bailed out by her parents, or one day realise that her spending habits are standing between her and things she wants. Like a home and being able to sleep at night. If it's only a £500 agreed overdraft rather than thousands on credit cards and payday loans it's not a big problem, after all.

If she feels her finances are a problem then point her in the direction of the Money Advice Service website. Until then, she will be sticking her fingers in her ears and going lalala to anything you try to say, so don't bother.

formerbabe Fri 14-Nov-14 17:59:27

I don't want to sound like a bitch but if it was one of my friends I wouldn't even care. I read it as she lives with mummy and daddy and spends too much on nights out/clothes! Hardly a big deal!

I thought when I clicked on this thread it would involve loan sharks/door step lenders/repossession etc!

Topseyt Fri 14-Nov-14 18:31:26

I wouldn't get too worried about it. You can't just take on other people's worries like that, even for good friends. That way lies a whole lot of stress and grief, all too often.

The way she lives her life is her own business, and she will ask for advice or other help if/when she is ready. Just do as you have been doing, and provide a listening ear when she brings the subject up.

Topseyt Fri 14-Nov-14 18:34:22

Also, there is no teacher quite like experience. You get your fingers burnt (metaphorically speaking) a few times, and learn some sharp life lessons. I'm sure we have all been there at some point or another. I know I have.

SmilingHappyBeaver Fri 14-Nov-14 18:40:19

It really isn't any of your business. If you keep giving her unsolicited advice I suspect she won't be your friend for much longer.

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