To have said this to a friend?(38 Posts)
I have a friend whose twin sons go to the same school as my ds. Whereas he has his breakfast at home and takes a packed lunch to school every day, she gives each ds £5 every day to spend on breakfast/lunch as they see fit (and doesn't ask for any change back). This gets spent on fizzy drinks/crisps from the corner shop and whatever they get at school.
Now, I'm not going to discuss whether or not this constitutes good/bad parenting, and have said nothing to my friend about this. The reason this has become an area of contention is that the other day I was round her house for a chat when she started talking about money (you can see where this is going). Her and her dp do not earn much, but the main problem is that they are very wasteful with their money. They don't go on holidays, buy hugely expensive gadgets or rack up debt, but they have takeaways too frequently, use taxis far more than they need to, have their heating up high all the time, and so on. And, of course, they spend about £200 a month on their sons' weekday breakfast and lunches.
She got onto the subject as she was concerned that they weren't spending much in Christmas this year as they couldn't afford it. She spoke a lot about how her twins would be so disappointed and that she did not understand why they always seemed to have so little or know how to improve the situation. I, genuinely trying to be kind and thinking that she was asking for some real advice, mentioned that to me it seemed like they could find ways to save money. She asked me what I meant, I used the breakfast/lunch money as an example and, well, let's just say things blew up very quickly and she has not spoken to me in over a week.
Was I being unreasonable to have said that and instead should I have just sympathises with her and said nothing of substance. At no point, btw, did I say anything about her parenting etc, I just mentioned she could spend less there.
How did you word it?
If she blew up, then you probably worded it badly. Though its a valid point, you do have to be careful talking to people about their own money, even if they bring it up as a subject.
Hope things blow over.
It depends on whether you said 'you could cut back on lunch money for your dc by making packed lunches' or 'Your dc spend all your money on fizzy drinks and sweets for lunch every day'.
The first one is ok to say, the second sounds like a judgement on what her children eat.
I think people want to vent sometimes but are not necessarily asking you for your input.
What did you actually say exactly? Unless you were rude in some way that you're not letting on then no I don't understand what her problem is
Elsa - I sympathised and said something about us having had to find ways to cut costs as we are now saving for a house, and one good way we had found was to cut out school dinners as you can do lunchboxes a lot cheaper (this is actually all true of our situation). I then also suggested having things like porridge for breakfast, as it is very cheap, and then also mentioned that we have been cooking meals in batches too as we had found it saved on cooking every meal separately.
She then asked me why of all things I mentioned that, to which I said that it's a way that has saved us a decent amount of money. She then probed and probed again about why I thought they didn't already do anything like that and I told her my ds had told me how much they spend each day. She then exploded into a massive rant, saying who am I to pass judgement on what they buy and eat each day (I had said nothing about this) and that it was obviously easy for me to say as I have all this free time (I don't, I work longer hours than she does and leave the house earlier in the morning). I tried to say I didn't mean that but by then, too late.
We'd really need to know exactly how you phrased it. "Packed lunches are a really good way of saving money" is much nicer than "Well, you could stop giving your kids so much money every day".
The truth is, most of us COULD save money. My husband and I had lunch out today, we didn't need to, but we enjoyed it. I went to see Spectre the other night, I didn't need to, but I enjoyed it.
Even though it's sound advice, I wouldn't have given it unless she had actively asked for it. If it sounded like she just wanted a moan, I'd probably have kept it to myself.
She knows you're right and got defensive. Nothing you can do now. I don't think you said anything wrong, some people just can't stand to hear the truth. Hopefully she'll take it on board.
Well I suppose it was a very specific example for you to give so I guess she got the impression that you must judge her for it as it was the first suggestion you made so I can see why she got defensive. If you had been a bit more general and said "Maybe you could write down everything you spend in one week and then take a look at where money seems to be going and where you could change things" she would have been a bit less defensive.
Fact is you do judge her for it and I guess she could see that. However that said I'm sure if she took the time to look at their outgoings they could figure out pretty quickly where they are spending it. Up to her if she wants to change her spending priorities.
Like other posters said people don't want to hear the truth so best to nod and smile sympathetically!
She sounds like one of those people who like to moan and offered sympathy while doing very little to actually sort out their problems.
Don't assume that people are asking for advice unless they actually ask for it, though. Even so, thread carefully.
I think you must have come across as though you'd been thinking about it (which you have) and hit a raw nerve.
She knows she's being wasteful and now she knows that you know it too. She was hoping for a bit of tea and sympathy and you got real on her.
It's not your fault btw - I'd probably say exactly the same, given the same scenario. You didn't intend offence and she's being unreasonable anyway, expecting you to play audience to her drama when you both know it's self created.
However, people like this rarely back down, so good luck.
If she is serious tell her that there are websites and so on that can help but the key thing is about budgeting and knowing where you money goes - so write it down for a couple of months and use the websites to check things over - you can only point her in the right direction though she has to want to go and will have her own little epiphany in the process hopefully
Honestly don't worry about it. Sounds like you were trying to be careful with your words and she just jumped on you. It might be that she can't be bothered to sort the kids out in the morning and prefers the lay in - so she just shoves some money at them.
I'm sure it will all blow over eventually and next time you'll know to just nod and agree, nod and agree.
I would text her and apologise and say you didn't mean to offend her and leave it at that. It's a stressful time of year for people with money worries, even if they are self created. I think if you try to patch it up with her it'll be fine.
YANBU. But as others have said, she sounds very defensive, so obviously knows.
How close are you to her? I find some people just like to have a bit of a moan, but don't actually want your advice, just a vent.
But hey, she asked and you told her, so that's all there is to it really.
If this scenario is anything like 45% of other AIBU threads lately, she was probably gearing up to ask you for a tenner.
She then asked me why of all things I mentioned that,
She senses your judgement of her spending. She has for a while and suspected this was a dig.
FWIW i think unless asked for specific help wrt money it is best to avoid the topic of money altogether with friends. I have a friend who is very much like you describe and when i have vaguely hinted at trying a budget to reduce spending or maybe not really needing a brand new 6 seater dining table and chairs when you are one person and have your 2 children for a couple of days a week she always responded with some (bollocks) "justification" for why it had to be so. So i stopped trying to help. She's just always going to be like that. Leave her to it. Change the subject when she brings it up in future.
Adding to my previous post, I don't think it's a great idea go keep her as a friend.
I'd like to think I can be honest with friends (not too much, but on occasion) without being given the cold shoulder. And can't stand people who can't take the piss out of themselves.
Most people I get on with would just say, yes, we could save on those things, but would rather not.
My xf was like this. Always moaning about this, that and the other but going mental when she asked for advice but it wasn't what she wanted to hear.
Good regular examples were:
- talking about pulling DC out of preschool because they were too tired. turned out they were doing morning sessions and because of this were being woken up 2 hours earlier than usual just for those days. When I suggested that maybe she look at afternoon sessions it was waved off as not doable. When I suggested maybe she regularly wake DC at that time she went nuts because I was judging her
- She claimed she couldn't get DC to eat the meal I cook. When I asked what she was giving a long list of snacks was given. So I suggested maybe the DC weren't hungry enough for dinner, and maybe try limiting the snacks again I was apparently judging
- claiming she was broke constantly but being aghast that I made DC packed lunches on trips out and couldn't afford regular restaurant lunches. When I said its somewhere we compromise on because we have limited money I was apparently judging her
It took me a long time to realise she didn't want the advice she kept asking for. She wanted me to say 'oh yes, poor you, how awful, there really isn't a way you can remedy any of this, life is just so unfair for you' and validating what she was doing was perfectly fine. I was stupid enough to think if she was asking for advice then she didn't think these things were fine. Hence xf.
She's being defensive and feels judged, perhaps it was a raw nerve in some way. You knowing things about her life she wasn't keen on sharing may have been a shock. My DH was the same when I suggested he do pack lunch for work. He just can't be bothered as he's lazy but it would save loads as it currently costs £1k a year.
It depends on how much you value the friendship as to whether to try to fix things.
Some people just want to moan and never want to do anything about it.
It's very irritating when thy moan about the same thing over and over.
My friend and her dh always moaned about being skint and not afoot sin a holiday. They both have 3 or 4 weekends away each (abroad) with their friends and the other day they mentioned they pay over £120 for their various to subscriptions.
I always tell them they aren't skint, they are spent. They stopped moaning about it.
Honestly I think however you worded it she completely overreacted and didn't even give you a chance to explain. Very defensive.
I think the problem is that you said your DS told you how much her DCs spend which implies you've been discussing and judging as a family. That would probably make a few people annoyed.
I'm not saying you were all sitting down chatting about their shortcomings but that could have been what it sounded like to her.
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