Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Frugal vs Poor

My younger brother has been going through some financial issues with his best friend. His best friend, J, is frugal. Now, we all know there is nothing wrong with that! However, he is not completely open and honest about it. (Is that a guy thing, since it has to do with money?)

When they go out with friends, J only drinks water unless someone buys him a drink. He never reciprocates on other nights. At the apartment, J drinks the beer that my brother buys... and never purchases any himself. When my brother makes dinner, J will eat it. If he's not offered any, he eats oatmeal. When my brother says it's J's turn to make dinner, he says he will just make oatmeal or macaroni and cheese. He hardly buys any groceries and is constantly living off of my brother. Ironically, it is J that currently has a paid summer job while my brother is doing an unpaid internship. (Luckily my parents are okay with that and are supporting him - plus they are living rent-free in an apartment that my parents have!)

As I'm typing this, I'm realizing that J isn't just frugal... he is poor. Yet he goes to a private university. Apparently he had an RA job last year (free lodging and food) but we don't seem to know why he doesn't have that job anymore - especially if it seems like he can't afford anything, wouldn't you want to stay in a position like that just for incredible benefits?

I also wonder, where does the money from his paid summer job go? Is he saving it to pay for tuition? Why can't he admit that he can't afford even ONE drink out, let along groceries - which are a necessity? My brother just doesn't know what to do, as this is his best friend. He's tried talking to him, but J refuses to discuss it.

What a sad predicament to be in! Have you ever had any friends like this? What do you suggest?


Anonymous August 13, 2009 at 2:58 AM  

I have absolutely no advice to give. That is definitely a tough situation to be in.

Stephanie August 13, 2009 at 7:39 AM  

Your brother should suggest he do things that pay money/benefits. And by "suggest" I don't mean "you should do that because it pays money." He should make it sound like these opportunities are"cool" or "I think that would be fun." This way, it solves his money problem and gives the guy a way out while still saving face.

Or, possibly he could say that "I hear it's really good to have a job while in school, because it helps you find a better one when you graduate."

Frugalchick August 13, 2009 at 8:27 AM  

Is he actually poor, or just cheap and unwilling to spend any money? Sounds like a tough situation for your brother. :/

L.A. Daze August 14, 2009 at 2:39 AM  

I don't think the guy is poor...he's just a cheapskate and a freeloader. He's not paying rent. He eats your brother's food. He doesn't buy drinks. He's earning money from a summer job, which i'm sure he's putting aside for who knows what. I'd be ashamed to live like that.

savings August 14, 2009 at 10:29 PM  

That used to be me… in college I had a p/t job, but it basically paid for me to have a cell phone and buy art supplies (expensive major). Nothing else… I would have to eat pbj sandwiches and drink water for weeks on end just to squeak by, even living in university housing, with no rent). My family had no money to give me, and I had no time to get a full time job. It was embarrasing to have no money, so I would stay home instead of going out. It's awful to expect your friends to buy you stuff and then never return the favor! His friend sounds like he has no shame about that, I hope he grows up!

Distar August 17, 2009 at 8:01 AM  

I've learned never to assume anything about someone's financial situation. I had a friend in college who not only attended school full time, but had to save the pithy salary he received from on campus employment to send back to his family in Africa.

I don't think it's in good character for him however to always take up others generosity and not reciprocate. Be honest about what your situation is is the best policy.

Anonymous August 19, 2009 at 6:36 AM  

Sounds like a moocher who has lost some money somewhere or spent it all. If I was your brother I'd be so frustrated... he should really confront him and talk to him or he's going to continue being frustrated and taken advantage of, which eventually will put a strain on the relationship.

Sallie's Niece September 3, 2009 at 9:00 PM  

If they are living together in an apartment courtesy of your parents I think it's appropriate for your brother to ask him to contribute to beer and groceries. Maybe the money he is making from his summer job is going somewhere and your brother will feel better (or worse I guess) about the arrangement. But not talking about it seems like it's making the problem worse.

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