Home > How Much to Say?

How Much to Say?

July 8th, 2018 at 03:50 pm

Long-time readers (man, you all are so patient with the minutiae of my life) may recall some of my concerns about my colleagues/friends. Most of my university teaching friends have doctorates, some masters' degrees, but our pay is not so great. Everyone I know picks up extra work wherever we can--adjunct jobs, freelance editing, you name it. And the salary issue is worse for those whose spouse is also teaching for us. I won't go into my political rant, but we've had issues all over our state university system. The issue is, of course, compounded by the fact that many financed grad school with student loans.

I have a core group of about six women who I'm close to, and of those six of us, four of them struggle mightily with money. They are all married, each have two kids, and work very hard, picking up extra work where and when they can. But during a lunch on Friday, three said that apart from the mandatory state pension withdrawals, they had NO retirement savings, nothing in IRAs or the 403b the university offers. That made me feel really sick. I'm the oldest of all of them, but the rest are about to turn 50 soon. So, here's my question. Do I just completely butt out? We agreed years ago that if we sub for one another on an adjunct job, we pay the sub. One of them owes me $200 for a sub job, and I would so love to walk her through signing up for a 403b and depositing say $100 of the $200 she owes me in that account. They've had so many medical issues, a child with leukemia, broke parents, you name it. It's a head/heart issue. I want them to be ok. But it's too interfering, is or isn't it?

8 Responses to “How Much to Say?”

  1. CB in the City Says:

    Good question. I really have had no luck advising people in my personal life about financial issues. I tend not to get involved unless asked, but when they ask, they don't like my answers, and they go their own way.

    Your friend with the medical issues may not be able to see beyond paying for absolute necessities in the very near future. She may feel that retirement is a lost cause. If she is not even paying a friend what she owes, I assume her situation is pretty dire. I guess what I would do is just be open to conversation about finance, and see where it goes.

  2. Smallsteps Says:

    I have been in the same situation with friends/ co-workers/ and even family. I have offered help so many times but simply put we cannot fix things for others especially when it comes to something that need tending and follow up.
    It is one of the things that drives me crazy when I see others struggling (not only by a lower income but it is WHAT a person does with it). It is incredibly hard but in my opinion very FEW will follow through even if you did all the sign ups/ first deposit or even research on options. I have gotten two responses one was agreeing with every thing i suggested but doing NONE then the other took advice for a couple of months and expected miracles and was mad at me because they did not have it complete in 6 weeks.
    good luck hope you can help but do not expect great reception.

  3. crazyliblady Says:

    I would echo cb's response. Trying to give financial advice is difficult at best, as it could result in hurt feelings. I also work for a university and while my finances are not the best, I know folks with worse problems. The university offers a 403b with a choice of 3 companies, I believe. If one of the retirement companies offers a workshop about personal finance for free, encourage your friends to attend to give them ideas on how to improve things. I know one of the companies does and it gave me an emotional boost to rev up my efforts to pay off debt. And heck, why not go with them and be an example? We can all use good information, right? I realized years ago that my situation was pretty dire when I did not have $1000 for a car repair. And $1000 is not really so much.

  4. creditcardfree Says:

    I tend to agree with the others, but I will say that showing your heart, your real concern for their well being is the best thing you can offer a friend. I know I have lent my concern to a very good friend probably over 16 years ago and she was receptive to listening, but not changing her behaviors. I would try to talk in generalities initially to gauge interest in having help first. And maybe it is best to mention in a group setting, such as the one on Friday, your offer to help any of them get signed up. This way it's not directed at just one person. Only you really know what is right and how to say it best if at all.

  5. rob62521 Says:

    As much as your heart is in it, I agree with the others, if you suggest this, people tend to shy away or say they will do it later. I have friends the same way. In fact, one friend's husband made big money working for a local business -- he could have gotten matching money for his 401K, but they always said they couldn't afford it. She would rather complain about not having enough money than stop spending.

  6. ceejay74 Says:

    I like ccf's idea...talking about things very generally, and if they express interest in learning how to budget and save, then offer to help more directly. I've helped a few friends with various financial issues, from helping them choose a retirement plan to advice on credit cards and loans to creating a detailed budget spreadsheet. No one has had an amazing turnaround but all have appreciated my help and hopefully I've helped them at least slow the bleeding on their finances.

  7. PatientSaver Says:

    I don't think it's interfering at all...she's your friend, and you care about her. At the same time, I'm not sure I would so quickly volunteer $100 of my money to go into her 403(b). It's the principle of the thing; she should pay you back.

    No harm in gently feeling her out on the subject and see if she's receptive to listening.

  8. My English Castle Says:

    Quick Update: Thanks for all your advice. I may talk to her a little bit--after they get home from their mini getaway to New Oreleans. Yep, I felt the same way, but lent them my big suitcase--and they paid me the $200 they owed me. I think the right moment may come up, maybe in the fall.

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