Monday, 15 December 2008

What to do when your horse dies

For the 1st time in my life, I actually watched Oprah's Show to the end.

The focus was on a woman whose husband committed suicide leaving her in financial ruins. He used to spend money like water. Before he died, he cancelled his life insurance & left her with a huge house filled with lots of stuff - all on the hock.

The financial expert from Oprah analysed the lady's financial affairs. Then she called in all the friends & family of this woman who feels they can help. She asked the woman what did she need. And the reply was she needed money.

The expert said these wise words
"Never borrow from yr family & friends. You will eventually feel resentful they did not give you enough, & they will feel resentful you are not repaying them enough or doing enough to make your loans obligations. However they are welcome to give you money they will never expect to see back. They can also donate time & food for your family while you get a job"

As to a job. The woman said she will work towards getting a job. That was not enough. She was told she must get a job, any job, within max 1 month because no friends or family can help her out indefinitely.

And if you are interested who was able & willing to help, from almost 20 people sitting there, only 3 volunteered help including her sister, mother & 1 friend.

Was that tough advice? I think that's solid advice.

Were her friends & family tough? Yes. Everyone needed to conserve their own resources too. I also think it's because they have seen how she & her husband used to live it up & they didn't think that was a prudent move but nobody said anything then, & they ain't saying it now.

I think all of us know friends &/or family like this woman.

I know I know. I shouldn't just sit here & moralise because I too have been young & imprudent with my money. But I'd like to think I wouldn't need to stretch out to others to pay for my sins.

The problem with the good old times is that those who were able to JUST about meet their financial commitments from 1 paycheck to the other - are now stretched to the max.

In fact, they are broke. And may well be laid off soon or may already be unemployed. In USA, bankruptcy for most people is 1 paycheck away. I dunno what it is here in Malaysia.

So what do you do when you have friends & family in need?

Just like the financial expert on Oprah would say

"Get rid of stuff you don't need now. Downsize, downgrade & simplify your life style & needs BEFORE you ask for help. Cause nobody will help someone who's still buying Starbucks coffees while the ones helping them are drinking coffee at home"

And if you really must ask for money, tell yr friends & family that most likely they will not see their money back.

Or if you have committed to a repayment, ALWAYS PRE-ALERT if you are late with the payment or can't pay.

Silence does not mean you have made the call OR that "they" will understand. Nobody is that understanding. Not even yr parents.

Silence only communicates that you have no intentions or means to pay back & distrust will grow into ill - will.

And please - don't buy any more stuff.

There is also no justification ever that you need 2 cars to move around.

Remember the days we used to take the bus to work?
Get up early. Grin & bear it. Take an umbrella. Look like an Uncle or Aunty. It's cheaper to pay RM5 per day to take public transportation than the RM10 to maintain a car.

I know of many people who paid for their house & put their kids through university by saving money using public transportation come rain or shine - for 20 years. And took their own packed lunches.

OFCOURSE it is nice to step into a car & just drive. And is it really the epitome of showing poverty by eating meals packed from home?

In these desperate times such moves are called "Prudence". Not desperation. Don't confuse the two.

Enuff said. Let's take the advice of our Elders. When the horse dies, get off it & start walking.


Anonymous said...

Dear Gobloking,

What a sincere and heartfelt post. You are one special lady and I hope to meet you one day.

I have never watched Oprah's show for more than 10 minutes but reading your post makes me want to watch just that episode.

I fully agree with the neither a borrower or a lender be principle. The expert gave solid advice though some may beg to differ.

Yup. Times are bad and it is going to get once. The final crunch is yet to come and our government is still in denial and trying to reduce our EPF thingy for obvious reasons as a prelude to what will come in Sept/Oct.

For me, I have always preached a life of moderation and prudence and am with you in conserving resources. Sadly, the younger generation have been hoodwinked to live a life of excesses while many working parents try to overcompensate by giving their huge allowances. Such is the evil of modernization and the rat race.

I really hope that many will wake up to the reality of the bad times that are to come.

Thanks for this timely post!!

My best wishes to you and yours for this Christmas season and the coming New Year! Take care dear sister!!!


GobloKing said...

I really didn't mean to moralise but the program hit me right in the guts.

I will get in touch with you my dear. God works in mysterious ways - wink wink!

My thots have been with you long long time.

btw - ironical that those who didnt need the advice of this post is reading it. :)


Anonymous said...

Basically, there are two ways to stay buoyed in times of 'crisis'. One can either boost income or cut expenses in order to mitigate any adverse impacts. Most of us tend to adopt the strategy to increase earnings i.e. find part-time or second jobs. Even our not-so-clever Minister has urged Malaysians to take up direct-selling as a part-time job. I don't mean to critise 'direct-selling or MLM' but I wish to highlight that everyone has limited resources i.e. time and energy.

Instead, we can look into ways to reduce expenses. This is precisely the advice given by 'Gobloking'!

svllee said...

Nice poignant post, aunty! I am already practicing downsizing, downgrade whatever you want to call it. Buying the lower, cheaper items, unbranded etc will surely help save a heap considering how much money is spent on branded stuff.

I am also flying cheaper now, Cathay instead of MAS saving £300 ! Says something about MAS right?