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An Ounce of Prevention


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Dirty dishes in a kitchen sink.By definition, the word "frugal" means to not waste. And I have always believed it meant more then to not waste money, but also work and time, energy and resources.

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So, a lot of people talk about "I have a friend" which really means them. But this isn't the case. I do have a friend whose habits have now gone beyond what I can tolerate and I just have to put my frustration into words and perhaps help others.

My friend inherited money from her father's estate. At the age of 65 and in poor health, you would think she would and could be a bit more conservative. But in the last six months she has spent $70.00 on a pair of house slippers, 13K on a bathtub, and I bet she has 5K in jewelry. Please remember these numbers when the crux of this submission becomes clear.

The real reason these numbers frustrate me is that she has just convinced her church ladies that she can't take care of her house work anymore and they have offered to come over and take care of it. For free. And she is going to let them.

Now I am not trying to toot my own horn, but I can remember during my whole life that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". It's something I live by. I also love "a place for everything and everything in its place". I hate not being able to find things so I am almost anal about putting things back. I never leave my house dirty because frankly, I don't know if I will be back. After working for hospice and the state police, I have seen what happens when your level of procrastination is at Defcon 1.

When she gets the mail, it piles up on the tables till it's falling over. There's no such thing as recycling right then. She leaves the mess for me to do if I want to sit and have coffee, much less a meal. It is nothing for me to come over to watch her dog and see the same bowl of moldy peas on the table for 3 weeks. A table she walks by every single day on the way to the kitchen.

Her TV chair is the central hub of the house, and whatever she eats stays there, within arm's reach, for weeks. Once, while she was gone on a trip, I sat things that needed to go into her room by the door. Seven months later, it was all still there.

She didn't get around to filing her taxes one year and, for the next 9 months, she had to pay double for her medical insurance because it was deemed she had more money; and her stress was high when it didn't have to be. Once she had a meltdown on the phone to the poor girl at the insurance company when none of it would have happened had she just filed her taxes.

I lived with her for seven months, until I could move just three blocks away so I could still help. But it got so bad, I told her I wouldn't clean her house anymore. It was tough love but I had to do it. I didn't have time for a life of my own because I was trying to train her to take care of her own. Now she has figured out a way to not do it herself. Again.

So, she's wasting other people's time and generosity of spirit. She's wasting more money because she doesn't have to spend any on housekeeping services, and she would rather donate to the local radio station than the food bank. She is wasting energy and resources because she is asking others to spend electricity and water on huge messes that take hours when she could do little things every day to prevent them. It's gotten to the point where I don't even want to go over anymore. And that makes me sad and mad at the same time.

I guess if I had a point to make in all this it is that if you are the kind of person who has respect for yourself, your home, and your family and friends, feel very good about that. If you see yourself in anything I have written, please forgive me but it's never too late to change. If you know someone with these issues, tell them how you feel. It's not mentally healthy or safe to live in a house that you wouldn't invite anyone over and if you did, they would tell you they were busy.

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
April 30, 20170 found this helpful

Sandi, it is sad but most of us have known someone like this in our lifetime. I'm not really sure anyone can help people like this until they realize they have to change and that does not happen very often.

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Anonymous
May 7, 20170 found this helpful

In all honesty, how she lives, what she does, is none of your business. It's judgmental.

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
May 5, 20180 found this helpful

Listen up, Anonymous

If I donate money to a charity, it is my business how the money is spent. Sandi and others have given much in time and energy to this woman only to have their efforts virtually thrown back in their faces. This unappreciative behavoir is their business. And for Sandi to feel frustrated and vent her frustration here on ThriftyFun is in no way judgemental.

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After being burned twice, I would have left this woman to her own devices. She is a user. Since when is calling a spade a spade being judgemental?

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Anonymous
April 28, 20190 found this helpful

Obviously she cares about this woman so it is her business. Also, if she knows the church people and sees they are being used, it is also her business to just make them aware of the situation. She isn't telling them to stop, just making sure they have all the info so they can decide for themselves if this woman is better or worse off with their help, in essence they are all enablers. More helpful to contact a relative of the woman who can get her constructive help.

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 145 Feedbacks
May 7, 20170 found this helpful

Yes, I have had a similar experience with someone close to me, and it is heartbreaking in many ways. The people I know were well-educated, wonderful people, but they didn't ever clean up anything. They were very active with other things, but they didn't take the time to straighten, clean or even fix anything when it broke.

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Finally, the woman had Alzheimer's and the man was unable to take care of her or the house, but also still unwilling to admit this or accept help in any way because he was too proud. When the state was alerted about this, their house was condemned and the wife was taken from the home. the roof over the living room had caved in, there was no running water and limited electricity. I could go on, but suffice it to say, things had gotten out of hand.

The thing about this is that talking to them didn't make a difference. They were unable to make a change, a change had to occur at the insistance of officials for them. I think some of this stems from depression and is not a simple matter to overcome. Your friend probably needs some professional help, even though she may never see it that way. However, kudos to you for realizing you could not do it all for her anymore. I know how sad this makes you, I felt and feel the same way.

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By the way, I realize there is a different component to your friend's situation, in that she is taking advantage of others. Maybe this IS something that she could change, if it were pointed out to her. Hope it works out for all.

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 969 Posts
May 7, 20170 found this helpful

Thank you both for your words of commiseration and support. It is heartbreaking. I playfully chided her asking "you aren't really going to let these ladies do what you could do on your own and then not pay them are you"? Her response was "this is what Christians do...they help each other". I said "well, can you pay it forward at least and tithe more or give to the food bank"? She just said "we will see". We all know what that means.

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When I have tried to make light of things by saying "You are going to make a bunch of uncles happy today cos' every ant in town is going to make that banana a buffet". She just says "Yes mommy".
She does get depressed because she is big and sick but when she eats at fast food places and has to eat the whole package of cookies, she is her own worst enemy. And yes, all get depressed now and then but we don't use that as an excuse for every single thing.
Plants die, bills and checks get lost, most of the time I sneak over and make sure the dog is watered.
A couple years ago, she cried because she was afraid of what was happening to her mind with so many neurological things happening. I suggested she see a neurologist. She waited another 6 months because she didn't know if there were any docs in town. I found 3. Another 4 months went by before I found out if she needed a referral. She didn't. Now, she says all her problems can be solved by just talking to her minister. All due respect, he's not a doctor and will probably just recommend she see a doctor.
I feel I have done all I can and have to just let her live her own life. When I move back closer to my grandkids later this year, she won't have anymore to catch her.

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Anonymous
May 7, 20170 found this helpful

This whole discussion, although I can understand the concern, strikes me as a very judgmental/condemning point of view.

Personally, I struggle with keeping things organized--not that I don't want to--but I have realized, over many years, that my mind works entirely different from my husband's who puts everything in its place before he moves on to his next thought. He finds that running on the same track over and over again works best for him.

I have tried to emulate his methods, and have become better at it, but at the same time, sameness bores me to tears. And, needless to say, it does not come automatically to me, as my more creative (and distractible) mind has already gone on to the next thing, which means I have to work at (use energy) to wind up my chore at hand (like putting my purse and keys in the same place each time). To do this automatically, the result has to become important to me.

So, considering this difference... guess who is the problem-solver (for new situations) in this household. Same track? Or new idea?

I have learned recently (I'm now 81 years old) that we are not required, nor is it healthy, to live in each other's weaknesses. Therefore, I don't have to sweat/be concerned when others don't conduct themselves according to what suits me (such as a friend's wastefulness, or a neighbor's persistent overuse of prescription meds resulting in repeated ambulance runs). If it's a hindrance to me, I can help them (by persuasion hopefully) or I can move out of the way and allow them to live with the consequences of their decisions. But... it's not my job to change them.

I consider myself frugal as well; I use every last drop of a product-- recycle and/or repurpose everything I can (I was raised that way)-- but for the life of me, I can't keep things as neat as some others do; my brain just doesn't work that way.

So, my suggestion then is: quit letting it get under your skin. Let it go. She's not going to even 'get you', unless she figures out how it will make her life better (whatever better means to her) and decides she wants to do it your way.

I certainly don't like wastefulness either, but you and I don't have to live in other people's weaknesses.

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May 7, 20170 found this helpful

I have never known someone like that. Perhaps the people in her life that she is using should come up with excuses not to do her "dirty" work for her. She should also be told that she is using people and that it is not conducive to any lasting friendships. If she doesn't believe she is doing any of these things, ask her to help you clean your home or to help you with something. If she refuses, leave her alone to her own devises. Drop her as a friend.

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April 28, 20190 found this helpful

You said that she is your friend, what exactly are you getting from this relationship? I have been used by others a lot in my life. In fact I think at one time that I had "use me" printed on my forehead. I thought my only value was to help others and believe me there are many who will take advantage of that. People come and go in our lives, some for the sole purpose of teaching us a lesson. My lesson was that my jumping in and fixing things for others was a huge part of the problem. Your friend is probably depressed but it is her responsibility to work on it. She will feel better about herself if she takes control of her life. Never do anything for others that they should be doing for themselves. If you leave then she may find others to "take care" of her problems but they won't be yours anymore. It sounds like you plan to live your live and quit putting others first. You will be much happier, I found that out the hard way.

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