This post was written in aggravation at 3 AM by yours truly.
There are barrels of good people out there under a mountain of usurious debt north of six figures. You could argue until the cattle turn into jerky whose fault it is at the core for anyone north of negative six figures to get themselves into that situation.
For me, predatory student lending practices would be my first tick off the row of boxes given. Then you have the medical emergencies, family tragedies, personal struggles, surprise unemployment, and using once so often credit cards to make sure ends meet. These are real-life reasons.
Buuut, occasionally, you come across the special category of not-so-sympathetic ”frivolous” spending that makes it hard not questioning what it is that they’re actually thinking. I personally don’t know anyone who has shopped themselves into a negative six figures (thank goodness) but one beautiful fool who comes magically close to defying all money logic.
This moonchild goes by Soapy.
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For those of you who are new here, here is a synopsis of my friend, Soap. She is one of the many colorful characters I’ve noted in my life.
I added this portion so no one is missing a piece of the puzzle:
Soap is one of my best friends. She is also the daughter of a very affluent, multi-millionaire family. She grew up in Salt Lake City. Her childhood was what one would call pure opulence and she had many privileges most people can only dream of.
(Think Crazy Rich Asians…)
Her sister is married to the wayward son of a Chinese billionaire and Soap herself…well, she is in her 30s with a drinking problem. She has terrible health and cannot hold down a stable job. At age 30, she started with $80,000 in refinanced consumer and medical debt and some unpaid taxes as well.
Although her parents can easily wipe the debt away, they think it would be better for Soaps to learn how to manage her own finances by learning to live frugally and focusing on her career and education. Both of Soap’s parents fall under what you call, the sensible rich.
Soapy’s parents immigrated to the United States from China in the 1970s. They’re open-minded and highly educated (in contrast to my own immigrant parents). They educated themselves, worked very hard, and became successful engineers and then entrepreneurs within two decades. Now they want to pass on their successful international trading business but to no heir.
Soap was the only heir of choice but she repeatedly declined to learn her family’s business. Now her parents have stopped asking. To Soaps, her parental life work has no appeal what-so-ever. It is not how she wants to live her life, even at the guarantee of wealth.
Read the complete set of Soapy’s Odessey:
- 21 Frugal Pantry Staples List on a Limited Budget
- Practical Budgets For People Bad With Money
- How To Effectively Overcome Credit Card Addiction
- 3 Signs When Frugality Isn’t Worth It & What To Do
- Why You Still Need An Emergency Fund While In Debt
- How Soapy is Geoarbitraging in China
- What Am I Doing With My Life? I Need Help With My Life.
- How It Feels To Resent Someone For Being Spoiled
Her cell phone service was shut off. The phone company won’t let her get a new phone number until she pays for the old balance and pay for a new phone line to be opened. It will cost $400 from start to finish.
Not having a phone and job searching is obviously a no-go. You need a working phone to look for any job.
But not all of our conversation is surrounded by money or job. She hates talking about it and I don’t want to be a stick in the mud.
Financial responsibility is for those ready to receive it.
We talk more about dreams, food, family, relationships, work, miscellaneous dumb things, and girly stuff — this time, I was chatting about shoes. Just…you know…normal girl talk.
I didn’t want to make her depressed so any talk not on the subject of money is a better one.
I guess I accidentally pulled her into a safe spot with a mention of sneakers because…she told me about her $800 shoe purchase last month that I was NOT aware of before.
I guess she didn’t feel like telling me because…well, you can imagine, I would be angry. I guess she treats me like her mother too, hiding bad money and new debts.
“I agree it’s overpriced but I still got it.”
Yeah, but what in the world did you get an $800 one for? What’s wrong with $50 shoes? This is a sickness. It’s sick!
We always talk late and I, once again, put the phone down and decided to just not speak to her for the rest of the night until I calmed down. I had to physically SEPARATE myself from my phone in a thwarted attempt not to scream INTO it with my husband sound asleep next to me.
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Honestly, the purchased item in question doesn’t really matter. People have and will continue to blow money on silly crap, that’s not news. I just never known an otherwise intelligent human to be THIS self-destructive. It’s shocking to me.
If you are following along with the saga that is Soap, you may know she owes a bunch of financial sources and friends (myself included) a few thousand dollars that she has not paid back.
I’m not grumpy at this point over a few thousand dollars. If she could be more responsible with her money and cut back, she wouldn’t have money issues.
She was living on cereal for 2 weeks because she told me she ran out of money.
I assumed she ran out of funds…not that she ran out of funds because she spent it on $800 shoes.
By the way, she wanted everybody on this blog who are broke to know how economical and “frugal” it is to live on cereal because a big box of sugar “can last surprisingly long”…
(P.S. her definition of frugal is so wrong. It’s what the common masses THINK frugality is: living in misery because you’re poor. SO FREAKIN’ WRONG I CAN’T EVEN UGH!)
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But Not Bankruptcy
Don’t think badly of Soaps. She doesn’t want personal bankruptcy even…though at this point…even I think that’s the only choice left.
Initially, I assumed it’s because her mom is a cosigner for her major debts. With her parent’s wealth and assets, there is no such thing as bankruptcy anyway. But more so, Soap does not consider bankruptcy as an option because she was taught that bankruptcy is immoral.
“It’s…I don’t know…it feels, feels like stealing.”
She was taught to believe that you can’t let someone else handle the baggage. Isn’t that so mature of her?!
Which is even more confusing because if she understands THAT, why dig yourself even deeper then?
This is a life staging form of modern art, right?
I mean…it’s NOT “easy” spending $800 on a pair of shoes when you’re north of six figures in debt without a job. That takes an incredible, extreme amount of irresponsibility to throw around that nonsense. This isn’t a money issue, this is a mental issue that…like if we were on Dr. Phil, he would be like:
A reader bought up the fact that she might have a mental illness and initially, I thought “nah” because Soaps is in all areas a very normal, very happy person
When the conversation is not about money, we joke and laugh about typical things. She’s happy with most of her life besides the ‘needing more money’ thing.
But now I’m not so sure. There might be something psychologically wrong with her. No clue what but I can think of 30 different mental barriers a person would need to break to be that stupid. Soap just FLYS through them all.
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Here are the major steps a person needs to overcome in order to be OK with spending $800 on footwear while $100k in debt:
*Give Into Hopelessness
THAT is what makes up a good percentage of debt holders’ mentalities when they’re struggling in $100,000 worth of any debt. Soap included.
It’s so hard with Soaps. I’m split between flaming anger, sadness/pity, and if there’s enough room…a whole lot of disappointment.
But don’t judge her based on that huge number. It’s pretty hard not want to call it quits; unless you’ve been there without a planned path, no one gets to say or pass judgment. $100k is a hugeeeeeeeeee number. If the situation looks hopeless and life is miserable for the near and distant future…what’s another $800 for shoes up against $100,000?
*Maxed Credit Cards? Blow Cash
Look no deeper. Tell the head doctors that they’ve met their match. Soapys money management is something ridiculous. I’m wondering what two wires are touching in her brain that shouldn’t be touching. But I’m the only one here doing interpersonal counseling. If she can get something she wants with the cash she has in hand, that’s the moment that matters and she will get it. Those shoes were good as bought the moment she got her bi-monthly payout from her last side hustle.
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*Have No Priorities
There is two main reason why people continue to put charges to their credit cards: buy themselves food and electricity to make it through the month OR buy something happy to get themselves through the day. There’s a big difference in paying your grocery bill versus paying for a mall trip. Logically, money goes to groceries first, not Yeezys. Logically, making rent goes before an Icelandic vacation pipedream. (She’s been crazy about Iceland for some reason. Another escapism daydream in this ridiculous artist life.)
I feel like a lot of rich children don’t seem to have a strong sense of priorities. It’s always fun first because the repercussions were never there for them to be afraid of. Because I was poor, I only saw repercussions and no upside. Maybe that’s why Soap thinks I’m a wet blanket…
*Have No Money Sense
Life is like a game of Minesweeper, full of little landmines. You can get better by gauging the potential and likely mines. There’s no guarantee – most of these happen to people out of the blue and once you’re knocked down and it’s hard coming back up. That’s how the system is built, it can happen real fast. My own family was on the teetering edge of every single one of those landmines for…uh, my entire life? I understood that reality since I was 10 years old and I lived with it every day.
Money is either lost or gained. The effects compound regardless but there are only two ways money moves. It takes a strong person to dig OUT of negative six figures and they get bragging total rights. I don’t see it happening here…
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*Eat Cheap to Survive Afterwards
Just a day before the whole “Yeezy” shoe confession, she told me she’s been living off cereal for 2 weeks after running out of money. It honestly pulled at my heartstrings initially when she told me…because I love food. Like…hello, have you met me? I almost PayPal her money for her to buy groceries. But now, after finding out about the Yeezy shoe thing, it would be kinder to just let her starve and learn a lesson.
*Wait for Parental Bail
Her family can be generous. 2 years ago, after her last financial bailout, her mom gave her $20,000 and told her to use the remainder to start an emergency fund and open a savings account. That was the last fresh start she got from her parents.
2 years later, she has doubled that debt with 2 more tax bills that go unpaid. What did she do with the $20,000 her mom gave her for an emergency fund and rainy days?
No one knows, not even her.
She spent it on a new Xbox, knock off hoverboard, random dumb things she can’t remember but she confessed to that it was junk. Not to mention the other things she continues to purchased since then that aren’t necessities.
It’s hard to see a cent from her unless she got a fantastic, six-figure size bailout from her mom but it seems like her mom has had enough of her antics too. There have been too many bailouts to list.
It’s always sad to see parents “give up” on their own kids and this is they’ve basically given up on her / not too sure what to do now. Soap asked me why her mom hasn’t cleared her debts yet when she is clearly struggling. Soap doesn’t understand this but I’m seeing her parents stuck in suspension because they ran out of ideas.
I’m more or less joining her family on that front. I’ve only known her for about 5 years. Her mom and dad raised her from baby to 18. If Mr. and Mrs. Sensibly Rich quit, what’s my advantage for nagging about financial responsibility?
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The universe somehow placed us together and forged a friendship worth almost 5 years of time. It’s like we’re the stars of an alien reality TV show. I’ve reached a level of Zen with her. I honestly don’t care anymore. I care about her as a living person but I don’t care how she’s going to pull out of this or any hope she can with the actions she’s taken over and over. Now it’s less about how to change her behavior and more “I wonder what season 6 is going to be.”
I hope this was entertaining! She’s the best expert out there at bumming life. Don’t you just love her artistic approach to life? It’s a breath of fresh air in these personal finance neck of the woods, am I right?
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