Wednesday, January 11, 2012
The $1000 Lesson
That I still haven't learned...
I am really struggling with something... and it's a pretty big reoccurring theme in my life. I do way too much for other people and my life ends up suffering because of it. If it's not draining me financially it drains me mentally and physically. That sounds kind of awful to say, because I truly love helping others. The problem is I just don't know how to find a balance between my life and theirs. For starters it's always been easier to help someone else out than to focus on my own needs, but I will just give and give until I have nothing left to give. It's ok if it's appreciated, but too often I end up just feeling burned by that person.
Here is a financial example:
As of yesterday I was on a family plan with 2 of my siblings. Sibling A: I pay for as my contribution while they are in college. Sibling B: I included as a nice gesture since my employer offered a 19% discount and it was much less than what they were paying at the time. That sibling in particular has had a tough go at life, but every time B seems to get things in order it all comes crashing down. Not long after our two year contract began this sibling became stuck in a continuous downward spiral and has spent a lot of the last two years unemployed. Since we were locked into a contract it meant that I covered a majority of the cell phone bills along with the late payment fees + the payment program fees. The additional fees totaled over $200 per year, which basically cancelled out the majority of my 19% discount. Had I paid the bills up front I could have avoided those service fees, but each month I held out that B would get it together.
As our contract was nearing an end, I looked into contract free plans. Found one that was comparable to my current plan and even used the same network, but was a good deal cheaper. I picked out new phones and happened to be on the internet one day when I saw them advertised as half off. I leaped to purchase 3 immediately. Yes, 3. I couldn't leave B out. I felt responsible for giving them access to the new plan, but at least now they will be responsible for activating it and subsequently paying for it. I attempted to do three separate orders since each phone needed to go to a different address. I fought for about 10 hours to get the first sale to go through and had my card rejected on each attempt after that. Turns out it was... Cyber Monday. UGH! No Spend November, fail. Eventually I bought the phones slightly discounted on Amazon for a stinging $100 each.
Past Due Bill + Current Bill + Coming Month Bill + 3 New Phones + 2 New Pre-Paid Plans = $970
Just my luck, B's phone was back ordered. I could have saved myself $70 by cancelling B's plan along with mine yesterday, but I just couldn't bring myself to do that. If I did, B would lose their phone number, which is not the end of the world... but a big enough hassle. I know I am letting myself be taken advantage of, but I still can't bring myself to "leave B out in the cold". My way of "cutting B off" is to set up B with everything they need to begin a new plan, including no past due balances to worry about. I can't decide if that is right or not? In my heart I know it's not going to work out, at least for the present. I just keep thinking that if I did everything possible to set B up for success then the rest is on B. Everything I am doing is essentially to make myself feel better... and nothing that will really help the situation. I know B is the only one that can pick themselves up... but just nothing about the situation sits well with me. I'm cutting the loss... but only after I lose a little bit more.
Anyone have any advice for learning to put yourself first?