Some time back, I actually wrote to a volunteer based credit/financial counseling place and asked if they would consider taking me on as a volunteer despite my lack of official financial background. They never replied. That’s okay. I kind of changed my mind about it already. I simply don’t think I will be good at it after all.
It is not my lack of official financial background that I feel unconfident about. It is the whole judging thing. I know that one should never be judgmental doing work such as this, but I really don’t think this is possible in any human being. However, I was confident about my abilities in controlling my personal feelings and felt that that I could still do a proper job for my clients.
Turns out I may have overestimated myself.
There is a certain blogger out there who has been posting on her financial woes for the past two months. I don’t deny that she has had a tough life from all she has put out there; childhood poverty combined with an irresponsible parent is not fun. She says she is marginalized due to her gender and race. I don’t know about that since I don’t live in her neck of the woods, but I will give her the benefit of the doubt. She has credit card debt which she is planning to discharge in bankruptcy, several tens of thousands in student loans for a degree which is not exactly sought after, and works two days a week as a cashier.
She wishes she had more income, but says she is unable to work more than two days a week as she suffers from anxiety and depression on the job.
She says low level jobs are beneath her and she does not need the money enough to subject herself to the humility of working at these jobs, considering her high level of education. In the next breath, however, she continues to talk about not having enough money to do/have the things she wants.
She says she has difficulty finding a full time job commensurate to her education levels, but appears to be not actively looking, judging from the lack of a proper resume. She has asked for, received and rejected most of the financial advice that has been provided by commenters to her blog. And continued to ask for them, and continue to reject them.
She also comments on certain blogs regularly. Unfortunately, these bloggers she has chosen to fixate on are in a totally different stage of personal finance than she is. I say unfortunately, because she chose to take offence at these people who appear to her to have had money drop into their laps (higher income without making any effort – what she says), and make snide asides not only to them but also others who comment in their posts.
I imagine getting someone like her as a client if I were to take up a volunteer financial counseling position.
I think I could deal with the personal negativity, the superior attitude about what she deserves, the rejection of advice, the lack of understanding of the causation link between her actions and situation, her unwillingness to take personal responsibility for her earlier actions etc etc, and still try and help her out. It doesn’t cost me anything other than time; and time is exactly what I am volunteering after all. Her attitude also doesn’t affect my abilities to negotiate better rates with banks and credit card companies on her behalf.
“Think about that, people sitting on piles of money. Imagine for one second if life wasn’t so damn perfect. If you actually had to struggle and live from shit to shit.”*
*This post had been deleted from her blog at the time of posting.
It is this attitude to those in better off financial situations, without any proper context, that gets to me. The assumption that everyone else is where they are because they were lucky, they had parental support etc etc, anything but the fact that others may also have worked hard, made difficult decisions and gone through difficult times. If you have more money than her at this very moment, life must have been always very much perfect.
I imagine a conversation where I get personally attacked at every point:
Me: How about we brainstorm ways to see if we can get the income side of the equation up a notch to make things easier for you.
Client: I am not going to work more hours at that crap job. It’s not like all of us poor people get to land a cushy job like yours, you know.
Me: How about looking into a better paying job? Have you tried….
Client: But I don’t have a resume. People like you are so lucky to have high paying jobs drop into their laps just like that.
Me: No problem. Why don’t we see if there is anything that we could perhaps reduce on your expenditure, and see if that helps?
Client: You rich people get to buy everything and anything you want, and you want me to cut out the little bit of comfort that I get?
You know, I think I might just end up strangling a client like this. So I gave up the idea of doing volunteer credit/financial counseling, because I suspect the odds of meeting people with attitudes like this may be rather high. I might just end up doing more harm than good.