This is partly a rant and partly an etiquette question.
An acquaintance has been on a crowdfunding site, trying to raise money for her family to move to a nicer house. The place where they have been living is, I agree, substandard, and the kids need a safer place to live. Having said that, this is not the first time she and her partner have been emailing friends, on Facebook, etc., asking for help repeatedly to feed, clothe, and house their children.
We all have times in our lives when we need help, and usually I am glad to help a friend, and grateful when friends help me. But here’s the rub: this woman also posts frequently on Facebook about, and shows her friends, the vacations she has taken, the restaurants she has been to, the gadgets she has bought, etc. Oh, and that’s not to mention the fertility treatments they’ve been funding so that they can have a third child. She and her partner seem incapable of planning ahead and putting money away for a rainy day for the kids they already have. And they don’t seem embarrassed to ask others to bail them out when they run into problems — which is often.
The rant is that our family also has large medical bills right now, but instead of taking vacations, buying trinkets, and eating out, for the most part we have buckled down, worked overtime, and generally taken care of business as much as possible. So to see ten or twelve Facebook posts in two weeks (really!) imploring people over and over to PLEASE help their family, when I know they have been blowing money elsewhere, is infuriating to me.
The question is this: This woman has started privately emailing mutual friends to ask them to send money. I know etiquette doesn’t require that we give money. In my case, right now I actually can’t afford to help. However, some mutual friends could afford to, but are offended that she would ask, under the circumstances. Does etiquette require them to lie and say they have no money to spare? Or can they tell her why? She is a pushy person and I can’t imagine she would accept an answer like, “Because it just isn’t possible.” She will ask why not. Can they level with her? (I know some of them, at least, feel the same way I do.) Several of us are so frustrated with this couple right now, I don’t think we can make an objective call on this. If she asks me, I don’t want to be cruel, but I feel partly like if no one is willing to say “This isn’t appropriate,” she’ll never know. 1021-13
You and your friends are under no obligation, whatsoever, to give one dime to this so-called “friend” who has no shame about begging. You also have no obligation to explain your financial decisions or financial status to her because to do so gives her a foot in the door to demand to know more about your financial health and why you are not sharing it with her. You are under no obligation to respond to the emails she sends that border on coercion and guilt manipulation to get what she wants. I would personally delete these emails unanswered.
It is not lying to say, “There is no money in my budget to help you,” because your money is allocated to specific budget categories and there doesn’t happen to be a budget category called “Alms Fund For Pushy, Begging Friends” and if there were, there is no money earmarked for that category.
As for speaking to her, if the relationship can sustain that kind of truth, have at it. I suspect that she will not be receptive to your message. People who have an entitlement attitude that they are owed the fruits of other people’s hard earned money are not often swayed by reasonable discussion about tightening their own belts. Ehell has seen its share of people who believe that everyone deserves the best things in life at someone else’s expense and without working hard to achieve them. People prioritize their money and your friend” values vacations, gadgets and dining out as higher priority than saving for a home and what is worse, in my opinion, is that this “friend” is not above using guilt to her advantage. It’s kind of astonishing if you think about it…this is a person who is far ore comfortable with bullying friends into coughing up money than she is with the prospect of knuckling down and working to save that money. I hate to be cynical and pessimistic but I don’t think telling her “This isn’t appropriate” will have any effect on her. Give us an update if it does.