Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A support system can be key to financial success

When J Money at Budgets are Sexy posted one of his reader comments about being so strapped for cash while paying for school that practically all he ate for three months was "50 lbs of pinto beans and 40 lbs of rice and some soy sauce" and that "When the loose change I would find would be enough to buy a packet of Ramen it was a day of pure heaven."  I just wondered where is his family?  What about his friends?  He says he came from a working poor family with two teachers, but even $5 a month would have made a huge difference in his diet.  My parents have always been able and willing to provide that kind of assistance and much, much more.  Similarly, if I were working as hard and eating as little as Tim describes my extended family would happily chip in the $20 a month that would get me to work or class and bring some veggies into my diet and I would do the same for them. 

When my car broke down on my way back to college my senior year my parents came and picked me up so I wouldn't have to find, get to, and pay for a hotel until my car was fixed.  It was especially good since my car didn't end up leaving the shop until five days later at which point my father drove me back to pick it up and continue my drive to school.

My SO and I have, very fortunately, never been unemployed and a steady stream of paychecks has been a big help in our financial success.  Our support systems through family and friends have been very key in landing many of our jobs.  My previous job I discovered through the advice of a friend.  He suggested a niche field I had never heard of, but my experience qualified me for and sent my resume to the manager of hiring at a company he'd worked with.  That landed me a fascinating new job that paid me 30% more than my previous one.

When my SO went looking for a job a year ago another friend pulled through with a reference to a person at a sought-after company whose HR department was known to be a resume black hole.  My SO landed the job but that friend was key in getting the interview.  When my SO traveled to the city of the new job on short notice for an interview we looked to friends for free housing for the night before and after. We've returned the same favors for different friends and try to help out in other areas. 

I wouldn't hesitate to help out a friend who was in that student's situation.  I might not give them money, but I would certainly visit them potluck-style and leave the leftovers or have them over frequently if transportation wasn't an issue.  Carpooling where I pick up the tab would also be something I'd offer if appropriate.  That being said, I never have done anything like this either because none of my friends or family have been in such dire straits or I haven't been aware of their situation.  Now I'm wondering if any of my friends are in this situation but have too much pride to let anyone know, just like the original commenter.

Do you have a support network?  Who's in it and when has it helped you out?  Have you come to a friend or family member's aid?

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  1. My family has always been more than incredibly supportive. However, I know of another person who asked his dad for $80 for a book for college...and his dad would not help him out.

  2. I'm sure if I really needed help my family would do what they could -- if I asked. But historically speaking at least I've been unlikely to ask. I think there's just this sense of wanting to be able to handle things on your own.

  3. (And maybe also embarrassment at not wanting people to see how bad things are sometimes...)

  4. I feel I have an emotional support network, but importantly I provide a support network for my children.

  5. Social support is critical. I read somewhwere, maybe Gladwell, that the people that are extraordinarily successful do have amazing support networks that have enabled them to leap to stardom.

    I also read somewhere that social awareness is critical to success. Slightly off-topic, but observers can see how children interact at kindergarten and identify which ones are socially aware, and connect with their peers. This is a strong indicator of how successful they will be in life.

  6. My mom has is a frugal shopper and always looking for ways to buy everyday needs in bulk. Every time I go home, she stuffs a bag with all sorts of necessary items from kitchen sponges to soup to dried mushroom. I've often wondered if similar arrangement can work with neighbors. For example, I buy something in bulk from Costco and trade with my neighbor.

  7. It definitely makes a huge difference when you have people who are willing to support you. My wife and I are confident that if we ever come across desperate times financially, we have people that would be willing to take us in temporarily and help us get back on our feet.

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