Whether it's struggling with depression, being poor, or having a hard time finding a job, there's always someone out there ready to point out that you can choose to not be in that position.
For the one in the struggle spot, it can be really hard to hear that this is all apparently 100% within their control to change when they know it isn't.
One Redditor found that out when he repeatedly gave financial advice to a friend who is struggling financially.
In his frustration, he said his friend was "choosing poverty" over financial wisdom, and now there's a rift in their relationship.
The Redditor asked the thread:
"AITA for telling my friend he's 'choosing to be poor'"?
He acknowledged up-front that his question sounded harsh.
"I'm hoping it's not as harsh as the title sounds."
He then shared how he and his friends had grown up together.
"To make a very long backstory short, a few of my friends and I grew up in extreme poverty. It's almost the only reason we're friends these days, bonding over bad history."
"But we're adults now, and without sounding narcissistic, I'm the most 'financially wise,' person in the group. This has kinda led to them looking at me differently, but one in particular comes to me for financial advice a lot. Except every time he does, it ends with him catching an attitude."
He talked his friend through some standard financial practices.
"I taught him how to build his credit/budget/how he can move out securely, etc. He's not on minimum wage, but goes half in on bills."
But his friend usually has a reason for not being able to implement his financial advice.
"He'll say 'He doesn't make enough to put any in savings.' (He does, I've helped him budget.) And 'That's your privilege talking.'"
"He's 'desperate to move out,' but when I've given him advice on saving up for 3/mo rent and utilities, he 'Needs a new phone first, some clothes first, and a new XBOX before he can start saving.'"
"His phone works, but I told him if he wants a new phone, he could at least go for a $400 one instead of an $1,100 one when he's just going to use the exact same apps on either. He also has an old XBOX, but 'It's social, and being social is detrimental for mental health. It's a good thing.'"
At this point in the conversation, his friend always becomes defensive.
"This happens a lot. He gets very defensive and stand offish, and 'Nobody asked your opinion on if I should buy something.'"
"And finally, he more or less whined about how much he needed this stimulus check, and sent me screenshots of his bank account overdrawn. Then not 20 minutes later, posted screenshots of various decor and LED lights and 'Which / what else should I get for my bedroom?' And spent ALL of it on misc. decor."
A few days ago, the Redditor refused to give financial advice.
"A few days ago he told me he was going to quit his job, the THIRD one this year, because 'He doesn't like it, and it's bad for his mental health to stay,' and asked me for advice again."
"I told him I wasn't comfortable talking about finances with him anymore because he never takes my advice anyway, and he gets mean."
This was also when he suggested his friend was "choosing" to be poor.
"He got angry, and said 'Poor people deserve luxuries too, OP,' so I said 'With all due respect dude, there's a difference between being poor and choosing poverty.'"
But since he said that, he's struggling to connect with his childhood friends.
"Now he and a few of our mutual friends are saying I'm a 'class traitor,' and a 'right wing capitalist,' and that I'm 'becoming a bootlicker.'"
He asked the thread if he was wrong for what he said.
"I'm not really apologetic for saying they're choosing to be poor. They're waiting for the system to change, instead of learning it and taking advantage of it."
"I also don't know if I'm being too passive/inconsiderate, but they asked."
Redditors shared their thoughts anonymously, using the following scale:
- NTA: "Not the A**hole"
- YTA: "You're the A**hole"
- ESH: "Everybody Sucks Here"
- NAH: "No A**holes Here"
A few Redditors confirmed the real issue was in the phrase "choosing poverty" and not his overall financial advice.
"I agree that the way you phrase it does sound pretty condescending. They really are not 'choosing poverty', they're choosing to keep up with the Jones' and trying to buy temporary happiness with things."
"I would try to explain to them the concept of 'opportunity cost'. Yes you can buy an $1100 phone, or you could buy a $400 one, and have money left over for something else."
"Your life is reflective of the choices you make. So you should always look at what other opportunities could come up if you make a different choice." - Randomish_Man
"The phrase 'choosing poverty' isn't the best one, since "poverty" has certain implications that might've gotten you in trouble in his retelling."
"But it was a split-second response, and, with context, it's clear you meant that there's a difference between being stuck broke by circumstance and choosing to always be broke. And always being broke isn't good for one's mental health, either."
"A better way of putting it might be that your friend always makes choices that screw over the mental and financial health if his future self. And if course he should stop asking you for advice - or you should stop giving it - if he never takes it." - mbbaer
Several also pointed out that this was probably hard for the friend to swallow, because he seems to be depending on short-term happiness more than long-term gains right now.
"I would phrase it differently - he is living the way he wants. Unfortunately he wants more than his means. No amount of budgeting can make a 20k income live a 40k lifestyle."
"The end result is that combined with impatience he gets the most immediate things he wants first and can't get those harder/delayed purchases because his money ran out before his wants did." - Zoloir
"Here's where it could be classist, but it's not on you: people from disadvantaged backgrounds tend to experience despair over ever being able to 'dig themselves out' into a more prosperous existence. So they go for the short term pleasure over long-term planning."
"You've pulled yourself out of this mindset, which is why your friend comes to you for advice. Until he faces up to the impact of how he is (subconsciously but very near the surface) sabotaging himself, there's nothing you can do." - dcoleski
"You're right, and it's like complaining that you can't lose weight, while eating a big Mac and fries. Then saying 'well skinny Stacey eats this all the time!'... No she eats it sometimes and you only notice the times she does, you're ignoring all the times she just got a salad."
"Plus, if you're already skinny you can eat salads and the occasional big Mac, but to lose weight you need to eat way more salads and way fewer big Macs... Becoming financially healthy when you're not currently takes more sacrifice than staying financially healthy once you're already there." - kzp17
Others shared from their personal financial stories, saying it's hard to live in poverty or to climb out of it, but doable.
"Honestly my husband and I are living one 1 income. I have never budgeted so hard in my life, and we are poor, but we don't choose poverty. I shop at 3 grocery stores for the cheapest items, made Dollar tree a routine, and did without my hobby things for a very long time."
"I didn't think it was classist to do. It is prioritizing quality of life over quantity of things." - pyneapplepyro
"My husband and I were the same, and then he got a new job and my company gave me a huge raise. We are still living the same except we bought a hot tub. (something we have always wanted but thought we'd never own)"
"The house we bought is completely within our previous budget, but is HUGE and has a yard that we have started a garden in, saving us more $. We moved from an expensive city to a lower budget one and utilities were cut in half, even with the enormous house."
"And now we are slowly saving up extra each month, dumping the extra funds we get into savings and working our way forward."
"It's taken almost 10 years to get here, and it's A LOT of work, but is worth it." - jessdb19
Though all this advice can be difficult to take, it sounds like this Redditor had the best intentions in mind.
Hopefully, he and his childhood friends will be able to sit down to talk all this out and take their friendship back.
*If you enjoyed this article, you can read more like it by clicking on the AITA link below.*