Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I am worried about my best friend and her husband. They are always short of cash and do not have any savings. Their electricity has been cut off twice. They've been through numerous cars and have been in trouble with their mortgage company for consistently late payments. We are now almost 30 years old, and I feel embarrassed when she is consistently short at the cash register and I have to open my wallet to pay the remainder of the bill. I don't think they spend their money foolishly -- the majority of it goes to bills. What troubles me the most is that they have two young boys who are growing up quickly. I resent these people for having these children without being able to give them everything they will need. It breaks my heart knowing the boys will never have all of the opportunities most "normal" kids would. I have tried to advise a spending limit per week or living off cash (not plastic), but it went nowhere. I feel as though something bad is going to happen, such as wage garnishment or losing their house. This is a sensitive topic. We rarely talk about it, but should I confront them about their lack of finances and my worry for the boys' futures? Or should I keep my mouth shut, help out when needed and hope for the best?
-- Worried in Ontario
DEAR WORRIED: What you should not do is judge these parents for having children. It is possible for these parents to give their children a nice, quality life without having lots of material advantages, although the chaos that comes with poor financial management is definitely not good for them.
It is tough for kids to grow up in a household where the parents are stressed, behind the eight ball financially and basically on the run from their creditors.
There is no point in you confronting these parents about their poor financial choices. What you should do is point them toward resources that might be helpful and encourage them to change.