Poor Friends are Expensive
The Fact Stack
Today nearly 15% of the US population is considered poor, according to the 2012 Census. That means that out of the first hundred people that you might consider friends, fifteen of them are poor. More realistically, out of the fifty that you can name, nearly eight of them are poor.
This is not news to anyone. We've all seen newscasts about the employment rates, rises in interest on student loans, and the dismal future of retirement for those born after '85. Citizens abound are all trying to find ways to cut down, to Keep Calm, and to still have fun. The numbers are not their friends-- and it seems that some of their friends are not exactly helping with these financial hardships.
Commodities and Spirits
Life Lessons Teach Money
What not everybody knows or experiences is that having poor friends can be expensive. Some of them can't land a job, with limited experience and rising competition in all industries. Many of them have jobs but are busy repaying student loans that they barely make ends meet, even living with their parents. (And parents, certainly you know that your twenty-five year old is easily under the category of 'poor friends'.)
Some have more gripping obligations like children or elderly loved-ones which they must put every dime into for the sake of everyone's survival. Therein lies the rub: poor friends (or family members), are the cross that some bear. Out of the goodness and generosity of their hearts, they will take their friends out to dinner, or drinks, or even help pay for other expenses like rent or other bills. Winters are colder, and summers are hotter, and bills are increasing steadily.
We've all been there
How often have you bought a friend or family member food or drink due to apparent (or assumed) financial strife?
Nobody wants to talk about it
Now, I'm sure some readers are seeing this and thinking “Woah, not me.” But I think that we've all been there. Perhaps in middle-school your friend forgot their lunch money and you did them a solid. Maybe they never paid you back, and you never mentioned it again. Later, when you were in highschool and your friend couldn't afford their lunch at all, you shared yours with them, knowing that you had plenty of grub at home.
Now we're older, wiser, and still have poor friends. Some people get bitter, thinking “why can't they just get a job and make money? Why don't they learn to save up and then we can go out and have a good time?” Nobody enjoys I.O.U.'s or the potential guilt riding on every meal paid for. Some people are legitimately freeloading--others don't know how deceitful some people can be. But, when the tough gets going, people still help out their real friends with a pat on the back, and a five in the pocket.
Pros and Cons
Having No Friends
Having Poor Friends
No footing the bill
Having friends and support
Someone to be around
Sometimes having to pay for the fun
Constantly wondering just how many beers John needs before the evening is considered 'a good time'
The importance of it all
Everyone needs food, and everyone enjoys fun-- it's even considered a 'need' via Maslow.
-The average price for a meal for one person is $10.00
-The average price of a beer, on the low side, is $3.25
-The average price of a month's utilities for an apartment is $160.00
-The average price of a memory of a $30.00 dinner with your pal, when she had one too many drinks, tried to pick up a waiter, realized that the waiter was female, and ended up trying to let her down easy until she realized that she might be into chicks after all: priceless.
In November of 2012, Southern Utah University began a program called Food for Friends where students could purchase vouchers as gifts for their friends to purchase food or meals.
“Eric Liebhardt, a freshman music education major from Cedar City, said he thinks it’s a good opportunity to be helping out his friends.
'I would get warm fuzzies if I was given food,' he said. 'Especially with finals around the corner, it’s nice to have some comfort food from friends.'”
We're all experts
This is where I reveal my true expertise on the matter, and admit that I am unemployed, poor, and presently have ten dollars to my name. As hard as it is to swallow each day, I am gifted with multiple friends who help me out with food. I will always FEEL like a freeloader in these situations, but there's an underlying guilt that I feel in any gift I am given.
No, these friends don't hold me to paying them back, or judge me for my starving artist sensabilities. Instead, they hook me up when they wish to, and I am forever grateful. That being said, I know just how expensive having a poor friend can be. If I were to add up the number of meals, each about eight dollars on average, I would be looking at a three-digit figure over the past two years. That doesn't include friends of the family helping out with bills, or people letting me work out some odd-jobs on the side.
People are amazing, even those of you who may avoid this sort of giving, or find some of those poor friends tedious enough to keep a distance. Everyone is amazing when met with those close friends in need. It's a sickening feeling to fall into the pit of cynicism, and as the holidays are around the corner, this pit is like a pothole daring to let loose beneath a house.
From the poor friends everywhere, we think that you are magnanimous for the giving that everyone is showing. You gave John from Cincinnati a chicken nugget in fifth grade, or June a twenty when she was hard up for cash-- even you, Danny, gave ME your change when I needed it for lunch. You're all real troopers, and if luck turns around upon this big, greenish-blue, revolving ball, we'll make it up to you.