How to stop paying for everyone and protect my money? People leech off of me.

As I am eating my very pro-budget but not very pro-health lunch of wraps with only canned beans and chilli sauce, I had a realisation while reflecting on why I don’t have money to eat properly. It is very stupid, but it explains why I still am struggling financially. To put it short: my family has always been very poor. My parents are doing okay now financially, but they still raised us in that culture, by lack of a better word . Because of this, I grew up with a few (unspoken) social rules:

* One: you never judge someone for not having money. You sympathise. When someone says they don’t have money, you help them with the little bit you have.
* Two: everything that is not food and bills that immediately need to be paid is ‘extra’ money that you can use to help family and friends.
* Three: always offer to pay when the other does not respond (while being out for coffee, drinks or dinner groceries).

This has resulted in me paying for a significant amount of food for a handful of friends, that kept triggering me with storied about how they could not eat that week. I paid for sandwiches when their cards declined, I always paid when doing groceries etc.

Normally, I give people the benefit of the doubt. But last week or so I received a rude wake-up call. A friend agreed to help me with an important assignment that I had been struggling with all week. Before we even got started, he said:

‘we are going to eat together tonight, right?’ I was pretty sure that we had never agreed to that, so I said

‘Oh I’m sorry, I can’t remember I had promised that. I would rather work on this assignment which will take me the entire afternoon and probably tonight as well.’

**He then said this:** ‘Oh that’s okay! I can do the grocery shopping for us! Wait, I don’t have money… oh well, I can skip dinner tonight!’

then he paused. And I felt so bad that I ordered pizza. Which cost me 25 euros. Which I could not afford at all. But I also had to finish the assignment and did not want to deal with the added stress of him guiltripping me the entire time he was helping me. Because I did need his help.

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Later, I found out that the week before he had spend over 50 euros on shots. He also eats pizza and subway almost every day for dinner. The worst is: he puts aside 10% of his salary on a savings account, while I plunder mine to deal with unexpected expenses like him needing to eat.

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The difference is this:

– He says he doesn’t have money because he put aside 100 euros on his savings account and spends a shitload of money on booze. There are a number of occasions with other people that I suspected this was the case but gave people the benefit of the doubt.

– I say I don’t have money because I literally have no money left in my bank account. Which has not yet happened, luckily. I don’t eat out ever, I don’t order food, I freeze big bags of vegetables and potatoes so I can get by from only 10 euros of groceries a week.

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I only found out his financial situation by talking to another friend, who had gone partying with him and knows him better, so she could tell me all that. By then the damage has already been done. Because I know this now, I will not do it again with him. But most often, I do not know the context and I assume they had a good reason to be, well, poor.

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I visited my sister two weeks ago, and it was basically a fight of who got to pay for the coffee. We’re both poor, working students so we knew the other would appreciate the gesture! This is what I am used to. But this is not what I am experiencing at all in the student city that I am a part of.

**tldr:** I’m being taken advantage of by friends who (some knowing, others i am not sure) keep making me pay for their stuff. How to say no, even though I know they will have to struggle that instance? Probably need some tough love because when I am reading this back I feel so ashamed.

Edit: just wanted to point out that I mostly have very good and kind friends who don’t do this to me, these are just a few instances. This is also what made me realize my ‘ problem’ so late.

Edit2: just got home today, I’m overwhelmed with the response! I have skimmed through the replies and they are so helpful. I will not reply tonight (its almost midnight here and tomorrow is busy) but I am going to set some time aside tomorrow to read carefully through the advice, thank you all so much! I appreciate it very much that you took the effort to read my question and made very personal responses!



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