The wealthy broke couple - house rich, cash poor

Q:

My friend changed careers recently and her income went from full to part time. Her husband owns multiple houses he inherited and doesn't work. My friend told me she's really broke. I have been sympathetic, paying her way when we go out.  Then her husband started complaining that he's so broke, his shoes are worn and he can’t purchase new ones.

I have a mortgage and no inheritances. How can I get out of these weird, uncomfortable conversations?

A:

Some people like to complain about their problems.  Some people want the sympathy.  Our friends confide in us their problems.  Often these “problems” are often sources of stress to them, despite what outside observers think.  Since you choose this couple as friends, you can simply listen to their worries.  I’m not sure they are asking for your money or advice.  You can change topics once this one gets boring.

In today’s world, it seems puzzling that being wealthy means you can’t complain about problems. Being a wealthy doesn’t mean you don’t have feelings or require sympathy. Wealthy people often lose a jobs, but the common response is often “oh well, they have lots of money” (why do they need sympathy or understanding)

Another thing to consider.  Your friends look like they are bad at financial management. Your friends may own several houses, but may not actually have cash in their bank accounts.  Without cash and maxed out credit cards, its may actually be hard for them to make day to day purchases.  I’m not saying you should be paying for them.  In fact, don’t give them money. But he may not actually be able to purchase the shoes.

At the end of the day, they will have to made their own adult financial decisions – either sell some assets, save more, work more, etc.