I just lost my job due to company-wide layoffs. I have an emergency fund, but I’m losing my health insurance. Our state has a program that covers children’s health care in these kinds of situations. Would it be OK to accept this for my kids until I find another job and things get better?
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with accepting help when you’re down or struggling. On the other hand, to define yourself as being down or struggling is a really bad thing. By this, I mean you should never just sit there, consider yourself helpless and expect someone else to take care of you. Remember this: Everyone falls down. Loser’s stay down, but successful people get back up!
If I woke up one morning and realized I had no insurance or couldn’t feed my family because I’d lost my job, I’d be out looking for work all day long, every single day. If that didn’t work, I’d pack everyone up and go find another place to work and live. At the very least I’d map out a plan to work and make money somewhere else during the week, then come home weekends.
You sound like a good dad, and I love the fact that you’re thinking about your kids. Do what’s necessary to take care of them right now, even if it means getting help from the state. Make sure you’re out there busting it, and trying to make something happen in the job market, too. You shouldn’t still be living this way six months from now!
The merciful landlord
I have tenants who have been perfect in paying rent on time for almost a year. Last month, the woman lost her job, and when I went to collect the rent the other day, she said she didn’t have any money. I’m pretty sure they used part of it for a car payment and the electric bill, and I know they need these things. Still, I’m torn over how to handle this and how lenient to be.
You’re right, what they spent the money on were things they needed. At the same time, they probably knew the rent was due and when it was due. Since you know about their situation, and you’re their landlord, it might be a good idea to offer to try and formulate a plan that would help them get through this tough time.
If it were me, I’d sit down with them and make a budget and list of priorities. Food comes first, water and electricity after that, then rent, and finally the car. Get into their business a little, and find out what else is going on in their lives. You have to be fair and firm to be a quality landlord.
I’d be willing to cut them some slack if they’re cooperative and honestly have to choose between feeding their kids and paying me. But if they insist on misbehaving with their money or having parties on the weekend, I’d have no problem telling them to find another place to live.
The biggest thing is to treat them the way you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. I think most people want to do what’s right, but you want to feel good about extending mercy when, and if, it’s appropriate.