Dear Penny: My Boyfriend’s Finances Are a Mess. How Can I Fix Them?

A man shows that he has only a few coins in his pants pocket.
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Dear Penny,

My boyfriend has gotten himself into a very tight money situation. He is a 28-year-old personal trainer at a gym. Money for personal trainers in gym settings is not ideal by any means. He can barely afford to pay his rent. He’s had to stop paying car insurance. Quite often, he is struggling to survive.

The company that he got his car loan from has taken the car. It is going to cost a lot of money to resolve the situation. He has pretty much no money for anything but rent. To top it off, he has nine days before they auction the car.

Any suggestions for how to get $200 to $1,000 in nine days with bad credit and no money to put up for it? I know $1,000 is unrealistic, but honestly anything over $100 would be so helpful.


Dear E.,

I can tell you have a big heart. You see someone you care for deeply struggling to get by, and you can’t help but think about ways to help him. I have been there more than I’d like to admit. It starts with this nagging feeling that you could probably do something to help. Before you know it, all you want is to be able to fix it — to give the person you care for the stability you know they ultimately deserve.

But you can only fix so much. No matter how badly you know he needs advice, your boyfriend needs to take ownership of his situation, too. It doesn’t mean he can’t ask for help. But it means he should be the one writing to the advice columnist or scouring the internet for ways to make quick cash instead of you taking on that burden.

The truth is that if he wanted to work hard and fast to make some cash to get his car back, he’d get out there himself and do it. He’d ask neighbors to mow their lawns for $20, or he’d find some other task that might feel less than dignifying but that could help him raise the money he needs.

But he’s not the one who seems to be trying. Maybe he feels helpless after feeling for a while like he’s never going to get by. But he has to want help. He needs to push aside his pride and ask for help. You should not feel like you have to carry this weight alone, or at all.

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Lisa Rowan is a personal finance expert and senior writer at The Penny Hoarder, and the voice behind Dear Penny. For more practical money tips, visit