Saying No to Family Members

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  • #2746

    Hi All,

    I’m on a pretty strict budget and have financial goals that I am very focused on. My issue seems to be family members who end up in a crunch or need money at the last minute. I have no problem giving money but I also know I need time to set it aside in my budget. Sometimes it seems like I’m being mean because I ask them to wait for my next pay or get angry with them for waiting until the last minute to ask for help. I also need to figure out how to get them to stand on their own two feet. Any suggestions on how you handle this issue with family?



    Hi Antoinette! I’ve been on both sides of this question, and I know it’s a tough one. Carla Dearing wrote a great blog post about it: Lending money to family or friends

    Carla’s post covers other aspects of the topic (eg charging interest on loans to family members) but here’s what she wrote about your question specifically:
    “Understand your own financial picture, first and foremost. This lets you know how much of a loan would be too much, for you. Remember, the amount you can afford to lend depends on your financial situation, not on the borrower’s need or sense of urgency. For one person, lending $1500 might be doable, and for someone else it could be a real hardship. If you are uncomfortable for any reason about lending the money, then your answer should be a loving ‘no.’ Remember, you are not obligated by the personal relationship to come to your friend or family member’s aid financially at the expense of your own financial well being and peace of mind. You can be caring and supportive in other ways; by offering advice and encouragement, for example.”

    Carla has also written about the dangers empty nest parents face when they constantly put their kids (or other family members’ financial needs above their own. I think her advice works for other family situations besides the empty nest:
    “With the kids out of the house as well, freeing up more funds for you, you are in a position to take actions that will go a long way towards setting you up for long-term financial security. Do not pass up this chance! To boost your retirement savings appropriately, you may need to rethink your current priorities – including taking the difficult step of reducing or even eliminating financial assistance to adult children. Think of it as putting on your oxygen mask first. It may feel counter-intuitive, but after all, your security in retirement is something your children want for you, too.”

    The analogy of putting on your oxygen mask first is really helpful, I think. We can’t help others if we don’t take care of ourselves – and that includes financially. Good luck!

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