Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Family Members and Money

 Why is it that we seem to be making some good choices and getting ahead financially, when along comes a family setback, and we’re reeling right along with them.  Are you the one who graduated from college and is doing better than the others, so you are the caretaker?  Are you the oldest child who takes responsibility for the others?  Did you fill your grandmother’s footsteps as rescue worker?

Let’s talk about boundaries.  Let’s outline some things that, regardless of your relationship and ability to pay, you should NEVER do.
  • ·         NEVER co-sign on a car loan or other purchase
  • ·         NEVER rent a home or rental property to a family member without a written and signed rental agreement
  • ·         NEVER add other people to your wireless phone plan

So many times, we have a noble intent to help our sister, and they take that inch and a mile more.  If they can’t buy groceries for their young children, don’t give them grocery money.  Buy them food and bring it to their home.  If they can’t pay the electric bill, call 211 to find community resources that can help.  You may have offered money in the past, so build up your resolve to help them with information and moral support instead of money.  Teach them how to fish.  If they don’t want anything except money, let them find it elsewhere.

Santa Cruz, CA 1920's  My dad is the little guy standing up

I know this is easier said than done, but making them dependent on you does no one any favors.   They’ll never grow strong when there’s always someone to fix their problems.  I know this sounds harsh, and it may be something that a family has never seen before.  Maybe they won’t talk to you; that shows that all they really want is the money, so let them be mad for now.  Think how much more independent people would be if they learned by “tough love” instead of constant coddling.

If it’s your parents, it’s even tougher.  You probably acquired a lot of their struggles when growing up, and may have learned to treat your money differently.  Share with them some of your scuffles, and encourage them to try incremental changes that may make a big difference.

If your family relationships cause issues for yourself or your marriage, read the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud for some insight into understanding and addressing the concerns.  Seek advice from someone to help with your resolve to not give in.  Ask others for help to stick with your determination to not hurt yourself financially to dig someone out again.