According to the famous rock band Pink Floyd in their song entitled “Money” it is the root of all evil today. While money can bring us many good things in life, it can be quite a nasty thing as well.
To most of us, family means a lot. But when family members start asking for money, it becomes a whole different equation.
A recent study revealed that more than one-third of the people interviewed admitted that money threatened their relationships.
Money can come in between any relationship with a family member. It could be a genuine financial setback that a person is experiencing, or perhaps you have a friend with an addiction.
If you are seen as someone with a reliable source of money, it is also possible that you might be approached by family members for financial assistance.
A survey carried out in 2018 revealed that 36% of people between the ages of 18 to 54 felt that money was the primary cause of rifts in relationships.
However, it is difficult to see someone close to you going through a tough time, especially when it’s not their fault.
For example, the ongoing pandemic, being made redundant at work, a natural disaster, or a medical emergency. You want to step in and help.
But sometimes you need to exercise a bit of caution before you loosen your purse strings. Here are a couple of tips on rationalizing your bailing someone – when to do it and when not to:
Is It a One-Off Payment Or Is This Person a Repeat Offender?
Your friend or family member might be financially responsible but they are faced with a sudden financial crisis. You can see that by helping them just one time, you can probably get them back on track.
It can be further reinforced by their previous record of financial responsibility which gives you the assurance they can pay you back or at least will not be back at your doorstep anytime soon.
However, the person concerned might be irresponsible with money. They are up to their neck in credit card debts and have loans that they are unable to pay back.
You won’t be helping them by paying them once or even multiple times because they are just going to keep coming back to you for more money.
So, it’s always a good idea to ask them about the specifics of their financial difficulty.
You will soon know whether the person is going through a crisis of their own doing or if they are just experiencing a temporary setback.
What is the Money For?
Sudden misfortunes hit when you least expect them. A person might have become suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed. Or they may have an urgent medical emergency.
They might become overwhelmed and unable to cover all their immediate expenses. You can step in and give such a person a leg up if you are in a position to do so.
Then again, some people never save. They live from paycheck to paycheck. So, you have to see why a person needs money and act accordingly.
A person might be very convincing about why they need money, and they may appear outwardly desperate. However, they may not be as desperate as they seem to be. It’s just a ploy to get the money from you.
You have to get into the reason why the person needs money.
For example, if you see that a person is struggling with addiction and that is what is ruining them financially, then rather than giving them money to feed their addiction it would be better to refer them to a professional who can help them to wean off their bad habit.
Ways to Help Family Members Financially
It may so happen that a family member is in genuine need of financial help and you are in a position to help them. There are different ways that you can do this.
Here are some useful ways of helping family members in financial distress:
Show Them the Financial Way Out
Although you may not have a lot to give them, perhaps you can pay them a bit. But you can show them resources where they can generate some financial income themselves.
For example, you can refer them to a financial planning consultant who will help them plan their finances in a better way and save a bit of money by investing their spare cash wisely.
You could also find non-profit organizations that help people in financial distress like supplemental assistant food programs or low-income employment opportunities.
You can even find social services that offer free mental and physical health assistance.
Pay For Financial Planning
You may not want to give them money directly, but you can hire a professional who can step in to help them manage their finances. Given time, a financial manager could put them back on track.
Although you might have to spend a little money, it will be a good investment to make them financially independent in the long run.
Money for Work
If you look around, you will see a few jobs that need doing that you perhaps don’t have the time to attend to personally. If a person is hard up enough, they will be ready to help you out in your jobs and you can pay them accordingly.
You can give them errands to run, paperwork, bank work, sorting out emails, pet sitting, and babysitting. There are so many jobs where a person in financial need could help you and you could compensate them for the work done.
It could add respectability to giving them money rather than just doing it out as if they were a charity victim. This way, you don’t have to pay a lump sum to the person as you will pay them as each job is completed.
Furthermore, they will be motivated to run your errands for you and it is a great way to bond with each other.
Pay the Bills
Here we can get into the specifics of why the person is in financial difficulty. If you offer to pay specific bills, you can get an opportunity to see the nature of the liability.
For example, gambling bills, bills as a result of compulsive shopping, past overdue credit card bills, drugs, or alcohol.
These are bills that you can simply decline. But you can pay some genuine bills like utility bills, food bills, and school fees.
By paying the bills yourself instead of handing over money to the person to pay their bills, you ensure that you are paying and helping them in genuine expenses.
Pay in Gift Cards
Whatever the nature of a financial emergency, you canpay them in gift cards. If you give them gift cards and vouchers, they have to use them for useful things like food, medicine, and essentials.
It is the best way to ensure that they use your money for things of genuine value.
Support Them in Their Repayments
Sometimes it happens that a person is under pressure to repay loans. On exceeding their credit limit, they may have limited negotiating power.
But if you are in a better financial status, you might step in and help to negotiate with their creditors.
You will be surprised how you can get their creditors to go a bit easy on them and perhaps reduce the interest or extend their credit based on your financial standing.
This is one of the less recommended things to do. You can extend an interest-free loan, but there is no guarantee that you will ever see your money again. You can get into a loan agreement with a person but eventually, loaning money is commonly as good as giving it away.
Lend Them Your Car
Cars are the biggest financial drain on a family and the first thing that makes you feel the pinch is your car when you fall into financial difficulty.
However, you would have to exercise extreme caution if you wanted to lend your car to someone in financial difficulty.
What would happen if that person got into an accident? There would be many insurance complications and there could even be legal issues. Therefore, this is an option, but exercise extreme caution while doing it.
The Power of “NO.”
Ultimately, it is you who have the power to politely or firmly decline a request for financial help. Saying no to someone is difficult at the time. But once you have said it, you will feel relieved at having done so.
It is always better to tell someone that you don’t have the spare cash because you also have your financial commitments and your money is limited.
It can be difficult to say no to a person whom you are close to like a parent or a sibling. But feeling guilty about not paying someone money, putting yourself out, and then putting yourself in financial difficulty doesn’t make sense.
Even if you can afford to pay a person, you have to think carefully before you do so. You may be among many other targeted people from that person. Pay them today, and they will be back tomorrow for more if you pay them readily.
Nipping it in the bud and saying no from the very outset is not a bad thing. A repeat offender will always have a list of people who are a soft touch. So, avoid getting on the list of such people.
Money is a very dirty thing. It can spoil relations. Don’t fall into that trap. Politely declining a close friend or relative today can save your relationship with them in the long run.
Therefore, if you can’t do it, there’s always no harm in saying no. Turn down a request for money at the initial stages and save your relationship.