Family, Friends and Money: The Dysfunctional Trifecta

The February 6th meeting of the “I HATE Budgeting (But I Like Having Money)” support group focused on the dynamic between family members and friends when money is added to the mix.

Boy-oh-boy was this an active discussion! I think it was our best meeting yet. Here are some insights to help you make wise and confident financial decisions when family or friends come a-callin’.

  • We all came to agree that helping our kids by giving them money is akin to giving someone a fish (instead of teaching them how to fish); it only helps them temporarily. It also implies that you don’t think they could figure out their situation without your help, which may keep them coming back to you rather than learning and choosing differently next time.
  • Much of parenting is about role modeling. If your kids are coming to you for money, it’s important to share with them how you handled a similar situation and that the reason you have money to give or lend to them is because you’ve followed certain strategies that support financial stability.
  • Similarly, one attendee shared that her sister was frequently asking various family members for money. Instead of giving her sister money, she offered to pay for her to receive financial counseling so that she could learn how to stand on her own two feet.
  • On that note, stop making money a secret (I like to think of myself as the Dr. Ruth of money). It’s important to teach your kids about managing money by allowing them to learn how you actually manage money. The key to financial peace and stability is being able to say “No” to some things so that you can say “Yes” to the really important things. Be careful not to say, “We can’t afford that!” and instead say, “Our money already has jobs to do this month. If some more money comes in, perhaps we can afford this extra item.”
  • We had a lengthy discussion about boundaries and establishing and maintaining healthy ones when it comes to money. Boundaries do not mean walls to block people out or to shut yourself in, they merely mean personal financial space to maintain financial well-being (after all, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have the resources to help them). It’s about self-care, not selfishness.

It is the weight of our choices, however, that causes us to put them off.

This is normal, by the way. When we do not have enough information or insight about a situation, we experience mental tension. To relieve this tension, we either need to make a decision or put it off.

Since making a decision also involves risk (more on that in a minute), most will opt to put it off. This is fine unless the person asking you for money needs the money ASAP and is perhaps employing aspects of your relationship to “encourage” you to make the decision sooner rather than later. In which case, we usually decide by saying, “Yes, here you go”… and later regretting it.

Your plan B can be, “Next time I will tell the person I need 24 hours to decide and I will stick to that rule myself.”

Or your plan B could be to offer them a Plan B such as “let me help you find a job.”

Or your plan B could be to choose not to give a hoot.

The risks involved with money and family members/friends include:
If I say “No:”
They may not talk to me anymore
They may reject me
They may judge me (as greedy, selfish)

If I say “Yes:”
I may cut myself short (see my blog post https://amyjolauber.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/are-you-addicted-to-helping-others-at-your-own-peril/)
I may be sending the wrong message (that you can always come to me for money)
I may be putting a bandage on a bullet wound (enabling someone to remain stuck rather than truly helping them move forward)

Do you think it’s possible to separate the relationship from the money? Your family member/friend may think, “You have the money, you could give it to me” but does that obligate you to do so? One of the attendees had the best sound bite of the meeting: Is being generous a need or a want?

I am constantly reminding attendees the importance of knowing and living by your core values. Identify and use your core values to guide your decisions so that emotions don’t have the power to sway you one way or another.

I have someone in my circle who has been out of work for a while. It was getting pretty scary. I thought about giving him some money (one of my core values is charity). This person shared that he received a large check for the holidays and promptly spent 25% of it on a cosmetic treatment. Now, I’ll admit, my first reaction was to be quite judgmental about the whole matter. Then I returned to my core value – charity – which does not judge. I offered the money and he declined, having recently obtained work. That taught me an important lesson about giving: Give charitably or not at all.

If you want to gain a better understanding of personal finance so that you can make wise, confident decisions, join us at a meeting,  email me (ajlauber@lauberfinancialplanning) to receive my quarterly newsletter, check out lots of other financial wellness freebies or schedule your complimentary initial consultation with me today.

You can do this, read the book, “The Four Agreements,” it’ll help. Here is a snapshot of them:

The Four Agreements

Peace & abundance,
Amy Jo

About Amy Jo Lauber

I help people who are overwhelmed take control & make good financial decisions with confidence and experience peace and abundance. Are you ready to say goodbye to working hard but not having anything to show for it? Go to www.lauberfinancialplanning.com "Let's Talk" tab to schedule your complimentary initial consultation and take the first step on the path to financial empowerment.
This entry was posted in Money in relationships, Personal Finance with a twist and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Family, Friends and Money: The Dysfunctional Trifecta

  1. kathy says:

    I love this summary. This is the first time I received your post in this way. It was so easy to just open. Thanks Kathy

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