We always try to help our family members when we can, but sometimes it’s hard to deal with a family member who isn’t very good with money. Whether they’re always asking for money or constantly complaining that they’re out of money, we all know that person. If you’re having trouble dealing with your family members and their money woes, consider the following tips.
Help Where You Can — But Not Too Much
No one likes seeing their family member struggle with money, so it’s totally okay to help when and where you can, as long as it’s within your means. This help could come in a variety of forms — from cash gifts to gift certificates to pre-paying some of their bills. Depending on your situation, helping could also appear in offering your family member a job or co-signing a loan for them.
Remember to help within your means — don’t take food from your own table to pay someone else’s light bill. Don’t co-sign a loan unless you’re sure you won’t be stuck with the payments in the end.
Help Them Create a Budget
One of the easiest ways to help someone improve their money-management skills is to help them create a budget. There are tons of tools, both online and offline, that make it simple to track your income and your expenditures, down to the $5 you spend every day on your fancy frap from the local coffee shop.
Sit down with your financially challenged family member and gather all the necessary information — such as income, bills and expenditures — to help them craft a budget that will make saving money easier and help stretch every dollar a little bit further.
Don’t leave them to their own devices once the budget is written. Check up with them periodically to make sure they’re sticking to the budget.
Learn to Say No
With family, saying no is a tricky proposition — you don’t want to offend anyone or create drama that will inevitably surface the next family gathering — but not saying no can land you in a world of hurt, financially speaking.
Learn to say no to your family members when they ask for money or other financial help. You’re under no obligation to explain yourself to anyone. Offer to help in other ways if you feel the need to help, but draw the line at loaning or gifting money.
Saying no isn’t selfish. On the contrary, putting yourself first is an essential part of maintaining your own health and well being. Don’t be mean, but don’t be a pushover — learn how to say no.
Find the Root of the Problem
Putting a band-aid over the financial problem with loans or gifts won’t help fix the root of the problem. Try sitting down with your family member and talking things over to discover the core of their problem — are they perpetually unemployed, spending all their money on the newest electronic toys, or are they suffering from an addiction with alcohol or gambling? What is the root of the problem?
Once you know where their money is going, it’s easier to determine the best way to help solve their financial woes. Perpetual unemployment, for example, can be addressed by helping them review their resume, put in applications, or by offering a ride to interviews or work if transportation is a problem. Budgeting can help, too. And helping a family member address an addiction is much more complicated, but there are things you can to do help with that as well.
Seek Professional Help
Your budgeting game may be on point, but you probably can’t single-handedly help your family members, and you might need to turn to a professional to help them resolve their financial problems. Professional fees might seem a little steep, but you don’t need to be rich to seek the advice of a financial planner. You might come across financial advisors who won’t work with anyone outside the 1%, but you wouldn’t want their help anyway.
Financial advisors can help you with everything from budgeting to investing and setting up for your retirement. If you’ve exhausted all avenues to help your family members with their financial problems, look into hiring a financial advisor.
It’s not your responsibility to solve financial problems for your family members. Help if you can, but if you can’t help or they don’t seem to want your help, don’t feel guilty about stepping back and letting them make their own choices and their own mistakes.