What to do when a relative asks you for money
Q. My brother is asking me for financial help. And this is not the first, or even the second, time he has come to me for money. In fact, he still owes me from the last time I helped him out. I hate to see him and his family struggle, yet they don’t seem to be doing anything to improve their situation. What should I do?
A. We can all find ourselves needing help at some point, but if you are frequently loaning your brother money, then you might be doing more him more harm than good and creating more problems than you are solving. Your kindness may be enabling him.
As long as you are willing to give him money, he doesn’t need to change his spending habits or solve his own problems. If he isn’t willing to change, then his situation won’t change, either. If he wants to improve his life, then he has to be willing to take the necessary steps. No one, not even concerned and loving siblings, can do this for him.
What’s more, you need to consider how this situation affects your own family. If your brother didn’t repay you the last time, this will probably happen again. Can you afford to just give him the money? How will giving him money influence your ability to provide for your own family’s needs?
If your brother truly needs your help, you don’t necessarily have to give him money. Would providing him with some groceries help? Could you handle a home improvement project or offer to help care for his kids so he could work a few extra hours?
I would also suggest that you refer your brother to an organization that will give him the tools he needs to help himself. A non-profit certified credit counselor will review his finances, refer him to assistance programs that fit his needs, and help him develop a plan to address all of his financial issues. This service should be provided at no charge. With a plan of action, your brother can take the steps he needs to resolve his own financial issues.
If your brother agrees to seek help from a credit counselor, ask him about his appointment and his plan of action. This way, you can become part of his support system and come alongside to encourage him as he reaches his own financial goals.
Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email email@example.com.
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