Money issues can often become a family issue. When we were younger, my sister was the saver and I was the spender. At any given time, my piggy bank was likely empty as I had just bought something while she probably had the first cent she ever saved. Things have drastically changed as adults.
My sister tried to justify every tiny purchase and as a result has a hard time getting out debt and putting money into savings. She may be my younger sister but she is an adult and should probably be able to manage her finances on her own, but she has come to me (multiple times) for help. She’s never actually asked for money, just help with managing things which I don’t mind doing.
Knowing when to step in and help a friend or family member with their finances can be hard. Even advice can be hard to give sometimes as money is so personal. You really need to know and understand each other’s spending habits to really be able to help.
Before you agree to help someone you need to establish boundaries.
I agreed to help my sister with a budget and getting everything set up but that’s it. At one point she asked me if I would actually control her money for her, only giving her an allowance but that was too much for me.
Not only does she really not learn anything about managing her own money, it would be a lot of work for me as well to actually manger her money as well as mine. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for accidentally screwing something up. Some people may be ok with actually taking over someone else’s money but I wasn’t so I made sure she understood exactly what I was willing to do and not do.
Make Sure You Have Time
Helping someone with their money- even if it’s just setting a budget up can be very time consuming. If you’re willing to help make sure you actually have time set aside to help them or it won’t be beneficial. I agreed to help her again set up a new budget but I won’t have time for a few weeks to set aside and actually discuss everything with her. Especially with little ones around, I will need a few, uninterrupted, hours to dedicate to her. I’ve agreed to help but she will have to wait until I’m ready.
Be Prepared to Walk Away
The first time my sister approached me to help (a few years ago) I could tell it was going to be a total waste of time and effort. She wasn’t in the right mindset and shot down every suggestion I made. Even though I knew she needed to follow the advice I was giving her, I just knew she wouldn’t. For my own sanity I walked away. I told her we’d come back to it when she was ready to take it more seriously which, a few months later she did. If you’re both not on the same page, walk away.
Helping a friend or family member with a financial issue has the potential to divide people. I totally understand why some people refuse. Thankfully my sister and I are able to maintain a good relationship despite these things and I’m happy to take responsibility for the positive changes she has made.
Have you ever helped a friend or family member with a money issue? How did it work out?