Q: I'm one of three kids in our family and I seem to be the one who repeatedly lends money to my siblings, and occasionally to other family members. I am fortunate that I can afford to do so, but my wife and I have our own financial plans and are starting to get frustrated with being the family bank. How can we change this?
A: I can appreciate the struggle you face with wanting to be generous with your family, yet getting frustrated with being used as a financial resource. I would suggest that you and your wife examine your values around lending money to relatives.
Examine your values
Ask yourselves if lending money to family truly reflects what you want to do as individuals and as a couple.
Are generosity and the sharing of money among the values that you both hold dear or are you lending money to people you love from guilt or a sense of obligation?
Reframe your lending
If generosity is a significant value for you and your wife, perhaps you need to reframe your experience around the act of lending. Reframing will shift your focus to the positive.
You value generosity and sharing, and can afford to do so. Focus on lending money with an open heart and without expecting it will be paid back.
Giving with a spirit of generosity will alleviate feelings of anger or resentment.
Look a little deeper
However, if you are lending money out of guilt or obligation, perhaps you need to look a little deeper. Ask yourselves why you feel this way.
Does your relative truly need it because they have been buffeted by an event such as illness or job loss? Is this need for money temporary, making it likely the funds will be repaid once the borrowing relatives are back on their feet?
Or is this money being used to satisfy wants and desires against the backdrop of a haphazard payback schedule?
The Bottom Line
No one likes to see family or friends struggle financially. Helping out during a real crisis is different than being used as the family bank.
If your family is relying on your generosity time and time again, sometimes the best help you can give is supporting them to resolve their situation.
Helping your family learn successful money management strategies will have lifelong benefits and leave a legacy that will exceed any assistance you are able to give them today.