This is indeed a difficult subject, “Money & In-Laws”. Interestingly, 60% of you feel it’s not a child’s responsibility as an adult to financially take care of your parents. While 40% feel if you’re financially able, it is your responsibility. These results, in response to our very popular blog poll and post, My Rite of Passage: “A Husband’s Perspective” are quite telling. Money and family is something I think a lot of people struggle with. “I want to help my family out but should I?” “How can I be there for them in there times of need as a good son, daughter, or sibling but also not hurt my own family in the process?” These are questions I know at some point many people have asked themselves.
However, I’ve also heard the following many times; “My mom spent the money she said she needed to pay her light bill at the casino, or “My brother said he would pay me back with his income tax refund that never came.” Family, in-laws, friends plus money, most often equals “a sticky situation.” And the most difficult part of continuously helping anyone is the potential of becoming a “crutch”. You become the go to person they know will always be there for whatever reason. Whether their perspective of your ability to help is accurate or not, your continuous and unconditional help has led them to believe that they can count on you when all else fails. The key word here is “unconditional”. When there aren’t established “conditions” that protect everyone involved, the ability to become a crutch begins to set in.
So the number one rule when mixing money and any of these folks is “Don’t”! Just kidding. We all know there comes a time when you’ll be asked to step in and financially help a family member out of a difficult situation. With this being said, the #1 rule when deciding whether or not to go through with it is, “know who you’re dealing with.”
If you know the person you are dealing with, you can intelligently decide if you’re going to help, establish clear “conditions” or guidelines, and most importantly, know what to expect. Never again will you expect your money to be paid back on time, or be disappointed when the money you lent was spent on something other than what you loaned it out for in the first place. If you know and trust the person you agreed to help to do what they’ve proven themselves to always do, you’ll never be disappointed. You’ll know to give just to give, or to not give at all.
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