Taking care of your cents #2: When is it time to stop giving money to family members dependent on you?
A few years back after working for a few months , I received a call from my brother. He was frantic and sounded desperate. He asked me for some money. Around $200 to pay for a Chama ( table banking). I said No . Needless to say my brother got very mad and upset with me he didn't speak to me till we met for Christmas. During this party he started telling people how mean I was. How I was looking down on him and had refused to give him money when he really needed it. He went ahead to say that I would have cost him a new music system he had bought for his family as the money I refused to send him was a loan. DO I NEED TO CONTINUE WITH THIS STORY? I still get a little worked up when I remember it. Not to worry he got a telling from me and he has since stopped asking me for money. Unless it is a real life verifiable emergency.
This story or situation is not unique to me. We all have those family members who live to leech on others. They might be your grown up kids, your siblings, or your parents. As this is a heated debate I would like to clarify something. I am not saying do not give, But, it gets to a point when it is too much. There are simply situations like mine above where you are warranted to say no. You do not need to explain yourself, You do not need to come up with excuses, NO is enough. You do not ever want your generosity to derail your plans for retirement, that new home, paying for your own debts, paying for your kids school, or starting that new business. We all have the capability to be better, do not let those who are lazy or refuse to grab opportunities to take advantage of your kind heart.
What are the major motivators to giving money to family members?
You will be surprised to find out that most people give money to family member not because of merit. See below a graph from a study conducted by Merrill Lynch in partnership with Age Wave in August of 2013 the study name
Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room, a study conducted by Merrill Lynch in partnership with Age Wave, August 2013.
The study also discusses tradeoffs one has to take on so as to support family. See the graph below
Looking at those images you would want to find out a way to either give better (profitably, less and add value )
How to make the best decision about supporting family members
This topic is close to my heart. I have more than once had to discuss financial support we are giving others in my family. We have had to sit down on meetings hours on end trying to deter people from being too dependent on others. We have sat down to discuss habits and businesses or projects that are just but draining finances. We have found solutions in some cases and in others they were just beyond our help.
So How have I managed to say no and yes to supporting family members? It is the right thing to do; but, before it is right it has to be justified . You also have to plan for it. The following are a few tips to consider.
Make a budget for the emergencies.
Since these will always arise, have an emergency fund to cater for this. It is the right thing to do. This way you will not be strained financially. Remember for emergencies you will not be able to say no.
Do not get into debt to help
If you do not have, you simply do not have. Getting into debt to help will significantly increase your financial strain.
Assess/weigh the request or the need
This is the point where it gets interesting. If you have to assess the food you take, it is also necessary that you access
the need for the money being asked for. In assessing you will determine whether it is an emergency: in this case give
what you can. If the need is a luxury, an entitlement, something this person could have planned and worked towards
then you can say NO without blinking and guilt free. Assessment also allows you to discuss with the person asking for money if you are giving a grant, gift or a loan. If it is a loan when is it to be repaid, if it is a gift, should they expect more? This exercise is very important.
When you are supporting your kids and elder parents it is better to offer an allowance. This for instance has enabled me to create comprehensive budgets. This also comes with an additional advantage as the person receiving the support knows how much to expect from you.
Teach those who need help how to make their own money, offer a different kind of help
Give a man a fish and he will have food for one day. Teach him how to fish and he will have food for the rest of the days.
This could be the best solution to allowing financial independence from your dependent. Initial cost going to this is high. But the return on the investment is too attractive to not consider it. Imagine supporting your parents or kids for five years. A monthly allowance that eats into your money. Money that you can use for future plans. Compare that with starting a business for them, then they will make their own and not have to ask for money from you. Tell me this is not even a little bit tempting. It certainly is for me.
Close down money guzzlers
There are some projects or businesses that our family members are in that only take and never give for years on end. Close them down or offer help to stop too much dumping into them. Making a project or business profitable is just another step to allowing them to gain financial independence and help you keep the money you would have used to help them.
These six have been very important tips for me to deal with this issue. However, If you are a parent, teach your kids financial freedom.
Teaching young kids financial freedom
- Teach them how not to live beyond their means.
- Teach them how to save and even make small investments.
- Teach them how to take care of the little they have.
- Teach them how to give with a purpose.
- Discuss finances, discuss money, make them understand and learn how to be financially independent.
- Teach them to monetize ideas, innovate solutions. Take them to work for kids at work day. Create a learning experience out of this
- DO NOT DEPEND ON TEACHERS TO TEACH YOUR KIDS: LEARNING STARTS FROM HOME
This might be just the start of the difference we want to see in our society, reduced unemployment, better quality of lives and better leaders.
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