There are few situations couples want to avoid more than a family member asking for money. On the one hand, you could be pulled by feelings of obligation and compassion. On the other hand, it can create complex problems that might divide family members or even between spouses.
What matters most is that you and your spouse are on the same page. Talk about the possibility beforehand so you know how to proceed if asked. Commit to one another that you will not agree to help or not, or how, without agreeing to talk to talk to each other first.
If asked, you and your spouse have three primary options to consider.
Give them the money
Giving the money without expecting repayment eliminates potential strains on the relationship that often accompany loan agreements. It also allows the recipient to receive help without the added repayment pressure. This enables them to address their immediate needs or financial challenges without the weight of debt.
Helping a family member by giving them money strengthens the bonds of trust and goodwill and fosters generosity and support within the family.
However, it can also create resentment and tension with them moving forward, particularly if you see them on social media "living it up" when they said they don't have any money.
Lend them the money
If you lend money once, there might be an expectation of future financial help, which can put you in an uncomfortable position. And if you're relying on that money for your expenses or savings, not getting it back on time can affect your financial stability or plans.
What could be worse is watching them spend money freely before paying you back.
If you decide to lend them money, consider formal documentation outlining the specific terms to avoid misunderstandings or disagreements about repayment terms. Discuss what you can afford to lend and how long you can withstand not being paid back in full.
It can be challenging to deny a family member's request for financial help, even if it's not in your best interest. You must first decide if it's in your marriage's best interest. You and your spouse must come first, and if giving or lending money to a family member can strain the relationship, you should strongly consider saying no.
One Final Word
Money issues within families can cause emotional stress, affecting the borrower, lender, and others who might get involved. Keeping healthy boundaries can be tricky, whether from a sibling, parent, cousin, or relative. You should balance your desire to help with your financial stability.
Regardless of your decision, it's essential to communicate clearly and openly. Sometimes, offering advice or seeking alternative solutions, such as helping them find financial counseling or other support, might be a better option than directly lending money.
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