How to respond when your family asks for money

Note:This is one of the hardest things I’ve written about. I’ve personally gone through it and know how it can tear apart a family. In my case it was because I decided to help.

“Joe, you look awful.”

“Wow, is that a good way to greet a friend?” Joe asked me. “But now that you mentioned it, I haven’t been sleeping well.”

Joe then proceeded to tell me about his family situation and the stress it was causing. His brother wasn’t able to pay the rent-again-and came Joe for a loan.

“I’m getting tired of always having to bail him out. I love him, but loaning him another grand won’t solve his problem. And I’m getting tired of everyone assuming that because I run my own business I have money to loan them.” After a bitter chuckle, Joe added “I don’t know why I call it a loan. They never pay me back.”

It wasn’t the first time

Joe and I have been friends for years-heck, he gave me my start in sales! I was familiar with this drama in his family and saw it repeat several times a year. If it wasn’t his brother it was his cousin or uncle. One time their car was in the shop. Another time they were a bit short until payday.

It was like his family thought that because he was an entrepreneur he was their personal bank machine.

The straw that broke the camel’s back

This time things were different. The economic downturn was hitting Joe’s industry hard. He was struggling to keep the doors open, and the last thing he needed was this. In fact, the reason Joe and I were meeting was that I was advising him on his company’s sales and marketing.

Bottom line: he had nothing more to give.

Loaning money to your family is a lose-lose situation

When it comes to family, money, and loans you can’t win. You are a bad mother/son/brother (fill in the appropriate relationship) if you say no. It will poison your relationship even if you say yes. No matter what you do it can tear a family apart.

For entrepreneurs it can be even worse. People assume that just because you own the company that you are rich and that they are entitled. You can easily become their personal bank…or their welfare system.

With this in mind I’ve developed the following guidelines to help deal with the situation. Some sound cold and heartless, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a decision that can have serious consequences. The decision must be based on facts and on what is best for everyone involved. Remember, the best answer is sometimes the one that hurts the most. People often tell me that the best thing that happened to them was that someone told them no. It forced them to grow up and solve the problem themselves.

7 Guidelines when family asks for money

1. Your not the bad guy…

You know the drill. The guilt is being applied. “Just this once…” “Don’t you love me?” You can afford it.” “Blood is thicker than water.” To make it worse other family members are calling you and asking why you won’t help.

You have done nothing wrong. They put you in a bad position, one that you often can’t win.

2. Step back and take a deep breath

The only thing that makes this so hard is that you are dealing with family. With anyone else it would be much easier. When family members ask you for money they don’t use logic. They push your buttons. This sets the stage for a major family crisis.

Now is not the time to make a decision based on feelings. You need to step away and get some space. If they push tell them you need time to think about it. If they keep pushing start asking them questions. This will put the responsibility back on their shoulders. Remember this is their problem. They are coming to you for a favor.

3. Separate emotion from fact

Now I know I’m going to get an earful about this. “It’s your mother. You owe her.” “How can you be so heartless?” “Don’t you love your family?” “Why do you hate your sister?”

Let me put that to rest right now. Decisions based on guilt rarely work out. Don’t be afraid to use decision making tools (I personally love a weighted pro/con list). Feelings and relationships are a factor, but the decision needs to stand on it’s own without the emotions to prop it up.

4. Am I helping or enabling?

This is tough because of the guilt involved. One thing to keep in mind is that often you are only making things worse by handing out money. People need to take responsibility for their own problems. In extreme cases they need to hit bottom before they can start to get better. In these cases the only way to help them is to stand firm.

Now I’m not saying you should always say no. You just need to make a clear headed logical decision that is in everyone’s best interests.

5. What are they doing to solve the problem?

Just bailing someone out won’t solve the problem. Are their expenses exceeding their income? Then they need to take steps to fix the problem. Do they have a gambling problem? Then they need to get help for the underlying addiction.

They need to take responsibility and be willing to fix their own problem. Otherwise this will come up again and again. Each time it will be a little worse.

6. You have the right to say no

Just because it is family doesn’t mean you are obligated to give them money. I hear the argument all the time that you should “honor you parents.” That doesn’t mean you are indebted to them for eternity. Yes you should respect and thank them for bringing you into this world. Just remember that this is a two way street. You deserve the same respect and appreciation as well.

Now most people have parents that gave them love and nurtured them. That is a different story. Then again, most people with loving parents aren’t put in this position.

You have to make the right decision for everyone involved. This needs to be based on facts, not some emotional tug at the heartstrings. If the right answer is no say no.

7. Always a gift never a loan

If you decide giving is the right decision make it a gift. You should never loan money to family. I don’t care if you get the terms in writing, you will never be able to enforce the contract. What are you going to do? Take them to court? I don’t care if they tell you they won’t take charity.

A loan will only poison the relationship. Each time you have to call to collect on the missed payment it will damage both of you. Even if you don’t have to make the call (unlikely) it will always get in the way of your family.

Note: a gift means no future expectations. You don’t have the right to ask for it back. They don’t owe you. You can’t use it for emotional leverage. It must be given freely.

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94 Responses to “How to respond when your family asks for money”

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  • Bree

    Thank you so much for this post! My mum & brother squandered mum\’s rather large inheritance from my dad passing, are now both enormously in debt & my mum is coming to me to pay her mortgage which is double the cost of my own mortgage. After 6 months of saying she needs a job she hasnt got one or even looked properly & has not put her house or my brothers on the market to sell. A \"gift\" she gave me for my birthday is now going on paying her mortgage for the next few months but after reading your post I realise I\’m becoming an enabler which I\’ve always despised my parents for being with my brother!
    Thanks to your post I now know it\’s ok to say no because she is not doing anything to help herself. Now I just have to try to be strong while watching the fallout.


    My husband and I turned his sisters down by refusing to help them financially. When they had a lot of money, they spent thme like crazy. They bought eveything they wanted. Even when they had not much, they still buy things they do not have to have such as a swimming pool, their kids go to private schools or dancing class. Why should we have to pay their bills? I did lend them money before, they never gave us the money back which is good since I learned my lesson. They still have the nerves to asking money again or even asked us to cosign a 45,000 dollars loan. LOL. I think they have lost their mind. Yes, we have been working very hard and never buy anything which is luxury for so many years, sure we have 500k cash in the bank, so what? My husband is 60 years old,I am 45, ew have 4 boys from 13 to 6. We have a long way to go and we haven\’t bought a house yet. We will use the money we saved to buy a relatively ok home soon. Smply because we have money, it doesn\’t mean we need to lend my sister in laws money. They need to learn their lessons.

    I hate to say that I have to see them on the holidays because my mother in law lives with 1 of his sisters. I did it only because I want to make my husbnad and my mother in law happy, my mother in law has lung cancer and is in stage 3. I buy her anything she wants since I believe she is my husband\’s mother, but his sisters are another story—I am not responsible for them. They try to make me feel guilty by not talking to me on Thanksgiving at their house. Ask if I care. Once my mother in law is gone, we will NOT see them again. That is me.

  • PFH

    This article and subsequent posts have really helped me! My mother has been ‘borrowing’ money from me since I was 12 years old…more than 35 years now! (That’s alot of money).

    Thank you for this post and your link to the article regarding honoring your parents. I’ve finally made the decision to STOP! I have truly had enough and, while I’m sure my mother will try to make me suffer, I know that I have the strength to stand my ground! I’m not going to feel guilty about working hard and having nice things…I’ve earned it and it’s not my responsibility to take care of a mother who abused me and made my life hell.

  • emma

    I am a 20 year old hairstylist, who’s parents have fallen on hard times. in the past 2 years i have given them close to 4k. they had stopped asking me for the past 4 months, so i had hoped things were getting better for them. this month my mom asked me for 400 cuz they were behind on the rent, by 3 months. i told them when they rented the house it was out of their budget, but they just brushed me off.

    its so hard to say no, and i already never expected to see any of it back. but now i need to start taking care of me. i need a car, and my wisdom teeth removed.

    i still feel like i want to help them out, if anything for my little brothers sake, but i need to set ground rules. thank you for your article and everyones posts.

  • SEE

    My feeling is that if you loan relatives, or anyone for that matter, money, never expect to get it back. You will never feel the pressure or disappointment in someone if this is your attitude. I have been pleasantly surprised by some people who have paid me back, but I never expect it.

    All three of the children in my husband’s family are currently “lending” their mother about $350 a month. And with that she is just meeting her bills. In addition, she is still giving money to her church to which I personally object. She is 96 and has given and given. Now we are in effect giving this money. She was a very poor mother to my husband pursuing a career and not caring for him properly, blaming him for being a bad child when in fact he was very ill and constantly being hospitalized. As a nurse, she made a decision to smoke throughout her pregnancy giving him a heart defect that nearly killed him as a child and later as an
    adult. Even at this stage of her life she is manipulative and expresses no love for him. If it were up to me she would get nothing. At age 62 he remains working in order to help support someone who was mentally abusive to him. She lives in style while he works in the evening in declining health. He knows that he stands no chance of getting her to pay him back and she has given all her valuable things to a preferred daughter instead of selling then for her own upkeep. She has dropped her small burial policy because she says her church will take care of things. Fat chance. I’m quite sure we will be paying that as well. I love my husband and worry about him. And I have absolutely no guilt about my feelings toward his mother.

  • nelson

    I am now in a strange situation . One of my elder brother is in a bad financial situation . He has low salary and is struggling to meet his expenses . He is a clean man with no bad habits . Married and has a girl child of 7 yrs old. he is always worried about his life and situation .

    Now I am better off financially and really wanted to support him . I am confused now whether helping him straight is right or not . Reason for my confusion is my brothers attitude in his life. Though he has a low paid job , he is reluctant to trying better job , reluctant of trying other ways of making money share trading , agriculture etc . I want him to get this attitude to fight it out , but he is very much afraid and dont want to take risk .
    Can some one advice me .

  • Brandt Smith

    @nelson – I’m going to be blunt and just come out and say it. You are not doing your brother a favor by helping him out. He will never take the next step and improve his life as long as he can lean on you. Be there and support him emotionally. Feel free to provide a great example.

    But let him live his own life – good or bad!

  • soleil B.


    I really need help, as I don’t know what to do… I actually know, but, I wasn’t successful enough in applying my own decision.

    I’m 30-something and have good yearly income. I’m single. I’m coming from a low income family with many children. My father was an alcoholic for many years, and he almost never had a proper job, almost never supported the family. So, since graduating from university (was a very bright student, only in the family…) I’m almost only supporting my family. I sometimes try to save money, but, there’s always one or the other thing, they need money. My older sibling tried to set up his own company, which failed badly and I had to pay so much dept for him. Also, I supported him for his marriage, paid most of the debt. That’s only one thing… I supported my younger siblings during their studies, which is still going on. (children with big age gaps)

    I don’t know how to stop. I’m single, and have no boyfriend, no marriage in foreseeable future. Thing is, if I marry, I would be able to stop giving them money, as I’m single, they feel, I should support them forever. I’m normally a yes-person, have huge difficulty saying no to anyone…

    I don’t know how to stop this all, as I’m losing hope in myself. Also, although working since more than 10 years, I could save little money due to all this family things. My family often depresses me. Also, one of my siblings has been getting the retirement salary of my mom since she retired. My mom cannot even request the card back, as that sibling is the favorite of her. She doesn’t as I’m the bank. I love them a lot, but, I also hate them so much, for putting me through this. Yes, I’m the one earning the best money, as I was the brightest child, but, am I guilty for being smart, for working hard??? My family is using me badly…

    I’m sorry it’s long.

  • Hannah

    My mother has plenty of money.. she just doesn’t let me know she has it. she makes out that she has no money until wednesday.. but i do not believe her one bit. I am 19 and she has asked me to lend her money on MY birthday.. i work hard for my money and i am a student.. money i have recently recieved will not last long and she has asked me for £100 for a bill she did not pay 1 yr ago.
    i said no but she just calls me names and starts on me. I try to save also but she just sees that i have money and asks for it. Its not fair because she has the money but does not want to spend it because she wants to go away on holiday.
    Im pretty much sick of it. I work hard and would like to save my money. not throw it away

  • Lisa

    I have a son he has a wife and 2yr old baby. I have my own business and do very well. I have bought them a car paid their rent and bills several times. So I decided to show the how run the same business. Well now they arent as successful as I am. They are still behind on their bills etc. All in the while asking me for more money. I offered them training to be better at their sales and they denied me. Now Im a bad person because I said no to more money. I dont know whats going to happen but i given a lot.

  • Excellent Article. Today I had an arguement with my mom because my salary check had not cleared and she wanted the monthly expense no matter what. I told her that if i were a girl, i would have considered selling myself up if that could fulfill your desires.

    But somehow after being helpless for the check not getting cleared and then listening to all that i could hear, and then replying the way i replied, i have realized that in the end, i was the one that felt guilty and your article helped me realize that i am not bad guy. thanks

  • Brandt Smith

    @Soleil – The answer is simple. Just stop. Really, stop it right now. No matter how hard they scream. No matter how much it hurts.

    You are not helping them. In fact, you are really hurting them by giving so much. Life teaches us lessons, and if someone gets bailed out they don’t learn the lesson. That opportunity to grow and improve was stolen from them, in this case by you!

    @Hannah – Is your mother’s behavior consistent with that of someone who loves you? Just because she is family doesn’t give her the right to mistreat you. It may be hard, but if the behavior continues stop talking to her.

    @Lisa – The answer is simple….cut him off. He will never learn until you do. And, to be blunt, you are being irresponsible and causing him harm by bailing him out all the time. Life teaches us if we are allowed to solve our own problems. Without these lessons we can’t grow. So unless your goal is to keep your son dependent on you, just say no.

    @Zeeshan – good for you! I’m glad I could be of service.

  • Willie

    Your right because I’m only 12 and my mom ask for money and I have not gotten it back. And when you said it only gets worse your right because on Day 1 she asked for $5 so I let that slide even though she didn’t pay me back. On day 2 she asks for $20. I’m like how do you leap from $5 to $20. I think since she is my parent and I’m still a child that she needs to be more responsible. If I confront her about she’s gonna say something like “Well you need to be more responsible too”. I know that and I’m trying to improve but she doesn’t even care.

  • am so sickened by my sister.i found my sister a job and she was fired because of some fraud and ineffectiveness in the job.i found her another which was low paying but she left since because it was hard to cope.her and the husband asked me to but some capital in the business they wanted to start.i took a loan from sacco of $1000 and put in there.when the business kicked off they pocketed all the money and they didnt care i was paying a loan with interest.i decided they should pay my interest back to me in four installments and its 4 months since the agreement and they have never paid a so bitter with them and i dont know what i can do because am still paying back alone.please assist me because am tempted to take it to the court at all cost.

  • S.R.

    I’m having a similar problem. My brother. He’s 19, unemployed with a son. He also is a habitual marijuana user. Now I’m on a fixed income, so he knows when to ask me for money and I’m sick of it. I’ve seen him flip out when my older sister refuses him money. Calls her every name in the book. He almost never pays me back when I give him the money. I don’t know what to do. I want to move and not tell anyone where I live.

  • Brandt Smith

    @sarah – To be blunt…you should just let it go. Forgive them, not to let them off the hook, but to free yourself from the caustic emotions.

    Then never loan them any money again, learning from your pain and becoming a better person.

    @SR – Don’t loan him money. I repeat don’t loan him money.

    Let him hit rock bottom. If he loves you he won’t push the issue. If he yells and screams, call the cops, then know he really doesn’t love anyone but himself.

  • Casey

    Narcissistic Father? Toxic parents or rightful guilt?
    I was a passenger in a very bad car accident when I was younger and after 6 years had a compensation payment. The day the money hit my account my dad called wanting me to ‘loan’ him £30,000 / $60,000. I however wanted to fund my Phd. I attend an Ivy league and it is unbelievably expensive. I got a house in order to remove my biggest out-going which is rent and take in lodgers to cover my living expenses. I told him I couldn’t afford it and after a few abusive phone calls and my aunt screaming and swearing at me in public at my graduation I hoped the worst was over.
    I was wrong. A month later he phoned up with the same demand. Informing me I was either lying or a silly ***** for refusing. He has now not spoken to me for a few months. To the extent that my mother had to call me in secret on my birthday.
    I don’t know how such a large amount could be a loan, how would he ever pay it back? He called me disgusting for wanting a legitimate business contract. Really what would be the point any way, I wouldn’t be able to sue him. I do understand that wanting a contract was bad on my part and disrespectful. I have lent him money before and he has paid it back, after some very awkward conversations and a couple of months of subtle reminders but it has only ever been to the tune of £1000 / $1000 of my student loan here or there. I just couldn’t take the leap of faith with £30000/$60000 and suspend my life until it was paid back.
    For a bit of back a story, we have never been a happy close family. I was more of a burden than a child. My dad was very domineering and the head of the household to tyrant proportions. I don’t have a real relationship with my mum as he would go into a rage if we spent time alone together. The man is and always has been a bully. He presents another face to the outside world, good fun and always giving. At home we are ruled by his temper and moods. He is violent but it is not too frequent. His need for ultimate control is seen as quirky. I am viewed as crazy, the odd one, over-sensitive. After all it was all ‘tough-love’, ‘deserved’, or ‘just a joke’. He hates when I graduate, first graduation him and my mother left immediately to visit Westminster Abbey leaving me alone at graduation (this was before the storm of £30,000), Masters he informed me that neither he nor anyone else wanted to come. The one thing he does like to do is take my degree certificates, my BA is currently located under his sofa ‘to look after it’ if he hasn’t already binned it. Sorry for that tangent, I am still rather hurt if I am being honest.
    He requires the money because he has been unemployed for 18 months after quitting his job and moving himself and my mother to the area with the highest unemployment in the country. The work he has been able to get has been ‘below him’. I get that he wants to be happy in his job and I want him to be. This is usual, this scenario has been repeated many times over the past four years. Quits his job, can’t get work for a year, gets a job, works for a year, quits his job, can’t get work for a year. It goes on and on.
    Why are they entitled to my compensation? The arguments I have heard over and over are: ‘They raised me’, ‘they would do it for me’, ‘think of all those birthday presents’, ‘I am only where I am because of them’. To counter, they did not raise me, teachers and friends raised me, they were too busy/ wanted to relax. No they would not do it for me as firstly I wouldn’t ask. No I am where I am because I worked very hard to get the grades, I didn’t party or go out but worked. I payed for all my fees and put my-self through university. To be fair, yes they did send me on school trips and often take me with them on holidays, yes I got lots of birthday and Christmas presents when I was younger.
    I am so very confused as whether I am indeed crazy and evil.
    All views are much appreciated, I can never trust my own opinion and this is a huge decision. Please help me. I feel so guilty.
    This guilt, it comes in waves and can blacken the best moods. Is this normal? I would have previously said that you only feel guilt when you do something wrong, was that just emotional immaturity?
    Everyone here appears so much wiser than I.

  • livesimplecolorado

    Well written and thank you for the insight. This is an ongoing drama in our life. We have grown adult children that live out of state and for the last 20 years we have had nothing but financial drama with them. Every month another crisis surfaces, can’t pay the rent, the car loan is past due, no groceries… fill in the blank. They assume because we have a home, assets and live comfortably in another state that we are “rich” and therefore should always be sending money to them. We are not rich, we live within our means and we stay away from debt. It is hard to explain that to someone who can only look in and see what they want to see, not reality. The last few years we stopped feeling guilty and started to say no. It has been painful and has caused a lot of hurt feelings. My hope is that the “no” will get them to figure out things on their own for once and for all. I also hope that once that happens they will move past feeling entitled and angry that we are not the perpetual bank account.

  • lolita

    I am glad i came across this article i am very frustrated i don’t talk to my dads family and recently i stop talking to my moms family due to financial issues i am 24 and i am sacrificing my self just because i want to save up money to get other things that are very important to me so i cut off the cell phone and mall shopping now is strictly important things if i need i will buy, so my car is in another state i gave it to my 21 year old brother who recently moved to the state i live in where we have a large family all with small financial problems but stable now my moms side wants me to provide for him i have spend over 1k on my brother this month but my family wants more money they are taking away all my savings and they still think i am selfish that i care more about money they want me to pay his cell phone bill or pay his rent (i dont even got a phone of my own, and i am still trying to save for a car in this state i live in and other important things and bills i gotta take care of ) they think i have so much money and just because i have a good job and i make ok money they throw it on my face that i should provide for him but see i feel that is not my responsibility and that i did enough to help him, he isn’t trying hard enough to get a job i know he has a bad record so is hard for him to get a job but his lack of confidence is what ticks me off this situation makes me feel so sad because they make me feel like i must help him ignoring the fact i don’t have money and not understanding my situation.

  • After reading all this I can stand up and say no. I grew up in a single parent home, mom had me at sixteen and dad left mom when I was 1 year old. While growing up with mom I miss out on school quite a lot because of poverty and working two jobs. Mom was not working at the moment. There would be times mom will head out with bf for weeks an I would be the only one home. I was 15 at the moment. Mom would returned with her abusive bf back home where they would argue and fight. I would spent the night out every time he comes over .Well I paid most of the house bills then moved out at the age of 16 when she had my little sister. She would insist that I stayed home so she could go partying with her bf. After moving out I would still give her money to help with my sister because I want her to have a normal life. Am 25 years old and am trying to get a degree in health, I have dropped out of training twice because of financial issues base on taking care of my sister and mother. My mom is in her early forties, not disable and eligible to work. Every time she wants money, she uses my sister as an excuse. I want to stop giving her money, because am the one who’s been left behind.

  • Stacy

    I have always worked and have paid my way thru my life. Why do I have to be disrespected by my family for making my own successes. I do have integrity and leave within my means and don’t spend money foolishly or overspend by purchasing things I cannot afford. I am so over the fact that the ones who need money are the same ones who don’t want to work, smoke marijuana and cigerettes, drink alcohol, party, own a dog, have children, are not married, collect food stamps and sell food stamps for cash to buy their addictions, take all the freebies they can get, will stand in line at 6am to get free medical but cannot get up to
    go to work, blame everyone for their misfortunes, never call
    or visit except if they need a handout, think they are
    entitled and hate the people who will not enable them to
    ride this ride. GET A JOB ! I am tired of guilt trips being placed on me when I am the good guy. Family is overrated.

  • natasha

    Hi, Thank you for the wonderful post, Smith.

    Actually i have also experienced similar thing. The toxic person is my aunty(my father’s sister). Ever since i was small, i called her “mother” and so make her my godmother. When i was small,I felt she was very kind and good even though she was gambling addict. I continue to call her “mother”(we stay different city) while l stay with my parents. When i was 17, she stayed in Singapore with her daughter. Since Singapore is a very good country for education, eventually i pursue my degree education there and stayed with her. I stayed at her house free for 6 months, but i need to serve her friends and her to buy cigarretes, drinks, cook rice, do all households as they always gamble at home (i do not mind) . Slowly, when i start part time work, most expenses like foods, households items need to be shared between me and her daughter. Eventually, i become “officially” her daughter and her walking ATM.Also if i said “no”, she always said repeatedly that i never reply her kindness, if she was not in Singapore, i could not be like who i am now (I have completed my degree and get proper full time job). But the fact that every month i still give her allowance, sometimes when she ask for extra few bucks, i always give her. Now she went back home country (we were different country, my best time in my life). But nw every single thing i do or i never inform her, she will be angry, send long2 text messages to hurt me and make me feel guilty.She always plead that she has not enough $ to eat, need to go doctor because she s sick etc.Even now she is angry with me again and it ruined my mood at work. I know it s my fault because i let her to have impact on my life. My friends all said im stupid, i should cut her off, but it s just that after several years i called her “mom”, i cant change it:(..somemore our family members are all very closed (typical Asian family- something happens in 1 member, within 1 hours everyone already know). I know it s all sound like an excuse but i really do not know what to do. Now she is angry with me again regarding of not inviting her in my graduation. It s not that i do not want to invite her, I will, but i haven’t gotten the confirmation letter. But apparently she is already angry of thinking that i never appreciate her etc. It really gets into my nerve. However compared to last time (I cried several times after seeing her texts.), this time i still feel a bit guilt but i do not really feel sad anymore. Just feel annoyed. So am i in the right track? What should i do? Should i change not to call her mom?But for 20 years???

    Im sorry if my writing is very long. I appreciate your thought and suggestion :) Thank you

  • Nancy

    I am in a tough spot. I am on a fixed income. So is my mother. But every month she calls to “help” me with my bills though I am going to be 4o this month. She does it so she can ask me for money. I don’t know what to do. I love my mom but this can’t go on. She has a boyfriend who she says she can ask for money but she still keeps coming up with reasons why she needs me to send her money. Like this month she said “Well he’s paying for my car this month and I don’t feel I can ask him for any more money so can you send me some”. I don’t mind doing this once in a while but it’s becoming an every month thing. My siblings can’t help her as they have kids and my brother in law just lost his job. And my mom knows this. When my brother stopped giving her money she said “He hates me”. Which my brother said is not true. He is just tired of giving her money when he needs it for his kids. I have no kids, no car and such and she knows this. Help!

  • Brandt Smith

    @Casey – This may sound harsh but your father is a bum. No one that loves you would treat you so poorly. The only thing you can do is to cut ties. Yes, it will make it hard to have relationships with the rest of your family, but he will never get better and never treat you with the respect you deserve.

    @livesimplecolorado – saying “no” may not make them treat you with respect, but once they figure out that you are not their atm they will get the picture and stop asking. It’s just that the first few times will be painful until they have been trained.

    @lolita – you are not responsible for them. You are only responsible for yourself. Just keep saying “no.” Maybe say something like “look, I’m so poor I can’t afford my own cel phone.” After a while (and probably a few arguments) they will get the picture and stop abusing you by treating you like their atm or built in welfare system.

    @Merl – Just say no! I know it sounds harsh to people who come from loving families, but sometimes your parents (or brothers, sisters, etc…) don’t love you and are bums. I know this from personal experience and have had to tell close family members “if you call back I will call the cops.” It is amazing how much easier life is when you don’t have the added stress of supporting and dealing with caustic family members.

    @Stacy – It sounds like you are on the right track and have figured out that you don’t need them in your life just because they are family.

    @natasha – I know that some cultures place a higher value on family, but it doesn’t change the facts. If she is caustic, dump them. If other family members pressure you, tell them “I love you and respect you, but this is between the two of us. I don’t know what she is telling you, but from your reaction it is obvious that it is harsh and one sided. And I love you too much to burden you with my side of things.”

    @Nancy – Just say no. Seriously, say you don’t have enough to pay your own bills and there is nothing left.

  • Brandt Smith

    @everyone – Wow, the response to this article has been overwhelming. And my responses pretty much can be summed up with:
    -Your first responsibility is to yourself, your spouse, and your non-adult children. Everyone else is secondary.
    -It may hurt but if they loved you they wouldn’t treat you so poorly.
    -Their lack of love is not a reflection on you, it is an indication of what teriable people they are!
    -Say no. Keep saying no. If they keep pushing, tell them to go away. Never say yes.
    -If they loved you they would be supportive. Since they are the opposite of supportive it means they don’t love you. And why would you spend your time, money, or attention on people who don’t love you?
    -You shouldn’t ever give people money. Seriously, why would you hate them enough to do this? Life is trying to teach them a lesson. If you bail them out they will never learn, and life will increase the pain factor the next time to make them learn.

  • athene

    just received two separate requests to GIVE ME MONEY, ONE FROM AN IN-LAW WHO GOT A NEW JOB AND QUIT THE FIRST DAY. THE OTHER FROM A SIBLING WHO SPENT TOO MUCH ON A CRUISE TO JAMAICA IN OCTOBER. Cruise? I haven’t had vacation outside of my neighborhood in 3 years! Quitting a job on the first day?

    I quit/ retired March 1 after 44yrs., but am supposed to become an ATM now that I can afford to not work. I have been saving money for retirement, contributed to my 401k faithfully, spent wisely, pd. off my mortgage early, student loans also, have no debts and am saving some money each month since March. I am not at full retirement age, so NO SOCIAL SECURITY for another 5 years (66), so most everyone assumes I have lots of money to give. Been down this road before and the MOST IMPORTANT PERSON who needs and is ENTITLED to the fruits of my labor is ME. I am getting older, will become less healthy/mobile and will need care at some point. One can’t expect the above mentioned people to help.

    These individuals are both angry with my NO reply and then wanted to debate financial circumstances. I have never MY assets with any family member, live simply [no cellphones, tv, car,trendy clothes or cruises [yet]. ;]

    My relatives NEVER phone [son included], so I knew money was REQUIRED when I got the calls. Guilt, emotions and manipulation just leave me uninterested , I feel as if I’ve heard everything. One relative bother to call, she an email on a Wednesday asking for $4800 by Friday or she’d be evicted. I went on my out of my last neighborhood vacation for a 10 day retreat in San Diego, I sent NO MONEY.

    I am now being wisely selfish. I didn’t work all those years or struggle at times to become someones ATM.

  • Unwilling Provider

    The easy answer is NO. I have a brother-in-law who has never seen a bottle he doesn’t want to empty. The family collectively offered him an intervention which he seemed to think he had some ‘right’ to refuse. Rather than that, he has had two alcohol-related felonies which make him nearly unemployable, and a continuing burden to his family. When he is in a ‘rut’, he comes to family for ‘help.’ I’m tired of it. The rest of the family are doormats and just continue supporting. I am 71, past retirement, and still working. Not working to support the likes of him. So my answer is NO.

  • Daughter-in-pain

    I am also a victim here, but I won’t complain because it will never be resolved. I know now it is not my fault. I want to give my mom and family their needs but I can’t because my earnings are barely enough.

    It is hard to have parents who can’t be strong. Parents who doesn’t have the skills to provide for their own or provide you. And it’s harder if they have become abusive because of what they think their needs are.

    The best way we can be is be the best we can be and earn as long as our bodies permit and save because we are going to be old too someday. And don’t become like them when your children become better than you.

    It is our lot in life to work for life if we are not given rich parents.

  • I have this problem with my adult son. He is married with 2 children and 2 stepchildren (one autistic) and they are always overdrawn or out of money or behind on their payments. My husband and I have bailed them out numerous times over the past 5 years since they married. When my son calls and asks for some money to buy groceries or to get through the week, I have caved in. My husband finally put a stop to it. But when he calls me, I can’t say no. I feel so bad for him and his situation/obligations. It has caused problems between my husband and me. Why do I continue to say yes? What is wrong with me???! He’ll call and ask if we would be able to help pay for my grandson’s kindergarten expenses (school supplies, paper towels, etc. all that kind of stuff that schools ask for now at the beginning of school) and I know if he had the money he wouldn’t be asking. I want my 5 year old grandson to start off kindergarten without problems so I want to pay. So how do I say no?

    This time I scolded him and said we get very upset when they can’t take care of our grandchildren and we get upset that they always have the same money problems. Now I am estranged from my son and he feels we always make a blow up over money. The only response I got was that I didn’t have to send the money.

    Help! How do I fix this?

  • Brandt Smith

    @Sandy – Just say no. Seriously, until you say no and keep firm it won’t get better. If your son loves you he will stop asking. And if he won’t let up or tries to punish you for doing the wrong thing, to me that means that his love is conditional on you paying his way…and that isn’t love!

    @Daughter-In-Pain – Good for you. I would like to add a clarification to your comment, it doesn’t matter if your parents are rich or poor. In fact, your success and happiness shouldn’t depend on anyone but yourself.

    @Unwilling Provider – good for you. Stay strong! You only hurt him if you become a doormat.

    @athene – that isn’t selfish, it is loving and smart. You only hurt them if you bail them out. God (and life) is trying to teach them life lessons. They can’t move on to the next level until they learn and grow and they can’t learn and grow if you do it for them and bail them out.

  • Maddy

    my mom owes me 1,168 Dollars now she wants more of my money what do I do

  • Brandt Smith

    @Mandy – First, say no to loaning her more. Second, Assume that the $1,168 is gone and that you will never see it again. Consider it a gift.

  • onlychild

    Mr. Smith, I appreciate your insight on this subject so much. I grew up in a family business and my father would borrow and pay back his mother for loans during the downs of the business. I grew up in the ups and downs ..more downs than ups family business. I received a good work ethic from my childhood…also a general distrust and streetwise education. I went far away to college , scraped by, worked at min wage ($3/hr), and with little to no support from my family I graduated. FAST FORWARD 20+years and I have run businesses since the 90s with with mostly positive years. I’m a conservative entrepreneur. Careful and I know a lot of people need me to succeed to support their families. Those people work hard everyday for their money and deserve every penny. Now my father is retirement age, lost his money in an uninsured business hit by a hurricane. My grandma passed away and he rec’d 200k..thats gone now as well. Guess who he now comes to in this sick dependent pattern?.Me. I had to cease all communication with my mother already only partly due to this subject and since I am an only child I dont have much family. I have a wonderful, financially responsible husband and 2 daughters…one 5 years old and a senior in college we support fully. My father asks me for 1k to 3k at a time multiple times a year…year after year….about 15 years now. Someone else mentioned depression and sometimes I feel like that because at some point when I cut him off I’m sure I will feel abandoned completely by my parents. It is difficult to know the only reason your parents may love you is because u can give them money. Its all very sad that my parents cannot be proud of my success because they are so in need of money. I always thought the best part of me really had nothing to do with the money at all. Instead of seeing this as generous or a sacrifice for family..and being a daughter when they were and are poor parents…I believe at some level they see me as a sucker because I love them.

  • Trish

    I have a dilemma. My husband and I have been married for 32 years. We are very comfortable financially and my family is well aware of it.
    One of my brothers has had a string of health issues this year – partial toe amputation, diabetes, mouth cancer and mild diabetes. And he also has a hernia that needs to be taken care of. This has put him out of work for nearly a year and facing a stack of unpaid medical and living expenses.
    He is a bachelor and has a home worth approximately 125,000. He has a mortgage of about 40,000 remaining. He is just now applying for disability but the process will take at the very least 6 months. In the meantime, he has no income. He has two vehicles which are uninsured and has no way to pay for food or basic needs.
    He has approached us to basically give him $12,000 now and continue paying him $1000 a month once he begins receiving disability. His reasoning is that we could have his house and its equity upon his death – whenever that would be.
    My husband is adamantly against financial aide of any kind and in any amount. He himself faced a near fatal illness in his life prior to meeting me and sold all his wordly possessions, bought an rv and truck and traveled around the country going from clinic to clinic. He asked for nothing. But he is an extraordinary person.
    I feel for my brother and I would like to help, but I don’t want to supplement him for the rest of his life. I don’t think he has any idea what it will take over time to maintain the life he is currently living.
    My husband believes he should sell his house and one of his vehicles. Pay his bills and take the equity that is left, find a rental apartment that he can afford and make the best of it.
    Any input?

  • LynnTD

    I can relate to a lot of these postings…I am suffering as well

    Suffering from feeling guilty if I don’t help this friend who seems to be relying on me every month to bail her out. Something always comes up…her cat is sick, cat died, she’s going to lose her house, no money for food, now her mother passed away…She needs money to get her money because she is blocked?!! WTF?

    I love her and I have given this person a lot of money and we have an agreement as she is to pay me back in January, but now another problem arises…her mom has passed…she needs help with the funeral…when is this going to end?

    What can I say now? No to her, now that she needs help about her mom passing away? She says things to me that I don’t love her or I don’t want her…blah, blah…this is conditional love…If I don’t give or help her with money, I’m not a good person and she won’t be able to do this, or get her surgery, or be able to move to a new place….HELP! I NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS CRAZY VICIOUS CYCLE!

    How do I say no to a person I love and want to help, but now she’s become dependent on me when she has a financial problem.

  • Renata Scoggins

    I am 68, my sister is 50, my mom is 88. My sister has “borrowed” money from my mom since, well forever, and she keeps on asking. My mother is almost broke, lives with another sister but says that if my sister needs it she will give her all of remaining money (at this point just her monthly income). Yesterday I asked mother what would happen if there was an emergency and she needed money, her reply was “I will get it from you”. I recently sold my house and made enough to buy another much smaller/older house for cash and have a little left over to add to my Social Security income, my mom tells everyone I am rich. She has had long gone money and she has also filed for bankruptcy three times, the last time three years ago and I blame my sister for it. My sister tells me to mind my own business, my other sister tells me there is nothing we can do and I am slowly going crazy. The “borrowing” sister has a super job but nobody knows where her money goes. I want to cut my mom, my sister and her daughter out of my life but how do I do that without alienating the rest of my family? Also my mom is 88, what if she dies soon? By the way my mom was and has been the worst mother to me always. Thank you for letting me vent.

  • Brandt Smith

    @Onlychild – It is sad when our family treats us so poorly. We do have an obligation to our parents – they raised us – but a line needs to be drawn. I like to start by asking the question “am I helping or hurting?” If I bail them out will they learn the lesson life is teaching them? Am I putting my immediate family at risk? Is this an act of love or am I being abused?

    It may be hard and you may have to cut contact with some of your family. That doesn’t change the best course of action.

    @Trish – listen to your husband. Your brother has made multiple poor decisions that. That has put him – not you – in this position. If you bail him out he will never learn the lessons life is teaching him. And the support will never end.

    @LynnTD – You are going to get my touchie feelie side. Tell her that your previous loans are gifts because you love her. You never expect to be paid back, but that you love her too much ever loan her money again. You value your relationship and that if you have to go through this again it will kill your friendship and you value her too much to allow that to happen. Stand firm. You may lose a friend, but ask yourself “would a true friend treat me this way?”

    @Renata Scoggins – no problem with the venting. I would tell your mom that when she goes broke that she can live with your sister. You will not support her or let her live with you. If she continues to make bad money decisions she will have to pay the consequences. I’d also let it drop in casual conversation all the money you lost in bad investments. Oops…you are almost broke! Nothing here for them to steal…

  • carmz

    just 2yrs ago, my parents passed away and this coming Aug is my only brother’s 1st death anniv. in short, im married for 5 months now and 7-month preggy for d 1st time.finally, im hired as permanent husband’s family and relatives are so close and belong to a low class, financially struggled and most of them dont hav so pressured bec they always ask me money for their needs,knowing that they just my i obliged? i just wsh all d money i give to them were spend for my parents and brother. esp now that im hired, i expect they will do more the same.i want to refuse from now on bec im just starting.pls advise me :(


    Hello all – help help help that’s all I can say…some advice would be appreciated. Long story short – 41 years old living at home with parents (long story) but the truth is a few years ago after living out on my own for a few years I moved back home because the place I was living was going to charge a lot more rent. I have stayed at home a little longer than I anticipated because I was nervous about the stability of my job. Anyway – my job(s) are stable and I am still here. I need advice. My parents keep asking me for money – my mom has a gambling problem. (loses often and clears out the checking account) – my dad works but they blame being broke on the economy and my dad not getting enough work (self employed) Mom doesn’t work. I am an ONLY child. I’ve taken money out of my 401k when they were involved with family legal problems with my dad’s sister. I took another loan out for them (10k) a few years later to help them due to the “economy” it’s all gone – never paid me back. I am charged 200 dollars for rent every 2 weeks. I have given and given to them – now they want me to get a credit card because my credit is now good – and theirs is not – hence they can’t get a loan or credit card themselves. Tonight it exploded because I finally stopped being a pushover and said no I can’t give anymore (and I can’t) and I am not getting a credit card in my name with a high limit like my mom asked me to do. NO. I have had friends tell me NO. I always give in because my mom gives me the guilt trips – we both have health issues… we won’t be around forever… we want to stay in this house so they don’t drag us out of here.. we need to fix up the house.. etc. I am at my wits end. I am going to move out ASAP and get an apartment with my friends. I am so done and it’s too bad because I thought they loved me. I get the “well your father fixes your car, we do this and that for you all these years.. etc.”
    constantly. Any advice would be appreciated. Am I doing the right thing by saying NO this time? to a line of credit? Now they are both pissed at me – and I think it’s time to get out. Please help. It’s so hard for me because they are my parents and I am the only child.

    -Mr. Sad

  • Shable

    I was working for about 6 years before i met my husband, we have been married for about 2 and a half years now. I earn about 4 times what he earns and my mother in law kind of assume i should cater for all her needs even his sisters(all married) make demands of money at will and ask me not to tell my husband each time. I had to complain to my husband about the way his family members demands for money, but he responsed that;he does not see anything wrong with his mother asking me for anything she likes,but he is not in support of any of his sisters asking me for money. In the end of the discussion My husband got so upset with me for daring to look down on his people,We had a big quarrel at the end of the day(which i am sure he told his mother everything).All this did not stop the mother from asking me to send money for her to start a business(a year later) which i turned down saying i was saving to invest in a business having stayed 6 months out of job due to having my baby, so i had no money to spare at the moment . Two months later one of his sister called to say my mother in law(her mother) was very angry with me for sending some money(very little amount) to my father in law and not her(that they suspect i am angry with my mother in law)she advised that i should call her(my mother in law) and promise to package some things for her for Christmas (which was in a week’s time i.e last year),i had to tell my husband’s sister that i can not make such promise and that i have a just changed my job(2 months ago) and saving money for a business of my own and how come am i expected to send money to my inlaws while my husband sends nothing to my parent?(even though my parents never ask anything instead they send money even foodstuffs to us especially when i stayed jobless for 6months).I sent a lenghty message to my mother in law telling her i can not give her money and she should be happy i sent some money to her husband not complain about it.To cut the story short, i noticed the countenance of my husband changed when he returned from work that day,so i decided to bar all their numbers to my mobile line and told my husband i will not entertain anybody bothering me again because i do not owe anybody anything going forward neither will i condone outsider affecting our moods in this marriage.It is a shamed that he has been brained washed into thinking that the fact that i earn more means i should shoulder my in law’s burden. Up till today their numbers remained barred and i have my peace now and have suceeded to shed off the unnecessary stress. I dont care what they are planning or saying behind me.

  • trmp

    My dad is loaded but he won’t help me financially I feel like he owes me, so any advice on how do I get it I figured I could take him to court or tell my mommy he is cheating you know divide and conquer cause she will believe me and take him to court divorce and all the I can get the loot from my mother and if she refuses the I’ll have a strategy handling her just as well advice anyone

  • My kids come 1st

    Before my husband and I had really announced we were “together” I saw him get used by his mother and sister. He had his own place and the two of them ended up staying with him “until they got on their feet again, for only a few weeks”. When I met him, it had been seven years they over-stayed their welcome. They had not paid him a dime of rent or their share of the utilities. They even cried about buying toilet paper one time when we were away for a weekend. A $0.79 roll of toilet paper!
    The sister became pregnant and my husband told them they had to go, there was no room for a baby considering they (mom and sis) were sharing a bed in a tiny room. So, they get this bright idea (mind you, we weren’t “official” so I couldn’t say anything) that because they had no money and bad credit (yup, didn’t save a dime and ran up credit during those seven years) that my husband could buy a house and they pay all the bills like they were renting from him. They hacked up this grand plan and widened my husband’s eyes. If he put up his current and brand new truck as collateral, it’d be like he had no payment at all because it would all be on the new homes mortgage.
    2 1/2 years later. I had our child and see another family member of my husbands in the store three days after giving birth. They tell me how sorry they were about us losing our home (s), they saw it in the paper…we lost it all. Two homes and a beautiful truck. Because of it being on our credit we couldn’t even rent an apartment! I turned to my family and my mom said she had actually been considering buying a home she had always wanted but it was going to be too big for just her. We ended up moving in with my mom (we have an agreement of payment for our share of everything) in the new house. A positive out of a negative situation.
    So now that the homes had been foreclosed and truck repossessed, his mom and sister have no empathy whatsoever about what they did. They don’t think they did anything wrong?! They don’t understand why I can’t stand to look at them even eight years later. But, because “they did nothing wrong”, means that they want more, and more, and more. And when I say NO, it’s “you need to divorce her!” We had gone on vacation to visit my husband’s father and the whole time we were there the first time his sister called begging for my husband to “foot her the money, it was no fair our child got to go see their dad and not hers and it was no fair our child was going to see Disney before hers”. Mind you, she had just got back from a girls weekend in Mexico, a kid less trip at that. So the year after when we went, guess who showed up? And guess who’s bank account was short the same amount her “only x amount” plane ticket cost that “SHE” got a “good deal” on? By the third trip she was dating some rich guy. Was told that he was going to pay my husband back when he arrived. Come to find out after the trip, he had given her the money all along and she “forgot” to give it to us. (We go on vacation because I told my husband what’s it going to do at this point and there’s no reason OUR children should suffer consequences of others, and yes we find deals, plan, and put x amount aside once our bills are paid. We do not go out to eat, get new clothes, or drive new cars like his sister does) this happened three times! Because the guilt trip was played that her kid suffered to my husband.
    His mother came up with an idea that she was going to start a charity in my child’s name, my child has no reason to have a charity. In order to do this she wanted my child’s social security number. I said NO! She called my husband and said I said okay and he gave it to her…oh yeah, dealing with the credit bureaus to protect my child’s identity has not been a cake walk.
    My husband became very ill to the point he almost passed. While laying in the hospital, fighting for his life, they were more concerned with how much his life insurance policy was and who was on it.
    They don’t quit. They’re conniving and when I say something, I’m the bad guy. They advise my husband to divorce me.
    Oh and they’re so good at acting that people can’t believe I don’t care for them…I’ve refused to work because they snoop online about salaries and I know if I do, they really won’t stop.
    I’ve had it to a point of thinking I should divorce but it’d only give into their satisfaction. And I feel bad that my husband would have no where to go, they won’t even give him a piece of couch to sleep on… (I’ve kicked my husband out before and when he asked to stay at they’re apt they said no the landlord would get mad but that same weekend had some guy sleep there)…I have my children to protect and they above them especially, come first!!

  • -MA-

    If people are struggling and need some money, have some compassion and let them borrow some money. Especially if it is your relatives. If they are spending it on rubbish, then you don’t have to lend it

  • Brandt Smith

    @carmz — Why are you obligated to pay for your entire family. I could see it if they supported you while you were going to school, getting started, etc….Most of the time that isn’t the case, they just assume that since you are doing ok, you owe them money. What I do is say I just don’t have any free cash to loan. Sorry, nothing there. Just keep repeating the story.

    @CHRIS – Move out now. Don’t ever get them a credit card. You are only hurting them by propping them up. Your mom needs to hit bottom and deal with her gambling problem, and as long as you keep bailing her out she will never learn. Ignore the guilt trip and keep saying “I’m broke and have noting to give.”

    @Shable — Just say no. No. No. No. If your husband loves you he will listen and support you.

    @trmp – Your dad owes you nothing. He earned it not you. I can’t believe you are willing to destroy your parents marriage for your own selfish gain. Grow up.

    @My kids come 1st – Why do you deal with these people? It sounds harsh but relationships need to be a two way street, and if they aren’t you need to cut them out of your life.

    @MA – Bullshit. Life is about learning and growing. Struggle and pain are put in place to help us learn, grow, and move ahead. If you bail people out they never learn, they never stop the destructive behavior. You are dooming them to a crappy life. As for relatives, why does a genetic link create obligation? If you love them, you need to let them fall down and learn from their skinned up knees.

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