Four tips for helping family members with money problems

Helping a family member struggling with financial problems can be tricky territory. It's best not to just throw money at the problem, even if you can afford to help.

Helping a family member struggling with financial problems can be tricky territory. It's best not to just throw money at the problem, even if you can afford to help.

When you love someone is is hard to see them suffer. This is especially true when you know their financial woes could easily be avoided by a little financial knowledge and a some wise choices.

But, how do you force someone to gain financial knowledge? How to you help someone to make wiser choices? How do you minister to family members who keep making bad money choices?

A guide for helping family members with money problems

1. Remind yourself of your own imperfections

We all have strengths and weaknesses. You might be financially fit while someone else is physically fit. You might sit at home scheming ways to talk to them about their finances and they might sit at home thinking of creative ways to approach you about your weight problem.

We are motivated to deal with things that we think are important. Others often will not think something is important just because we think it is important.

Since none of us a perfect and have a completely balanced life we should interact with our family with a certain degree of love, sympathy, and patience. Change does not happen over night.

2. Evaluate your relationship with the family member

Here’s a good rule of thumb. The younger you are in relationship to the person with the money problem the less direct you should be.

For example, if your parents have money problems they confronting them face to face is likely not going to be the best approach. In the case of parents you should deal with them indirectly or serve as an intermediary to help them.

How do you help parents indirectly? Share “I” and “we” stories. Tell you parents, “We just paid off our last debt and it feels great!” Say, “We are actually saving money for kids’ college so we feel a sense of accomplishment.” You can even put a financial book on the coffee table when they come over to visit. We’re not talking about being manipulative here, but simply about creating opportunities to where your parents can invite you to talk to them about finances.

Ho do you serve as an intermediary to help family members with money problems? In this case you would approach someone that family member trusts and ask them for their help. Seek out a church member who that family member respects. Find a co-worker that the family member trusts. Talk to an older relative who has a good relationship with the family member.

When people don’t respect someone they often will not listen to what they have to say.

3. Don’t try to help money problems just by giving money

Most money problems do not come from a lack of money. If that was the case money could solve the problem. Instead, most money problems come from an inability to handle money and make wise money choices. Until money management issues are addressed no amount of money will help. Remember, money does not solve money problems.

Therefore, when giving money be sure to also attach requirements that actually help the person improve their financial situation. Require them to read The Total Money Makeover. Ask them to do some work in exchange for the money. Do something to help solve their money management problems not just their money problem.

4. When it comes to lending to family proceed with caution

When you lend money to someone your relationship with them automatically changes. You must have guidelines when lending to friends and family.

I have not lent money to physical family members, but I have lent money to spiritual brothers and sisters. I can testify that when someone has defaulted on a payment to you Christian love is harder to extend. Even when a person is repaying the loan on time the dynamics change. Every time they see you at church they want to explain something about the loan – “I’ll be sure to get you your next payment on Saturday instead of Sunday, because I’ll be out of town on Sunday”.

If your considering cosiging for a family member you should also proceed with caution.

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