Dear Penny: My Family Keeps Asking for Money and It’s Bleeding Me Dry

Dear Stuck,

You could take a second job. You could get a side hustle or
five. You could work 100 hours a week or more. Heck, you could work
so much that you quit sleeping if you really want to keep bailing
out your family.

But I suspect you already know the answer to your question: You
can’t keep providing for so many people and keep your savings
intact. Your family is using you as a walking checking account. As
long as you keep depositing money, they’ll keep making
withdrawals.

Right now, you’re not in a position to financially assist
family members. Think back to the instructions at the beginning of
every flight you’ve ever taken and how they always tell you to
put your oxygen mask on first before helping anyone else in an
emergency. The reason, of course, is that you can’t help someone
else if you pass out because you’re deprived of oxygen.

The same principle applies here: You’re out of savings, so you
can’t help anyone, including yourself, in an emergency.

Schedule a time to go over the gamut of your finances with your
wife, including how much you’re bringing in, how much you’re
spending — both on your own expenses and for family — and your
short- and long-term goals. 

A goal to prioritize is rebuilding your savings, which is
especially important since you have irregular income. Until you
have several months’ worth of living expenses saved, I’d
strongly suggest you both commit to not forking over cash until
you’re on more solid financial footing.

Since your dad has hit you up for cash twice in the past few
months, you need to tell him that you’re not in a position to
help out. The reasons he needs money don’t matter. Keep the focus
on you and how you don’t have the resources to bail anyone
out.

The key is to communicate this soon. That means before he’s on
the phone begging for money. Be prepared to say no and keep
repeating it the next time he asks for help.

Don’t be swayed by any promises to pay you back. You can’t
afford to loan money if you can’t afford to make that money a
gift.

With your mother, you should have a talk about the financial
stress you’re feeling — which there’s a good chance she’s
experiencing too as she hunts for a job. Talk to her about if there
are ways she could earn extra cash to contribute, whether it be
through walking dogs, delivering groceries or babysitting. Even a
contribution as small as $50 a week could relieve some of the
pressure.

Once you’re in a better financial situation — meaning a
healthy amount saved and you’re earning more than you’re
spending — you may decide that you’re willing to help out
family members in certain circumstances. 

If so, setting limits before relatives hit you up will be key.
Decide how much you can afford to offer if a family member needs
money. Consider opening a separate savings account that’s
earmarked for that. 

Just know that when someone asks you for money, they’ll often
make it sound like an either/or situation, i.e., either you loan me
money or I experience the worst-case scenario, whether that means
being evicted, having a car repossessed or having an account sent
to collections.

But often it’s not. Being cut off from an easy source of cash
can be a source of motivation. People find ways to earn extra cash
or work out a plan to get caught up on payments. Or at the very
least, they find someone else to hit up.

Just focus on how much you can afford to help out — and if you
aren’t in a good place financially, that amount is zero.

Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder and the
voice behind Dear Penny. Send your questions about money worries to
AskPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.

This was originally published on
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Source: FS – All-News2-Economy
Dear Penny: My Family Keeps Asking for Money and It’s Bleeding Me Dry