Managing Relatives Who Want to Manage You out of Your Money

You’re used to being the bigger breadwinner in the family. You enjoy helping out when you can. You don’t even mind being the dependable go-to in emergencies—the one called upon to solve someone else’s financial crisis, or help prevent it.


Then your niece calls to ask you to help her buy a car. She has no other way to get to her new job. She can afford a Toyota on her own, but not the tricked-out Lexus she wants. That’s where you come in. Or, do you?


Here are the best tips ever for managing the moment when loved ones come to beg, borrow, or bulldoze you out of your cash. They are sourced from finance pros, as well as those who’ve learned the hard way—by doing.


Create a budget.

Protect your long-term financial security (aka retirement funds) no matter what. Askers can be persuasive and their needs can be compelling. A budget helps you remain clear about what you can and can’t do.


Only “loan” what you can give.

Even if you set up a detailed repayment schedule that you intend to enforce, assume that you’ll never see your contribution again. Then you’ll avoid (or, at least minimize) animosity and bitterness, even if that schedule isn’t met.


It’s okay to pick a lane and stay there.

In order to contain the scope and number of requests, you might limit your assistance to a specific area or two that you feel is most important—say education, healthcare, or housing—and let folks know that anything else is beyond your reach.


Don’t be condescending.

If you were writing a check to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or the United Way, you wouldn’t resent it. Adopt the same attitude here. Charity begins at home.


Use an intermediary.

Take some of the difficulty out of negotiating with loved ones by having all requests—and responses—go through a neutral party like an accountant or financial adviser.