Dear B. Scott,
I’m tired of supporting my family. Let me explain—I’m a single, successful woman with no kids and no husband. I’ve worked my a*s off my entire life for everything I’ve earned. Unfortunately, nobody else in my family has that same drive.
I don’t mind helping out every now and then, but lately it seems like more and more people in my family keep asking me for handouts and I can’t take it. It’s to the point where I’m not answering calls from my own sister or her kids because I know they’re only calling me to ask for money. My sister doesn’t work and her husband has a decent job, but she’s more than capable of working and claims she’s been trying to find a job for almost a year. It seems like she’d rather stay at home and ask for my help when things get bad. I want to help, but at the same time I’m tired of helping. I didn’t ask for this and I’m tired of people expecting me to do things for them. Am I a bad person?
Dear Love Muffin,
It can get tricky dealing with people constantly asking you for money. It’s even complicated more when it’s a good friend or family.
Let me just say this: You’re not a bad person.
However, you can’t avoid your family forever and they can’t depend on you to be always their saving grace. Instead of forking over cash every time you’re asked, try one or two of these suggestions:
Explore other options: Sit down with your needed family members and figure out exactly what the problems are. Sometimes certain financial situations arise from a lack of knowledge or money mismanagement rather than a constant need for cash. Since you’re obviously in a better financial situation, offer some advice or education.
Make them earn it: It might seem a little tit-for-tat, but I see nothing wrong in making people work for their money. Do you need help around the house? Do you need an errand or to ran while you’re at work? If someone is asking for money then I think they should be more than willing to help you out with something — just give them the opportunity.
Don’t just loan, invest: Investing in your family members still requires some cash, but at least this way you know your cash is going to a good place. Maybe you could help cover the cost of a class for your niece and nephew, take over an extracurricular activity, or something that makes you feel like you are making a long-term difference rather than being a short-term ATM.
Offer job assistance: You said your sister has been trying to find a job for over a year…maybe you could help. Check with your connections and see if you know anyone hiring that can help set her on her way to fixing her own financial problems.
If none of these options work, then just say “no.” If you’re dealing with a relative who constantly needs money but hasn’t taken any initiative to help themselves, refusing to help might actually just be the help they need. It might be rough, but as a successful woman like yourself knows, nothing in life comes easy.
Submit your questions now: firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to tweet us @lovebscott with the hashtag #AskBScott