Financial Interventions for Those You Love
It seems so natural to give money to someone you love—a sister, a friend, a loved one, anyone who is in financial trouble—especially when you have the money to give. But in reality, whether you have money or are barely struggling to make it yourself, you are making a big mistake for everyone involved if you say yes to a request for cash (especially if this isn't the first time).
Does that surprise you? I bet it does, for the vast majority of women equate giving with a show of love. So, when we love a person so much, our nurturing soul directs us to give give give. We give money even if it means digging into our home equity lines of credit, ringing up more debt on credit cards, depleting our savings and retirements plans or co-signing loans. We give even if we don't want to give. We say yes to whatever is asked of us, rather than stopping to assess the true emotional and financial impact it will have on the lives of both people involved. We tend to let other people set the agenda for us. They tell us what they need, and we put their needs front and center—even if it means sweeping everything we need aside. We are more committed to helping others than we are to helping ourselves.
- The woman who knows deep down that an emergency savings account is the core of financial security, but when sister falls behind on the mortgage, car and credit card payments for the umpteenth time, she once again cleans out her only savings account because she can't imagine not helping.
- The woman who knows deep down that her best friend is a financial train wreck but still agrees to co-sign a car loan for her, which means she most likely will end up paying for that car even though she cannot afford to do so.
- The daughter who sends $200 a month to her parents who are totally irresponsible with money—even though that means she doesn't have the money to cover her own expenses.
- The successful entrepreneur who has worked 24 hours a day for years to secure a great retirement for herself, but not a day goes by without someone coming to her to solve their financial woes by asking for money.
- The beloved employee who kicks in $50 every time she is asked to contribute to a co-worker's wedding present, birthday party or holiday celebration even though it puts her behind in paying her own bills.
- The mother who continues to bail out her adult children from their mistakes even though she will have very little money to live on.
And they are meant to be independent, they are meant to be powerful, they are meant to be happy and they are meant to have money. And true giving to others—as well as giving to yourself—always means saying no out of love versus yes out of fear. This notion is at the very heart of having a healthy relationship with yourself, with others and with your money.
If you truly love someone who is in financial trouble, here's what you need to really help:
1. Say No
When you really love someone, you are to say no to their request for a financial bailout. The truth is that your money is not the solution to their problem. Only they have the tools to permanently fix their problem: the intention and determination to pull themselves out of their financial fix.
Saying no is also the most respectful response. For if you were to say yes, the person you give the money to will sooner than later start to lose all sense of self-respect. Moreover, by saying yes you have been disrespectful to yourself—that is your hard-earned money you are giving away to someone you know deep down has yet to learn how to be respectful with money.
Do not fear that they will love you less for saying no. It may take some time and talking to get them to understand where you are coming from, but in the end they will have infinite love for your desire to truly help them find their inner power to bail themselves out of any financial bind.
Repeat this to yourself: "I will say no out of love, versus yes out of fear."
2. Put it in Writing
Your words of love must be put into writing so the person you say no to will have a clear "statement of facts" about why you are saying no. We all know that this can be an emotionally charged time, and sometimes we aren't able to say in conversation what we really mean, or perhaps the person we are talking to is not in the best position to really hear what we are saying. Your contract is the written manifestation of what is in your heart: You explain why you are saying no.
Download a sample contract to give to your loved one.
Saying no is not the end. It is just the beginning of your quest to help a loved one. It is vitally important to start talking and listening to each other. Be clear and honest. This is not the time to couch your feelings for fear that you will hurt their feelings. Talk about your feelings, about how it makes you feel when they come to you for money, as if your only role is to be their personal ATM. Do not be mad or make accusations. Talk with love, from your heart, about how their situation affects you personally and how you see it affecting your relationship. Then listen with the same compassionate heart.
When you commit to compassionate conversation, you are putting your words into action, say: I love you, and I want to support you as you figure out how to solve this problem for yourself and by yourself.
4. Commit to Faith, Integrity and Courage
It is not easy to say no to those you love. But when it comes to a financial intervention, it is always the right thing to do. To help you help those you love, keep these thoughts close to your heart:
- Faith: You have to have faith in who you are. You have to have faith in who the other person is. You have to have faith that everything happens for the best.
- Integrity: Every word you speak, every word you write must be the truth. For it is only when we are honest with ourselves and those we love that we can own the power to control our destiny and help those we love control theirs.
- Courage: That from this day forward you will always:
- Do what is right, not what is easy.
- Give to yourself as much as you give of yourself.
- Say no out of love verses yes out of fear.
Start your nearest and dearest on Suze's Save Yourself Plan.
Help your loved ones get on track with Suze's 12 steps to wealth.
More financial guidance from Suze Orman