Saying no. It’s one of the toughest things we can say to another human being. Even more difficult to say to the friends and family we love. But in order to love people well, oftentimes you have to set boundaries so that the relationship doesn’t get messy or awkward or weird. So how does all this relationship, touchy-feely stuff have to do with money?
Personal finance involves much more than math and calculations; a large part of it deals with behavior and emotion and relationships. And the extent you let family and friends become involved with or dictate your money decisions can affect your financial future.
We all have those family members and friends that seem to think they know how to handle their spending and they have a say or vote on how your do that spending. They want you to make different spending choices than the ones you have decided to make. They are the ones persuading you to make different purchasing decisions. And these suggested purchasing decisions end up sabotaging your financial goals. They suggest getting a newer car. Telling you that you can afford the expensive vacation because you make good money at your job. Wanting to eat out every day at work when you are find bringing your lunch at home.
It’s a lot like people who sabotage your weight loss efforts. They want you – unintentionally – to not engage in new healthy behaviors because it changes the way they interact with you. Maybe they are jealous of your success and they want to pull you back to their normal, so they don’t feel uncomfortable with the decisions they are making. Whatever the case may be, you need to make the financial decisions that are best for you and you have to be comfortable saying no to the people you love in order to reach those financial decisions.
Here are some things to remember when saying no to family members when it comes to money:
Remember your why. Why do you have the financial goals that you have set for yourself? Are you getting out of debt, so you have the ability to make a career change into a lower paying field that you enjoy? Are you purposely investing aggressively each month because you want to retire early? Do you drive a 10-year-old car because having a newer car is not as important to you than saving for a house? You need to remember why you made the financial decisions in the first place. It will make it easier to say no.
It’s your life to live – not theirs. Some people want to justify their own financial behavior by surrounding themselves with people who have the same money habits. They may have a “broke” mentality that there is no way to get ahead so they will just keep making decisions that makes them feel good in the moment. Don’t get dragged down by the madness others want you to participate in. Remember that you have to endure the consequences of your financial decisions, not them.
Don’t give loans out to family members and friends. Social gatherings get super awkward when you loan money to close friends and family. And you don’t want to be judging people for their spending choices when they owe you money. My rule of thumb is that if family or friends are in a tight situation and I have the means to give them the money, then I may choose to give them the money with NO expectation of the money being repaid. In fact, I make it a point to tell them that I don’t want the money back. It keeps the relationship from getting weird.
Set clear boundaries surrounding money. You may have to spell it out for your family and friends that there will be no discussion when it comes to your finances. Make sure you are drawing a clear line about what is acceptable behavior and what is inappropriate. If these problematic family or friends do not honor what you have outlined, you may have to take more drastic measures to limit your interaction with them or cut ties completely. You deserve to have healthy people surrounding you, not toxicity that will lead to destructive behaviors.
What types of boundaries have you had to set with family and friends when it comes to finances?