I wrote this post last night while it was fresh on my mind.

I feel like I'm being selfish and I feel like a jerk. I also feel angry and frustrated.  I don't know what to do; well I do know what to do but it doesn't feel like it's the right thing to do. This past weekend, I had 2 family members and a good friend ask me for money.

All of three of these people are very close to me and know I am very particular with money. They know I have a good, stable job and they know that I'm a big saver. After all,  I am always telling them about how important it is to save for a rainy day. They know that I write a personal finance blog but none of them have ever asked for the address. They know I have money in the bank so when they ask me to borrow money, I feel bad about saying I don't have it or saying no.

Granted, I can afford to help them out but none of them have a track record for making wise financial decisions. I hate to say it but they will continually be broke because of their behavior and the way they handle money. They feel that they will always be broke and struggling financially and just accept it as a fact of life. Not one of them is taking any initiative to improve their finances. Unfortunately, if I were the one that needed help financially, they would not be able to help me. 

It would be different if this was the first time I was asked to borrow money. Nope, it actually happens pretty frequently. I don't want to do it anymore. I can't continue to be a financial crutch to my family and friends. 

This sucks and I hate this feeling. Why should I feel bad for getting upset when I'm asked for money? What do you guys think? Should I feel bad? Am I being selfish?


  1. Revanche // March 15, 2010 at 7:07 AM  

    While I'd like to say, "nope! You shouldn't feel bad and shouldn't feel selfish!" I feel like that would be dismissive of your very real reaction to doing the right thing. You shouldn't but not everyone finds it easy to refuse to help people to whom you're close. For some it'll be simple math, but not everyone.

    From that standpoint, I'd say that you should know that you're doing the right thing for the right reason. It's not always easy, and it will continue to not be easy so long as you feel compelled to help, but that doesn't preclude the fact that you should not be through guilt or any other compulsion held up for money simply because you were responsible enough to save.

    You shouldn't be punished for your performance, and by that token you shouldn't allow others to inflict that punishment upon you.

    If there's any way beyond what you've been doing that you can encourage them to fix their mistakes or make a better way for themselves, by all means, but continuing to make up their cash flow doesn't help anybody in the long term, even when they're legitimate needs.

    [Speaking from experience, once the feeding from the cash flow is set, it's actually very difficult to detach them.]

  2. Miss M in Progress // March 15, 2010 at 8:34 AM  

    I used to feel that way and would lend/give and then be mad at myself.

    I've learned to say no. Yes, I still feel bad sometimes but I get over that when I then offer to help find the money another way. Sadly, most don't want that help.

  3. Abigail // March 15, 2010 at 8:39 AM  

    I think that, when it comes to lending money, you need to be prepared to never see it again. Sometimes people are okay with that. But when someone has been careless with his money? And expects that you will bail him out simply because you've been prudent? I think that's beyond your responsibility.

    That said, it's hard to say no when you know you have the resources to help. But I think there's a difference between selfishness and putting your priorities first. It's a tough lesson to give and to take, and it may cause some resentment. Still, I think you're doing the right thing.

  4. Danielle // March 15, 2010 at 8:55 AM  

    I think the natural reaction to feel bad is because you know how tough it is to be in financial straights and that is precisely why you value saving versus spending.

    That being said,, you'll have to repress that feeling of being bad, because you giving someone a loan does not help them learn one iota (unless maybe they are a tween who is looking to borrow 200.00 for a new laptop and has a plan of action to pay it off over time,, you cant learn lessons without some guidance),, but not NOT an adult.

    If you support it, you could offer to enroll them in the Financial Peace University at a local community center to help them learn the skills they need. But maybe suggest that after the sting of you not financing their irresponsibility passes.

  5. JacobRios // March 15, 2010 at 9:28 AM  

    I don't think you are wrong for not wanting to help out your friends and family. It's hard to say no to people that you are close with and care about.

    But are you really helping them by lending/giving them money? By giving them money, you would be reinforcing their bad habits. They would just feel like you are a pushover, and can easily ask you for money any time they find themselves in a pinch.

    There shouldn't be any reason to feel compelled to help people who are struggling financially when they aren't making good financial decisions on a regular basis.

  6. Brian Leigh // March 15, 2010 at 11:49 AM  

    I agree with the other comments. Just because you were smart about money doesn't mean that you have to help everyone who wasn't. Maybe to ease your guilty/anger/upset feelings, talk to the borrower and find out why they need the money. Tell them that you need a clear precise plan on what they will use the money for. A lot of times when I want to go spend a decent amount of money, I sit down and jot down reasons why I am going to spend X amount of money and what I will get for it. It takes 5 minutes to complete & shows me that I don't really need to spend X, but can get what I need for the lesser Y or Z.

    Also, when the borrower is trying to explain their reasons for needing the money, you can politely point them in the direction of personal finance information. Just my opinion, and hope it helps.

  7. Cat // March 15, 2010 at 12:58 PM  

    I agree with the previous comments. I don't think it's selfish- they'll never learn if they keep getting bailed out.

  8. Ted Paulson // March 15, 2010 at 3:05 PM  

    I love it that people ask you for money. It shows they believe you to be trustworthy and a good friend.

    They can always ask. You can always so no. The only way I would feel guilty or selfish is if they are about to be put on the street and they have kids.

    If you feel they are honest and will pay it back, give them the money. Tell them to come up with a plan to pay you back but don't ever mention it again. If they pay you back, great if not, great. Relationships are more important.

  9. Connecticut Blogger // March 15, 2010 at 6:51 PM  

    Of course not, no, don't feel you're being selfish. Look, if the people who are asking for money don't look like good risks, i.e., if you think it's possible you won't get your money back, I would say, don't do it. Do you know how many friendships and family relationships are ruined over just this kind of thing?

    I would just say sorry, my money's tied up right now. Red flags go up in my mind when you say you've been asked for money many times. It seems clear they don't feel bad asking, so why should you feel bad saying no? When you turn them down, you should make it clear you don't, as a personal policy, lend money becus you don't think it's a good idea to do so among friends.

  10. Anonymous // March 15, 2010 at 10:24 PM  

    It is natural to be sadden by the situation. It frustrates you because you are pragmatic and sensible. You are projecting your legitimate concern that they just don't get it and it is bothering you because you are a good person.

    Overall I'd say live and let live. The national bank of SGM is not FDIC insured and you've got to look out for number 1. As Suze says people first then money then things. When she says people first she means you have to do what's best for you!


  11. LeanLifeCoach // March 15, 2010 at 10:50 PM  

    You should feel proud for your strength to do the right thing.

    More power to you!

  12. josie // March 16, 2010 at 10:37 AM  

    “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime". If this is not possible then there is nothing to be guilty about.

  13. Lillie // March 16, 2010 at 11:46 AM  

    I'm with you, there comes a time when you have to say "no", especially after the first time. It's interesting that no one asked for the address for your blog. Next time the question comes up, why not give them your card and suggest that a visit to your site may be beneficial. The sad part is, however, it may not help but certainly worth the effort and that will make you feel better.

  14. prufock // March 16, 2010 at 2:36 PM  

    You said that they have asked for money before, and that they have a poor track record. Does that mean that they've "borrowed" money and not paid it back? If that's the case, I would definitely say "no."

    If, on the other hand, they HAVE paid it back in the past, I'd be more inclined to give the loan. Make it understood between you when they will be able to pay you back, as that might queer the deal. If you REALLY want to be a bank, charge some interest! Ha, family members might not take too kindly to that idea.

  15. Money Reasons // March 16, 2010 at 6:44 PM  

    Tough situation!

    You have goals in life, and you're being conservative with your spending. You are working for you, not them!

    Good for you for sticking to your guns! Afterall, why put your dreams on hold while your family and friends borrow from you so they can have a good time instead of you?

  16. pucca // March 17, 2010 at 4:01 AM  

    I am feeling the same thing right now. THe only difference is I am not financially stable like you.One of my close relatives is asking me to borrow money from someone else for her. She will be using it for her daughter's tuition fee. Sadly, I had the courage to turn her down. I'm broke and I'm tired of being in that situation. Though emotionally, it bothers me, I think I made the right decision.

  17. Marshall Moss // March 17, 2010 at 11:58 AM  

    Yargh.. that's bad or a good thing for us?

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  18. Money Honey SF // March 17, 2010 at 6:45 PM  

    Why should you be the bank to your family and friends who have made time and time again made poor & irresonsible financial decisions?

    Don't even feel bad for them. They are adults and they should face dire consequences for the poor choices they have made with their money.

    And did you know that most of the time, lending money to someone else should set you up to know you won't be getting that money back?


  19. Anonymous // March 19, 2010 at 8:54 AM  

    Glad I read this today because I am in the same place with my sister (again), and you sharing your predicament strengthens me. I came to the realization that my sister chooses to continue this cycle, that it's not the economy but her own long history with poor life choices. Also, cause and effect: if you don't save when times are flush, you WILL have troubles when times are not.

    I told her, "I love you, but I won't give you any money." (She owes me quite a bit, always promises to pay me back, but so far, only $10.)

    I no longer choose to pay rent for two households because I have my own financial goals of paying off the student loan and buying a house. :-)

    If it comes down to homelessness for her, she knows she can move into my extra bedroom. I love her, but I love me too.

  20. Anonymous // March 19, 2010 at 10:57 AM  

    Lending money to friends and family is a very slippery slope. When they default on the money that is lent it is next to impossible to get it back without ruining your relationship.

    It is a good plan for you to not lend them money.

  21. Anonymous // March 19, 2010 at 8:07 PM  

    When I stopped lending money, I told those closest to me that would even consider asking that I was no longer in the lending business. I did it durning time when noone was asking.

    When people do ask I say "All my money had been allocated to something"

    You should not feel bad for not giving them money, because their situation is their responsibility. Plus lending money is enabling, but not lending is the right thing.

  22. Testy Blogger // March 21, 2010 at 3:29 PM  

    I was in your shoes way before the 'net and blogs. I would profess fiscal responsibility...so I was identified as the one with the means when others' means ran out. I was a "lender be" many times...each time I was taken advantage of and never saw my $$ again. I stopped losing money when I stopped lending. End of story.

  23. Unknown // March 21, 2010 at 7:13 PM  

    No I don't think you are being selfish at al. You can only do so much. You are doign this not only to help yourself, but to help THEM out. If they have prolonged financial problems, and you continue to lend them money, you are only contributing to their demise. Kinda buying Burger King for the 600 lbs woman...

    I understand why you feel this way, and I think I would too, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

  24. Unknown // March 22, 2010 at 4:26 PM  

    You shouldn't feel bad at all. You know their tendencies and you probably will never get it back. They need to grow up financially.

  25. Voucher Codes // April 1, 2010 at 10:33 PM  

    Great Idea, telling people to not spend money who have it will surely revive an economy badly in need of capital.Anyone who has money should spend it.

  26. Anonymous // April 20, 2010 at 2:53 PM  

    You have every right to say "no" and are actually doing them a favor by doing so. I got myself out of huge credit card debt ($27K). Sure, it would have been easier to ask someone for help, but it wouldn't have been nearly as satisfying as doing it myself. And I guarantee it makes me far less likely to ever get into that kind of debt again.

    I believe you should only give money as a gift -- never with the expectation that it will be paid back, because you surely will be disappointed.

    And if you feel guilty about saying no, just know that giving someone money doesn't align with YOUR financial goals.

    My motto is, if I don't look out for me, who will?