I am on Baby Step 2 of your plan, and I am about four months away from being debt-free. My younger brother is a good person, but he is very careless with his finances. He is always asking to borrow money from me. I don’t want to be mean or damage our relationship, but what is the best way to respond to a sibling who continually asks for money?
Honesty is always a good thing. If I were in your shoes, I’d just tell him the truth. Sit down with him, and have a friendly—but real—conversation where you let him know you’re working hard to get out of debt and don’t have any cash to spare. Explain that you’ve decided being in debt is dumb, you want a better life and that you don’t plan to borrow or loan money anymore.
You’ve got to look at the big picture in situations like this. You’re not helping someone if you participate in their misbehavior with them. Sometimes, especially when it comes to family, you have to love someone enough to tell them the truth. And in some cases, that can mean saying no and telling them to grow up and get their act together.
You’re not responsible for your brother’s reaction to all this, James, but you can control your words and use them in a caring manner. Do this with a kind spirit, and remember we all make mistakes. He may take it well, or not so well. But you’re not really helping someone who’s immature or irresponsible with money when you give them cash. At that point, you’re an enabler. It’s like giving a drunk a drink.
God bless you, James!
Dave Ramsey, a best-selling author, personal finance expert and host of The Ramsey Show, can be heard by more than 18 million listeners each week.
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