Dear Barb – Lending Money to Family Can Come at a Price

Dear Barb:

My younger brother and I have always been really close until he got married three years ago. My husband and I have never gotten along with his wife. In fact, Melissa seems to have a problem getting along with everyone. Recently Melissa and Jay have gotten into financial difficulties and Jay has approached me and my husband about borrowing money. We haven’t decided yet whether we will lend it to them.

My concerns are that Melissa will get into an argument with us as an excuse not to pay us back. I’m trying to maintain a relationship with my brother in spite of his wife and I’m not sure if we should take a chance and lend them the money. Either way could end up causing problems between us. Not sure what to do.

Anne

Hi, Anne. Thanks for sharing your situation with us. I will try to help you sort it out.

You are in a very delicate situation that is further complicated by the fact that you and your sister-in-law don’t get along that well. You didn’t say what has caused your brother and his wife to have these financial difficulties. Was it careless spending, or did they lose their jobs? Are there alcohol and drug problems, or other irresponsible behaviours? If either or both have alcohol or drug problems, lending them money will be enabling them to continue with this destructive behaviour. Therefore there would be no debating the right thing to do in that situation.

If they have gotten into this position through no fault of their own, then you may have to think carefully about what you want to do. My belief is that if you are going to lend money to family, It’s best to be prepared for the possibility that you may not get it back. You don’t want money to come between you and family members.

For example, if you need the money and are expecting to be paid by a certain date and they don’t pay, you can be sure your relationship will be affected. You also have to consider your husband’s feelings about lending money to your brother and his wife. You don’t want to cause strain in your marriage.

If you cannot afford to lose the money then my advice would be not to lend it. If you decide to lend the money and you get it back, then consider it a bonus. I hope this advice is helpful.

Email your questions to voice@voicemagazine.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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