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When A Loved One Can’t Or Won’t Manage Their Money

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By Andrea

You’ve made a budget and stuck to it.  You’ve clipped store coupons, purchased food in bulk, and bought store brands.

You feel a little squeezed, but overall, you are proud of the fact that you actually managed to put a few dollars into savings this month.

Then the phone rings. A loved one needs money.

This loved one is the type that spends every dollar as soon as it comes in.  They call you foolish for passing up that new outfit in order to pay off your credit cards.

They refuse food in your home because it is not a name brand.  Still, they want some of your money because they did not manage their own well enough.

What do you do?

Sure, you could yell, scream, bang your head on the table, or visualize smacking them in the head.  Chances are however, you will write them a check, and start your savings account all over again.

If any of this sounds familiar, here are some steps you can take when dealing with a loved one who cannot or will not save money, or at least manage their money better.

The best thing to do is teach them how to manage money by using these 5 methods:

#1 – Stop Enabling Them

Easier said than done, I know.  But every time you help someone pay their bills instead of adding to your own savings, you are telling them that they can continue to mismanage their bills because you will bail them out.  You are also telling them that their pleasure is more important than your needs.

Dr. Phil addresses this situation often.  On his show entitled “Ultimate Moochers“, he recently talked about family members who refuse to work, as their family members seem to be willing to take care of them.

#2 – Do Not Feel Guilty

Don’t allow anyone to use guilt in order to help themselves into your pocketbook.  Guilt is a weapon used against others, and no one who will use a weapon against you is looking out for your best interest.

Check out How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty.  It’s filled with important tips, whether you are dealing with a mooching loved one, or someone who is a drain on your time.

#3 – Don’t Hide The Fact That You Have Money

Telling someone that you’re “broke” in the hopes that they won’t ask you for money does nothing to help either one of you.

Having money when a loved one doesn’t often makes you feel secretive, so you’re always trying not to “rub salt in the wounds” of the person who is struggling.

However, when it’s clear that person is causing their own problems, and you know you have overcome such problems yourself, then sharing your successes with them can help them see the light.

#4 – Show Them How You Save Money

Take your family member shopping with you.  Let them see you use coupons and encourage them to think of coupons as brightly colored money.  Show them that you brown bag your lunch and how much you save by doing it.  Show them that bargain shopping is rewarding.

Let them see that you go through pains in order to make the money that they are freely using.  Show them that cutting back on things really pays off in the long run.

#5 – Leave Them To Their Own Devices

People tend to want help on their own terms, which is often to the detriment of the helper.

You shouldn’t offer advice when people are not prepared to entertain it, or they could one day come back and blame you when it doesn’t work out for them.

Final Words On Giving Someone Money Management Tips


The “boundaries” books by Henry Cloud are filled with tips to help you set boundaries in your relationships, especially during those most difficult times when the loved ones in your life need help… and money.

I gave one of these books to a friend of mine, and it was well-received. Some other resources you may find helpful on how to manage money: