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When helping your family goes horribly wrong.

Contributor

When helping your family goes horribly wrong.

This isn't a pity party, I just wanna share my story so that hopefully others here won't make the same mistake I did.

 

I think most of us feel the urge to help when we see a family member in a bind, while I don't think it's wrong to help; experience has taught me that it's important to make sure you don't overextend yourself.

I realized too late that's exactly what I did.

My mother didn't have any credit, she'd never tried to apply for it because she thought they were bad news. Turns out she was right, they're bad news when it comes to her using them. Since she didn't have any but she wanted to finance a family vacation for everyone she asked if I'd be willing to let her use my cards, first mistake was saying yes to this. 

Long story short she maxed out 2 of my cards rather quickly, my fault for believing her when she promised not to do this. She did attempt to pay most of it back, the problem is I said yes once so now the flood gates were open and she kept asking me to finance other things. I became her bank, second mistake.

Finally after seeing that everything was going downhill way too fast, she was charging things faster than she could pay them off, I decided maybe she'd be more responsible if I helped her get her own credit. Last and final mistake.

To be honest I really should've known this was gonna go bad because she hadn't been responsible with my credit and she ended up maxing out her own as well.

But to add further insult to injury she managed to convince my siblings to get credit cards and then maxed out theirs too. 

I didn't set a very good example for the others, and at times I blame myself because I started this mess in the first place. Despite my warnings, my siblings had to find out the hard way instead of learning vicariously from my mistakes. 

Once she maxed out her cards and the bills started to pile up things took a turn for the worse because she started asking me to use the available credit to help her pay the bills, I refused to do this and we made the decision to part ways but she refused to give back the cards I had given her, I had to report them all stolen and get new ones sent.

It's been a long road but I've managed to pay back all the credit she used, in the end once I put my foot down and refused to let her use the cards as a crutch she basically disowned me and told everyone else to do the same.

30 REPLIES
Established Contributor

Re: When helping your family goes horribly wrong.

That's a rough situation to go through, I'm sure. Sorry that you had to!

If there's one thing I've learned from reading the stories in this particular sub board, it's that helping people financially is not wrong if you have the means to do so, but never give others, even family, access to your money/credit in a way that it doesn't first have to go through you.
Even with no bad intentions, it's just so easy to justify things to themselves in a way they don't feel is abusing your kindness.

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Message 2 of 31
Contributor

Re: When helping your family goes horribly wrong.


Dalmus wrote:
That's a rough situation to go through, I'm sure. Sorry that you had to!

If there's one thing I've learned from reading the stories in this particular sub board, it's that helping people financially is not wrong if you have the means to do so, but never give others, even family, access to your money/credit in a way that it doesn't first have to go through you.
Even with no bad intentions, it's just so easy to justify things to themselves in a way they don't feel is abusing your kindness.

I agree 100%, I guess I never really could believe that she'd ever do that but you're right. From her perspective maybe she didn't think she was doing anything wrong, but live and learn I guess, I'm just thankful that it wasn't worse. And that I managed to pay most of it back.

Message 3 of 31
New Contributor

Re: When helping your family goes horribly wrong.

DrPeaceCraft, so sorry that you and your sibings experienced that with your Mom.  As the youngest of 5 kids (and the most financially successful) I became the "bank of my family" from 2009 until I put a stop to it in 2014.  I bought my Dad a truck in 2010 which he promised to pay back in 30 days, guess what?  I'm still waiting for the money.  My Mom and Dad "borrowed" thousands from me always claiming they would pay it back quickly.  I should have known after the first promise to pay that was broken, that I wouldn't see a dime of the money.  I'm lucky that this was cash and not credit because my credit did not take a hit.  When it finally hit me over the head that I had to say NO when someone in my family asked for money, it was the most empowering feeling EVER!  NO!  That simple two-letter word....so much power.  What I realized was that, I was NOT helping them by giving them money, i was enabling them to continue to be bad stewards over their own finances by "bailing them out" of whatever financial situation they had gotten themselves in.  When I started saying "no" to their requests, they figured out a different way to get their needs met and it ended up being a win-win for all involved.  I get to keep my money and eventually they've stopped asking me for money.  

 

Sometimes we have to go through tough things to learn the lesson.  I'm glad I've learned the lesson!  Saying no is not a bad thing.  You don't even have to give an explanation...it's just NO.

Message 4 of 31
Contributor

Re: When helping your family goes horribly wrong.


ChessChik47 wrote:

DrPeaceCraft, so sorry that you and your sibings experienced that with your Mom.  As the youngest of 5 kids (and the most financially successful) I became the "bank of my family" from 2009 until I put a stop to it in 2014.  I bought my Dad a truck in 2010 which he promised to pay back in 30 days, guess what?  I'm still waiting for the money.  My Mom and Dad "borrowed" thousands from me always claiming they would pay it back quickly.  I should have known after the first promise to pay that was broken, that I wouldn't see a dime of the money.  I'm lucky that this was cash and not credit because my credit did not take a hit.  When it finally hit me over the head that I had to say NO when someone in my family asked for money, it was the most empowering feeling EVER!  NO!  That simple two-letter word....so much power.  What I realized was that, I was NOT helping them by giving them money, i was enabling them to continue to be bad stewards over their own finances by "bailing them out" of whatever financial situation they had gotten themselves in.  When I started saying "no" to their requests, they figured out a different way to get their needs met and it ended up being a win-win for all involved.  I get to keep my money and eventually they've stopped asking me for money.  

 

Sometimes we have to go through tough things to learn the lesson.  I'm glad I've learned the lesson!  Saying no is not a bad thing.  You don't even have to give an explanation...it's just NO.


I'm sorry you experienced that ChessChik47, and I'm glad you finally broke the cycle. I came to the same realization that I was allowing my mom to be irresponsible, I wasn't really helping I was hurting. 

I can't say I'll never help her again, I just won't put myself in the same situation giving her so much power, and you're right sometimes you just have to say no. That's your perogative, it's your money and you worked hard for it. Luckily me and my siblings are slowly starting to repair the damage from what happened, it's gonna take some time but I knew in my heart that if I didn't put a stop to it I'd end up horribly damaging our relationship. I'm glad your parents managed to finally get ahold of their finances, I hope it didn't damage your relationship in any way.

Message 5 of 31
New Contributor

Re: When helping your family goes horribly wrong.

I'm happy to say that my relationships with my parents and siblings are very good!   I think they got even better once I took money out of the equation.  Good luck to you and yours!  Smiley Happy

Message 6 of 31
Contributor

Re: When helping your family goes horribly wrong.

I don't give money unless I can give it as a gift. Period. I don't play these, "I'll pay you back next Friday" type games.

Luckily my parents and siblings have their act together. I've got some other relatives though that are always behind the 8 ball, and constantly living out of each other's pockets.
Message 7 of 31
Valued Contributor

Re: When helping your family goes horribly wrong.

Parents who ask such things of their children (or worse, just take) will never see why what they are doing is wrong. They just don't have the same mindset as a parent who wants desperately to help their child be self-sufficient. 

 

My mom stole my identity and stole from me for many years. She still believes she did nothing wrong and that my assertion that she did is "abusive". 

 

It's definitely taught me to never think of any monetary help to anyone, friend or family, as a loan, and to be very cautious about whether or not the recipient shoud even be asking me for money in the first place.


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Message 8 of 31
Contributor

Re: When helping your family goes horribly wrong.


lowkeyorca wrote:

Parents who ask such things of their children (or worse, just take) will never see why what they are doing is wrong. They just don't have the same mindset as a parent who wants desperately to help their child be self-sufficient. 

 

My mom stole my identity and stole from me for many years. She still believes she did nothing wrong and that my assertion that she did is "abusive". 

 

It's definitely taught me to never think of any monetary help to anyone, friend or family, as a loan, and to be very cautious about whether or not the recipient shoud even be asking me for money in the first place.


So sorry that happened to you @lowkeyorca.

I can't believe she still won't admit she did something wrong after blatantly committing a crime, I've come to the realization that if my mom ever did realize the scope of the damage she's done she'll feel terrible and that's why she chooses to avoid the truth. It's easier to believe you're a victim of your circumstances, I guess they feel taking responsibility is too hard.

I hope you were able to get everything sorted from the identity theft. This forum has definitely taught me that if you're gonna give anything, make sure you can afford to never get it back.

Message 9 of 31
Established Contributor

Re: When helping your family goes horribly wrong.

The trick is to not let any personal emotion weigh in when making financial decisions involving family. Just because they're related to you doesn't mean they aren't just as untrustable, irresponsible, or selfish as a complete stranger.

 

In addition to what's already been covered, I would add one should never co-sign on a loan with a family member.

Message 10 of 31