Your relative or friend isn’t on drugs, at least so you think. He isn’t binging on alcohol or running from the law, you don’t guess. She isn’t wasting money on men and parties, you don’t believe. So why is it that at least once a month your friends are coming up short with cash? Something is very wrong and you intend to find out what is behind the smile and the, “Please I really need your help.”
In order to find out why your loved one is always without cash you will have to learn to not only hear what he or she is saying but also pay attention to what he or she is doing.
Now if you don’t spend any time with your friend you wouldn’t know what is really going on behind the scenes. If you are not going over to their home or workplace you definitely wouldn’t know. All you can do at this point is take him or her at his or her word. But if you are curious, then why not visit your relative and look around his or her home. Why not, call your friend more often. Why not talk to other family members and other friends of course not gossiping, but listening to what their experience has been like lately with your friend. You will be surprised what is going on behind the scenes and you may even feel burdened to help more or less. When you visit your relative or friend’s home, check for wasteful spending or poor living. Check the cabinets, the freezer, and other places to see if they are buying bulk items or dollar store boxes. Are they buying their children everything under the sun or nothing under the moon? What about the expensive hobby or the bottomless home business they boast about, is it sapping what little income they have?
Some people don’t usually want to help anyone in the first place, but those that do, don’t bother to ask for details. However, if you are frequently being asked for money most likely you want to know the details, so the relative or friend will stop asking. One thing you could do is listen to this person’s problems from the beginning and take at least a day to think about whether you want to give them $5, $500.00 or $5,000. If they are honest, then his or her story won’t change, but if your loved one isn’t, you will find out soon enough especially if you question more deeply the next time they ask you for money. You could say, “I keep track of where my money goes and what it’s being used for. I need to know exactly what is going on in your life that is keeping you from taking care of your bills. Maybe I could direct you to professionals who could best help you in your situation.” When you say this, you are doing two things: letting your loved one know that you want to help, but you are also warning he or she that you will no longer help.
So what is really going on in your relative or friend’s life? Well there could be many things, but we will take on a few possibilities.
Taxes, Collection Agencies, Loans
Always consider the timing they are asking you for money. As we all know April is the time when most taxes are due. So if your relative or friend is suddenly hit with unpaid taxes due to lies that have come back to haunt him or her, then most likely he or she didn’t budget for this and will be scrambling around trying to get the money to keep the tax man or woman happy. Collection agencies are also bombarding him or her with requests to pay this bill or that one, he or she may have paid some companies to keep them quiet, but came up short to buy things like groceries.
If your relative or friend just started attending college or just graduated then there are expenses and lots of them. You may have been one of the relatives or friends who encouraged him or her to go to college, but little did you know that you will also be one of them who will be helping your loved one pay the bills particularly if the parents can’t afford it.
No one wants this to ever happen to them, but it does. One day you go to the mailbox and you see a letter with the name of an attorney in the return address section of the envelope. Your relative or friend may have been served papers to pay the following: child support, damages to someone’s property, an unpaid ticket, or something else and now they are on the phone calling whoever they can to stay out of jail.
Credit Cards, Bank Overdraft Fees
Once again consider the timing. The holidays have passed and the debt has mounted and there is simply no way for your friend to pay for home, groceries, bills, and the children’s schooling. He or she may be concerned about yet another late fee and over limit charge. If he or she can pay at least the bills down low enough to keep from getting hit with yet another fee, he or she reasons, then maybe your loved one can rebound next month at least so he or she thinks. The problem: next month shows up and they still owe a substantial amount of money to the bank or credit card company.
Drinking, Drugs, and Gambling
Say it ain’t so! But it is so if you notice your relative or friend’s appearance has changed and suddenly he or she can’t seem to keep anything in his or her home including a television, someone is participating in a bad habit. When you start hearing about how the children don’t have their gaming system, video tapes, television, and other valuables in the home are missing, then most likely someone is “hustling” for more reasons than just paying bills. However, so that you aren’t falsely accusing your beloved relative or friend, notice the frequency that they are asking for money, how they look, and what the children (if there are any) are saying.
Gambling habits can be tricky to detect, but are noticeable if you watch carefully. The rent is due but they don’t have the money. Not to mention the many other things that have been cut off over the past few months, he or she always has an excuse. Those excuses are usually lies to cover up the fact that they gambled their money and can’t pay bills. If you feed into their greed, you are just as bad as them. You are funding their addiction and eventually it will cause problems in your relationship especially when they win and don’t give you a single nickel!
If someone has recently become ill then chances are they will need to pay some hospital bills that aren’t covered by health coverage. However, to be sure they aren’t lying; ask to see all hospital bills. You may even want to write a check to the company yourself. This way you are freeing their finances up to pay for their personal bills while keeping the honest folks honest.
There are many people who are losing their jobs, so it is very easy to see if your relative or friend is indeed telling the truth. A pop-up visit on a job, calling him or her at their former place of work, or asking someone who works there if he or she is still at the job are all ways to find out if he or she really lost his or her job. They may not be receiving unemployment or the amount is so low they can barely live on it, if this is true, find out what you can do to help them cut their spending such as suggesting things they need to cut out of their lives until your loved one is back to work again.
Unfortunately the relative or friend who keeps asking you for money could be wastefully spending. For example, buying items the children don’t need, eating out often and drinking coffee from one of those expensive shops, purchasing the latest fashions, and buying other people things or contributing to nonprofits are all wasteful spending habits. When one is asking you for money, but yet able to buy for others and spend money on things that are not necessities, he or she doesn’t need your money, he or she needs a financial makeover.
New Relationship, Pregnancy
People don’t always budget appropriately for the “what ifs” in life. A new love interest and a sudden pregnancy will set anyone back financially. Your relative or friend most likely didn’t plan financially for this new person to come into his or her life or the unexpected baby that’s on his or her way. Sometimes it’s okay to help a person in this situation if they are demonstrating responsible behavior, but if not they can always look to a social service agency if they financially qualify.
It can be very difficult to say no to the loved ones in your life when it comes to money, but it doesn’t have to be particularly if you see him or her walking out of an expensive shop carrying bags of clothes and shoes or sipping on an expensive latte. Know your limit financially. Budget accordingly when making the decision to help a loved one or friend. Alert him or her to your expiration date on asking you for cash in advance. Most of all, always take the time to provide him or her with tips on staying out of financial trouble.
Nicholl McGuire is the author of What Else Can I Do on the Internet?