The 8 Do’s and Don’ts When Your Parents Ask For Money

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July 27, 2022

Adam K. |

3 Minute Read

This article contains affiliate links, which if you click, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you.

Providing financial support to a parent or family member isn’t always easy.

According to a recent study from GoHealth.com, 1 in 3 millennials and Gen X’ers help their parents financially.

When your parents ask for financial support, it’s not always an easy decision to open your checkbook. Whether it’s due to years of financial mismanagement or an unexpected expense, you should consider the below 8 Do’s and Don’t before giving your parents money.

1. Do Be Empathetic

It’s effortless to point fingers and become instantly upset when our parents ask for financial support.

However, keep calm and hear them out without interrupting or interjecting. Don’t get mad, don’t get upset, don’t yell. Ask clarifying questions and understand the situation at hand. If you do, chances are the ‘rents will be more receptive to your comments and ideas so you can move towards a solution.

2. Do Offer Alternatives

If your parents are broke, turning to a child is often the most accessible source of financial support. Depending on the circumstances, there are ways other sources of financing your parents may not even be aware of.

For example:

Float those ideas, but don’t press them. They are probably already stressed out over money. Everyone’s situation is unique, but it is best to consider all options and weigh them against each other.

3. Do Consider Downsizing

Americans spend 31% of their take-home pay on housing and housing-related expenses.
It’s a considerable expense. If your parents are asking for money, you may not even be living there. If that’s the case, question whether or not your parents need all that space.

They probably don’t.

Entertain the idea of downsizing as a strategic solution for their cash flow issues, but don’t expect them to jump up and call the real estate agent at that moment. Downsizing is a long-term solution.

4. Do Discuss With Your Significant Other

If you are married, co-mingle finances, or are in a serious relationship where money is a topic between you and your partner. It would be wise to discuss the situation with them before giving any money to your parents.

Listen to your partner’s thoughts and concerns, and make a decision that makes both of you comfortable. The last thing you would want to do is surprise them with a $5,000 plumbing bill for your parents.

5. Don’t Throw Good Money After Bad

If your parents generally have bad spending habits, becoming their personal banker is a terrible idea.

Providing them afloat won’t change their practices. The money will enable them to continue making poor decisions. This sounds harsh, but sometimes they need to face reality, and you need to focus on living your life.

6. Don’t Lecture Them About Their Spending Habits

As their child, this won’t end up well…

You may even get a comment about how you’re ‘young’ and haven’t experienced the world yet. How your parents spent money in the past – is precisely that – the past – let it be. You can only learn from previous mistakes, it’s not healthy to harp on them.

If you end up lecturing your parents about their spending habits, they will become defensive to justify their behavior, and you will end up back where you started.

7. Do Consider Helping If You Can Afford It

The last thing you want to become is your parent’s ATM Machine, especially if you also struggle financially.

However….

Let’s assume you are in a financial position to help out or have enough money in your emergency savings, you should seriously consider it, especially if the circumstances call for it:

  • Illness – A parent falls unexpectedly ill or is involved in a major accident. Healthcare is expensive and uncollected medical debt topped 140 billion last year. That said, if you have the means to assist with paying their medical debt so they can avoid a negative impact to their credit score, that is a noble thing to do.
  • Essential Repairs – Home repairs and automobile repairs are often unexpected and expensive. Major home repairs can easily exceed $5,000, while major car repairs can quickly surpass $1,000.

8. Do Set Your Boundaries

If you end up helping your parents, set boundaries financially and emotionally.

Financial Boundaries: If it’s a one-time expense such as a car repair, or plumbing bill, let them know upfront how much you can contribute and manage their expectations.

If you don’t…

Be prepared for a financial and emotional rollercoaster. If they ask you for more money or try to vent about their financial struggles to you, politely remind them of your boundaries. Then, circle back to the other suggestions listed above.

Final Thoughts

Before giving money to your parents, carefully look at the underlying reason and have a meaningful conversation with them.

The worst situation is to throw good money after bad if your parents have poor spending habits. Unexpected expenses do arise, and we cannot meet the obligation financially. Every situation is unique, and applying a blanket approach is impossible. But, if you consider the 8 Do’s and Don’ts listed below, you are much more likely to make a well-thought-out decision and have a better relationship with money and your parents.

  1. Do Be Empathetic
  2. Do Offer Alternatives
  3. Do Consider Downsizing
  4. Do Discuss With Your Significant Other
  5. Do Consider Helping if you can afford it
  6. Do Set Your Boundaries
  7. Don’t Lecture Them About Their Spending Habits
  8. Don’t Throw Good Money After Bad

Have you given or lent money to a parent, friend, or family member? How did you decide it was the right decision to make? Comment below and let me know.

Real World Investor.com

Adam

Adam is the founder of realworldinvestor.com, an investing website dedicated to helping discerning individuals make the best investment decisions.

Before starting Real World Investor, he was a Vice President at the 3rd largest investment bank in the US. He also spent time at prestigious firms like J.P. Morgan and Deloitte Consulting. He has over 10 years of experience working in financial services. His experience includes working with complex derivatives while spending many years working on a trading floor.

He has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration, majoring in finance. Adam is married and resides in New Jersey with his wife.

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