Family Money: Handling Financial Issues in Your Adult Family
Money matters can make family complicated. Follow these tips to keep your closest relationships healthy.
Sometimes the people we’re closest to do things that baffle us. When money is involved, that can create some really sticky situations. Family money can be a blessing or a curse, even in very small amounts. And the way you handle financial interactions with family members will have a direct impact on your relationships.
Money issues can cause real trouble for families, especially adult families. Dealing with older parents, grown children and siblings can bring ton of emotional baggage. Your interpersonal history can color the way you make financial decisions. And while your family life is certainly more than money, financial issues can cause real drama among family members. These discussions often come up during emotionally charged events, such as weddings, births, medical issues and end-of-life decisions. If you’re not careful, conflict over family money can harm your relationships with the people you love most.
If you're not careful, conflict over family money can harm your relationships with the people you love most. tweet this!So, how should you handle financial issues in your family? Start by prioritizing what is truly valuable — the family relationships themselves.
Every family has its own unique financial circumstances to work through. Because of this, there’s no single financial template that will fit every family. But there are some guiding principles that can help us navigate family money issues when they arise.
1) Always honor, always encourage.
God teaches us to always honor our parents — even after we leave their homes. So no matter how your parents mange their money, you should show them honor. Even if your parents borrow money frequently and spend it wildly, it’s not your place to criticize them. From time to time, you may get a chance to advise them, help them or encourage them. But remember that honoring them is still your first priority. You may never agree with the way they handle money, but you should still always honor them.
The same thing goes with siblings and other family members. The first priority in these relationships is to encourage and love. If someone you love is making bad financial decisions, ask God to give you an opportunity to share some wisdom with them. But no matter what happens, don’t let their bad financial habits ruin your relationship with them.
2) Be a generous giver and a gracious receiver.
Family money comes and goes. There may be times in your life when people in your family give you a lot of money. Other times, you may give a lot of money to them. Either way, attitude is crucial.
The best course of action is to be gracious, no matter what. tweet this!Big life events such as weddings or graduations come with lots of financial expectations. If the people you love don’t live up to your expectations, though, this can create pain and anger. So the best course of action is to be gracious, no matter what. Your family may give you tens of thousands of dollars for a lavish wedding, or they may not contribute nearly as much as you hoped for. No matter what happens, be grateful for any gift that you receive. Remember, it’s not the quantity of the gift that matters, but the heart behind it.
It’s also important to be gracious when a family member dies. Remember, your parents’ money belongs to them. You may expect to inherit some of their money one day, but you don’t have a right to it. It’s not yours until it’s yours. Don’t bring drama to sensitive family events by arguing about inheritance or heirlooms. And if you do receive an inheritance, honor the memory of your loved one by using that money wisely.
3) Don’t borrow from or lend to family members.
When people need helpin difficult financial circumstances, they usually turn to family members first. It may seem easy to ask your parents, siblings or in-laws for a loan, especially if you think they have a lot of money. But this is a recipe for trouble.
Remember, debt is slavery, and borrowing creates an unbalanced relationship between two people. Borrowing and lending money changes your relationships with people, no matter how much you love them. If you borrow from someone, you’re going to feel embarrassed about it every time you see them. If you lend to someone, you’ll find yourself sitting across the room from them at Christmas wondering when they’re going to pay you back.
If you have a family member in need, try to find ways to meet their needs without expecting anything in return. tweet this!Instead of lending and borrowing, try giving and receiving. If you have a family member in need, try to find ways to meet their needs without expecting anything in return. After all, giving is an act of love, which is what family is all about. There is no love in debt.
4) Plan well and communicate clearly.
Most family money conflicts are caused by misunderstandings and poor communication. You can avoid this by making important financial plans far in advance. Make sure everyone clearly understands your plans and intentions. Talk honestly with your kids about what you can do to help pay for college. Talk openly about how to handle wedding expenses. Later in life, you should have good insurance, draw up a will and make sure everyone in your family understands what will happen to your estate once you’re gone. Remember, communicating well now can save your family a lot of drama later.
In the end, your family relationships will probably be the most valuable thing you ever have. If you let money dictate the way you relate to the people closest to you, it will make you a slave. So guard those family relationships like the treasures they are. And do your best to make money work for your family and not against you.