14. Don't Lend MoneyDec 15, 2019
This one, I could write an entire book about and maybe someday I will. However, until that day, just trust me on this. You never want to lend money to anyone. Don’t lend money to your siblings. Don’t lend money to your friends. Don’t lend money to your dog. It never ends well. Ben Franklin said “neither a borrower nor a lender be,” and there’s a reason for it.
Let’s say that your brother needs to borrow money for his rent that he’s short on. If he didn’t make enough to pay his rent this month, how is he going to make twice as much next month: enough to pay his rent and pay you back, too? He can’t. He is digging a hole for himself that will just get deeper and deeper.
Oh, there’s a big tax refund check coming and he says he will pay you back with that. It will never happen. He won’t. And, just to rub salt on the wound, he may go on a nice vacation with your money or get a smoking hot new tattoo, but he won’t be paying you back with it. Not only that, when you start asking about it, he is going to get all ticked off at you for something, nothing, or anything. You will suddenly become the bad guy instead of the hero you thought you were being. Nope, in this story, your role has now become the dark and evil villain, as all money lenders are. Picture the big bad banker with a stogie in his mouth denying the widow and her children an extension on her mortgage. Yeah, that’s you whenever you lend money.
Listen, I’ve lent money to people I knew, loved, and trusted. Very seldom has anyone ever paid me back. They always have an excuse. I always wind up the bad guy. I’ve even had them sign promissory notes. It doesn’t matter. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip, so why try. No matter how justified you are in attempting to regain what you lent, hiring an attorney and putting a lien on the assets of someone you care about just cements your role as Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Don’t even put yourself in that position.
If someone asks, tell them you just don’t lend money. Don’t try to find an excuse. Don’t try to explain. Just keep it simple and short. “I’m sorry. I don’t lend money.” If they persist, let them know you have complete faith in their ability to find an answer on their own. However, remain strong and state again in short and simple terms, you don’t lend money. Don’t elaborate.
I believe parents are an exception to this rule because they have usually been the ones who have gone the extra mile for you again and again. If they are like my parents were and you have the funds to give, just give it to them. If you can, make it a gift they don’t have to pay back. However, draw the line here.
I want to just say in all fairness, I have given money to my siblings as a gift when they needed it. When I have, I have gone to the websites and paid the tuition or occasional electric bill. I don’t hand them cash. I also give it as a gift in my mind, not as a loan. This way, if they pay me back, great. If they don’t, I am fine. If you can’t afford to give the money to them as a gift, don’t do this. And don’t let it become a habit. Allow your siblings to learn and grow through their own financial mistakes. It’s how they learn.
Note: Do you lend or give money to your kids? Well, this is a tough one because we love the little rugrats more than we love ourselves. However, there is a saying that you need to know. “Give your children enough to do something, but not enough to do nothing.” It is our job as parents to take care of our children until a certain age. Beyond that time, we are no longer caring for them. We are enabling them. We form a codependent relationship and are doing more harm than good. Wikipedia defines it as this:
Codependent relationships are a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person's addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. Among the core characteristics of codependency, the most common theme is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and identity.
A bit of struggle is necessary to grow. It’s part of the process. Allow them that process and the wonderful feeling of achievement after they persist through it.
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