I'm German, in my mid-20s and currently living together with my girlfriend without kids. I earn a fairly good salary for my age compared to other family members and was always a saver (cheap car, no expensive vacations, ...) to fulfil my ultimate life goal of buying a house (real estate) for myself. Recently I also inherited some money which I of course also want to spend on my house.

Sadly, some of my (close) family members (like my sister/her husband and partly my mother) can't handle their own money/income that well (at least this is my impression, of course, this view is biased). They spend money on stuff that I never would spend so much money on (e.g. leisure time, amusement parks, vacation together with their kids). It is also not that they are poor. They have a very good double income.

Regularly they ask me for a loan to pay their stuff because they can't. The amount of money they owe me is getting higher and higher. Of course, I want to help my family in critical life situations, but not to let them live their dream life while I lose money to invest into my future house. If I try to say no, they come up with sentences like:

  • We need that new car because we both have jobs (one of the parents could easily travel by bike)
  • Get old enough to have kids, then you will understand
  • You don't even need your own money
  • We need a cleaning lady because I can't handle it alone

Eventually, I'm giving them the loan because I don't want to be seen as a complete mug.

In some bigger cases, I have a valid, written contract. For smaller amounts, I usually said to them to add this to the final volume of the money lent. They started paying back but stopped quietly (!) doing so for some months until I asked them to start paying again (and they did). I could have cancelled the contract (because there's a clause for this case), but eventually I didn't.

They have interest rates, far lower than from a bank and also including an agreement for regular payments, which they have not fulfilled all the time. Because they didn't, the interest rate being so low caused the whole loan to be a negative game for me because of inflation. I am in no way wealthy, I just have above-average savings and earnings which I currently don't spend to save on my life goal.

Finally, this pattern of behavior has set a bad example for my nephew: he is now asking me for a loan. His own mother can't lend him any money because the next vacation is already booked.


How to avoid being seen as a cash cow in my family without being seen as a grasping and unhelpful person? My goal is to not give them any more money in the future.

A thing I always ask myself is whether the problem I have is really on my own side and it should be okay for family members to ask for money even for non-critical stuff.

Responses to comments

Did you get anything written down? Or does the exact amount and even the fact that they did loan any money at all come down to your and their memory (or conscience)?

In some bigger cases I have a valid, written contract. For smaller amounts I ususally said to them to add this to the final volume of the lent money.

Are they actually paying back any of the "loans"? How much total money do they owe you? €5k 10k 20k?

Yes and no. They started paying back but stopped quietly doing so for some months until I asked them to start paying again (and they did). I could have cancelled the contract (because there's a clause for this case), but eventually I didn't. The total money lent is more than 10k.

Are those loans with agreed interest and regular payments, or just "pay me back when you can"?

They have interest rates, far lower than on a bank and also regular payments, which they did not fullfil all the time. Because they didn't, the interest rate so low caused the whole loan to be a negative game for me because of inflation.


20 Answers 20


I'm very sorry but your loans are in fact gifts.

What you describe is actually you filling the gap in their spending pattern. That gap will not close, ever. Consecutive 'loans' without mention of previous debts or payback means no payback is intended by the 'loaner'. Your money is lost.

Don't worry about politeness.

Apparently your money is theirs. And their problems are yours as well. Have any of them helped you out? Money wise or otherwise? Reading your story I highly doubt that. The relationship therefore becomes abusive. After the first bad loan the next is actually an insult. At the very least calling it a loan is a lie.

Be clear. Be brave. It will be nasty.

Very clearly communicate that no more money will come, ever. You will be yelled at. Vilified. You may be shunned.

After that things will go to normal again, or not. In any case you will have removed the lie from your life. Painful it is, but emotional blackmail in the end is more expensive. It plays on a relationship that from your point of view actually does not exist. It frees you to live your own life.

One little warning. This scenario will block you from ever borrowing money from your relatives. Big risk that? I think not.

Stress-free salvaging.

Now that you have written off the loans in your head, bundle the headache file a.k.a loan register and head off to a well-liked family member that is trusted by all. Delegate loan retrieval. Possibly for a small fee. Communicate the weight on your soul so this trusted one will get to it in a firm yet human way. This will also put paid to any postponement arguments because you yourself are no longer involved. If nothing comes from this, no matter. Anything more that nothing is a gift, back.
And then forget all about it for, say, one year.

Leave it all behind.

Then after that year make up the balance. Either extend the retrieval or finalize.

How? Throw a Family Bash!
Invite the whole family. Ask everyone involved in the story above to pitch in with tasty (signature?) dishes, arranging silverware, large barbecues, whatever takes your fancy, and have an epic family happening.

Make sure it is low cost, high fun. Summer/outside location, home made food, the works. This will go a long long way in strengthening the positive side of family, of standing strong together. It creates good memories.

It also creates a milestone, a watershed if you will to leave negatives behind in the past. Your choice to either underplay that or to symbolically burn the ledger.


This reminds me of a short story in Mandarin, roughly translated as such:

A guy always gave a handout to a beggar near his home. When he was single, he gave five dollars. After he married, he gave three dollars. Once he had his first child, he reduced the handout to one dollar. When that happened, the beggar yelled angrily : "How could you give my money to your wife and child?"

The point is, people always take things for granted. They rarely appreciate what you have done, such as lending a helping hand; yet they will always remember that one time when you turned them down.

Here are some points:

1. Stop lending them any money until the previous debt is cleared.

What's done is done. If they intended to pay the debt, they would have done so long ago. Just treat it as a total loss.

For me, somehow the relationship is totally "cut off" when it comes to loans. It rarely solves the underlying problem, and further worsens the relationship.

2. Only provide your help if is needed.

Self explanatory. You make the call whether the stated goal is a "want" or an urgent need.

3. Tell them your reason to refuse.

Have a good talk with your family members about your reason to refuse (buying property). If they still shrug off your reason with sentence such as "get old enough to have kids, then you will understand", do remember that your life is your own, and your goals do not count less simply because it does not align with their views.

You need to learn the art of rejection. Even you knows it will leads to burnt bridges, and rocky relationships. Is on you to decide whether the broken relationship or your money are more valuable.

I do not mean to imply that the OP's family are beggars, I am just offering my opinion.

  • 1
    Please see the Stack Exchange "Good Subjective, Bad Subjective" Blog post here. We are a largely subjective site, which means we require answers to explain "why". Please edit your answer to explain what these three rules do that solves the OP's problem. As it is, you're telling me what to do without supporting your advice with any sort of explanation.
    – Catija
    Aug 31, 2017 at 3:35
  • @Catija Is not my intention to be offensive. I just demand an explanation when people just bumped in, comment and mia. Plus there is a comment that also get deleted which i think he was on point, so i am getting anxious. Sorry for the trouble
    – Revol729
    Aug 31, 2017 at 3:46

It's possible that your family will see you as a "cash cow" until your udders go dry (when you buy your house and go into some debt yourself, or have other financial responsibilities, like children.)

It's time to start setting boundaries with your family. Expect them to balk, and loudly. But if you truly want to reach your own goals, this needs to stop.

You want to finally end up where you don't loan money to people. It causes resentment, awkwardness and sometimes ruins relationships. But you can start by saying that you'll lend no more money until the previous loans you made are paid back in full. That puts the ball squarely in their court. If they say, "But I can't pay you back! I need money for this/that!" Your reply is, "I need money, too; I'm saving for a house. I can't keep lending money I won't ever get back." That steers them away from calling these exchanges loans, and exposes them for what they are: handouts.

If you stick to your guns, they'll stop asking for loans. If they ask you for a handout, tell them you'll be happy to help when the loans are paid back. If you think it's a worthwhile cause, gift them.

If it's someone who has never asked you for money before, figure out how much you'd be willing to give them, and present the money as a gift. Gifts are usually smaller than loans, and there's no expectation to pay it. One or two gifts per person certainly takes you out of the realm of "grasping and unhelpful."

A thing I always ask myself is whether the problem I have is really on my own side and it should be okay for family members to ask for money even for non-critical stuff.

That depends on a lot of factors, especially the amount of disparity between what you make and what they make. If your education is key to your earnings, and your parents put you through college, you may be morally indebted to them to a degree, but parents usually don't ask for such assistance until they are aged/infirm/run out of retirement funds.

If you were wealthy, you would already own property, so I'm assuming you don't make 20 times what they do. If you were wealthy, I think some gifts would be appropriate. But the way it is presented here, I think you're well within the bounds of common decency to stop the handouts.

  • I am not wealthy, I just have above-average savings and earnings which will allow me to buy a house a bit earlier than the average person with a bit more luxury (which is my ultimate life dream to be independent when I'm old). Indeed, this situation let my family thinks I am wealthy. Maybe I'm doing something wrong reflecting my financials on them. I don't know for sure. Aug 28, 2017 at 17:09
  • @TheWavelength, No, I really don't think you're doing anything wrong. You've been kind and gone above and beyond what many "kids" would have done. There's no reason to feel guilty. It's not about you. It's about them. Aug 28, 2017 at 21:17

First of all, separate the money from the relationships. They are two separate issues. I don't think you want a relationship with them that is only based on getting money from you. You will be seen as a "cash cow" if you just hand over money without certain specifics.

Second, you need to identify the specific reasons they need money, and should be restricted to emergencies or other non-avoidable obligations, to the extant that you are comfortable about the necessity.

Third, make payments for them, don't just give them the money. For example, if they need money to pay a doctor bill, have them hand you the bill and you pay it. This focuses on the need, rather than an "excuse" they might give you.
This also prevents (for example) your giving them money for a doctor bill and their using it to buy a Playstation.

Fourth, make sure they are clear on whether you want to be reimbursed, and if so how. Meeting this requirement should be a basis for any future borrowing. Emphasize "borrowing" unless you intend it to be a gift.

Since you handle money well, I think you know that it requires a certain logic and responsibility, but some people don't seem to have such skills, for whatever reason. But that is no excuse.

You might even offer to help some of them manage their money, if your relationship would support it. Better to help them rather than the current situation. I suppose some people can't manage money because they never had to.


I used to get sucked in too. I too am very good about saving, living debt free, etc. I finally had to say to those that would look to take advantage that I am not living my meager life to help them afford their luxuries. I will not give money to people that allow themselves extravagances I would never dream of doing nor to those that act as if I owe them to give them my money because they want it.

I have at times helped my parents. I always will and they are always my exception. Through some things beyond their control, they live on a very small budget in their later years. As such, I have no problem filling in gaps for them. They can afford all the normal day to day things, they only have issues arise on things to do with home repair or appliances, any major expenses. I come from a large family with many siblings and it should be spread out among us. Unfortunately, most of them seem to be content to ignore the need or to claim they "cannot afford" to help, while spending money on things that are pretty frivolous and for entertainment versus pitching in to replace a major appliance. I finally just decided to stop asking as the no annoyed me more than just paying for it, so I do.

My point is, I do personally think there are times where we have an ethical obligation to look after our parents. I do not think yours sounds like such a thing though. You are relatively young, so I doubt your parents are elderly like mine and it sounds more like these are "want" issues, not "need" issues. I would also gladly help out a sibling who was in true need despite their own good faith efforts to manage on their own. Again, this isn't what you describe. I gifted a car (used) to one sibling because they had a major need at a stressful time and no money to get one on their own. They did not ask, and they wouldn't. That is also why I did it. I knew I could help them in a meaningful way at a time of real need and that they were the sort that would appreciate such a gesture and not take it for granted.

Only give to family. Do not loan. Loaning is almost never a good idea. I do not loan, ever, now. I used to. I could say I maybe was paid back about 10% of the time and that is likely a generous estimate.


You will probably not like what I have to say, however, my gut says that you want an honest assessment and solution. If you are sensitive or get angry quick, stop reading here. You are probably very smart and already know what I am going to say...

Do not play their game by engaging them: they will make you feel guilty, then you will loan them the money and perpetuate the cycle.

Instead, practice saying no and provide no reason other than all your money is allocated. DO NOT EXPLAIN THE ALLOCATION You control whether YOU lend money: it's up to you. In the end, it's your decision to lend money that perpetuates the cycle that now extends to your nephew... BTW, DO NOT EXPLAIN THE ALLOCATION.

Alternatively, why not ask them every time you see them for $100 to start paying you back? You would be well within your rights and maybe this would stop them from bugging you for money

  • Thanks for your opinion. In fact, I don't feel your opinion is offensive and therefor I thank you for your view. I already encountered other situations in my life where I was unable to say now even if I really wanted to, so this advice is a great one. Aug 28, 2017 at 16:59
  • Neither "great" nor "horrible" was ironic! Though I do not like the term "predator mindset" in this specific case - more of a "you ask. I decide, b****!" mindset ... one could call it capitalist I guess :) . The endgame of thinking as a predator would be abusive behaviour ("you can always walk away, but your legs are none of my concern"), which is bad news either way with family - cessation of abusive behaviour, not redress, should be the endgame. Aug 29, 2017 at 12:32

I see three questions here. My answer is not perfect, but I'll share what I've done.
You asked "How to avoid being seen as cash cow in my family..."

Stop lending to them, or, set strict conditions and follow through.

"..without being seen as a grasping and unhelpful person? " This is never going to happen. Your family has been trained to expect this and will be resentful of any change at all. They are wrong, but they WILL resent you.

"My goal is to not give them any more money in the future."
This is a very good goal, and I approve of it.

"A thing I always ask myself is whether the problem I have is really on my own side and it should be okay for family members to ask for money even for non-critical stuff." My answer to this is always The airplane air mask metaphor. Put yours on first before helping anyone else. Your dream of owning your own home will not only provide you stability, but also enable you to help family in the rare cases when they are in actual need. You are NOT helping your family in the long term by helping them be responsible. if you truly want to help them, you should help them learn to live on what they make.

All that being said, I have lent, and given money to family and don't resent it. Here are some of my rules.
1. Never give or lend anything you can't afford or any amount you will resent. EVER!

  1. If it is a loan, draw up a note with some amount of interest, a payment plan, and a real plan for conditions of non-payment.

  2. When Friends and Family ask me for money, I always say "I see you are in need. The condition of borrowing money from me is that I get to ask all sorts of personal questions about your finances to see how you can get back on your feet". And then, I proceed to ask, how much they make, what they spend on, and try to come up with a plan that would allow them to pay for their expenses without me, or how they could actually pay me back. For instance: "I see you already paid for the airplane tickets, but can we call and cancel that nice hotel and book a cheaper one? That would get you x Euros towards dong this yourself. " Most people who are simply paying for fun things consider this way too much effort and go away(99.9%). The nice thing is, They can't really say you didn't want to help. And when they REALLY need it, they will be willing to go through this and you will ACTUALLY be helping them, and not enabling them to continue with a lifestyle they can't afford.

I've given about three loans under this plan. One for school, and two to keep family members from being kicked out of their homes. I don't resent any of the three. But I don't get asked very often any more.

  • I like this. I had a brother who always asked for money as a loan. I finally told him, "I'm going to GIVE you x amount of money, on the condition that you never ask me for money again." He agreed, and that solved the problem. Oct 5, 2021 at 21:03

Ask your bank: they may have savings accounts dedicated to real estate purchases. In such accounts, your money is usually locked for several years, but you get better interest rates on a loan you take afterwards. That way, you'll have no free money to give away. If your source of income and your life are stable, another option is to take a loan and buy the house you wanted.

In the long run however, you should learn to say "no" without the feeling to be obliged to explain the reasons. It may look like explaining why you have to refuse makes it easier, but this is not the case. Giving the reasons will only feed discussions about how you're planning to do something as selfish as buying an expensive house, while turning down your relatives who need a car to go to work so badly.

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    I think this is not a good idea. I don't want to be controlled by them to save my money on this and that sort of account only to be allowed to say legally no. Thanks anyway! :-) Aug 28, 2017 at 17:02

You should stop giving them the money and explain them that they should handle their income better. They might get offended and probably bring out some of the 4 points you mentioned. At this point you should tell them something like this: "I hanlde my income however I want, no need to give you an explaination for that. If I want to spend it I will do it, if I want to save up I will do it. This doesn't mean that I don't even need my money. I will help you if really needed but first you have to stop spending money on things that are not as important as buying a car, paying school for your kids, etc." Where I come from (Italy) it is kinda rude to tell people what they should do with their money. I worked to get that income, therefore it is mine, and only I should decide how to handle it. Any cent I am giving you is a favour. Now, this may change since it is family related, but the main point is still valid. Try to get them to see things from your point of view: you are trying to save money to buy an estate, which is your dream, and you shouldn't give up on it just to help them live their dream. It is important that you specify that you are willing to help them for important stuff (if you actually are). They should understand the situation, but if they don't, you probably will never see them again. At this point it might hurt, but it's better like that. You have removed the toxicity from your life.


Perhaps consider to gently, but firmly, break the expectation that your family can come to you for money.

The artwork is in how to do this. Family history and context is complex, and is something that only you can work out. My meager attempt here could serve only as the seed of an idea that you can work into your relationships with your family members.

I've studied enough financial theory to clearly see how expectations drive what people perceive as possible. Unfortunately, I think there is now a financial expectation placed on your shoulders that you would like to now change. That will probably not be easy.

My suggestions:

  • Look at your own finances and see what you can give to your family members as a "final loan". Since you did not mention anyone in your family actually making a loan payment back you to you, I will assume the loans are of the permanent type. Additionally, if things continue as they are without change, you can expect another appeal for funds. There will be an expectation for the "credit line to grow". You may need to placate that expectation and establish another one in its place. Make your final loan advance, and unequivocally state that this is the last loan advance. Now you have set the new expectation.
  • Enforce the new expectation by politely saying no to any requests to increase the line of credit.
  • You did state that you are available to help the family in a true emergency. If you have not already done so, you may want to consider that eventuality in your long-term plans -- as in setting aside money "for that rainy day".
  • If your budget allows for this, you may consider making that final loan on your own initiative without being prompted. This will further signal to the recipients that this is not business as usual.
  • I would ask you to always ensure that your mother is always taken care of.

You haven't stated if you actually have a written contract or not for the money you lent your family.

In my family we shuffle money around a lot for bigger purchases. But every time we do the following:

  • Sit together and talk about it
  • Write down the monthly income and the expenses
  • Look for conditions of alternatives (banks etc.)
  • Accept on an interest rate (usually a bit higher than what you get as interest rate on a bank account, so much lower than the conditions of a bank)
  • Define a monthly rate at which the loan will be payed back
  • Write everything down as a contract and have each party sign it

Ultimately the point of "writing down the monthly income and the expenses" is one of the most important ones. The numbers will clearly present a hard fact on whether the purchase is affordable or not.

In your case, this could also be a starting point of a discussion if your relatives live above their standard.

So the next time they ask for money, sit down with them and discuss their income and expenses, in a very detailed manner. It will probably be difficult, as you say they aren't very good with money. So they probably don't know what they are spending it all on. You might want to prepare a list with the most common things which happen as a monthly payment (or yearly and brake it down per month). A car for example is a huge cost factor, not just the buying but the running costs as well.

Based on that you can clearly state, that you probably will never get your money back and you will not lend them anymore until they fixed their finances and started paying you back all the debt they accumulated so far.

You say you are good with money, and you probably want to help them out, so after discussing their financial situation, you could apply your skill to help them get better at their finance.

If they are completely unwilling to improve upon the situation and you have no written contract, the money is probably lost and you shouldn't lend them anymore.

  • I have a written contract. I added details on my question. Discussing their financial situation does not seem a valid solution in my case because of reasons. Thank you! :-) Aug 28, 2017 at 17:07

To avoid being seen as a cash cow, don't be one. They don't need to know your financial situation, nor your reasons for denying them further payouts. Simply stop saying "yes" and if they press you for reasoning, simply state:

I'm not in a financial position to help you with your needs.

If you provide any information about why this is, they will compare their "needs" to your "needs" and subjectively declare that they have more need of your money than you, and you will either have to rationally defend your needs against theirs, or tell them that their needs don't matter - neither of which are easy positions to defend, and will only end hurting feelings.

So if they press for answers don't allow them to change the subject to why you can't help them, instead shift the conversation towards other ways you might be able to help:

I'm sorry I can't help you with money. Is there some other way I can help you? Do you want me to take a look at your spending and make some suggestions?

As you've already provided a lot of loans you might be able to turn that to your advantage in maintaining your case that you need your money:

You are already borrowing $$$ of my money, and I need you to pay it back so I can meet my needs. We made an arrangement to pay it off, and if I continue to lend you money that debt will only grow. I don't plan on lending you any additional money until that debt is repaid.

Now here's something you can consider doing for them: as they pay their debt, put their principle payments into another account. For now on, that debt is their "credit limit" with you. If they want to borrow more money, and they've paid it down over time, then you can loan them up to the amount they've paid off, and no more.

This puts a natural limit to your largess, and you can take the interest out and add it to your income after each payment. If they stop paying and reach their credit limit, they are only confirming to you that they are not in a good position to increase their debt. If they are paying it off regularly and using it as a line of credit, you'll at least not have to worry about losing more money, and you won't have to feel bad about turning them down when they have reached their limit. It's their choice, and you are providing them a reasonable service.


My suggestion:

Stop keeping around cash.

Put most of your money somewhere where you have to take a loss to extract it (e.g. a CD).

Tell them you no longer have cash but have parked away your savings and they're now stuck for a while. (Thanks to one of the commenters below for pointing out this step.)

If they insist, tell them that taking the funds back would make you take a loss; if they insist, tell them it's an X% loss (hopefully this is a meaningfully large sum, at least to them if not to you).

If they tell you to take a loss for their sake anyway, then you're in a much better position in rejecting their demands as unreasonable and they'll have just as much of a harder time making you look unreasonable—after all, they're not just asking you for a "loan", they're asking you to lose money.

If they accuse you of putting your money somewhere so they can't readily borrow it from you, point out to them that you were already losing the value of your money due to inflation and that you're merely trying to protect what you already have. If they say you're lying, tell them that you'll be happy to let them borrow at an interest rate greater than the rate of inflation after they reimburse you for the previous "loans" you've already lost money on.

Basically, make it clear to them that even if they pay you back as they promise, you're still losing money at their expense, and the only way to avoid that is for them to pay back your loans and reimburse you for the value lost.


I will give you some very important rules for dealing with loans. I use them personally, I have never regretted using them, but the few instances when I have "broken" those rules made me regret it.

  1. When you loan money to someone, treat this money as potentially lost money, unless you are able to and ready to use legal methods to get your money back.
  2. Do not give loans to people that are important to you, as a loan can poison or even ruin a relationship. Either give it as a gift or give nothing.
  3. When gifting, it is generally better not to give the money itself, but rather pay for the one being helped. For example, does your brother want to buy PlayStation 3? Go to the store with or without him and pay yourself, then hand it over to your brother. Without the receipt, of course, so that your brother cannot have it refunded.
    1. If you cannot pay for the person/the people being helped, like if they plan to visit an amusement park and you are not going with them, it is often a good idea not to help.
  4. You decide whether you help or not no matter which kind of help it is, no matter how easy or hard it is. Turn down any help "requests" that are actually demands, possibly just on the grounds that it was a demand rather than a request. You do not owe help to anyone, even your parents, and it is your will to help or not to. If you don't think that the request is worthy, just say "no". Otherwise, you can become a slave of someone whose help "requests" always make you do something.
  5. Be ready to drop connections to people who are ready to lose you if you didn't give them money. Even if it means dropping connections to your parents. It's better to have no relationship than an abusive one.

It's important that I do help people kind of often, but those rules stop this help from ruining our relationships.


Switch to gifts

My goal is to not give them any more money in the future.

While luckily I do not have your problem with the adult members of my family (they are the other way round and tend to not take any money - you know the situation when people fight over who gets to pay the bill in a restaurant).

But with my children, I have adopted this solution to the "lending" problem (before it ever occured): my children know that I never lend any money. Instead, I only ever gift money. (I obviously reserve the right to not gift something if I don't feel like it.)

This solves the problem nicely. First, it removes the "dirty" aspect of lending. No keeping track of who gets how much. No nagging, no rising bills, etc.. No (emotional) blackmail etc.

Second, they enjoy a gift more than something that is only lent. It is truly theirs.

Thirdly, it is intuitively clear to me that asking for a gift is more "severe" than asking for a loan. They lose the (futile) argument of "... but I will surely return it tomorrow".

Fourthly, by not lending anything, ever, even once, and being very upfront about it (for example: child says "can you lend me €10?" - you would respond "naah, I don't lend money, but take these €10 as a gift"), you really ingrain that aspect about your personality in your surroundings.

Fifthly, at least subjectively, it feels pretty easy for me to say "no, I don't want to" for requests where I actually don't want to. I believe it would be harder for me if it were a loan.

For your actual situation, I would suggest to just do it similarly. Tell them that you feel bad holding those loans over them, that you hate to have "power" (in the form of open loans) because you love them dearly. Tell them that all open loans are forgiven and gifted - that it's a blank slate. Then tell them that you decided for yourself that lending money makes you sick and you will in future only gift money to them.

Afterwards, obviously, comes the hard part of saying No... but I would assume, not knowing your relatives, that something should change. If you actually do want to give them money in the future, do it from your own heart - invite them to dinner or to some amusement park and tell them to leave their purses at home, whatever. But it is your decision and your initiative. Now, when they ask you for $100 or $1000 or whatever large amount, you can truthfully say "I am sorry, but I cannot afford to give up that money right now" and they can not refute that argument with "yes, I know, and I will give it back tomorrow" (which you know they won't).

Note on educating them

Don't. The point and the spirit of this technique is to make it only about yourself (while removing the dirty aspects of lending). Your actions will educate them (or not), but the results you get will not depend on whether they "get it".


You have two choices other than paying.

Choice one is: Just say "no". You are not paying because you don't want to. In that case, you may give reasons why you don't want to pay, but not excuses. You can say "you want to buy a car that is better than mine, so I don't want to pay for it". You can say "I save my money, so can you, I'm not going to pay". You don't say anything that can be contradicted. If they say "you don't need that money", no discussing it, just "I'm not paying".

Choice two is: You lie. You just lost your job, you need all your money. Your girlfriend is ill and needs an expensive operation. Which costs more than you have, so could they lend you some money? Just say it with a straight face. Of course they will find out eventually, and possibly never believe you. Doesn't matter. When they come back months later "you didn't really lose your job", you can say "and you managed without that money". And at last you can say "if you don't want me to lie, then stop asking me for money".

To clarify: People would be supposed to know that you are lying. You are not hiding it. "Please lend me money". "Here's my outrageous lie why I can't". "You are lying". "You call me a liar, no money for you". See how they can't tell you they know you are lying? It's not nice. Taking your money isn't nice either. It would be entirely different if you owed money. But you don't. They try to manipulate you to get your money.


It is difficult to say "no more" if they keep playing on your empathy and you can't help it. They are not necessarily bad people or knowingly abusing you, they just can't plan properly and know they can rely on you to help out.

A passive way to get around this would be to actually have no money to give. Take your savings and put them into a term deposit account where the money is locked up for a certain period. Alternatively, put it into a high-interest savings account with penalties for withdrawal (typically a rate reduction). Finally, there are some special accounts (at least in my country) specifically for saving for a house, where you must make regular deposits and it is also more difficult to withdraw. Then the financial penalty for actually withdrawing the money to give to them will give you the additional incentive not to. You can honestly tell them you are saving for a house, and it is impossible to give them money.

One last thing, if you decide to just tell them no, maybe consider waiving the previous loans at the same time. I think it would be hard for them to get upset at "no" when you have been so generous at the same time.


I'd recommend you to tell your family something like: "you have some problems managing your money that i don't have, so let me help you with that. Let's sit together and go across your expenses list". Try to do it in a polite way not even close to words that i've written(my English is not that good to choose the appropriate polite expressions, sorry). So you will be able to see talk with them about a lot of amusement and even luxurious they regularly do, but you can't afford yourself due to your house saving. On the other hand, you may see their needs from another point of view so you may want to gift them some money instead of loaning, but that is totally up to you.


For the longer term, try to invest in something not too liquid (optimally the house you want but you may not be there yet) and have a negative cash balance and some debt. Make sure they know about it. When they come asking for money, tell them sympathetically that you need to take the money from your credit card and say how much the interest is. In my experience they start to reconsider without much angriness, as they do not see a heap of money just lying around. For people who can not handle money, this makes a difference.

If they insist, tell them this is too much burden on you so you will not give them.


Due to a bad financial situation in our country, anyone could find himself in your situation simply by talking about his financial success (wage, salary, prize money, lottery...).

Some people handle it this way, by being discreet and by complaining constantly, hiding the successes, and emphasizing their failures and hardships.

It actually works well because we are very family-oriented, so we worry about upsetting our friends and family, but many people are opportunists so this is our solution.

The thing to actually note here is to make them understand that you work hard for your money and you have your own problems by sharing not only your success stories but also the different hardships you went through.

  • You are ignoring cultural settings, and this kind of behaviour may be frowned upon on many cultures. I know my sis and my father pay me back, in other settings I just say no. Aug 28, 2017 at 23:20
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    @RuiFRibeiro this may be the case for you, but many others may not have better options
    – mohas
    Sep 9, 2017 at 18:44
  • I believe you misunderstood the purpose of the site. The OP didn't ask for cultural aspects of such behavior, he wants to know how to stop giving money to his family while doing as little damage to their relationships as possible. Sep 29, 2017 at 10:50
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    @mohas your answer is valid: you are providing an example of a solution that works. sometimes downvoting get a little bit crazy, when people see "-1" they need to reinforce the message (staying into the dominant group can sometimes be stronger than voting agains what you perceive as being the majority. Those are ancestral fears, but we're still under influence of them). Cheer up ;)
    – Gryzorz
    Feb 12, 2018 at 12:32
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    Hey, thanks for the answer! Can you please explain exactly why you think that this is a good idea? Why do you say to take this course of action? What’s the thought process behind this answer? As this currently stands, this is essentially a “Try this!” answer. We require that answers provide some sort of explanation for why they are suggesting this solution, and unfortunately, at the moment this answer doesn't appear to do that.
    – Mithical
    Jul 29, 2018 at 6:56

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