It’s great to help another person out. Perhaps you are financially assisting a parent, child, or other family member, or you are helping out a friend. If you can afford to help someone who really needs it, then doing so can help get the other person out of an emergency situation, or get back on their feet. However, as important as it is to show your support and help when you can, there are also times when you shouldn’t help.
If someone is taking advantage of you then it might be time to cut them off. If you are enabling someone to live in a dangerous or unproductive manner, you also may need to start saying no. It can be difficult to say no to someone who matters to you, but giving too much financial help can harm your relationship and your own finances.
Here are four signs it’s time to cut someone off.
1. The crisis is over
It’s one thing to help a friend who is facing a financial crisis, but it’s something else to keep helping them after the crisis has passed. If your brother needs an emergency surgery, but his insurance won’t cover all of it, and he doesn’t have the extra funds to pay for it, then you will be doing a noble thing by lending or giving him the money. However, if he keeps asking you for money after all the medical bills are handled, then you are giving too much money. Whether people become dependent on a friend or family member for selfish reasons, or they simply get into a habit, this is a case where you need to start saying no.
2. You are enabling someone
If you lent your girlfriend money for a few months because she lost her job and couldn’t afford her rent, then good for you. If however, she’s been staying home every day watching soap operas and refusing to apply to any new jobs, then you are probably enabling her. While helping someone is great, if you are encouraging or allowing them to get by without living their normal life or taking responsibility, then something needs to change.
According to Askmen, you shouldn’t have to give handouts to have friends or to stay close to a family member. It can be difficult to say no to a girlfriend or family member if you feel a sense of duty, but if you keep saying yes then you risk your family or friend coming to you repeatedly, possibly for the rest of your life. This can also be a problem if your children are grown up but still depending on you, in which case you need to set some boundaries.
3. You feel resentful
It wouldn’t really matter if you were continually giving a friend money if you had lots of it to spare. If it made you feel happy to give your money away, and you didn’t feel taken advantage of, then there would be little reason to stop. However, if you feel resentful toward a friend or family member because they keep asking for money, or they borrowed money and didn’t pay you back, then you need to speak up or cut them off. Lending money to someone who can’t, or chooses not to pay you back, can lead to resentment. This resentment can destroy your relationship if you can’t work through it.
According to U.S. News & World Report, it’s best to determine how important it is for the other person to repay you before you loan money (and get the terms documented if it is important), but if you’re already past that point, you need to decide if the money or the relationship is more important to you.
4. Your finances are suffering
You should only loan people money if you can afford it. Determining whether or not you can afford it can be a bit tricky (for example, you might be able to help but it also might make your budget very tight). However, if you agreed to loan or give money, but your circumstances have changed since you made that agreement, you need to have a talk with the person you are helping out. They may still truly need help, but chances are, there is someone else they can ask, or something else they can do to get that money.
If you foresee a future problem (such as you are about to retire and will need to cut expenses), but you have some time, you can try to cut the person off slowly. Consider advising them to talk to a financial planner, or to start a budget. If you are willing to work with them, the blow to their finances (and potentially, your relationship) might not be as devastating.
In the end, it’s your money, and you need to be the one who decides if, and when, you are going to share it. If you are enabling someone to be lazy, your relationships are suffering, or you simply don’t have the money to help, it’s time to cut the person off.