General Question

kdbabym's avatar

Do I lend/give money to a close family member?

Asked by kdbabym (110points) March 10th, 2014

My brother-in-law has been out of work for 5 months and asked me for nearly $10K today. The money will help pay medical, auto and basic needs for his family of 5. He is “80%” sure that he will be employed within 30 days with a very reputable accounting firm but, historically speaking, he hasn’t been able to secure or retain such a position since his bout with addiction 7 years ago (and has remained sober ever since.)
I am torn because I “lent” the family $20K 6 years ago and they remain underwater to this day. He is a former executive but has a history of some poor decision making despite his brilliance.
I am a single mom who, in another lifetime, earned some $ but am pretty worried about my own future now that I am earning much less and am feeling as though a “loan” will further enable the situation. However, I feel terrible with this kind of tough love approach and love my family deeply. This won’t be a loan if history repeats itself.
PS: My sister is unaware of this request…their marriage is struggling at this point due to this never ending situation.
Any advice?
Where is that fine line between helping and enabling??
Thank you.

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21 Answers

Coloma's avatar

80% sure is still not a sure thing. I once lent a friend 10k for 90 days and she offered to pay me back $900 in interest. I took the gamble and she came through. She and her husband were waiting on his annual bonus from a high paying job and I was pretty certain that bonus was a sure thing based on his years with the company.
Really, the best advice is if you can’t afford to lost it, don’t lend it, and only give what you can afford to lose.

Tough call, but, family, friends, or otherwise, the borrowing party should expect to pay at least some, modest amount of interest, at least the going rate they would pay the bank.

talljasperman's avatar

Let the kids move in with you and you can pay their way, and you can get to know them better… You don’t have to fix everything just what you can handle.

kdbabym's avatar

I would do that in a minute but they live 350 miles away and the kids are in high school so it isn’t that simple.
BTW, they have been married for 27 years and are pretty entrenched in their location, as am I.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
kdbabym's avatar

What is a money mentor? A financial advisor? Accountant?

cookieman's avatar

I have a simple rule about lending family or friends money: I only do so if I can afford not to get it back. Meaning, I treat it as a gift.

XOIIO's avatar

… Lol, I’d never “lend” someone 10k, especially just an in law relative.

johnpowell's avatar

10K is a big ask. If it takes that much to keep things going then they have some serious problems your money won’t fix. They need to look into selling shit and finding an apartment. Like others have said, never loan money unless you are willing to break knees to get it back.

edit :: I mean consider it a gift when it goes to family.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

The damage from not lending the money is generally less than lending the money and never getting it back. If you don’t think you’ll get it back then gift it if you can afford it and they really deserve it.

kdbabym's avatar

He isn’t “just an inlaw” relative. He has been married for 27 years to my sister and I have known him longer than she. He was a CPA, holds an MBA and has made huge money over the years. However, I think the addiction changed his cognitive wiring and, although I still view him as bright and unconditionally loving, his job prospects have narrowed considerably.
They are selling things and living far more practically. They will lose their home soon and I know that this loan won’t solve the issue, which is why I am inclined to say “no”, just feeling sad about where they are versus where they had been not all that long ago. I CAN afford it but what happens next month? Or the month after that? Do I follow my gut, which says no, or my heart, that desperately wants to help? I just don’t know that my heart will feel as desperate in a few years when I am scrambling to pay college costs for my kids…
Thank you all!

janbb's avatar

That’s a toughie. I guess your own immediate family has to come first. I would probably give /loan? a smaller amount of money or find another way to help; supermarket gift certificates for $1,000?

Cruiser's avatar

I give an emphatic no!!! You already lent him 20K and this man needs to take matters into his own hands and get out and work at anything. Lending him money will IMO only enable him to manipulate you and the others that he is manipulating to keep this charade on going.

I would also contact your sister and let her know of his request.

Coloma's avatar

I must have missed the already lent 20k. Hmmm….

talljasperman's avatar

@kdbabym If his kids are in high school they could get jobs and pay some of their keep. I guess if he is broke then he will need someone to pay his kids college expenses and he will be looking your way, again. I would put a lean on his house, if he has a house, in exchange for any more money. ~sarcasm In fact I would put a leans all around. ~sarcasm

kdbabym's avatar

Thanks, Cruiser. I wonder if my sister would freak out if she knew that he contacted me with this request. BTW, I lent the $20K to my sister, not him. It helped put her asperger’s kid through school and he is doing really well as a functioning adult now. All of them have skyhigh IQ’s but none seem able to function at full capacity. I don’t get it.
This guy isn’t manipulating anyone. He is working hard to fix the situation as best as he can. However, I do think that the two of them really need to come to terms with just how bad things are and leave me out of it, especially now that my own situation has changed.

ibstubro's avatar

“I “lent” the family $20K 6 years ago and they remain underwater to this day”

So my rule of thumb is, ‘If you have it to give them, then do it.’ If not, then don’t. Consider it a gift, not a loan. Once upon a time I did the $10,000 loan to a near stranger (a family member hit me up), and although I could live comfortably without it, I was tense until it was returned.

JLeslie's avatar

If you already lent them thousands and they never paid it back then I say no don’t lend them money now. Was he making decent money after you lent the $20k and they never made it a priority to pay you back? Have they really changed? Does your sister work? Why doesn’t she know they are running out of money? Or, does she?

I loaned several thousand to my BIL once. We actually wrote up an IOU with a minimum payment each month to pay us back. He has been shit when it comes to money in the past. If he had never paid us back I never would have taken him to court or anything like that, that isn’t why I out it in writing. But, I know I never ever never would have loaned him money again. He has made loads of money and chosen to spend it like water. He did pay it back, but mostly I think because I know his boyfriend is reliable. In fact, if my BIL was not in that particular long term relationship I might not have been willing to go along with loaning the money.

After saying all this, if you really think he can turn it around and want to give the money, I think you need to openly discuss with him what the plan is. Having a job in 30 days is not a plan in my opinion if he doesn’t have the job offer in hand. He needs a plan to downsize, reduce his bills, maybe take a job anywhere to get some income and remind him about the $20k and that it makes you reluctant to loan any money. I think your sister has to be part of the discussion.

rojo's avatar

I would not recommend it, particularly if your own sister is unaware of the loan. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Take @cookieman’ s advice to heart if you decide to do it anyway.

susanc's avatar

The fact that this is being requested behind your sister’s back means he’s still in his addiction mode: magical thinking, fantasy, helplessness based on feeling rather than facts. Don’t buy into that.
He has to talk to his wife. Give him 24 hours to do it and let him know you’ll check back with him. If he doesn’t do it, get the family together, including their kids, who are competent kids, and figure out as a group what has to be done. He might need to go to treatment. If he does, the whole family would learn a thing or two. This would include even you.
The secrecy thing is bad news. In hard times, people need the support of people who will stick with them even if they’re fucking up. He may not be. But I like what @Cruiser said about how he needs to get out and work at anything. Lots of people are struggling because our economy is crippled. People with strong support are finding ways to survive. This family can too.

Buttonstc's avatar

What @susanc wrote is what I was thinking.

In technical fact, he might not be using and therefore considers himself “sober”. But he still has the thought patterns and behavior characteristic of addicts. Addict thinking can still prevail even if the person is not using anything. Abstinence does not automatically equal sobriety. Its just the first step.

If he can’t be honest with his own wife that’s the tipoff. Sobriety is about honesty with self and others.

You should follow your gut not your heart in this case. He didn’t repay the previous 20K so what on earth makes you think this will be different? It won’t.

He needs to learn to get his thinking straight and stand on his own two feet. That’s sobriety. Its a way of life and he needs to learn how
to live life on realistic terms.

Is he going to support meetings regularly? If not, he should be. Even if he is no longer actively using, those meetings are as much about learning a new way to live as they are about preventing relapse.

AbsyntheMinded's avatar

I wouldn’t do it unless you consider it a gift and can keep your cool when it’s spent on something other than what you intended it for. If you really want to help and have the money go where YOU want it to go, pay an electric bill or a car insurance payment. It would still be a gift but at least you’d know it was spent in a responsible manner….

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