Stop handing out cash

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“Stop handing out money to your adult children. That doesn’t help,” writes Michelle Singletary, financial editor for The Washington Post.

Should you lend money to family or friends?

Probably not.

Is this the end of the story?

Probably not.

If one of your adult children comes to ask you to borrow money, what do you say? It depends. Does this “kid” and his family eat out most of the time, drive big cars, have the latest video game, and stream all available services? Are the kids wearing expensive sneakers?

What if your daughter has breast cancer and the insurance doesn’t cover all the bills? What if one of your grandchildren has a debilitating chronic illness that keeps them hospitalized?

What if a friend with a gambling problem needs help covering debts he doesn’t want his spouse to know about?

It is complicated.

First, if you accept the need, can you afford to give the money to the potential borrower instead of lending it? Then, do you have to specify that the well is now dry, that you can no longer provide financial assistance?

Some planners argue that whether you give money or lend money to family or friends, it’s the same thing, which means you probably won’t get your money back.

If a borrower doesn’t pay you back, will that break the relationship for you? It could be interesting to have guests at your Thanksgiving table who owe you $10,000 – possibly embarrassing for them and for you, especially if those guests are defaulting.

When there are continuous demands for money, it’s pretty clear that there are bothersome underlying issues. The person likely needs help with budgeting and sessions with a nonprofit counseling agency — and maybe an upgraded job.

Writing for “nextavenue,” certified financial planner Lazetta Rainey Braxton says “fear, obligation, and guilt trigger heartstrings and cloud judgment” when it comes to lending money. People tiptoe to find out what’s going on. She suggests asking yourself and the potential borrower some of the following questions.

For you:

“Are you ready to lose money?

Are you ready to let the money jeopardize your relationship with the borrower?

For the borrower:

Why do you need money?

What is your plan to repay the money?

If your credit score is 700 or less, what affected it?

Why do you think I have money to lend? »

If someone asks to borrow money, can you ask to see their budget? Of course you can. It’s hardly more invasive than his request for money.

The medical debt in our country may be the result of what many planners see as a woefully failing health care system. Medical debt can be such a slippery slope to medical bankruptcy for a family that many may need the professional help of a low-cost consumer counseling service.

Singletary says that if you decide to lend money, “make it legit. Get all the terms of the loan in writing, like when you expect to be repaid and the consequences if you aren’t.

You need to talk to an accountant about interest, including low interest and no interest loans. If you are lending a large sum, you probably need a lawyer.

As difficult as asking adult children to borrow money, the question can sometimes be reversed: what do adult children do if their parents want to borrow money? That’s a whole other discussion because something is seriously wrong. Budget work and credit counseling become essential.

As parents go through retirement, they surely want to be able to take care of themselves. Shakespeare may have been right all along: “Neither a borrower nor a lender often loses both himself and a friend.”

Martha Moore Hobson was one of the region’s first Certified Financial Planners. She wrote a monthly column for “Senior Living” from its inception until it ended last month, maybe 25 years ago. Although retired, she is a community volunteer.