Don’t Allow Family to Keep You Broke

You Must Protect Yourself Financially From Well-Meaning Loved Ones

Growing up in my house it was feast or famine. My mother would get paid on Friday and be broke on Monday. Every paycheck saw her with new clothes and new shoes for church. I was an only child and since I’m being honest, she was also very generous with me.

When my mother got paid we would eat out as often as we wanted until the money ran out. I would know that the well was running dry when it was time to share a take-out dinner instead of me ordering my own.

My mother’s money management style hasn’t changed since I was kid. The only difference is back then when the money ran out, she went hat-in-hand to my relatives to bail her out until payday. Today she comes to me with the hat.

I remember what I called walking the green mile with my mom. That was the walk that my mother and I took to my aunt’s house to borrow money, to get through the week. I remember not only being small, but feeling small each time we had to do it. I learned quickly that the nasty comments that went along with the money she borrowed weren’t ever going to be something I could ever accept. I knew when I became an adult, this would not be part of my life’s experience.

I knew I would handle my money differently. It didn’t happen all at once, but after college when I started working and taking care of myself I learned and develop habits that would never have me borrowing from anyone.

I even told my mother to stop borrowing from other people and to only borrow from me.

(I know, I know, I didn’t know any better).

Things quickly got out of hand. I found myself being saddled with unplanned expenses left and right. I was her new crutch. Frustrated with her spendthrift ways, I did everything that I knew to try and help her manage her money and her bills.

Growing more and more frustrated with her, I found myself not wanting to speak to her. Her poor money habits were delaying my financial progress and putting a wedge in our relationship/friendship.

I prayed about it and I decided that my mother was to be cherished and she would probably never change. I knew that the source of my anger stemmed from her financial ambushes either delaying or preventing me from meeting my financial goals. I was equally to blame. The truth is I will always give her whatever is at my disposal. And there lay my solution!

I had to get rid of my excess money. After I pay all my bills I usually have a nice amount leftover. Also, because I have multiple streams of income hitting my account throughout the month the money would accumulate quickly. It was my practice to keep a cushion in my checking account and then distribute the excess into various accounts (retirement, stocks and bonds) at the end of the month. I would set tough benchmarks for myself and use whatever accumulated each month to reach those goals.

But this was happening less and less, thanks to Mom.

So, I decided that I needed to make that money disappear from my account quicker than she could. I went through each of my automatic investments and decided to make the monthly and bi-weekly investments all weekly. Today, I budget all my bills (this includes bills that I pay for mom) and whatever cash I send to her in between. When they are all paid out, I have on- average, less than $50 left.

My checking account buffer is now $50 instead of a $500. I feel no guilt when I tell her that I don’t have money to give her (I never loan my mother money). The funny thing is since I’ve set up a system to protect my finances she has stopped asking to borrow. She just assumes that things are “really, tight” for me.

Finally, in my efforts to protect my finances from her I find that I’m saving about 10 percent more than I used to. I now hover around a savings rate of 27 percent.

My advice is for you to figure out who or what you must protect your finances from and do it quickly.

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