Money and Family Don’t Mix

by Kristina Tahnyak on January 5, 2011 · 4 comments

Two of the major aspects in a DINKS life are our money and our family.  Today we are going to discuss how the two aspects play different roles in our lives, and what happens when the two roles overlap.  There is sort of an unwritten rule about not mixing money and family. However, my family does not live by this rule…Although we should.  Throughout the years money has been the cause of many arguments in my family.  It breaks up relationships, and money can tear a family apart.

This rule about not mixing family and money does not apply to parents who offer money to their children. The mixing of money and family strictly applies to adult family members who lend money to, and borrow money from other adult family members.

I feel that people turn to their family members to borrow money because we are more comfortable discussing our personal finances with our family members.  Another reason that people may ask to borrow money from their family is because we may feel obligated to help out other family members during their time of need.

Mixing money and family is not recommended for the exact same reasons as why people feel the need to ask.  People may take advantage of their family members when asking to borrow money. The borrowing family member knows that their family will be more than willing to help them out.  Therefore, they may borrow money without the intention of ever repaying the loan because it is family.  This is exactly what happened to me with my cousin.

Two years ago I lent $250 to my cousin with his promise of repaying the full amount within 4 months.  However, now, 2 years later I don’t even have half of the money back.  It has completely ruined my relationship with my cousin.  I can’t believe that someone would lie to, and steal from their own family. It’s not about the $250, it’s about the betrayal.  I would have been happy to give him the money if he couldn’t afford to pay me back. However, he asked me to lend it to him, with the intent that he would pay me back in full.

I wasn’t going to lend the money to my cousin because I know that he is financially irresponsible, but after all he is family.  This has been an eye opener for me, but it hasn’t changed my views about money and family, it only changed my judgement.  I would still definitely lend money to a family member, but I would be more cautious about which family members I choose to lend money.

When my Grandfather passed away in 1999, my sister and I witnessed how money can tear a family apart.  My Dad was the executor of my Grandfathers estate, and he was obligated to obey my Grandfathers last wishes.  My Grandfather asked for his financial legacy to be divided equally between 2 of his 6 children.  As you can imagine, this caused a relationship breakdown between my father and the other 4 siblings, even though he was only acting upon my Grandfathers last wishes.

As my sister and I witnessed the stress and pain this caused my Dad, we made a pact in 1999 that we will never fight about money.  My parents are divorced, and even if their assets are not divided equally, we will respect our parent’s last wishes.  To this day, I am proud to say, that my sister and I never have fought about money.

Photo by Travis Isaacs

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Janet January 10, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Great post, Kristina. I grew up with my dad working for our family’s company. Ugh, when business goes south, so do the family relationships, sometimes never to be repaired. Lesson learned … keep a level head and family & money separate.

2 Kristina January 11, 2011 at 1:44 am

Thanks Janet. Unfortunately we learn the hard way sometimes :-)

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