Giving Poor Friend Money

My friend and his wife just had another baby. My friend is in graduate school, has student loans, and is commuting 2 hours one way to his job in another city. His car recently passed away and he had to buy a new (used) car to get to his job. He told me he has started working night shifts at a convenience store doing food prep/etc. Their new baby was born premature and is very expensive. In addition the wife can’t work and she has burdensome student loan payments (private loans that can’t be deferred).

Meanwhile, my wife and I live below our means. I work constantly and make relatively a lot of money. We have no children for unknown reasons. We have no debt. Basically, we’re in a position to give my friend a substantial amount of money. We want to give them enough money to at least get out of the situation where he is working 2 jobs and going to school full time while they can barely afford rent/basics.

How can we give them money without making the relationship awkward? I don’t want him to feel “indebted” to me. I don’t want them to think my wife and I are rich or even think about us at all. I cannot figure out a good way to give the money anonymously without causing my friend undue suspicion. I don’t live close enough to this friend to drop off cash in the mailbox. I also don’t want it to “get out” that I’m in the habit of giving away tons of money because I don’t have enough to give a significant amount of money to every person who needs it. I just feel that this friend is the most in need. I don’t want to embarrass this person or wound their ego/pride. I don’t want them to be on the receiving end of “pity.” I just want to get the cash to him in the least offensive, most effective way possible. Thoughts? Has anyone ever received financial help from a friend? How can this be done without ruining the relationship?

Do you know where they bank? If so, can you make an anonymous deposit? (all we need is our son’s name to deposit into his credit union account)

If not, mail a cashier’s check (or other secure, anonymous check) with a note to them. Type the note if you think they will recognize your handwriting.

God bless you for sharing. :thumbsup:

Can you go through a third party? Someone you can trust to keep your secret and deliver the money with dignity and compassion.

I think you are kind to want to help your friends, but I am not sure you should give them money. It will likely change your relationship, whether you both want it to or not. And they may not want your money or a handout from anyone.

Your friends are choosing a lifestyle where they are starting a family while in school and a precarious financial situation. And that’s fine. It sounds like financial security is important to you, and it is hard for you to fathom the stress of living in a precarious financial situation. And you don’t want to see your friends work so hard or suffer. But their situation may be worse for you than it is for them. I suspect it is, if they are choosing to grow their family now. Financial security is likely not their highest priority.

I think there are plenty of ways you could help them financially without handing them a check. What about dropping off groceries and meals for them for a while since they have a newborn?

I had close friends in similar circumstances. They would never have accepted a check from me, but I used to go to BJs or Costco and pick up basics and drop them off (they had a rapidly growing family) once a month or so. I would spend a lot of money on each birth and birthday with a mix of practical (diapers, clothing, etc) and fun (toys). One of their kids was my godchild, so I had that excuse to be generous. By always making it about how I enjoyed giving to the kids, I was able to give them several thousand dollars a year for a few years. And I saved them the time of shopping, etc.

I went through financial difficult a few years ago when I went back to school. My sister, who is very well off, insisted on helping me. I refused her many times, but she was so persistent and would not let it go. So I relented and accepted help. I still regret it. I am self-conscious about every penny I spend in front of her. And I feel like she still has her nose in my financial state, despite the fact that I am fine. 15 years ago, I lived as a poor graduate student, sleeping on the floor and having about $30 a week for food. It wasn’t easy, but I was just fine. I much preferred that experience to living off the charity of my sister.

Sorry for the long post. I guess I feel more strongly about this than I thought. Bottom line, money always changes relationships. And I doubt they would want money from a friend.

What a generous heart you have, God bless you!

Does your friend go to Mass regularly or belong to a parish? The priest or deacon there would be a good person to give the money to and would give the money anonymously to your friend.

If not, then perhaps get a prepaid VISA card and send the card to them through registered mail. You would have to have the registered mail not sent to your home address though, possibly the address of a good friend. Enclose a note saying “This is a gift please accept it with the promise that you will, in good faith, not ever try and discover who sent it to you. May God bless you.”

I will pray for your friends, and you too, what a wonderful friend you must be a joy to know, may God bless you abundantly.

God bless you for your compassion and generosity!

I think sending an anonymous cashier’s check or money order would be great, or how about an assortment of gift cards for groceries, gasoline, clothes, Amazon, etc.

Is there any way to pre-pay any of this couple’s bills? School, hospital, rent/mortgage?

Personally, I think receiving a gift of money anonymously would drive me NUTS with the wondering–so, is it really impossible for you to just take them out, or go visit them and explain how you admire the way they try so hard and you just want to ease their burden a little bit with a one-time gift?

Or, alternatively, give the baby a one-time gift of cash. They can’t feel bad about that.

I don’t think you can give that large of a cash gift without it being awkward (we’re talking four digits, right?), unless it’s the gift of particular needed things. Feel free to ask if there are any purchases they need help with. If the baby is in NICU, gift cards to eateries near the hospital might be helpful.

We know a lot of graduate families, and we give a cash gift of $300 every time one of the graduate families we know has a baby. Since your friends have just had a baby, it is certainly a socially acceptable time to be generous to them.

I think it’s possible to salvage a lot of your friend’s dignity by making the focus of the gift not on their various financial miseries, but on the fact that you want to welcome their new baby.

Best wishes!

It’s tough because you want to help your friend, but you don’t want to embarrass him, either. And believe me, people who are of meager means, yet come from a tradition of working don’t want handouts. You could help by possibly anonymously paying off medical bills or by paying his tuition. And if he is suspicious and asks you about it, just tell him - “That was mighty nice of the person that helped you.” If he asks whether you did it, just say that, even if you did pay it, you would expect nothing in return - and mean it.

I think paying down their hospital bill would be huge (I know I’d love it, myself). I also reckon you could do it without violating Hippa.

Plus, they would probably think it’s just an insurance adjustment.


Caroline73 brought up a valid point when she said that she felt very self conscious about spending money in front of her sister.

My question to you is, if you gave them the money anonymous and they turned around and took a vacation or bought something extravagant with it how would you feel. If you really want to help, I would pay on their rent, car payment, or utilities directly.

Your intentions are honorable, but really think about the outcomes. Especially since you don’t live near, you don’t know their whole story but only what they tell you.

Good Luck

Can you create a “job” for the wife to do at home and pay her for it? It can be simple. Ideally it would be something you don’t have time for, and something she is good at that will not be too time consuming.

This way, they get extra money consistantly, and have the dignity of working for it.

If they have a premature infant, that might just be a burden on them.

Oh, quick question–do you know these people in real life? If not, do not give anything.

That is very generous of you. I hope you are able to find a way to help.

God bless you for your generosity! I would try a different approach - I’d tell your friend that you’d like to give him a long-term, interest-free loan. Tell him he can pay you back in 20 years time if he has the money by then, or if he hasn’t, he can simply pay you when he feels able to.

I know it’s often hard to give or even loan money to friends - we lent my best friend £5,000 so that she wouldn’t have to take a bank loan and pay interest on it. She was very reluctant to take it and paid us back as soon as an insurance policy she had matured, about a year later. And that’s a woman I’ve known and been close to for 30 years! :slight_smile:

Give them a smaller amount first, anonymously. See what happens. Repeat as necessary.

Some of the ideas above sound great to me, pay on their bills, give a gift to their baby etc. After you are going to decide what to do. Another possible suggestion is that if you do give them money and are able to deposit it into their account instead of a one time shot, you do smaller amounts and do it regularly, because their needs are going to be ongoing for a long, long time, even with your help. This way also it won’t appear as such a “huge” thing because they will have no idea that you will continue. Also they will continue to get some “relief”.

I think you shouldnt expect that your friend will stop working at night because no matter how much you help they will still need more.

I disagree with the person that suggested they would not want help. Within my life whenever someone " helped" me when I needed it, I was more than glad, and we all need help sometimes. In my opinion its sad that in our culture we have to think so deeply about this, but alas!!! God bless you! I think you are wise to ask your question here and be able to get such an assortment of suggestions that one couldn’t have thought about only by themselves!

Very good!

I think the results of a large lump sum may be disappointing.

First of all, God bless you for your unselfish attitude and your stewardship of the blessings He has given you.

Are there any mutual friends that you could make it look like a group fundraiser was held?

Thank you all for your suggestions. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do but all of your opinions are useful. Yes I have known this person for many years. I think if they used the money to go on a vacation or buy something I view as nonessential/pointless I wouldn’t be angry. I have given money to struggling family members who used the money to buy a motorcycle :shrug:. I view that as silly but I don’t hold it against them and it didn’t affect our relationship at all. Sometimes people don’t have good money management skills, but this family I think has some unexpected expenses and burdensome debt.

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