Need Advice: How much to aid $ relatives?

I have relatives who are a small family and by their own description, drowning in debt.


Wifey is planning to take a 10-day trip to Europe and 2;5 weeks in China this summer. It turns out the Europe trip depends entirely on my handing over $5K for those expenses and others. Did I mention? she has a bad back and needs surgery,

Hubby is taking a trip to Florida, paid for by his brother.

Wifey has told me it was “me, or banruptcy.”

This $5K is also covering their electric bill, gas bill, vet bill, and a new lawn mower because genius hubby didn’t top off the oil in the old lawn mower. The money is also to cover the last three months of Catholic school tuition for Sonny.

With this $5 K, I’ve given them over $50 K in the last several years, and I’m retired and living mostly on SS. I have serious chronic illnesses. Wifey’s father and mother, and Hubby’s father and mother, won’t give them big chunkcs of money.

The question is, HOW do I tell them “no more?”

Here’s how: you say to them “no more.”

That’s all. They’ll scream; rant; etc.

But that’s their problem, not yours.


You are under no obligation to fund vacations for relatives. It is a generous gift for one able to afford generous gifts but it sounds as though it is a stretch for you. Helping to pay necessities such as a power bill is great, but if I were in this position I would make a payment directly to the utility company.

I would say no to handing over the cash.

You sound like a very generous person but it also sounds like they are taking advantage of you. It may be hard but you have to say “enough is enough”.

You DO what you ARE able to do, nothing MORE, and certainly no-Less.

I have a similar situation both as far as the obligation and the issue:o

You need NOT put yourself at risk in your charity.

God BLESS you and thanks!


It sounds like your family is taking advantage of your generosity. Sounds like enough is enough. I know it is hard to say no, but it sounds like that is what needs to happen. I’m sure your relatives will be unhappy and will act that out, and it will not be pretty. If they truly care about you, they will get over it.

So what do you suppose they will do to you if you just say “no”?

It’s your move. I assume they’re not holding you at knifepoint.

Somewhat similar situation in the family.

But our give to family was a much smaller scale and made clear it was for medications and specific expenses needed.

Wife asked me if she could send more recently.

I told her we need to be careful not to become the faucet for their water.

If the person who is drowning in debt is planning the trips (not sure if I read that right), then they have bigger issues than getting some $.

I agree. Alternatively, you could write out cheques payable to the utility company, the son’s school etc, and send them to the relatives so they can post it off to wherever, but not use the money for anything else. If you feel inclined to supply a lawnmower, order a cheap one online to be delivered to their house.

Read “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend for an excellent explanation of why it is ultimately unloving and unChristian to enable people’s irresponsibility, when probably God wants them to experience the consequences of their actions (ie to reap what they have sown) so that they will seek him, seek growth, and have a chance to become more responsible, holier, and eventually happier people.

Just say no straight out. You have no obligation to fund anyone’s vacation, whether they are in debt or not.

Just say, “No.” It’s a simple word and conveys everything you need to communicate. No further explanation required.

You need to say no, for their own good.

Your generosity has enabled them to avoid the consequences for their decisions and to avoid coming up with and sticking to a realistic budget. You have become their relief valve, another source of income they’ve become dependent on.

‘No. I can no longer afford to support your spending habits.’

If they have to declare bankruptcy, they’re adults and that’s the whole they’ve dug themselves. It won’t kill them but it may get them to fix their spending/budget issues. The bankruptcy isn’t a consequence of you failing to give them money, its a consequence of them living beyond their means. Do not let them guilt you. A statement its you or bankruptcy is a pretty cavalier attitude towards the situation they’ve placed themselves in. (BTW— push mowers are cheaper than power mowers). You’ve already given them far too much money, which I’m assuming you knew you would never be paid back. But folks into someone for $50k shouldn’t be planning trips to Europe, IMHO.

Say “No. I’m not in a position to lend, much less give money away.”

Their day of reckoning is at hand, not your responsibility to postpone it.

If you are to provide money, you should know exactly where every penny is going.

Offer on the condition that all expenses will be looked at and a budget to get them out of debt established and kept.

And no. Do not finance a vacation.


i feel for you.

just a guess, but has anyone thanked you for your kindness?

and if i think that i must be getting too cynical in my old age- i truly thought that at the end of your story, you were going to write that this was and allegorical story about responsibility, higher and higher taxes, no accountability, etc. in the USA.

one thing i can tell you though- don’t be guilted into thinking you have to help these particular folks because of your personal financial success.

My mother used to help out her sister and family. After some years of the same type of situation you’re describing, my mom told them if they wanted any more money, they had to see a financial counselor, set up a realistic budget, make a plan for paying off their debt, and set milestones where their progress would be checked up on and they’d be held accountable.

They actually agreed to this. They’re never going to be financially responsible people, but they got their lives in order for a while and got back on their own feet where my mom didn’t have to help any more.

My sister and her husband choose not to work more than very part time, live off the government and family charity. I won’t give them money, but I do pay for things for their kids, including some tuition. I don’t know why they should have to suffer because they have irresponsible parents. All 3 kids are showing signs of common sense. All work (babysitting, fast food job, neighborhood petsitting, according to their age and ability) and the two in college (expensive private school, of course) are at least in practical majors which should lead to good careers for them.

Maybe you could make further financial aid contingent upon their graduation from a Dave Ramsey course, or something like that.

The OP had stated that they have funded over 50k to these family members already and that the “wifey” has said its the OP’s money or bankruptcy.

I hate to say it but if their debt is what they claim then bankruptcy is probably the only option for this family everything else is a bandaid.

The OP has also stated they are living on SS so that is no position to give anymore and quite frankly are putting their own long term care into jeopardy.

Honestly you can’t give them another dime and you need to come to peace with that or it will cause stress and health issues. There is no doubt you have fulfilled your obligation to charity and not only given them your coat, shoes but the entire closet.

Be in peace that you did what was necessary.

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