Should I Lend Money to Family and Friends?

In between the everyday challenges of working and living abroad and sticking to a budget to make sure that you money saved to send back home to your family, there are still other responsibilities which OFWs are left with, especially when it comes to financial matters.

Read: 5 Habits Every OFW Needs to Avoid

Perhaps, one of the most problematic misconceptions about OFWs is that all OFWs are rich. But for most of us working individuals, we know that the greater the amount of money we have, the bills also just keep getting bigger. And more importantly, we understand that money is an extremely finite resource so, as OFWs, it’s important that we are smart in terms of handling our money. But in our culture, where people have serious misconceptions about OFWs, we are oftentimes pressured to extend help to friends and distant relatives.

So, to tackle this very practical issue, let’s break down the topic and look at some useful guidelines below:

The smart way to answer the question is, “It depends.” There are obviously many considerations to be had before arriving with a concrete yes or no, but more than the answer, the burden of turning down a friend or relative in need is much more difficult to handle for most of us. Nevertheless, lending money to other people whenever they need it is never a good habit to develop, because it promotes dependence. So to find balance in this tricky situation, here are some guidelines you can follow when you (often) find yourself facing this kind of issue:

·         First, lend your ear and find out more about what the real problem is.

Even when your stinginess immediately takes over, it’s important to listen to your friend or relative’s issue first. This way, you can show your true concern and perhaps share helpful insights about their situation which could probably help them avoid and overcome such problems in the future.

·         Let them know that you’ll get back to them after you’ve checked your budget.

These people know that you also have your own family to feed as well, and so, telling them in a nice manner that you will have to see if you can shell out the money they need to borrow based on your expenses or allotted budget from your savings for the month is important for them to hear, too. This way, you are not promising them anything right away and can think about whether or not you can lend them the money they need.

·         Decide whether or not you will lend them money.

After you have factored in all the things to be considered, it’s also important to not keep your friend or relative left hanging for your answer – a day or two would be okay, but as soon as you have made up your mind that you couldn’t lend them the money, it’s better to let them know immediately so they can do something about it.

If you do decide to lend them the amount they need, you need to know that they will put it to good use or only for the reason why they borrowed it from you in the first place. Furthermore, you must set the terms and schedule for the payment so that they can work within this agreement to pay you back on time and in full. Otherwise, be ready just in case something comes up and they fail to pay you back (at all) as agreed.

However, if you do decide NOT to lend them money, expect to receive criticisms and negative reactions from these people. After all, everyone deals with rejection and disappointment differently.  And while this is certainly unacceptable from any angle, it’s better if you’re prepared to deal with this kind of situations beforehand.

Bottom line is, you can’t give what you don’t have. And as financial matters are extremely based on mutual trust and clear arrangements, it’s important that you always prioritize your interests first, and then shell out what is within your tolerable budget expenditures. Don’t feel bad if you unintentionally turn others down, when your intent is clearly anything but that. After all, true friends and family will always understand and stick around despite some circumstantial setbacks which happen in life, even to the best of us.