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October 22, 2021

Is it smart to lend your parents money?

Although you hear lots of stories about parents supporting their grown offspring, sometimes positions are reversed and it's the kids that have to carry the load. 

We're not talking here about parents who fallen on hard times because of disability or ill health.

No, this is more about dealing with those who've simply made a mess of their financial lives, leaving their grown children to pick up the tab for their irresponsibility -- whether through addiction, divorce, or simply poor money skills. 

What do you do when your parents ask for money? Just say no, advises money guide Dave Ramsey, otherwise you could end up subsidizing them forever. 


Not that it's going to be easy though. First, forget about injecting your opinions about your parents into their lives. They probably don't want to know.

And while you should acknowledge how hard it might have been for your parents to ask, you should never make a loan you can't afford.

Instead, try something like, “I just can’t do that right now. I’ve got some other goals and some other things I’m trying to hit," Ramsey suggests.

Try not to be patronizing. Don’t talk about how dumb they are but about how dumb you used to be and how you’re not anymore, he adds.

If it's behaviour and not simply poor luck, another way to influence Mom or Dad is to find someone who has credibility with them to explain the need to change. An uncle, coworker, or spiritual advisor that they trust will have much better luck with a wake-up call than you will.

Whatever you do, don’t let your folks game you, Ramsay says. It’s not good for them, and it’s not good for you. If you could completely support them — and you can’t — it wouldn’t be good for them anyway. They need to learn to take care of themselves.

It all sounds a bit harsh to me but then I've never been put in the middle this way, although others certainly have been

Have you ever turned down your parents this way? Would you?How have things worked out?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...