Financial boundaries are the restrictions you put in place that dictate your financial guidelines with family. They may include how much you’re willing to give to, spend on, and borrow from family members.
Clear financial boundaries help to ensure you’re managing money and sharing it with loved ones responsibly. In addition, defining clear boundaries and sticking with them can help fend off resentment, judgment, and worry.
Here are four ways to set clear financial boundaries with family.
1. Determine how much, if any, financial support you’ll provide
Financial support for the family can come in many forms, including giving cash, setting up investment accounts, or helping someone with a down payment on a home. It’s important to decide how much you’re comfortable giving to others both while you’re here and after you’re gone.
If you don’t already have a will in place, set one up that outlines what, if any, assets you’ll designate to specific family members. Be sure to include all assets like real estate and savings accounts. Additionally, remember to update the beneficiaries on any life insurance policies or annuities. This is especially important for any policy that has a guaranteed death benefit, such as whole life insurance.
Sometimes, outlining who you want to leave things to in your will can clarify how much you should be supporting those people while you’re still here.
2. Never loan money you expect to get back
As a general rule, it’s wise to only loan money that you’re willing to part with forever. Holding an expectation of getting paid back can cause resentment if your family member becomes unable to repay you for a loan.
3. Lay down a hard line on family members living with you
If you’re going to let family members live with you if they come on hard times, you’ll need to set boundaries for it. That includes specifying things like how long you’re comfortable with a family member staying, how much they’ll need to pay toward your household bills, what rent they’ll pay, and if you’ll allow them to stay if they’re not working.
4. Set a specific amount for spending on gifts
Especially if you have a large family, gift-giving can turn into an extravagant expense. That’s why it’s important to set boundaries on who you plan to give gifts to and how much. For example, with younger family members, you may set an age at which they’ll no longer receive gifts or cap their gifts at a certain amount.
This can be a tough boundary to stick to, especially if you’re a generous person. But it’s important to stick with gift limits to the best of your ability so family members know what to expect.
The bottom line
Setting financial boundaries can be challenging, especially if you grew up in a household with blurred lines. Sometimes the best course of action is to create a list of financial situations that have made you feel angry, resentful, or envious. Then, set a boundary to avoid feeling that way in the future. Ultimately, you are the keeper of your wealth, so even though your family may be your closest confidants, that doesn’t mean you need to co-mingle love and money.
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