Saying No to Family and Friends Who Want to Borrow Money

You get it. The economy is terrible, and life happens. An unexpected medical billor accident can absolutely demolish your savings and leave you scrambling to make ends meet. You see your friends and family struggling to get by, and you want to help. But there’s only so much you can do before you jeopardize your own financial security. And honestly, you might just not be in a position to help. What do you do?

There is nothing harder than having to say ‘no’ to friends and family – especially when they’re in financial trouble and are hoping that you can bail them out. How can you say ‘no’ gracefully, and still maintain the relationship?

1. Start with a whole lot of understanding.Empathy means that you put yourself in their shoes. So even if you start by saying no to their request for money   – you can still offer ways you can help. Maybe you can brainstorm solutions. Or at the very least offer a shoulder to lean on and a sympathetic ear.

The bottom line? Understanding doesn’t cost a cent and strengthens the relationship in the long run.

2. Remind them you have bills to pay as well.Not everyone understands that while you might look like you’re doing OK financially, you still have bills to pay and plans for your own money. There’s nothing wrong with expressing that you have your own financial obligations when you say no to someone else’s.

3. Offer a little free advice.It could be that you have a great system for budgetingor a headfor numbers that your friend doesn’t. Instead of saying ‘yes’ to a loan, help your friend to think more long-term by helping them to create a financial plan that will get them back on their feet. 

4. What about some research?Rather than say ‘yes’ to cash, offer some internet time instead. Help your friend to find alternative resources. There’s an endless offering of classes, workshops, and resources out there to put people on the path to financial security.  

5. Expect that it’s not going to be easy.Saying ‘no’ to someone in need is going to inspire some feelings of guilt, and even helplessness. But remember that you’re saying ‘no’ to protect your own financial security. You’re of no help to anyone if you wind up hurting yourself to save them. Stay firm in your convictions.

Saying ‘no’ doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship. Always remember to answer with kindness, honesty, andintegrity. If you’re making an offer to help in other ways, do so with sincerity. Don’t patronize or demean, it took a lot of courage to ask, but being able to say ‘no’ enables them to ask. Your compassion will be recognized, as will your right to say ‘no.’