Life was a lot easier when I was a student and my only responsibilities were to pay for school and study. Once I finished school and got a job, my financial responsibilities exploded: I now have to consider a mortgage and all those other house-related expenses (water, gas, electricity, condo fees, insurance), car payments and car insurance, cable, internet…you get the point. It’s never a problem to find something to spend money on!
Over two years ago I shared how like many abroad, my parents were helping their family back home. I mentioned that in comparison to my parents I hadn’t really done much. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to help family members but in two cases it hasn’t quite worked out the way I thought it would.
I loaned a sum of money to a cousin who was preparing to go to the UK for school. The amount I loaned him was small in comparison to the total amount he needed, but for me it was a significant amount. My cousin insisted it was a loan and I had no reason to think otherwise. However, we never discussed exactly when the repayment would commence and it has been nearly two years. Last year he was selling a game console (Xbox or something similar) on Facebook and I told him I knew where he could send the profit (meaning he could send it to me). He asked me what I meant and I told him he knew. The conversation was playful and casual, but I said it to remind him of the outstanding debt. It didn’t work. To add some spice to the story, I can no longer see him or his wife on Facebook, but maybe that’s because they no longer use Facebook.
The second loan was to a female cousin, one that I am quite close to. Of all my cousins on that side of the family, she’s the only one I would would loan money to because I believed she would definitely pay me back. Her need was urgent and her reason for needing the money sounded legitimate to me. She said it was a loan and told me when she would pay me back (in a matter of weeks). When that time came and went, she apologized for the delay. But now it’s been a year and I haven’t heard from her concerning the loan.
I’ve heard that you should never loan money that you can’t live without, meaning you should set your expectations low and assume you will not be seeing the money again. I did think I would get the money back but I’m so thankful that my life has not been inconvenienced as a result of not having that money–I’m truly blessed! For me the sad part is not that I haven’t gotten the money back but that neither cousin thought to let me know that it wasn’t a loan or that they would not be able to pay me back after all as planned.
I don’t think I’ll ever loan money again. Instead, if I decide to help out a family member I will gift them with the money. That way, the expectation of repayment is removed, and everyone will be able to sleep well at night.
Do you have a money-loaning philosophy? (For many that policy is “Don’t”!)