Loading
Tap on the profile icon to edit
your financial details.

The Pros and Cons of Helping Family Members in Debt

Watching loved ones struggle with their personal finances is never fun, especially when you’re doing relatively well yourself. But before you rush to the aid of your mother, your brother or your favorite cousin, it’s a good idea to consider how that might impact your own financial situation. Check out some of the pros and cons of loaning money to a family member in debt.

Check out our personal loans calculator.

The Pros

Being able to support a family member who’s facing a financial difficulty can make you feel good about yourself. You’ll have the opportunity to work together to implement good financial strategies and in the process, you might learn something that can help you manage your own money more effectively. And since you can never be completely sure about your own financial future, helping your relative get back on track might provide you with a safety net that you can rely on if you need help from that same relative later down the line.

It’s important to take the time to sit down with your relative and discuss what has worked well for you financially in the past. You can help him or her create a tighter budget (with loan repayments to you built in) and connect him or her with a professional financial advisor or credit counselor if need be. The more comfortable your family member is with talking about money, the better the experience is likely to be.

The Cons

The Pros and Cons of Helping Family Members in Debt

When it comes down to it, helping family members out of debt is a big deal financially speaking. Before you make that move, it’s best to think about how it could affect your relationship. You run the risk of turning your personal relationship into a business transaction, and you might feel like money is all you talk about. Eventually, it might create tension or lead a serious disagreement.

You could also make yourself financially vulnerable by lending a family member a portion of your wealth. If you choose to let someone borrow your money, keep in mind that you don’t want to lend any amount that could get you into trouble.

Related Article: 5 Tips for Lending Money to Friends or Family

Important Questions to Ask Yourself

As you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of lending money to a relative, there are several things you’ll need to clear up. Will this be a temporary situation or an ongoing arrangement? A gift or a loan? Can they afford to pay you back at some point? What will you do if they can’t?

You’ll also have to consider whether providing someone with a loan is a good use of your money. Instead of relying on you, could your family member turn to debt management, debt settlement or bankruptcy? Are there other ways you can help?

Related Article: 4 Signs It’s Time to File Bankruptcy

Final Word

The Pros and Cons of Helping Family Members in Debt

Deciding how to assist a family member in need isn’t easy. As an alternative to becoming your relative’s sole source of financial support, (or turning down his or her request) you can always offer to fund part of the debt repayments. Managing your expectations and finding a happy medium that won’t jeopardize your chances of achieving financial success are key.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Ocskaymark, ©iStock.com/Christopher Futcher, ©iStock.com/SoumenNath

Liz Smith Liz Smith is a graduate of New York University and has been passionate about helping people make better financial decisions since her college days. Liz has been writing for SmartAsset for more than four years. Her areas of expertise include retirement, credit cards and savings. She also focuses on all money issues for millennials. Liz's articles have been featured across the web, including on AOL Finance, Business Insider and WNBC. The biggest personal finance mistake she sees people making: not contributing to retirement early in their careers.
Was this content helpful?
Thanks for your input!