Encourage independence by other family members
By setting an example of sustainable spending, you’re already taking an important step in helping other family members develop their own sustainable spending plans.
You could also:
- Offer a clear amount of financial help, as noted above. This can make it easier for your family members to plan their budgets.
- Make yourself available to help create a budget or spending plan.
- Offer your services in helping an elderly family member reduce their costs on common expenses like insurance or cable TV.
Of course, it has to be said that in many cases total independence might not be in the cards – your elderly family member may have a limited income or illness, or your young adult child might be making their way in a difficult job market.
In these cases, do your best to foster a sense of self-sufficiency to the extent that you can, and recognize that sometimes inter-dependence is just as important in family life.
Talk through the difficult questions
Taking a clear view could help limit some of the difficult conversations that can arise around money. Because we’ve all been there: you need to say “no” to something, but you don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings.
With your own insights into your financial picture, you could find that it’s easier to talk through those “no” decisions.
If the situation warrants it, you can share information about:
- Your budgeting process and long-term financial priorities
- The importance of sustainability in your own budget and life
- Your need to build a solid financial foundation so that you can continue to help support your family members
Obviously, these conversations are highly dependent on the individual family in question (and, often, individual family members!). But know that with a plan of your own you can address what you can do to help and why.
Sometimes, money issues can be addressed with something other than financial support.
To take one common issue: if your adult child is struggling to make rent, maybe it’s time to talk about what’s happening and whether there are alternatives to subsidizing your child’s cost of living.
- If your child is working in a low-wage or entry-level job, maybe it’s time to consider a career change – or a lower-cost living situation.
- If there’s a major cost-center eating up your child’s budget (commonly childcare or big-city rent), investigate a cheaper alternative. Could a family member or friend help babysit? Is a move to a cheaper area possible?
- Find out if your child struggling with student or other forms of debt. Maybe it’s time to consider refinancing or renegotiating the payment plan.
Talking through some of these structural issues can be more beneficial in the long-term because it gets to the heart of the problem.
Of course, that’s not to say that any of these issues are necessarily simple to resolve. Sometimes, financial planning and re-imagining takes far more than a single conversation. But only by opening the lines of communication can you get on the path to resolving them.
Looking for more?
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