Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™
FINANCE: Loaning Money to Others Leaves Nothing for Me
Hello Elder. I am a 20-year-old college student and I've been stressed and emotional lately. I have a lot going on in my life, but the situation I want to ask about is money-related. I'm working about 20 hours a week and I'm a real penny-pincher in regards to my own spending. I also currently don't have to pay bills and have few expenses, as I'm staying with family right now. I'd really like to be saving money to put toward college and a car.
The problem is that I'm giving money to my boyfriend, who is having trouble finding a job and doesn't have family to help him financially. I feel really bad for him, but he is slowly draining my account over time, taking money at a faster rate than I'm making it. I've also given money to friends like this in the past. This has been really stressing me out and upsetting me. I feel like I've been denying my wants and saving my money just to give it away. It makes me feel stupid and sad. Sometimes I wish I was a big spender like other people so that I'd have the excuse of not having the money to give to people. But I also feel selfish for thinking like that if people I care about really need money more than me.
Any advice for this situation? Am I being too nice? Should I say I can't give money to my boyfriend anymore even though I don't know anyone else who could help him? And is it wrong for me to ask people I've given money to before to pay me at least some of it back? (I gave a different person over a thousand dollars before). Also, any tips on how to work on saying 'no' to people more in the future? It's hard for me to say no to people in general, not just with money. Thank you for reading this and for any advice you can give me. I appreciate it so much! And sorry for all the questions.
Your problem is not unusual, Stephanie. The problem I see, is that you think every one is more deserving of your money than you are. By devaluing yourself, you have allowed others, including your boyfriend to rely on you, to your detriment as well as theirs.
For example, if you and your boyfriend are not in a dedicated long-term relationship, you should say no to him. If he was in a dedicated long-term relationship with you, it is up to him to see that you cannot possible support you both, and that he should take any job to take the burden off you. If he doesn't care that much, the burden should be his, not yours He will not starve or go without any help if he is willing to accept it from shelters and food kitchens.
I doubt you will get money back that you loaned out so long ago, let alone any money you have just given away, and it willl probably just hurt feelings to try to recover now. Instead, I think you should learn how to say no. The only way to successfully say no to someone is to really mean it. So you have to be serious about valuing yourself.
Explaining why you can't give money can be awkward, because if you say you don't have it, the person asking may know you do. Instead say I need it for my own expenses and don't explain. Don't let any one argue with you that you could just loan it or give it if you wanted. They will be trying to play on your guilt. But you should have no guilt for keeping what you earn, unless you have enough extra to never miss it.
The biggest mistake you can make is thinking it is more important to them than to you. What you may be doing subconsciously is assuming they won't like or love you anymore if you don't help them out. But your conscious mind knows that would mean they are not worth having as friends or boyfriend, so you just give the money, instead of evaluating your own purposes.
Of course this is all a speculative answer, because I don't know you better; though I have seen others with this problem. If this advice doesn't help, or you feel it is not enough, I would suggest you try some therapy so that you could discuss this with an expert, which I am not. If you need a referral to a therapist, you could try:
I hope you can find the answer you need. Good luck!