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The Family ATM

Over the years, my staff and I have seen many scenarios where people were engaged in behaviors that unbeknownst to them were detrimental to their financial and mental health. However, there is one situation that I’ve seen that can be harder to shake and can be extremely stressful and a huge financial threat. From my experience many people don’t actually realize that they in fact have this condition that I refer to as being THE FAMILY ATM.

The Family ATM is simply a person whom has done well for themselves financially and has built somewhat of a reputation of being generous and has a big heart. Now before I go on, I believe it would be appropriate to state that there is nothing wrong with being charitable or being a giver however as with most things, it requires a balance. The Family ATM is a person whom has exceeded that balance so much so that it is potentially to their own or detriment of others. I wanted to share a couple of thoughts on how not to be THE FAMILY ATM.

It’s Okay to Say No

It’s important as one tries to establish a balance between financially helping out their family or close friends that saying “no “should always be an option. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad guy, it also doesn’t make you selfish, it makes you responsible. Consider this, if one finds themselves continuing to help someone pay a bill on somewhat of a regular basis and there appears to be no timeline for improvement, is that truly helping that person? I would submit to you that after too many occurrences it maybe enabling. Remember, it’s okay to hold others accountable for and to have expectations of progress when you are the person loaning the money.

Before You Say Yes Again

Ask that person to show you progress that they’ve made from the last time you gave them money. Specifically ask them to show you what efforts have been attempted to help better their own situation so they won’t continually be in need. For example, showing proof that they’ve sent out resumes or cut spending in certain areas to help themselves. For some this may seem a bit too personal of a request to ask of another, however if they’re asking for your money, its appropriate for you to have an understanding of their personal circumstances. If that bothers them too much, there are other options for them to consider. You owe it to yourself and your values to be a good steward of the finances you have accrued over time and learning how to say no at times, can definitely help you in the long term.

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