When family and money don’t mix

Ask NJMoneyHelp

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Q. My brother is always in money trouble and he asks me for help. He never pays me back. I’m torn – I want to help for the sake of his family but I don’t want to be taken advantage of. What should I do?
— Brother

A. Family and money are often a bad mix.

Your question should be looked at both from a financial standpoint and a personal ideals standpoint.

For starters, you can easily work with a financial planner to help you figure out if you can afford to continue to help your brother, said Brian Power, a certified financial planner with Gateway Advisory, LLC in Westfield.

He said you might be able to budget a certain amount of money to give to your brother every month or year in a way that it wouldn’t negatively affect your personal financial goals.

Part of your hesitation might be that you don’t know if helping him will set you back financially.

“Once you understand the impact to your financial goals and objectives, then it’s a matter whether you want to continue the support from an ideals standpoint, Power said.

If you do decide to continue to help him financially, you may want to consider paying for things directly rather than giving him the money and letting him decide where the money goes.

For example, Power said, you might want to take your nieces and nephews shopping for their new clothes every school year or help pay for the children’s extracurricular activities.

“The problem with continuing to help people with financial problems is that they are let off the hook for making the tough financial decisions that they really need to make,” Power said. “When I run into people like your brother, there is always fat that they can trim — cable bills, going out to dinner, etc. — but there is always an excuse why they can’t pull back their spending.”

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NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.