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How to Identify A Money Leech

by Shawanda Greene

The Little Red Hen bookA few nights ago, I received a late phone call from a really close friend, Larissa. She wanted to borrow $1,000 to pay her rent.

Yes. Bonds and other debt instruments are part of almost any well diversified investment portfolio. However, a $1,000 loan to someone who doesn’t have the means to repay or the gumption to find a way to do so is simply a hand out that’ll destroy your relationship.

As a rule, I don’t loan money to family or friends.

I have it.

You need it.

I give it.

What’s a thousand dollars between friends?

Normally, it’s no big deal. The problem surfaces when the “need” for a gift results from reckless money habits. I’m indescribably frustrated when a friend isn’t mature enough to ensure her necessities are taken care of before she makes the conscious decision to engage in frivolous activities.

Sometimes I wonder if Larissa would make different choices if she knew she couldn’t ask me for money. I imagine her saying to herself right at the point of doing something stupid, “I know I shouldn’t buy this, but if push comes to shove, I’ll call Shawanda and desperately plead my case. She has a good job and extra cash coming in. She’ll give me the money to pay my bills if I really need it.”

*Sigh. Throws head back.*

When Larissa called to “borrow” $1,000, naturally, I asked questions any reasonable person would want to know the answers to prior to opening up their checkbook.

  • Why don’t you have any money?
  • Did you have it?
  • What happened to it?
  • How do I know you won’t ask me for money again?
  • Do you have a budget?

Of course none of the answers were satisfactory, but they didn’t have to be. Larissa is my friend. Ultimately, I agreed to give her the money. But let me say this. Larissa wasn’t asking for money to pay her rent. She spent the rent money. What she wanted was a subsidy for stupidity. Which I said I’d provide….this time. Then, I let Larissa know should she ever find herself in this situation again, eviction would be the outcome.

The whole incident made me wonder. What the heck are people like Larissa thinking?!

Here’s the problem with people who force themselves under the umbrella of a financially responsible loved one’s emergency fund.

They don’t take responsibility for their circumstances.

It’s always something, isn’t it? “Times are hard. The government needs to stimulate the economy. Credit card interest rates are too high. I’m old.”

Nothing lies within these broke busters’ control. For the most part, the life you have today is a reflection of the choices you’ve made.

They refuse to make any sacrifices.

You do all the work while they watch. Basically, you’re the Little Red Hen. It’s amazing how many people believe that if you have money, acquired and accumulated through old fashioned hard work and sacrifice, you should just give it to them. No questions asked. No strings attached. It doesn’t occur to them that you’ve been earning and saving all these years for your own gratification. They don’t make sacrifices, but you do. So, you have money, and they don’t.

They think people with money owe them something.

It’s really difficult for my brain to follow illogical reasoning like this, but let me try to understand what these people are thinking. I believe they’re subconsciously convinced they deserve to live as well as people who have more wealth than they do. Why? Because people with money are either greedy, stingy or lucky. Therefore, they should be willing to hand over enough money to those who aren’t any of those things in order to level the playing field.

I dunno.

I wish I could do a better job explaining it, but I seriously cannot comprehend this attitude.

Their problems can only be solved with money.

If liquid money is available, even if it’s not their’s, irresponsible money handlers immediately reach for it. The first solution to any setback doesn’t involve any creativity. How about taking a second job, working extra hours, or doing a little freelance work? Ever consider selling some of that s@&! that’s stacked so high in your garage it’s touching the ceiling? Can you take in a boarder?

In conclusion, it’s hard to see a loved one suffer financially, because you, well, love ‘em. But at the same time, you shouldn’t be put in a position of choosing between whether you’re going to feel like a sucker for helping out a friend or a jerk for letting them pay the consequences of their actions. I’ll keep you posted on my dealings with my financially irresponsible friend if she hits me up for cash again.

How do you deal with family members and friends who ask you for money?

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

kim July 8, 2011 at 10:57 AM

I don't loan money to dead beats, I may give them money once, but it is a gift, People are where they are because they want to be. I have brothers that are lazy users, I hide my purse and give them nothing.

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Shawanda July 11, 2011 at 5:36 AM

That's how I feel. Everyone makes mistakes, so I'll do it this one time. Then after that, I can't afford to enable stupidity. It's just too expensive.

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Romeo July 9, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Hahahaha. I share the same sentiments, but watch out now, your friend may actually read this post and then you'll never get your $1000 back.

It's easy for me to say that I'll just give the money to a friend if they needed it, but sometimes it's pretty damn hard. I once gave $400 to a friend without requiring payback. No problem. He really appreciated it and we are still really good friends.

I also once gave another friend $1000, didn't ask any questions, but did require a pay back. I think I called him about three to four times so I could figure out when he was going to return my money; it wasn't a very comfortable feeling. But, where do we draw the line? What if a friend asks for $3000 and we have it? Should it be given or borrowed? It sucks either way.

Great post, Shawanda.

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Shawanda July 11, 2011 at 5:41 AM

Thanks! It seems whenever you loan someone money, they take their sweet, precious time paying you back. Blowing money on all types of foolishness along the way. I gave the $1K as a gift to my friend for this reason. I have zero expectations I'll get my money back.

At some point, you have to decide what is too much. I'm unlikely to give someone a $10K gift. The circumstances would have to be pretty severe.

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Halona Black July 9, 2011 at 2:05 PM

You are a much better friend than me. $1000 is too much money to give to someone because they wanted to buy other stuff. I would only give it if she had a serious illnes that kept her from working. Aside from that I’d show her the list if local homeless shelters…

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Shawanda July 11, 2011 at 5:45 AM

Some would say that's a little harsh, but I perfectly understand the strategy. I'll reserve it for the next time – and I really hope there isn't one – something like this happens.

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Jackie July 11, 2011 at 2:38 PM

If a person continuely needs to ask for money then I do reach a point where I say no, but a sometimes a friend just needs help out of a tight spot. It is hard to say no to a friend or loved one but sometimes it is the best thing.

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Ann July 14, 2011 at 8:12 PM

I say no. I "loaned" a family member money and never heard another word about my money. I am not The Bank of ……. I also usually find that the person I loaned or gave the money to is living the high life while I am scrimping and saving.

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Jillian August 16, 2011 at 10:00 AM

The hardest thing I ever did was tell my brother that I couldn't pay his mortgage that month, with the promise of payback in, maybe three months, because I was moving and my father had already borrowed $2k from me for his closing costs on his house. I'm still bitter about being put in that position.
I've learned that when I start seeing a family member's downward financial spiral, and I KNOW "the call" is coming, I need to set a mental amount that I'm willing to lend, and it needs to be LESS than what they need to borrow. They need to understand that my financial capability to help them is finite, and not an answer for getting out of trouble.
SO hard, and stresses me out so much!

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Shawanda August 16, 2011 at 11:18 PM

As callous and apathetic as I may seem sometimes, it is hard to say no to the people you love, especially when you seem the suffering.

However, you have to look out for yourself. Too often, financial "emergencies" are a product of irresponsible behavior. If anyone is going to blow your money on something stupid, shouldn't it be you?

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Anonymous December 20, 2011 at 11:48 AM

After a recent request I've began thinking about being the financially responsible friend and how I feel like my financially irresponsible friend's personal "Pay Day Loan". I want to help but I wonder am I really helping? Would they make better financial choices if they couldn't ask me? Before I would just give up the money (sometimes reluctantly) but still comforted in knowing I would get the money back. Recently I was asked for $5,000 (blank stare). Really? That's not a cup of sugar. Then I had to take a serious look at my enabling ways and excusing myself from feeling guilty. I worked hard, planned and sacrificed to build for myself financially and its ok to say no.

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Anonymous December 20, 2011 at 3:56 PM

No predicament….a record label.

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annie January 4, 2012 at 7:28 AM

I have learned that if you loan money the first time, most think you married them for life. I've had people who make more in a week than I do in a month try to latch on to me. Anymore I just tell them all I'm as broke as they are. Since I don't have the amount of crap floating around in my home as they do they tend to believe it and if they don't they don't.

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Anonymous April 13, 2012 at 9:30 AM

I once “loaned” money to a girlfiend to help her cover a CC bill so she didn’t get stuck paying crazy interest. Never really expected to be repaid. Gave her the speech about debt and responsibility with CC. Later we brokeup and she hadn’t paid the loan though I had forgot about it anyway.

Funny thing. Four years later out of the blue I get a card in the mail with a check for $2k to repay the loan! and a note about how she had eventually followed the advice about the debt and got straightend out and wanted to repay it.

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Deb May 1, 2012 at 9:28 AM

The lack of gratitude and the sense of entitlement that develops is the part that gets to me.

My husband and I had been giving money to his sister (age 37) for a couple of years. We always said it was a loan, then we forgave it later. It was over $2K. Her husband was ill and we told her that it was finite and she needed to get a job while her husband was home to be with their son when he got home from school. She was quite offended at the suggestion.

When their parents died, my husband gave her his half of the inherited paid-for house for free. She sold her trailer and had $15K cash when she moved in. He even paid the legal fees ($250) for the title transfer. When a legal fee had to be paid to challenge a life insurance policy ($225) she paid the fee and got $2K from the policy.

My husband also got $2K and when she asked him for his share of the payout he said no. Then she tried to charge him $300. He refused and offered to reimburse her for half of the actual legal fee. When she demanded that he pay her for her time to do the paperwork, he reminded her that he had given her about $25K and that she could afford to do him a favor. She cursed him in the worst way and acted like a spoiled brat. He then told her that she would have to eat the payment herself and would never get anything again. They have not spoken since and probably never will.

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Shawanda May 1, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Your sister-in-law is way out of line. You'd think after all your husband has done for her financially she'd show a little gratitude. I don't understand how you can expect so much from others without sacrificing anything yourself. I hope your husband and his sister are able to save their relationship, but he shouldn't have to accept abuse and disrespect in order to get along with her.

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shopping2saving May 15, 2012 at 4:27 PM

This is alllll so true. I have to listen to my BFF constantly complain about how they have no money… well wait, they just bought a $1200 TV, a workout bench, a new ipad 3 (they already have an ipad!), $500 purse, $100 shoes, and the list just goes freaking on. I have no idea why she always thinks that she has to live such a lavish life all while living paycheck to paycheck. The part that you hit right on the head is the fact that they believe that it's not their fault. This amazes me! It IS your fault because it's YOUR life and YOUR responsibility. She moved out of a 2 bedroom apartment to a huge ass house, and now she's complaining about money. The sad part? She thinks she deserves MORE and MORE! I just feel bad because I know she will never feel happy with what she has.

I know this post is old but I'm glad you tweeted it today.
My recent post How To Tell If You Are a Shopaholic

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Shawanda May 15, 2012 at 5:16 PM

I'm glad you took the time to share your friend's ridiculousness. No matter how old this post is, there will always be people like your friend and mine.

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Kim June 28, 2012 at 8:18 AM

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I am so frustrated. When my husband & I were younger, we shopped at garage sales, sold plasma, and sold what little stuff we had, in order to make ends meet. We put ourselves through college, while raising two kids and working part time jobs. Now that we are doing well financially, all of our family members think we are a bank. My sister (who owns a horse, and has her kids involved in horse back riding lessons, softball and dance) owes me over $800, and has made no attempt to pay any of it back. My brother-in-law owes us over $11,000, and has made no attempt to pay any of it back. Now, my mom has asked to borrow $3600 so that she can pay a fine to the IRS for a tax mistake. We are getting ready to send our son to an out of state college, and have a cushion of emergency and travel money set aside, but our family members are using it all up. My mom said that after my grandfather’s house sells, she will pay us back if there is any money left over after she pays off her house. What? Why would you not pay me back first and put the remainder towards the house? I’m so frustrated!

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Shawanda Greene June 28, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Wow. Your mom’s comment really took the cake. Was she joking? Paying off her house isn’t a necessity. I don’t even know what you can say to something like that besides, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!”
Shawanda Greene recently posted..Let’s Put an End to PretendingMy Profile

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ジャージ チャンピオン October 3, 2013 at 9:44 PM

楽天 靴 レディース

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sue December 18, 2013 at 8:48 PM

am just sick of people who have been insolvent for about a half century. no matter what you do for these whiners it will never be enough. i want to tell that certain person to f-off. i am really peeved and even more selfish – i have the nerve to think i am entitled to enjoy some of what i earn.

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