DEAR HARRIETTE: A family member called to ask if he could borrow some money because he lost his job and doesn’t have enough money to pay his rent. I know this is happening everywhere, and I feel so sorry for him. I’m concerned, though, that if I lend him money, it will just weigh on both of us when he can’t pay it back. Part of me feels like I should just give him what I can afford to give, even though it’s not his whole rent check. But in that way, he won’t owe me anything and I won’t be upset that I extended myself too far and begin to resent him for it. Am I overthinking this? I love my cousin so much, but I don’t want the added financial or emotional stress of having to deal with a likely disappointment. -- Financial Gift
DEAR FINANCIAL GIFT: You are on the right page. Decide how much you can give your cousin without need for reimbursement. Offer that to him. Tell him that this is the gift you can give to him -- no need to pay you back. If he counters that he really needs more, respond that this is what you have to give. Your clarity should make it easier for him to accept that reality. Don’t apologize for not being able to afford more. State the truth: This is what you can give.
You can also ask him if he knows how to file for unemployment. Find out if there is any other service he may need help accessing. Perhaps you can help him in other ways. But draw the line regarding money.