Watching a loved one struggle financially can be painful. If you have the money, you may want to step in and give them financial assistance. However, before doing that, carefully consider. As Dave Ramsey is fond of saying, “The borrower is slave to the lender.” The last thing you want to do is have a family member see you as a master. Nothing ruins relationships faster. The situation gets even more complicated when you consider giving financial support to in-laws.
Reasons Not to Give Financial Support to In-Laws
There are two main reasons why you should decline giving financial support to in-laws.
Can Affect the Parent-Child Relationship
As mentioned above, one family member giving money to another family member, especially in the form of a loan, more often than not puts strain on the relationship. That strain gets stronger when a child gives money to a parent. There’s something about the imbalance of the child being in a better position than the parent that causes strain and embarrassment to both parties.
As much as you may want to help your parents or in-laws, doing so may not be worth the risk you’re taking to the quality of your relationship.
Can Affect the Spousal Relationship
When you’re married and discussing giving financial support to in-laws or your own parents, you’re adding another layer of complexity. The last thing you want is to give money to your parents only to find out that your spouse resents giving money to her in-laws. She may feel that the money you’re giving to your parents could be better used for your own family or your children. This feeling is likely to fester if you’re routinely giving financial support to in-laws.
Remember, money issues are the leading cause of divorce. If you feel lending your in-laws or parents money will cause financial strain, look at other options. Try to find other ways to help your parents get back on their feet without risking both the parent-child relationship and the spousal relationship. After all, if you end up divorcing over this type of issue, you’ll be even less likely to be able to help your parents after an expensive divorce.
Give a Gift Instead
If you are financially secure and your spouse is onboard with the plan, why not consider giving your in laws a financial gift? If your in-laws fall on hard times because of job loss or a health issues, give them a set sum once rather than letting them borrow the money.
However, I would caution against regularly giving them money. Most people fall on hard times at least once in their lives. However, if your in-laws regularly request money, likely something in their financial lifestyle needs to be adjusted so that they can be self-sufficient.
Giving financial support to in-laws is a risky proposition and not recommended to maintain healthy relationships. However, if your in-laws fall on hard times, you might instead consider giving them a one-time gift.