The Complications of Giving Money to Those You Know

by TTMK on December 1, 2014 · 5 comments

The following post is from staff writer Melissa Batai

I had an acquaintance in high school, “Debbie,” who was a bit of a loud mouth and always seemed to annoy others. She said things exactly as they were, and her words could be biting. Being her “friend” could be very difficult.

When I joined Facebook, it didn’t take long for Debbie to find me, as she had apparently found and friended the rest of our 800 person high school student body on Facebook.

Debbie has been married nearly 20 years now and has one child who just graduated from high school.

Through Facebook, I learned that Debbie and her family had fallen on hard times this year. Debbie works as a nurse’s assistant in a nursing home, and her husband worked at a sporting goods store.

However, in January of this year, Debbie’s husband, “Ron,” fell off a ladder at work and suffered serious damage. He had to have leg surgery, and he didn’t recover as quickly as they had thought he would. In August, he had to have another leg surgery to fix what had gone wrong with the first surgery.

I understand that financially, this family was in a tight position. Nursing home aides don’t make much money, and I’m assuming Ron’s workman’s compensation was not that much either.

When Debbie’s daughter graduated from high school, Debbie invited all 900 of her friends on Facebook to the graduation party. She followed that up with a plea that if you couldn’t attend the graduation party, please send her daughter a check because she is a good girl and needed a financial leg up, which her parents weren’t currently able to give her.

As much as I disliked the blatant request for money, for a moment, I thought about sending a card with a check in it. My parents struggled a lot financially when I was growing up, so I could understand where Debbie was coming from. In the end, though, I decided not to send money.

I’m so glad I didn’t!

Debbie used some of that graduation money to help her daughter finance a car so she could get to and from the local community college. Debbie bought a newer vehicle, which upset some of her Facebook friends because of the price. However, I didn’t begrudge Debbie that. I would want my child driving a newer car with all of the safety features, too.

But, and this is a big but, after that purchase, the purchases that came next would have left me steaming had I donated money.

First, Debbie and her daughter had a little bonding time when they got matching tatoos.

Then, they went to the salon to get matching haircuts and highlights.

The final straw? Her husband, who still wasn’t back to work at the time, purchased a $14,000 monster truck (literally a monster truck) because it was a good deal he couldn’t resist.

My Question for You

What do you think? When you give someone money who is in financial straits, do you expect to see financial responsibility? Do you feel that you have a say (even if it’s unspoken) in their money decisions afterwards?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dee @ Color Me Frugal December 1, 2014 at 3:04 am

Oh the perils of living in the Facebook age. Years ago they could have wasted all that money in relative anonymity, and now when you share things on FB the whole world (or at least all your “friends”) know you’re crap at personal finance. Who needs a monster truck anyway??

We saw this when we adopted last summer. Our daughter’s birth mother complained of all sorts of financial issues, and was constantly trying to get more money out of us. When we arrived for the birth we discovered that she’d recently purchased a new tablet and an Xbox, probably with money that we provided for her living expenses. We were not pleased. But I do truly believe that one of the roots of the problem was that she was genuinely terrible at personal finance.

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Jon @ Money Smart Guides December 1, 2014 at 6:44 am

This is a tough one. On the one hand I would be upset, but a gift is something that has no conditions tied to it, so the person receiving the gift can do whatever they like with the money. This is a tough pill to swallow for many that give gifts. You give it with the assumption that it will be used for college, but it might not be.

It’s the same as a parent giving money for their child’s wedding, then requiring certain people be invited. In many cases, the money was given with conditions, that so-and-so be invited. This isn’t how a gift works.

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Little House December 1, 2014 at 8:47 am

Wow. It’s one thing to spend money that’s “donated” to you on necessities and maybe a few “luxuries,” but if you’re going to spend it lavishly, keep it to yourself! Sharing it with her 900+ friends on FB (after they donated the money thinking they were helping her daughter) is just plain rude!

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Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom December 1, 2014 at 6:16 pm

If she said the money was to be used for school, then I would be really pissed if I had sent money. Otherwise, a gift is a gift and even though I would prefer the money to be spent wisely, they’re free to do what they want.

I would question why the mother got a tattoo and the dad got a monster truck if the gift money actually paid for those things.

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Michelle February 21, 2015 at 11:01 am

If you can’t afford to not get it back, then don’t lend it. That is our theory.

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