Evaluating Family and Money as Objectively as Possible

Let’s be honest upfront – it’s almost impossible to be completely objective when dealing with family and money. We love them and want to help them out if we can. The problem for some, myself included, is making sure that you’re actually helping them and not enabling them.

This post is mainly for those situations where you’re unsure if loaning or gifting them money is the right solution. For me personally, if my loved one is in a situation that they couldn’t really avoid, I’d help them out as best as I can.

Questions to Ask Before You Loan Money 

From my personal experience, I’ve had relatives hit with emergencies more than the typical person and have received calls asking for immediate help. One of the best places to start is with asking some questions and then paying attention to their response. You’re not trying to intimidate them or make them feel guilty, you’re trying to get to the truth of the matter.

  • What exactly happened? Start at the beginning and ask then when and how they
  • How do they need and why? If they can’t give you an exact number and explanation, you may want them to call you back when they do. You want to encourage them to see if they can find a frugal solution out of this.
  • What’s the plan to pay me back? I know, it’s tough to ask that, but it’s necessary. Why should you do all the heavy lifting? Instead have them take ownership of their problems.

If you feel bad about asking so many questions, just remember that if they went to a bank to get a loan, they would get a lot more questions and they would probably more financially invasive.

Now it’s time to ask yourself a few questions to help you decide what the next step should be for you.

  • Can you really afford to help them? Be honest with yourself. Do you have the money to help them without hurting yourself? You may have some savings tucked away, but can you afford never seeing that money again?
  • Do you feel like you’re being pressured and/or guilted into loaning money? The request for a rapid response has thrown me off before, but now I ask them to let me review my finances first before committing to anything.  I need time to look at the situation and then I can decide what I’d feel comfortable doing.
  • If you’re married, how does your spouse feel? If you’re a parent, how will this affect them? You have to balance your responsibilities with this request.

The final decision is up to you and having as much information as possible can help you be more objective.

Thoughts on Loaning to Loved Ones

I hope these guidelines can help you balance taking care of family and friends without putting your own finances at risk. Don’t stress if you still feel bad and loan out the money. I break my own rules at times. The main point is that you don’t hurt yourself while helping others.

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May Fuel Challenge Check-In #4

toyota prius hybrid

I hope you like charts  because I got a couple up for this week’s Fuel Challenge Check In.

toyota prius hybrid

My Fuel Challenge Review

I just completed my last fill up for the month and entered it into Fuelly to get a picture of how May went. Here are my miles per gallon averages for the past 4 weeks along with a cost analysis:

  • 1st week: 27.3 mpg
  • 2nd week: 22.8 mpg
  • 3rd week: 25.9 mpg
  • 4th week: 25 mpg
That means my stats over April and May comes out to:

 miles per gallon may review

While I’m around average as far as my miles per gallon stats compare to other Accord drivers, there is still room for improvement.

Gas Fuel-Ups Cheaper

fuel costs for may

Right now gas prices having been decreasing during May and with my last fill up at Costco, regular gas was about $3.45/gallon. I’m still not calling it cheap, but I’m happy it’s moving away from $4/gallon that we were inching towards the other month. While I can’t control pump at the price much, I can focus on deceasing my cost per mile.

Monthly Reviews of Driving

I had so much fun with keep track of my driving this month that I’ve decided to continue doing a monthly review of my stats. I think it’s a fun way to keep myself focused on increasing my gas mileage and decreasing my car’s expenses. I also hope it’ll help others to do the same.

I’ve done  monthly review of our net worth over at Couple Money for the last couple of years and it’s been incredibly helpful for us (and from the feedback for others too). If you already do a monthly reviewing of your driving stats, please send me a link and I’ll include it as part of a round-up each month.

Thoughts on the Fuel Challenge

I’d love to hear from you about the challenge. Please remember to leave your progress in the comments below

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What’s Your Best Tip for Saving Money on Travel?

orlando vacations

J is running a giveaway on his site about saving money on vacations and I aim to please! My tip for saving money on vacations is smart souvenir shopping. We love grabbing a few things for our family and friends during our trip, but like many people, we don’t want to go broke doing it. With just a smidgen of effort you can come out ahead while saving money. orlando vacations

Keeping a List, Checking It Twice

I got this idea from Matt over at Debt Free Adventure from his own vacations-

When you are out browsing, decide in advance that no matter what you find in a store, you will not buy… at least not right then. Simply go into the store, look around, enjoy yourself, try things on, make a note of anything you want to buy, then leave.  Do this at all the stores you visit. At the end of the day, have a look at the list you made, and decide if there is anything on it worth going back to that store to buy. This eliminates impulse buying, and can save you bundles…

So now when we go to different places we wait to buy gifts until later. Impulse buying is at a minimum and many times we discovered that we cut a bit off the price and still get the gifts our loved ones want. It’s a win-win.

Stock Up on Staples

I have family that love getting their coffee mugs, shot glasses, and t-shirts. They enjoy their collections and we have a blast picking out something for them. When we went to Orlando a few years back we disovered that the local Wal-Mart had licensed Disney gear in the store at cut rate prices (compared to the park anyways).

After taking a few trips around the country we saw that it’s something to look out for – we can get some gift staples at retailers like Wal-mart and we saved some cash.

 Thoughts on Saving Money While on Vacation

I’d love to hear from you about and your vacations. How do you save money on your travels?If you have a travel tip of your own, head on over to Budgets Are Sexy to enter his $1,000 giveaway, in partnership with HotelClub

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Moving Forward in the Face of a Financial Crisis

There are very few people fortunate enough to walk the roads of life without ever having a financial crisis. At some point, everyone will face some serious dilemma that leaves the accounts floundering. The good news is that you can recover from this, provided you know what steps to take.

Guilt is Useless – Leave it Behind

Guilt will only take you so far. At some point, you have to leave the guilt behind and focus on something more constructive. You can keep going over what you could have done in your mind, or you can start looking for things you can do now to improve the situation.

What’s done is in the past, and you cannot change it. However, you can start changing the future. Learn lessons from your mistake, and then prepare to make some changes in your finances.

Be Real – Even if it Hurts

Reality usually hurts, but it’s a necessary evil. If you never sit down and look at the bills or balance the checkbook after a tragedy, then you will only create a more dire situation.

Be honest with yourself and your spouse about the finances, and be honest about sacrifices that will probably be necessary. Make a detailed list of all your income, and then put together a list of all your expenses.

Don’t neglect to include annual fees like property taxes and utility bills that are only due once every three months. Subtract your expenses from the income to determine what your disposable income is. The less disposable income you have, the more serious your crisis is.

Make Sacrifices

The road to recovery will include some sacrifices. In the interest of increasing your disposable income and dealing with the crisis, you will have to make some changes. You can easily live without cable, and you may decide you really don’t need a home phone.

If necessary, consider moving to a more affordable place or trading the car in on something with a lower note. If your car is paid for or nearly paid for, then put off plans to replace it anytime soon.

Prioritize Your Life

A financial crisis can leave you with expensive reminders. Payday loans are great at the time, but they can become a burden if they aren’t paid off when they first come due. When recovering from a financial crisis, make paying off payday loans a priority. Taking longer to pay them off allows more interest to accrue, which can sink you into an even deeper financial hole.

When making your priorities, be sure to look at interest rates on loans. After payday loans are covered, plan on paying off those other high interest loans.

Budget Your Spending

Once you have faced reality about your finances, eliminated some expenses, and prioritized your debts, you are ready to write up a budget. Allow extra money for emergencies, so you can survive the next financial crisis that comes your way. Live by the budget, and your finances will gradually improve.

It doesn’t matter if the crisis is unemployment, illness, or some other emergency. When something happens that devastates your finances, you can recover. It will require being brutally honest with yourself about what you can and cannot afford, but you can survive this difficult time. Make the necessary sacrifices, prioritize your bills and take control of your spending. With dedication and patience, you will recover and enjoy a stronger financial position than before.

Guest author Sharon Koontz is a financial guru and freelance blogger writing on behalf of nowaitloans.co.uk.