Young black man stressed about money

Mo Money No Problem: Are Your Relatives Causing Money Problems?—Jade Warshaw, Kobe Bryant

The most important earthly relationship you have is with your spouse. This one is more important than your relationship with your mama, your daddy, your grandmama, even with your children. 

One of the major things that brings division is relatives trying to drain your money. 

If you don’t put boundaries on the loans, the handouts, and the need to save them, we will never build wealth that we can leave to our children. Mo money, no problem has rarely been true for Black folks. For the last 20 years, studies have shown that one reason Black families struggle to build wealth because we’re playing the money superhero to relatives who don’t reciprocate.

And they don’t feel any convictions about asking you even if you’re in school, have small children, just bought a new home, or are starting a business. They don’t consider any of that. 

We Are Stewards of Our Money

Even though Yahweh instructs us to help the poor, he also puts limits on who deserves charity and who doesn’t.  Here are a couple of scriptures to back this up:

2 Thessalonians 3:6-12

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread [b]free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.

10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and [c]exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.

James 1:27

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Who knows if the late NBA star Kobe Bryant was a follower of Christ, but his “Letter To His Younger Self, shares a tough lesson about “helping” relatives. I think this is definitely relevant for those of us who are more financially stable than our relatives. Here’s a short excerpt:  

How to Have Mo Money No Problems with Relatives

Who knows if the late NBA star Kobe Bryant was a follower of Christ, but his “Letter To My Younger Self,” shares a tough lesson about “helping” relatives. I think this is definitely relevant for those of us who are more financially stable than our relatives. Here’s a short excerpt:

Dear 17-year-old self,

When your Laker dream comes true tomorrow, you need to figure out a way to invest in the future of your family and friends. This sounds simple, and you may think it’s a no-brainer, but take some time to think on it further.

I said INVEST.

I did not say GIVE.

Let me explain.

Purely giving material things to your siblings and friends may appear to be the right decision. You love them, and they were always there for you growing up, so it’s only right that they should share in your success and all that comes with it. So you buy them a car, a big house, pay all of their bills. You want them to live a beautiful, comfortable life, right?

But the day will come when you realize that as much as you believed you were doing the right thing, you were actually holding them back. You will come to understand that you were taking care of them because it made YOU feel good, it made YOU happy to see them smiling and without a care in the world — and that was extremely selfish of you. While you were feeling satisfied with yourself, you were slowly eating away at their own dreams and ambitions. You were adding material things to their lives, but subtracting the most precious gifts of all: independence and growth.

Understand that you are about to be the leader of the family, and this involves making tough choices, even if your siblings and friends do not understand them at the time.

Invest in their future, don’t just give.

Kobe Bryant

Now, I’m not talking about sending food for people who were just discharged from the hospital or giving money to your little cousin in his first year of college. Or even allowing a recently laid-off relative to stay with you. I’m talking about when our dysfunctional relatives treat us like we owe them and feel entitled to our help. That’s when you have a problem. 

When I was applying for my first job out of college, my new job told me that a felony charge came up on my background check. Turns out that one of my delinquent cousins had stolen my identity. The craziest part is my aunt wanted me to let it go. “Family is family,” she said. That’s basically code for tolerate your blood relatives screwing you over. She didn’t care that this could affect my job prospects or my ability to buy a home. 

We’ve had other family members open credit cards and phone lines in younger relatives’ names. Then, when that younger person goes to get a job, they have delinquent accounts showing up on the credit check. 

These are extreme examples, but even milder ones either need to be shut down or they need boundaries, such as:

  • Borrowing money
  • Expecting you to pay the check when y’all go out
  • Staying with you
  • Giving them rides
  • Babysitting their kids
  • Borrowing your stuff

And, if you have to take out a loan, do not ever co-sign on any loan for anyone. Ever.

Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge,
One of those who is surety for debts;
If you have nothing with which to pay,
Why should he take away your bed from under you? — Proverbs 22:26-27

If you don’t put some limits on helping your family, this will cause conflict in your marriage. Even if you’re used to playing savior for relatives, including parents, you now need to work with your spouse on when you’ll help and when you’ll let them hurt. 

Here are a few questions to ask before you give a questionable relative another fi-dollas:

  1. Is there a pattern of reckless behavior or a one-time tough circumstance behind their need?  If they have a pattern of reckless behavior, cut off all financial support, especially if they are an able bodied man. If it’s a single mother, think about helping with direct support for the child, like paying the school tuition bill yourself or giving a gift card for the grocery store. Do not give cash to anyone who’s not sober or if they have questionable character.
  2. If this person does not pay you back, can you still pay your bills and hit your savings goals? If helping them will hinder you, the answer is no. Instead, recommend a program or ministry where they can get help. 
  3. Do I have a fully funded emergency savings? If not, don’t loan anything to anyone until you have that in place. Remember: Put your own oxygen mask on first.
  4. MOST IMPORTANT: Has my spouse given the greenlight to help this relative? Even if you are the primary or sole breadwinner, you are operating as one. You and your spouse need to determine when to consult each other on money issues and when you can make the decision alone.

In this video, Ramsay personality Jade Warshaw, sets a couple straight on how their mother-in-law misused their money. If we don’t put boundaries in place for our relatives, we’re in for the same drama. 

My Mother-In-law Stole $300,000 From Us!

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