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Dealing with those who deplete your resources

By Faeza
29 July 2015

Most of us have a person in our life who causes us to spend more than we can afford to. Although we may care for them, we cannot escape the fact that every time we come into contact with that person our purses feel a little lighter.

“The good news is that, while you may not be able to change their behaviour, you can learn to manage how you respond to them,” says Cebisa Mfenyana from Metropolitan.

Cebisa offers advice for dealing with the financial foes in our lives.

Guilt-trip Gertrude

Gertrude could be your mother, aunt, cousin or even brother-in-law. Gertrude is that family member who is so experienced at the Guilt Trip that we automatically give in to their demands, simply because we feel we cannot say no. Especially when we are doing so well (as they love reminding us).

“While we may be responsible for looking after our family members,” says Cebisa, “be wary of those who always demand more.” Decide how much you can afford to give with a little leeway for emergencies, and then set these boundaries with them.

Nagging Nosi

Nosi is the child who cannot take ‘no’ for an answer. “As parents, we wish we were able to buy our kids everything their hearts desire,” says Cebisa. “We should realise that not only does this place strain on our financial situation, it also doesn’t help them.”

Teach your child the value of money and the benefits of saving by letting them earn pocket money – you can decide whether to pay them on a weekly or monthly basis. “The first few times they are likely to blow it immediately, but over time they will learn the importance of budgeting and managing their own money,” advises Cebisa.

Worse-off Wally

Wally is the sibling who never seems to get their act together. You may love him or her, but you can’t understand why they won’t try to get a job. You find yourself responsible for all the bills, which is slowly chipping away at your patience and your savings.

“Navigating financial issues with family can be tricky,” admits Cebisa. “Sometimes you have to practice tough love and put some healthy boundaries in place, or even an ultimatum. Sit your sibling down and explain to them that their behaviour is putting strain on you and if they don’t make any effort from their side, that you simply cannot continue helping them financially. Make sure you live up to your threat. You don’t want to be a dog with no teeth.”

Flash-the-cash Farah

Farah is the friend who earns more than you and it always seems as if she’s wearing a new outfit or going shopping! “The problem with a friend like Farah,” says Cebisa, “is that we feel pressurised to match their lifestyle – even if we can’t afford it. She will invite you to go out for lunch and a movie, then on the way pop into a boutique store and nag you to buy something.”

“When she invites you to join her shopping or for drinks, gently explain to her that you have not made provision for that in your budget, and that you have a financial plan in place.” A true friend will respect your priorities, and suggest that you spend time together doing something that is fun but doesn’t cost a lot of money.

Borrowing Betty

Betty is the friend who always seems to be short of change. R5 here, R10 there. Because it is such a petty amount, you give in – everytime – and write it off. After all, who wants to look like a scrooge and ask for R5 back?

“Of course it is good to be generous, but if a friend like Betty is consistently taking advantage of your kindness, you need to be firm,” advises Cebisa. “Small change over time can add up significantly. We all have something that we are saving for – next time Betty asks you for R10, tell him or her that all your spare change is going into your piggy bank to support your savings goal, but they are welcome to borrow the money if they sign an IOU and promptly pay you back the next day.”