Dealing with family pressure about money

Giving money to your mob

Have you ever had family members demand some of your money, even when you don't have enough for yourself? We all like to help our families when we can, but it's important to look after yourself first, so you will be able to help your family when they really need it.

Here we explain how to deal with your family when it comes to money, and how to know when it's the right time to help them out.

Money pressures from your family

When family members make demands for money from you, it is sometimes called 'humbugging'. They may come to you every payday, or ask you to buy them things if they know you have money.

Taking care of your family is a good thing to do, but not if you give all your money to your family, and then you don't have enough to pay your rent or bills or buy food. It might mean you have to borrow money to make ends meet, and end up getting into debt yourself.

If your family demands money every time you get paid, or if they take more than they need, and you're left short, you won't be able to help them with the cost of big things later, like a new fridge or TV, car repairs or medical costs.

How to look after your money

To help your family now and in the future, look after your money and yourself first. Here are some ways you can make your money last for when you and your family really need it.

Do a budget

A budget helps you work out where all your money goes and will help you put your money towards things that are important to you.

Make sure your budget covers all your essential expenses, like rent, bills and food. If your expenses are more than your income, it spells trouble, because you won't have enough money to cover the things you need. If there is money left over, decide how much of that you want to give to your family and how much you would like to save.

By including in your budget the amount of money you want to give to your family, you will be able to tell family members that this is all the money you have for them each payday, so they'll know they can't ask for any more than that.

Use our online budget planner.

Budget planner

Check your bank statements

Check your bank statements regularly to make sure no extra money is coming out of your account. If money is being taken from your account that you don't know about, you might need to get a new card or change your PIN number. Talk to your bank or contact a free financial counsellor if you need help.

See checking your bank statement for more tips on what to look out for.

After you've checked your bank statement, store it in a safe and secure place. If other people can't look at your bank statement, they won't know how much money is in your account.

Keep your bank card and PIN safe

Keep your bank card somewhere only you can find it. Keep your PIN safe by memorising it. Don't write your PIN on your card or keep a note of it in your wallet or purse. Don't ever tell anyone your PIN, not even your family or friends.

Keeping your PIN safe helps protect your money. When your bank gives you a bank card and PIN, you sign an agreement promising to keep your PIN a secret.

If you have kept your PIN secret, and someone steals money from your bank account, your bank will usually give that money back to you if you contact your bank as soon as you can. But if you have told someone else your PIN and money is stolen from your account, the bank will not give your money back. That is why it's very important to keep your PIN safe.

Case study: Jodie deals with money pressure from her nephew

Jodie works as a teachers aide at a primary school and gets paid every 2 weeks. Most paydays her nephew, Tim, asks her for money, which she usually gives to him.

One day, when Tim asked for money so that he could go out with his friends, Jodie said no. But, because he knew her PIN, Tim took Jodie's bank card and withdrew the money from her account anyway.

Later that week, Jodie's car broke down, but she couldn't afford to get it fixed because Tim had taken the money from her account. Jodie had to borrow her neighbour's car to get to and from work until she could save up enough money to pay for the repairs.

That's when Jodie decided to start a budget. The budget included money to cover her regular bills, as well as some for savings and emergencies. She also included a little bit of money for Tim each fortnight in the budget, and she told him this was all the money he was getting so he had to spend it wisely. Jodie also asked the bank for a new bank card and she cancelled her other card. She kept her new bank card away from her family and never told anyone her PIN.

Jodie was able to save enough money to have her car fixed and felt confident saying no to Tim the next time he asked for more money than she had budgeted.

Track your money with online banking

You can use online banking to transfer money to other people or businesses. Online banking can help you keep track of where your money is going and who you are paying money to.

Online banking is very easy to learn how to use. Financial counsellors and financial capability workers in your community might be able to help you set up online banking and show you how to use it.

If you are transferring money to other people or businesses, always double check that the BSB number (which stands for Bank State Branch) and account numbers are correct. To check the BSB, you can use the Australian Payment Clearing Association's Find a BSB tool. If you get these numbers wrong and make a mistake, you might not be able to get your money back. Find out how to fix mistakes on your bank account.

Online banking is an easy way for you to access your money but you need to be careful. To stay safe online, never use public computers (like those in libraries or shared computer rooms) for banking. See more tips on how to avoid identity fraud.

Set up a savings account

You might be trying to save money to buy a car or to buy birthday presents for your kids. It can be hard to do this if you are helping family out with money as well.

If you find it hard to tell a family member you can't help them out, you could set up a savings account. Savings accounts are designed to help your savings grow faster and can be set up so you cannot access the saved money on your bank card. You could transfer the money you want to save directly into that account on the day you get paid, so you won't be tempted to give in to family pressure.

Knowing you can't easily access this money from your bank card might help you to feel more comfortable saying no when family members ask you for money or to buy something for them.

What to do if a family member is being bullied for money

While most people can manage pressure from their family, for some people bullying can cause problems. Sometimes people can get hurt trying to stop themselves being pressured for money by family or other community members, or they can be left with no money to buy food or take care of themselves.

If you are worried that one of your family members is having problems saying no to family members, here are some things you can do it help:

  • Contact your local financial counsellor - Talk to them about ways your family member can protect their money.
  • Look into an ' income management' service - To find out more about this service you can contact the Centrelink Indigenous phone service on 1800 136 380.
  • Get authority to look after their money - If you are really worried about your family member and don't think they can protect their own money, you may be able to get authority for a trusted person to look after their money for them. This only happens in circumstances where a trusted legal guardian (which may or may not be you) can be found. Speak with your local community legal centre or Legal Aid office about how to best help your family member.
  • Contact your local police station - Talk to them about protecting your family member. Your local police station can be contacted on 131 444. If your family member is in danger, call the police emergency line on 000.

It's great to help your family out if you can, but it's important to make sure you have enough for yourself and your family when they really need it. If you're struggling with family pressure for money, there's no shame asking for help to deal with it.

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Last updated: 25 Jan 2018