Dealing with family pressure about money

Giving money to your mob

We all love to help our family out with money when they need it, but sometimes people give too much of their money away to family and friends and don't have enough left for themselves.

Here we explain some ways to make sure you're putting your financial needs first, even when you're helping out your mob.

Video: Dealing with family pressure about money

Animated video about dealing with family pressure

Uncle Charlie is about to receive a big payment. See how he deals with pressure from his family and friends to give them money.

Lending money to family and friends

Family and friends always like to help each other out. If you have a family member or friend who needs to borrow money, and you have some spare, it can feel good to help them - and they might even help you out with money too, if you ever need it.

But some people feel pressured to help friends and family with money even when they don't have enough for themselves, or find it hard to explain why they don't have enough money to lend. When family members regularly ask for money, 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 giving them all your money means you don't have enough to pay your rent or bills or buy food. That might mean you have to borrow money to make ends meet, and end up getting into debt yourself.

It also means 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. It will also 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, 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'd like to save.

If you budget for 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.

Start your budget today.

Budget planner

Check your bank statements

It's easy to forget about automatic payments and direct debits that come out of your bank account, so it's a good idea to look at your bank statement regularly and check which automatic payments are coming out.

If you're making a payment that you don't think you agreed to, or there are payments coming out and you're not sure what they're for, contact your bank or a free financial counsellor to make sure you only make payments for the things you actually signed up for.

See unauthorised and mistaken transactions 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 them 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 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 was still able to help Tim, without leaving herself short of money.

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 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.

Online banking is an easy way for you to access your money, but you need to be careful. If you use a public computer to do your banking, make sure you don't save your password on the computer, and always make sure you log out when you finish using it. If you don't, someone might pretend to be you and get access to your bank account. 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 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 someone you know is having trouble saying no to family members, here are some things you can do to 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, contact the Centrelink Indigenous Call Centre on 1800 136 380.
  • Get authority to look after their money - If you're 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 when a trusted legal guardian (which may or may not be you) can be found. Talk to 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 13 14 44. 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 money 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.

Related links

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images and voices of deceased people.

Last updated: 25 Sep 2018