Save. Spend. Splurge.

How to tell family members “No”, I am not helping your sorry ass any more

I have no shortage of stories about my family, and I read Leslie’s post a long time back about not giving $300 to her father for a car (cutting him off, essentially) which sparked this post.

Incidentally, a commenter left a rather pointed remark about how we were all “whiny millennialists who have money to travel and shop, but not to help family members.

My reply was equal in tone:

Having parents who are just like this, I can tell you that you don’t see the whole picture and to judge someone based on a single post like this without knowing their past is just as ignorant as your comment.

A parent who lies to you and says they need $1000 a month for gas (yes, JUST for gas) to get money out of you is someone whom you cannot trust.

I worked hard for my money.

I don’t mind helping my parents, provided that they too, know how to manage their own money and don’t come to me asking for cash like I’m some free flowing ATM.

I haven’t asked money from my parents since I was 19 and moved out on my own, so pardon me if I take offence to calling others “whiny millennialists” who have money to spend on traveling clothes and crap but can’t help family members.


Sometimes you can’t help them.

Just as a parent who has to stop enabling their lazy bum children and cut them off from coming back to suck at their financial teats, sometimes children have to play that role in reverse and cut their parents off.

There comes a point where you have to say no when they ask you for $20,000 to go on some luxury vacation around the world on that hard earned money that you worked hard to maintain and manage after paying off $60,000 in student loans.

Don’t get me wrong, I love them and always will because we are related by blood, but they do things that make me want to strongly break the relationship and never talk to them again, particularly with my father.


With my father, it gotten to the point where I decided I will not help him if he is in trouble.

No, this is not a plea for you to try and change my mind.

Family or not, blood or not, I’ve decided that he is the one who has ruined the relationship because of money and he and I will never be the same again.

People who really love you and are your true family, don’t necessarily have to be related to you by blood. BF and his family really loves me, and we are not related by blood.

My friends love me, and we are not related by blood. He has since changed his tune after talking to my mother and realized he could very well lose me forever (I am as stubborn as a mule just they are), but I am not budging.

He killed the relationship we had, and he will bear that burden up until his dying breath. My brother told me that in the future I might change my mind because as he put it: As I got older, I realized the importance of family.

He is a bit softer however, and more kind-hearted than I am, and in many ways I consider him to be the true father figure in my family who has helped all of us in any way he could, not my father.

What was all of this fight over anyway?


He wanted money.

Actually, more specifically, he wanted dole or tribute money each month even though he doesn’t need it.

The stupidest thing to fight over is MONEY especially since he doesn’t even bloody need it.

Everything in his life is paid for 100%, except for his gambling habit which he supports by trying to be cheap and cutting corners on buying near-rotten groceries to feed him and my mother with.


I would give him said money if he had acted like a real, caring parent and father even if he was poor and could not have helped me much but did the best he could, but he has proven with his repeated actions to not be trustworthy and selfish.

Even my generous mother who has the heart of a saint, has admitted many times that he thinks of no one but himself. He is just selfish, and that’s it.

Still, he is my father and there’s no denying I have his genes and profited well from most of them (I could have done without the bad ones like eczema and horrible eyesight), but I am under no illusions that he will turn into the ideal father overnight.

You are what you are.

Anyway, the whole point of this story is not to have anyone change me mind or feel sorry for me or my father (or both!), it is to tell you how I deal with saying “No” to parasites, especially ones I am related to,

I just thought you needed a background on my “experience” with blood-related parasites.


Here are a few possibly similar scenarios you can read over:


Some family members might not ask for anything directly but will HINT, like:

You know, it would be nice if I had a faster computer.

Don’t try and fix their computer or help them clean it up to make it go faster, just ignore them and don’t help them.

Don’t take the bait which will then lead to them hinting even harder and slowly trapping you into a false sense of obligation to help them out because you are better off.

Don’t forget that you are “better off” financially (mostly because you work and they don’t, which is why they don’t have money.

They’re parasites after all.


Other family members might just say: “I need X amount of money for food/gas/some essential crap, can you lend it to me?

Once you open the floodgates of lending to a known parasite, they will mark you as a source of income in the future and continually badger you until you break and give in.

The more you give parasites, they more they want.

They don’t see it as stealing or begging, they see it as their RIGHT that you give them money, and if you can afford to give them money once, you can afford to do it your entire life.

Don’t give them anything at all. If you give them anything, assume the money is lost, and don’t waste your breath asking for it back, it will just make you annoyed and frustrated because it was your own doing (dare I say, naivety?).


Only give money to people you trust will do the right thing to give you the money back.

You know deep down inside who these people are because they have demonstrated time and time again how generous and giving they are, and you will have absolutely no doubts in your mind that they will NOT forget the debt and pay you back.

A good test I use is if I were to ask someone for money, and if they were to give me the money without hesitation, it is someone I trust, because they trust ME to give the money back without “forgetting” about it.

Otherwise, keep your pocketbook close to your chest.

I also freely give money to people but if I have to hassle and ask for it back from them, I never lend them money again.

It means that they don’t care.


Alternatively, if you do end up giving money to parasites without knowing it, and they don’t give you the money back or even mention it again, just assume that you learned your financial lesson (hopefully inexpensively), and it was worth that $5 – $500 you lent them to learn that you should never, ever trust them again in your life, even if they are crying wolf to you over the phone with crocodile tears.




Quite simply, “No”, works very effectively. You don’t need to explain yourself if you don’t want to. The answer is “No”. Other ways you can say it:

  • I don’t have the money.
  • I can’t afford that.
  • I’m sorry, but no.

Don’t say things like: “I WISH I could but I can’t, because you’re just going to leave that door open for them to re-ask for money in the future.

Don’t give them false hope.

Cut them off at the pass.


My father is the perfect parasite for this. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been told:

“I’m your father.”

“You’re so much richer, you can afford to help me.”

“You sponged off me for so long since birth.”

“You owe me.”

“What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you want to help me?”

“I sacrificed so much for you.”

“Why are you being such a f*cking bitch?”

— True story, believe it or not.

I’ve been called plenty of names and sworn at, which is absolutely taboo and crosses the line in my family, which culminated in my not wanting to have anything to do with him. This should only incense you farther and make you NOT want to open your wallet at all to these parasites.

Don’t try and fight an idiot with his own logic because he’ll just drag you down to his level and beat you with experience (credit: Mark Twain).

You just have to keep repeating “No I don’t have the money“, and they’ll eventually give up because they’re talking to a blank wall.

Or just ignore them.

Don’t respond. I do this a lot and it works well with me.

They get annoyed that you’re ignoring them which makes them angrier, frothier at the mouth and less logical.

Besides.. at the end of the day, you’re the one in control of your own money, so don’t send it if you don’t want to.


  • ken

    Exactly what is going on with my sis. And as she grows older she gets worse and worse. She keeps asking for more and at the same time (behind my back) she keeps accusing me of being difficult or stingy…
    Now the worst part is that she uses her children to get what she wants, because its hard to say no to them…

  • BC

    Thanks for posting this. I needed to know that this happens to other people and I am not the only one dealing with this issue. I’m an only child and I have not ask for anything, money or favors since I have been on my own. But it really bothers me when family members. Especially my father ask me for stuff or things. It gives me anxiety and it doesn’t make me feel good. He always ask like he is giving orders and it pisses me off. I don’t want to be disrespectful but I’ve moved far away from family not to deal with the asking favors crap.

  • kae

    “The more you give parasites, they more they want.”

    This is very true! and no it didn’t happened to me but someone I know. They feel guilt of not helping out family member, actually i think he make them feel guilty because of his all bad habits including gambling and drugs.

    Now he’s asking for another chance to turn his life around. I hope so because if not. God knows where he’ll end up at

  • Magan

    I’m 30 years old married with 3 children. My father used to make very good money as an engineer. He stopped working, went through all of his retirement. And for the last 5 years borrows from Peter to pay Paul. He has a trust fund and early retirement. I know his income and his bills but I kid you not 7 days after getting a payment his money is gone and he’s back to begging. My father and step mother should have plenty to live on after bills, and it’s gone. His famous words are “next month will be better” or “if we can’t live off this amount then we better hang it up”. I have no problem helping a parent in need but they are putting themselves in a bind and I’m at my breaking point. Thank you for writing your story it reminds me I have no room for guilt for cutting them off.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      You’re welcome. It is NOT EASY. It really isn’t. I have struggled with this, I feel guilt, it’s all things I feel very strongly as a child, but even more so when I take a look at my own son and see that I don’t want to put him in that position.

  • Megan

    Wow, the previous car article could have been written by me. I’m engaged and my fiance’s father is financially dependent on him. He doesn’t have a car, he’s crashed multiple cars that my fiance managed to save for, they’re sharing a car now that my fiance is paying for even though his dad usually has access to the car more often then his son. His dad doesn’t have any savings, credit, health insurance, etc. My fiance shares a bank account with his dad and his dad handles almost all of the finances. It’s ridiculous! They both make terrible decisions and would rather continue to dig themselves in a hole then take advice or change behavior that is clearly unhealthy. And they would rather do this then be a “burden” but when you know someone is setting themselves up for failure and then needs money every month or other help they’re more of a burden by not doing things to be financially independent. Oh and my fiance has 3 other siblings so they could help but really don’t and I’m learning first hand why. It’s because his dad is hopeless, stubborn, and dead weight. If you can’t figure out how to fix your credit, save for a down payment, and purchase your own vehicle so you don’t have to rely on your son when you’re 61 years old then you’re never going to be capable of being a functional adult. I don’t know what to do except what I’ve already done which is gently then emphatically state this can not continue! Yet, it continues. I love my fiance very much but I have serious health problems, student loans, and a fully disabled sister relying on my mother who physically can barely walk. My family has real limitations and disabilities and marrying someone that has a father like this is a burden that extends to us. Stupidity is not a disability but here I am making accommodations for it. Should I give an ultimatum or time frame or what? How do I make someone change?

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Megan this is a really, really tough situation.

      My best advice is to remember that when you marry someone, you marry their family. I found that to be true even not married (my partner’s family is like mine but they’re very hands off…, however HE has to deal with my side which is less so).

      Unless your fiance is willing to talk about this, you are not going to get anywhere.

      What you could do, is institute a budget and ultimatum — We can give ____ amount each month or do _____ but that’s it, no more. It is very hard to support another person completely especially if he is now going to be a parasite off your finances and your future family.

      He loves his father. Please do not forget the father-son or even mother-son bond (any parent-child bond is strong)… and he wants to help for whatever reason (memories, no one else is doing it, he is his DAD)… but there are limits.

      I suggest talking to your fiance to mention that this can’t continue, and then lay out a plan to wean him off your fiance’s finances, I’d suggest separate bank accounts for one thing.

      Ultimatums may work, but you run the risk of losing him. Are you willing to do that? Think hard.

      The only other option is to take over his father’s finances completely and dole out a budget — this is what you get for food, this is what you have for ___ and this is savings.

      It will only get worse as his father heads into retirement because he will stop working, retire, have no money to pay for anything and be 100% dependent on your fiance. DO not forget this.

    • pam

      run dont walk to the nearest exit from this relationship. if your fiance cannot set boundaries with his dad then your relationship will ultimately fail

      • Robin

        That was my first thought – run! If you marry them you will probably have financial problems yourself. Your partner may also end up siding with the parent in a financial situation created by the parent — and enabled by the son.

    • carlisle

      If it is this bad before you are married,this is the prelude to how it will be after wards.Leave him,and wish him well

  • Y

    So I’ve grown up poor. And after high school (2011) I decided to join the military. I got out of active duty 2015 then went back in to serve on a deployment this year. But anyways from 2014 to now my mother and her brother try to make it seem like I’m the bad guy for not sending money to my mother. They use religion to try to make it seem like its my obligation to send her money because in the bible it states you have to honor your mother and your father so that your days will be prosperous and longer. I’m a man of faith but I feel like its so fucked up they try to use religion to make it seem like I’m fucked up for not sending money obviously if she’s in a tight spot I would help but I have my own financial goals I’m trying to reach and I don’t even have a steady career yet the money I make only covers my own living expenses and college. Am I the bad guy for telling her I can’t send money because she needs to find a job?

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Only you can really answer that for yourself.

      From my personal point of view, no, you’re not terrible for thinking that nor wanting to live your own life. If you can afford to and WANT TO give money back, why not? I am of the same opinion that obviously if they need the money for food or shelter, I’d be happy to pay if they get into a tight spot and have nowhere else to turn, but that doesn’t mean supporting lazy people who don’t want to work (note: I said DON’T want to work, not that they CANNOT work.)

      The whole point of children in the past was to have a lot of help on the farm to survive, but the parents worked like mules to provide and put food on the table. It’s much easier in many ways these days to put food on the table without breaking your back on a farm…. which goes for the parents as well. Relying on your child is a surefire way to cause resentment on both sides.

  • dawn morris

    My sis is always askin me for money. she took off &married a guy who’s draws a 700 month check , she was livin with my mom now she wishes she havnt married h this is her 4th marriage. i bet I’ve gave her me &my mom both my mom brought her a new car. new glasses. I’ve helped her we are sick &tired of keepin her &his ass up. Plus he’s got mental problems not playing. with a full deck. I’ve only been married one time if i ever do marry again I’m goin tp be careful who my next partner goin to be. I’m like havnt u learned. anything at all. i don’t think she has wantin money all the time. she don’t work. either i finally startin to ignore her. I’m not givin her no more money. she’s goin tp hav to live with her bad mistakes. I’m done with her.

  • Debra

    Hello, I am frustrated with my mom because she loaned my money from my bank for my brother’s rent for 5 or 9 yrs and never pay back, nothing. I checked my bank balance is $100 or depend on low $ 80. And I can’t afford anything and I need good time for Deaf Expo or Deaf Cruise, Travel, etc. I found out that she took my money out from my bank and gave her for my trip. I told my mom “NO” many time. She still ignore me and stubborn and also don’t believe anything and she says no pay back and don’t worry. I always my own responsibilities of my life.Also my mom don’t understand my feeling is emotion, not mad( she think me mad, not really). I need to buy new clothes, things, etc by myself and also I want move out my own. I live with my mom for 5 or 8 yrs. I am 51 will be 52 yrs old and am deaf.

    I want save and spend by myself.

    What I do? I wish someone explain to my mom make understand how I feel and want.


      Are you able to take control of your bank account independently and to cut her out? You should be able to handle your own finances particularly since everything can be done online these days. I’d also try and sit down with your mother and explain that you are missing out on important things for you (Deaf Expo) and she is robbing you of your experience that you have saved for. It isn’t fair.

  • kareful

    Thanks so much for the read….i too suffered for years with what you call “hinters”….now i am in the position that they have hit rock bottom and cant drive so they are only left with me to help drive them to work and anywhere else. my heart breaks everyday for their children…..what can i do? I know everytime they spend their money on smokes and then tell me no food. So frustrsted and tired.

  • Lila

    My heart goes out to you. My biological father used to hit me and my mom. We are survivors of domestic abuse. My mom has gotten remarried and I consider my step-dad my true father. He’s wonderful. He’s like Ward Cleaver. 😉

    My mom and I no longer have contact with my father and I’m not sorry. A few years ago I contacted my father, I wanted to see if it was possible to repair our relationship. Maybe he changed? I asked him why he used to hit my mom and I.

    He spewed off his excuses and tried to apologize but I didn’t feel like his apology was genuine. There will always be a scar in my psyche because of what he did to me and my mom even though it has been years and even though I have moved on. I can move on but my psyche can’t forget completely.

    I don’t judge you at all. Familial relationships are complicated and I’m sorry that your father uses you as a piggy bank. My hope for you is that he sees the value of family before its too late.

    “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” – spoken by Atticus Finch, written by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird.

  • Tania

    I had a BF that I had to cut off at a certain point. It didn’t mean I stopped caring about him, I just stopped lending him money. That whole situation ended very badly btw (borrowing money was just the tip of the iceberg) as I’m sure you’ve already speculated. It’s not blood but I consider that family as he was living with me at the time. I do care about my family, I moved back to Maui to be closer to my parents as they age so I’m already here when the day comes that they my help. That help likely won’t be financial however because they’ve lived frugally and saved for their retirement their entire lives. I’ve had friends that have had to cut off children or parents but it doesn’t mean they cut off the relationship. They still show care for them but just don’t give them money. Money is not love and enabling people isn’t love either.

  • debt debs

    I have a sister who has had a hard life and still has. My father gives her $200 / mth which he gives to us (me and my other sisters) in quarterly installments and we are responsible to get it to her. She spends no money and lives a meagre existence and I’m pretty sure the money all goes to her husband’s cigarettes. It’s frustrating and sad at the same time. We don’t know how to help her and she certainly can’t seem to help herself.

  • ArianaAuburn

    I am sorry you have to go through this. But you have your own family to think about. Maybe things will improve in the future.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      *shrug* If it doesn’t, I am not going to shed any tears over it. I have my own little family now and I don’t plan on treating my children in the same manner (I won’t be spoiling them either).

  • Stephany

    I can really identify with this post because I had to do the same thing with my father. I was “lucky” in the fact that I got to see how much my dad used my brother for money and I decided I would never help him out. He knew from the get-go to never ask me for money because I wouldn’t give it to him. Our relationship did fall apart but mainly because he was just a horrible father and I didn’t need his volatile ways in my life, but his relationship with my brother also fell apart because of his incessant need for money. (It was literally the ONLY reason he would call him.) It’s sucky, but it is what it is. It’s a good lesson to learn, I think, and luckily, I learned it early on.

  • SAK

    Ahhh – sounds so much like my family. Except once I said “No” a couple times and stuck with it – they cut me off! Since I won’t give them money/support them – no need to talk with me. Life is much less stressful. I will “loan” money to friends with a real need but I always consider it a gift – if they pay me back – great – if not, I am prepared. And only once.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Ditto. I don’t loan money I can’t afford to give away.

      That said, I am not cheap with my money. I’m actually quite generous.. I’ve purchased a lot of things for my parents (useful things), and even replaced their old small TV With a big screen… but none of that matters to my father because once it’s done, he’s onto the next ‘gimme gimme’.. which is what I learned early on.

      The only parent I spoil is my mother. I really try and buy her everything and anything I think would be useful..

  • Morgaine

    My brother is also a sponge and everytime he asks me for money now my answer is the same: “Where’s the $40 you already owe me?” That was a long time ago and of course, I’ve written it off as a “gift” but its a great response everytime he asks 😉

    You should also mention that you do help your Mom (you bought her a wonderful winter jacket) because she works but since your Dad spends all the money on himself she doesn’t have even necessities. So, you do care about family, just not one particular family member 🙂

  • Anne @ Unique Gifter

    I know someone whose step-son is a drug addict and use to spin all sorts of stories. Once they (her and her husband) decided that they would never give him money, no matter the story, she said it made life so, so much better. They were much less stressed and relaxed because they knew their answer, every time. There was no discussion between themselves, or debate, or listening to pleading, just a “no.”

  • Debbie M

    One thing that worked for me is to make a rule that I don’t lend money to people who still owe me money. My little brother tried asking for enough extra with his new loan so that he could pay back his old loan. Nice try, didn’t work! But I have reasonable siblings who don’t really like owing me money even if they do so for many years on end.

    I also don’t lend money that won’t help solve a problem. Like if you can’t afford your rent because you don’t make enough money, I’m not going to lend you money just so you can be kicked out one or two months later. But if you can’t afford to move somewhere cheaper because you can’t afford to scrape together the first-and-last-month’s rent/deposit, then I’m your man. In the first kind of situation, I’m able to say that whatever you would do after you run out of people to borrow money from and get desperate–that’s what you should do right now. But again, I am dealing with reasonable people.

    • Dayle

      @Debbie M:

      Yes! This reminds me of an ex boyfriend. I was a sucker once, and gave him $1000 to make a payment onto his vehicle loan so it wouldn’t be impounded (stupid stupid stupid)… anyway, a month or two later it did get impounded, because he couldn’t afford the payments, and he wanted me to give him another $1500 or something to get it out of impound. I did say no that time, thank god… you don’t make enough money to pay for it, so why would I spend all that cash just to have it happen again in a month or two.

      • Debbie M

        @Dayle: Ha! Good job on saying no the second time! There are some things we really don’t want to learn. I think because we don’t want them to be true.

      • save. spend. splurge.

        I agree with Debbie, good on you!

        I made some pretty stupid mistakes with exes before. I’ve since learned my lesson and luckily have not made any since, but we can all be a little too trusting and naive at times.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      You have good rules.. and you are dealing with reasonable folks.

      For me, it’s that lack of rationality that gets me in my father. He doesn’t see that his actions have consequences.

  • GirlinaTrenchCoat

    Boy, your story sounds very similar to a relative I have, and it is annoying as hell to keep putting up with their irresponsibility and justification that “you live in the US, make more money, and you are my blood, so you owe me!” Hell no. You screwed up your life, we’re not obligated to subsidize your bad choices and lack of proper planning.

  • Kathy

    My husband had a sibling who got money from every other sibling. For some unknown reason, hubby was the only one who ever got the money repaid. I don’t know how we got so lucky.

  • preferannoymous

    I have the same problem with my uncle who lives overseas. When I was a student, my uncle would ask me to lend him money stating he needed money to pay for rent despite the fact i am a student. But i was a doing my co-op and earning salary so i agreed to borrow him some money. At first I didn’t think of asking him to pay me back as that was supposed to be a one time deal. But then he insisted to pay me back, 3-4 months after he transferred money to me and i accepted it.

    However a month after he returned the money, he asked me for the money again. At this time, i returned to school as a full time student, budget was tight, and I’m not comfortable lending him my tuition fee/living costs. So I called my mom and let her know the situation. After speaking to my mom, apparently he has gambling problem and lied to me about his rent and my mom has been sending him money every month. Hence I ignored his request after hearing from my mom. So we stopped communication all together, as I was only a student and don’t want get involved in adult issues (there are more issues).

    Now few years gone by, he keeps in touch with my mother, he has my cell number, and connected through fb. But I completely ignored his communication because i absolutely lost my respect for him, not because of his gambling problem because of his name calling on the phone, and sent me nasty fb messages stating that I am a horrible person for ignoring his call, uneducated person.

    The first time i spoke to him on the phone, the first thing he said wasn’t asking how I’m doing, was to lecture me about my life choices ( i was to get married to my 4 years bf).

    I am sorry to post such a long comment, but your story resonance with mine and i had to share.

  • AdinaJ

    Wow, it’s hard to imagine that parents like this actually exist outside of, like, Hollywood because it’s so alien to my experience. I think my dad would rather cut off a hand than come to me to ask me for money.
    However, we’ve had to occasionally deal with comments from extended family about “how rich we must be” (not requests for money) and those are annoying too (though,obviously less so). So we’ve learned to basically pretend that we are the typical, overextended, just scraping by, family. No more comments,and I don’t care if people think we are broke. I would think this approach might help in a situation that involves actual requests for money too.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I don’t care if people think I’m broke either. Actually, I kind of prefer it. I play up the fact that I don’t work all the time and it keeps people off my back. On the side, I’m quietly saving for retirement above and beyond my age, so it’s a win-win. If my father knew how much money I had, he’d lose it and probably demand for a chunk to pay him back for the hospital fees, child rearing days, etc. He never forgets a “debt” owed to him but for some reason, always forgets to give money back to people he owes.

      I’m happy that you don’t have parents like this though. You’re lucky. Go hug them 🙂

  • Charlotte

    I’ve come close but never had to actually cut someone out over money. It’s a really hard thing to do but it’s so important to draw a hard line so that they stop asking over and over.

  • Marie @ Gen Y Finances

    It’s definitely a hard thing to be done or say. But you have a great point.

  • Kate @ Money Propeller

    Some family members are really insensitive and would take advantage of you, especially when it comes to money matters. I know my aunt hate me now because she wants to borrow money from me AGAIN and that time I refused to lend her.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I don’t mind helping if it’s serious but not if it’s for frivolous things that they didn’t work for. I can buy whatever I want for myself because it’s MY money but it isn’t my job to give them luxuries.

  • Michelle

    I had to cut a family member off a few years ago. It was really hard, but I have grown a lot since then. Never been happier.

  • Midori

    I agree. Blood isn’t always everything… sometimes water is better. 🙂

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