Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

A reader asked how she can stop loaning money to family. They rarely pay her back and always have a rationale about why she needs to help them out. They don’t help her. Yet they act like it’s her responsibility to loan them money. The reader hasn’t been able to do the things she’d like because money is tight, since she’s the family banker. She asked how she can stop this pattern without alienating her family.

In this kind of situation, don’t worry so much about alienating family. The reader’s family members aren’t in terrible shape. They have jobs. She should be angry that they take great advantage of her. Getting people out of the habit of expecting you to subsidize their lifestyles is your responsibility. It begins with accepting you have a right to spend all your money on what YOU choose and don’t owe anyone more than you’re comfortable giving. No one can take your money if you don’t give it.

Everyone is responsible for their circumstances. It’s your choice how you spend your money. Even if you make a lot more, you don’t need to share, unless you want to!

Many people will take if they’re allowed to. And you allow them to by not saying “no” or speaking up about how you want it to stop. Few will read your mind so you need to do something if you want to stop it! You stop it by saying no more lending! If the person gets angry, nicely ask why you should give up spending so they can spend more? Explain you have your own bills to pay and don’t have enough extra to lend it. And if you do consider lending it, ask when they plan to pay it back.

I shudder to think about how much money I lost when I was a DoorMat because I loaned money to please people so they’d like me. Trying to get the money repaid was useless, yet I still loaned more to certain people I thought I needed in my life. Looking back, I’m not angry at myself. I just didn’t know any better. From a spiritual perspective, what they did probably came back to them. Put it in writing!

Now if I’m asked, my response is usually, “My new policy is that I don’t loan money to anyone.”

If people don’t like it, oh well. If I go out with someone I know sometimes doesn’t have a lot of cash, I ask beforehand if where we’re going is in her budget since I don’t have extra. I have loaned money a few times to people I knew were trustworthy and were in a true bind. And each paid it back in the time promised. But in most cases, my no lending policy holds fast.

While the answer seems simple—just say “no” to loan requests—it can be very hard to say this to people who are used to getting cash from you.

People will try to shame you into lending. I’ve asked why they think they should be the ones to spend my money instead of me. The person who continuously borrows without repaying the money should be ashamed, not you! In that case, if the person balks, I’d clarify that they don’t want a loan, they just want you to give them money to keep and you’re not rich enough to continue to subsidize their income.

This all begins with accepting your right to not lend people money. It truly is your right. It’s your money. You earn it. You can spend it.

Years ago I had a roommate who made a lot less than me because she was pursuing a creative career and had a job that was convenient. It was her choice to leave a lot of time for her art. I was pursuing stuff too, but I had several jobs in order to pay for what I wanted. She often asked for a loan but I didn’t think she’d ever pay it back on her salary and didn’t want to have to bug her for it so I refused each time. Her annoyance was clear. Then she started getting on me when I went out to eat or spent money on fun things.

When she got sarcastic—“You go out to eat but won’t loan me the money I need”—I had to put her in her place. I firmly explained that I worked hard to make enough money to enjoy my life. That was my choice. Hers was to work less to do other things and I wasn’t her keeper. I told her to stop looking to me for money. If she wanted more, work more. She didn’t like it but got over her anger.

It’s your choice to loan money or to say “no.” Loaning brings aggravation, unless it’s someone you really trust. Love yourself enough to set boundaries on what you lend to others. My “I don’t loan money, Period.” policy works well for me. Find your own way but put the brakes on playing banker to those who don’t repay the money. It might be uncomfortable to set boundaries but after you’ll feel so empowered that you’ll get over it!

Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Challenge–a pledge to do something loving for yourself for the next 31 days–and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts from 2012 HERE.

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