Wednesday is reader question day. I got this question a while back and I’d like to try and answer it the best I can.
Is it okay to lend my boyfriend money when he is completely broke? For instance if he needs money for fuel and other basic necessities? He has been having a financial crisis for a while due to a business deal gone wrong. He has promised that he will refund. I keep hearing different opinions about how a man should never borrow money from his girlfriend or any woman and that a woman should never lend a man money or give him money as it’s his responsibility to provide and not the other way round. I am confused on what to do? Please advice. – *Joyce
Thank you Joyce. This is a question that is asked often so your concern is valid. Like many relationship questions, there is no straight answer. Many times in relationship issues there are a lot of underlying issues and those have to be dealt with first. In this case, lending him money depends on several factors:
When – Dating or married? In marriage there is nothing like lending each other money. We bring all the money we make to the table and appropriate it according to our needs each month. In the course of marriage, because of things such losing a job, at some point it is the wife who does not have money and other times it is the husband. This means that with a joint way of handling money, no one will ever be left out in the cold. I have written about it here and here. When you are dating however, that is a different ball game all together. Because you are not married, you lead individual lives and therefore don’t have to share money. To know how to proceed let us consider a few things.
Why? What is the reason for lending him money? The reason is extremely important. Being broke is not a reason, you need to ask yourself, why is he broke? If he is almost always broke mid-month it could point to poor planning on his part. Bad money decisions such as partying, taking unnecessary loans show a character problem. In such cases you should not give him money. If you lend him money, you will be supporting his bad lifestyle and poor decisions. In this case it is a business deal gone wrong. That is OK, because deals sometimes don’t work out. However, this should not happen often. Another thing to note is that he should never borrow money for luxurious things. If we are broke, the first thing we cut is fuel. We park the car and take a bus to wherever we are going for as long as it takes. Why? Because we can do without a car. Borrowing money should be necessities like food or fare – now that is being broke. If he can drive around, he can buy food and pay rent. If his business deal has left him even without food or rent, then by all means be kind and help him out. That is what friends are for.
How much money are we talking about here? The amount matters. Don’t go giving someone you are not married to a lot of money. Don’t let him access to your credit cards, ATM cards without reservation. Those privileges come with marriage and you are not married. Treat him to lunch, buy him a gift every so often but be careful with lending him a lot of money.
How often does it happen? Borrowing you money should not be a habit. If it is a habit, then it is a character problem. As a man, he should be able to make money, save, invest etc and show that he can take care of his family in the future. He does not need to have a fancy, high paying job but he needs to show responsibility. If he is always investing in things that don’t work out, you need to talk; brainstorm and see why things always go that way. What you need to look out for is a trend. Is he the kind of guy who always lets others pay the bill? Does he borrow money from everyone around him? Does he always borrow people’s cars? Maybe he is living a lifestyle he can’t maintain. Notice any bad habits now before they drive you up the wall when you are married. I know a friend whose husband had borrowed money from all HER friends until no one could bail them out.
Talking about money when you are NOT married: A lot of issues in relationships can be sorted out if you just talk about them. Discuss, brainstorm and find a solution. After all, you are a team. However, because you are not married, you may feel awkward bringing up certain things. Before you can be able to discuss money issues, develop a culture of talking about other things. I have mentioned before the “100 questions before I do” we did when we were dating. There are many versions online – all have a section on money. You can pick those you feel are the best and you can be discussing them in your dates. This will help you guys talk about investments, saving and such issues. Maybe he is not doing his due diligence in these business deals; you can help him with ideas. If he has incurred a lot of losses, you can suggest he takes a break and recovers first.
Budget together – a better solution instead of always giving him money is to sit down and budget together even if you are not married. This does not mean you treat money as a joint resource. No. It is just saying “I make this much and I would like your ideas on how to spend it” This is great especially if you are engaged or you have both agreed the relationship is headed for marriage. This encourages transparency and develops a culture of planning together. I remember our campus days when my husband got his first internship. He was being paid sh.6,000 and we still budgeted together. We would plan one nice date per month and the rest of the time we would eat in campus joints or I would cook lunch – to make it more romantic, sometimes we would pack it and go have a picnic in the field. Budgeting together allows you to know how much you both have so you don’t strain one another. You are able to help him manage the little money he has better.
Is there anything you’d like to add to help this lovely lady? Feel free to share.