Ask Zeta: "My Sister Wants to Borrow Money: Do I Have To Tell My Partner?"

Aditi Shekar
October 26th, 2020 | 3 min

Got a tough love and money question? Email us at editor@askzeta.com.

"My sister asked if she could borrow $500 to help get her through a tough time. Part of me wants to lend her the money from my personal account so I don't have to deal with my husband complaining about how my sister is bad with money. But the other part of me is tired of being put in the middle all the time. Either way, someone ends up mad at me."

What do you think?

I hear you, this is a tough spot to be in. Glad you're trying to find a better solution than maintaining this status-quo. The thing is, family and money is never just about lending someone money, it can come with so many nuances and problems that we can't forsee until they find a way to rear their heads.

My hot take - if you and your partner aren't 100% aligned on how you should spend your money, rather than trying to spend hours (years?) trying to find a compromise, why not agree to set aside a certain amount of money each month for each of you to use as you see fit. If you decide that lending your sister money is what you'd prefer to do with your personal pot of cash, then go nuts. That way, you don't have to stress about your partner's feelings and you can own the relationship with your sister directly, which is also more fair to your partner IMHO.

That said, lending family money isn't without it's complications - for one, I often encourage folks to think about lending money as an outright gift. That way, you're pleasantly surprised if you get it back but not crushed if you don't. It's when you lend money you can't even afford where things get nasty. But that's for another day to dive into!

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