Learning how to set boundaries has been difficult for me.
On the day I graduated from business school, some family members called me and told me they were happy I was graduating because I could finally help them.
That conversation brought up all my fears about money.
I was torn between being debt free and getting my family’s approval by giving them what little money I had to pay back all my debts.
After a few life coaching sessions I saw that my refusal to be successful wasn’t helping me at all so I learned to set financial boundaries with my family.
Our need to belong makes it difficult to set boundaries in relationships
According to evolutionary psychology, the human mind evolves at a much slower pace than our environment so our minds still think the same way they did 10,000 years ago on some issues.
Our current behavior is determined by the survival problems that our minds had to solve in our caveman and hunter gatherer days.
Our minds are wired towards tribalism because ten thousand years ago being kicked out of our tribe meant death.
Being loyal to the tribe kept us alive.
Today, this loyalty plays out in different ways in our lives and even our finances - we'll help others, not because we want to or can afford to, but because we want them to approve of us.
If people approve of us, they won't kick us out of the tribe.
Our need to belong affects us financially
If you’re a fan of the vampire series, True Blood, then you have probably seen Sam Merlotte’s family: the father who believes his son should look after him financially, the mother who uses her sweetness to manipulate her son and the son that eventually kills his parents to gain his freedom.
Not everyone has such a messed up family or messed up view of family. Thank Heavens!
But for those of us that do have family members that think of us as meal tickets know how difficult it is to set personal boundaries with the people we love most.
How to Set Boundaries with Money
1. Understand what you aren’t willing to compromise
Know what you’re not willing to give up financially and make a list of all these things.
These are things you aren’t willing to give up to help others financially. This is to ensure that giving your family and friends financial help doesn’t put you at a disadvantage.
You can’t help others if you’re also struggling. Focus on getting yourself financially stable and then you can start to give to others.
2. Tell people when they’re over stepping your boundaries
When people are overstepping your financial boundaries you shouldn’t feel guilty about telling them to back off.
Be open, honest and straight to the point and if they get angry at you repeat yourself and walk away.
The first time I told some family members that I wasn’t going to look after them, they screamed at me and I dropped the phone.
But I wrote them an email explaining my reasons and they responded by calling my mom.
3. Respect your boundaries…Walk the talk
Setting boundaries and telling people what we want may feel uncomfortable at first but once we’ve set our boundaries, it’s important that we respect them.
People treat us the way that we treat ourselves, so if we don’t respect our boundaries how can they?
After I sent the email to my family and they called my mom and told her that I was refusing to do my family duty. My mom backed me up 100% but my actions spoke volumes.
I’ve always kept my financial dealings separate from my relationship with my family and my family respects me for that.
In fact any family that borrows money from me always returns it with interest and most of my family now gets some kind of money coaching from me or from a coach.