No. of Recommendations: 75
My DH and I have always been considered the poor ones in the family. We spent the first four years of our married life in college and when we went out to dinner with friends or relatives - we either saved up, shared an entree, or didn't eat. We got teased about this a few times.

This morning I got a call from my sister's husband. There has been a lot of recent medical emergencies in their family which has drained all of their available cash and he asked if we had $1500 they could borrow for a little while. I said sure - though we like to think of these loans as gifts - because we never know when they'll get back to us. So, I stuck a check in the mail this morning.

I thought it was interesting that they called us, because, as I said earlier - we have always been considered the poor ones. Well, as I was talking to my sister's husband - it came out that we were not the first ones that they had called during this time of emergency. They had called my grandfather, who said all of his money was tied up in investments that he couldn't get to. They called my other grandfather, who told them that they should call my dad before asking him for money. They called my dad, who is in the middle of buying and selling a house. They called my "well-to-do" sister who just bought a new minivan and didn't have any extra cash around. They called my mom who volunteered $100, but said she probably couldn't scrape together anymore. I guess that we were the next candidates on this list since my other two sisters are just starting in college and in highschool, respectively.

Out of all of the well-to-do relatives we have around - we were the only ones that could and would send $1500 to help them through a hard time. At least we won't get teased by one of my sisters the next time we share an entree at dinner.
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Yeah...it sure seems like this happens a lot. Those who have been blessed with much feel that it is their exclusive right to keep it.

A family member who will not come to the aid of another family member in a TRUE emergency (not just a want) is a low-life. That is one of the things a family is about...mutual aid. Notice I didn't say getting money for something that you would like...but rather, something that is a TRUE need.

You may be the "poor" ones in terms of net worth, but you are the rich ones in terms of self worth. May you be blessed for your generosity.
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I'm not seeing here a distinction in who has the greatest net worth. Rather, I'm seeing a major variation in lifestyles and liquidity...

with those with the more frugal lifestyle having greater liquidity.

It is entirely consistent with the evidence to say that those with the more frugal lifestyle ALSO have a greater net worth than most... the grandfather with his assets tied up in illiquid investments is quite plausibly higher, and the father who is in the middle of real estate deals likewise (but those real estate deals DO tend to consume large quantities of cash while in progress).
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warrl:

I don't really see where that excuses them from being part of the family, with all of the requisite responsibilities and requirements.
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Yes, and you'll remain the poor folks in the family as long as you hand out $1,500 gifts to any deadbeat who calls you up and asks for it. I too had to learn the hard way. I estimate I handed out $10K before I became seriously ill and learned that those folks I helped out (including relatives) didn't have a dime to help me, nor would they even pay back what they had borrowed so I could take care of myself while I was ill. It was a valuable lesson, because I never could have accumulated what I have today if I had continued to loan money! Nowadays, I have learned that if someone calls looking for a hand-out, I have plenty of excuses on hand -- money tied up with investments, medical bills, new equipment or cars. Hmm. Sound familiar? Maybe one day you will be able to afford to have your own entree at dinner if you learn to be a little stronger and tell the deadbeats, including deadbeat family members, NO. You are not helping these folks by giving them money. You are denying them the opportunity to be the hero of their own lives. Forgive me if it sounds harsh, but I wish someone had told me what I am telling you now.
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No. of Recommendations: 6
Oh well...you don't give in order to get...do you?

I have lent my mentally retarded brother many thousands of dollars and I don't expect a dime back. You see...he has a very hard time being his own hero.

Sometimes...you just give.

Pepperdine University, one of my graduate alma maters, has its motto...from the Bible..."Freely ye recceived...Freely give."
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No. of Recommendations: 11
Congratulations to you on being sooooo generous. I do hope you are not taken advantage of. Several years ago hubby's parents house burned down. Due to the fact that they have NO idea how to save money they had no downpayment to start the rebuilding process. Guess who they called for money?? Not his three siblings with their master's degrees and big jobs who still owed money for loans over the years. (thousands and thousands) They called us, the ones who paid each and every month in full any money ever borrowed and did not owe them anything at the time.
But you know I figure it this way. When (notice I'm not saying "if") the parents need money again I know three other families that better cough it up before we will again.
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family ceo:

You missed the point. I don't care if I'm being taken advantage of!

I give because I choose to. Notice...I don't loan...I give. If the person getting the gift wants to give it back...I tell them to help someone else someday.

You see, during some very difficult periods of my life...people gave me things that helped me sustain myself...when I otherwise would've died. I give because I want to...because I "owe" it.
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<<Pepperdine University, one of my graduate alma maters, has its motto...from the Bible..."Freely ye recceived...Freely give." >>



They didn't charge you tuition?




Seattle Pioneer
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>>>>>>>>> I too had to learn the hard way. I estimate I handed out $10K before I became seriously ill and learned that those folks I helped out (including relatives) didn't have a dime to help me, nor would they even pay back what they had borrowed so I could take care of myself while I was ill. It was a valuable lesson, because I never could have accumulated what I have today if I had continued to loan money! <<<<<<

I'm sorry to hear that things didn't work out for you. As for my sister and brothers, we have an unwritten mutual aid pact. If anyone needs help, we all do what we can to help out. I guess for us it isn't about money it is about family.

Best to You.
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No. of Recommendations: 45
Digrat,

I spent a long time thinking about these posts and had much difficulty deciding on my response. We've replaced most of the familial safety net with insurance and government programs in this country over the years. This is in stark contrast this with places like China or Taiwan where there is no welfare; families are expected to provide for family members in need. Mix in all the American notions of individual responsibility and the knee-jerk response is to blame people in need for not having the means to see them through emergencies. At least, this was my initial response.

This is particularly the case because, like most people on this LBYM board, I have taken control of my family's finances and have much in the way of savings built up for just such crises. My wife and I have worked very hard to make this so; we took responsibility for our own financial futures and are proud to now be (hopefully) beyond such problems.

A couple thoughts, though, broke apart my feelings of self-congratulation:

First, I remembered the soup kitchen my parents and I volunteered at when I was in high school. It was in a poor (and rather dangerous) part of Minneapolis. You'd see the same people every time, and most of them were able-bodied enough to get their own jobs and provide for their own food. Yet we went every month, and I still believe it was one of the best things I've ever participated in. Charity should not discriminate, as humans we have an obligation to help each other by sake of our humanity. It is not our place to judge the means of such people - the fact that they were swallowing their pride to line up for food they had failed to earn that week - that was all the proof of need that was necessary. At no time did I feel like any of those people were scamming us. Mostly, the people seemed humbled and somewhat ashamed of needing to ask for help in this land of opportunity. I'm sure the sister's husband felt equally ashamed of asking you for money; he probably considers it his personal failure he can't take care of his family is such times.

Second, I think your sister's family has a real need. They had savings that they went through before asking; you aren't enabling consumption for its own sake. You're acting as a last resort in a time of emergency. I'm sure they went through their insurance and government options first; you're their last hope. I thus don't think that you're being used like pekinrobin so unfortunately was. I would be against handing out loans for frivolous reasons, but true emergencies warrant charity.

Third, what is the real purpose of money? I have something I like to call my deathbead test that I use when working through major decisions in my life. Basically, it goes like this - "If I were on my deathbed right now, what do I wish I would've done in this situation?". I know it sounds morbid, but I don't want to have any big regrets on my deathbed. It was this exercise that made me decide to get married and have kids. I would feel like I had missed out on a lot of what life is all about if I had skipped being a husband or a father.

Now, I'm not terribly religous, and don't much know or care what happens when I die. But I do know that if I was laying on my deathbed right now, I would not have much use for $1500. I also don't think I would be thinking at all about whatever I would've used that $1500 to buy. My family would still be provided for give or take another $1500. I really do think, however, that I could look back on the help I was able to give to my sister's family in their time of need and feel that I had done the right thing. The world was better for my having been in it because of such acts. That's something that would give me peace on my deathbed, so I know it's right.

The world is a better place because of people like you. Most people who accumulate wealth forget along the way that money's value is transient. It means nothing if it has no use, and ultimately not all the money in the world will save us from our final end.

We can all learn from your generosity.

Chris
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No. of Recommendations: 27
I don't really see where that excuses them from being part of the family, with all of the requisite responsibilities and requirements.

You've hit my hot button here. Just because you are related to someone and are part of the family does not entitle them to what you have worked for, saved, and planned for simply because they didn't do any of the above. For instance, someone who spends every penny and then needs money in an emergency shouldn't just be given it because they are part of the family. Perhaps they should have considered that they might, in fact, have some type of emergency some day and put something aside even if it's not enough to cover the emergency. In that case, I'd be much more likely to help since they had at least put an effort into being prepared.

And if you think that being related by blood automatically entitles folks to a helping hand when they want it and when they might need it, then I would argue that means they also need to treat these relatives as family.

I can give you too many examples, unfortunately, from DH's life, but let's just say that we have a hard time all of sudden being considered family when it is time for money for one of them when they didn't bother to consider him family when he was growing up [parents couldn't agree which of them should have him so they put him in foster care while they kept the other 4 kids split between them] nor did they consider him family when he was laid off and I delivered the twins 3 weeks later. In fact, during that time when my kids were in the hospital for what seemed like an eternity, they never bothered if we needed anything, had enough money, or even called to see how the babies were doing! Considering one child was in the hospital for 10 weeks and the other for 28 weeks and almost didn't come home at all,I would consider at least a phone call to see how we're doing part of them treating us as family.

Then there's the sister we hear from every 10 years or so. We don't always get the change of address notification, so we can't always locate her. But she manages to call us every 10 years or so when she needs money. This last time,she needed a little to tide her over til her next student loan came through, but the real problem was that she spent the insurance money from the car on something other than the car, so had to spend her loan money to fix the car. I consider this much more a case of poor planning than a case of just not having the money.

In fact, we have been much more willing to loan and give money to friends as they have stood by us and provided the moral support when we've needed it, so when they've needed something, it has been easy to do without even thinking about it.

I'm just thankful that my family fits more the model I think you were thinking about, but you should remember not all families work that way.
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digrat,

I know that some of the well-wishers on this board are trying to protect you by "warning" you about giving/lending money to relatives, but I hope you are not second-guessing your action on the basis of this advice.

I think what you did made you feel good, and that's really what having money is best for, isn't it? There is nothing more satisfying in life than being able to help yourself, your (immediate) family, and others --relatives or not. I know that I would have gained more satisfaction by putting that check in the mail than I would have by taking a vacation or buying a big TV.

My brother (two kids, stay-at-home wife) is not a person of much means -- never has been and probably never will be. The last time he needed a "loan" he asked for $1100. I thought of it in the same manner you have (maybe a loan, maybe a gift?). Well, I think he paid it all back...he sent me checks for $100 each month for about a year. I didn't really keep track. I assume he did -- and I'd lend him $$ again in a minute if he really needed it (it was for a car emergency).

Sleep well...I'm sure you do,
lorips

God does not want you to be poor.
God wants you to be successful and wealthy.
Otherwise, how can you be in a position to help others?
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No. of Recommendations: 16
<<First, I remembered the soup kitchen my parents and I volunteered at when I was in high school. It was in a poor (and rather dangerous) part of Minneapolis. You'd see the same people every time, and most of them were able-bodied enough to get their own jobs and provide for their own food. Yet we went every month, and I still believe it was one of the best things I've ever participated in. Charity should not discriminate, as humans we have an obligation to help each other by sake of our humanity. It is not our place to judge the means of such people - the fact that they were swallowing their pride to line up for food they had failed to earn that week - that was all the proof of need that was necessary. At no time did I feel like any of those people were scamming us. Mostly, the people seemed humbled and somewhat ashamed of needing to ask for help in this land of opportunity. I'm sure the sister's husband felt equally ashamed of asking you for money; he probably considers it his personal failure he can't take care of his family is such times.

>>v



Your post was excellent, and I considered the values you discussed carefully. But I disagree with you in large part, and I'll explain why.

Firstly, people get used to dependence in a hurry, and it isn't just the poor who are affected by this. In "The Millionaire Next Door" the authors illustrate how people with money condition children and relatives to live above their means by becoming dependent on parents and othersd for money they haven't earned. Because I think this is so, and because personal responsibility is an important value to me, I don't want to encourage that kind of hopeless dependence or have government or charities do it either.

Therefore, I discriminate on giving aid, I prefer charities to discriminate and I would like to see the government discriminate too. While I have nothing against helping people in need or distress, such helping should include a careful look at what people need to do to begin solving their problems and encouraging people to do that. It may feed the ego to feed people in a soup kitchen, but if their are unexploited opportunities people are not taking advantage of, you are only doing a part of the job.



<<Second, I think your sister's family has a real need. They had savings that they went through before asking; you aren't enabling consumption for its own sake. You're acting as a last resort in a time of emergency. I'm sure they went through their insurance and government options first; you're their last hope. I thus don't think that you're being used like pekinrobin so unfortunately was. I would be against handing out loans for frivolous reasons, but true emergencies warrant charity.
>>


My sister borrowed money from me to avoid having her driver's license revoked after her second uninsured vehicle accident, then borrowed more to retrain for a different job --several thousand dollars. A couple of years after getting her new job and making no effort to repay these loans, I required her to make payments, which she has over the past couple of years. In my view, the privilege of borrowing from relatives means you have a particular obligation to repay that credit.


<<Third, what is the real purpose of money? I have something I like to call my deathbead test that I use when working through major decisions in my life. Basically, it goes like this - "If I were on my deathbed right now, what do I wish I would've done in this situation?". I know it sounds morbid, but I don't want to have any big regrets on my deathbed. It was this exercise that made me decide to get married and have kids. I would feel like I had missed out on a lot of what life is all about if I had skipped being a husband or a father.
>>


My first obligation is to take care of myself when I can. I have helped out both friends and relatives when it seemed to be the wise thing to do, but that's not necessarily just giving and giving.


<<. Most people who accumulate wealth forget along the way that money's value is transient. It means nothing if it has no use, and ultimately not all the money in the world will save us from our final end.
>>


For me, good stewardship over money and property means using these resources wisely. Allowing money to be wasted through gifts that encourage dependence isn't an act of wisdom. Intelligent gift giving requires careful judgement and shrewdness. I made gifts of several thousand dollars over several years to the child of a friend who was in school, perfectly confident that the money would be used wisely. I would never make a gift to a second child, who sponges regularly off of family members who can't afford gifts and uses it to support his alcohol and drug using habits.


Again -- I suggest that giving people money can and does damage people if not done wisely. The prudent and loving thing to do is to avoid making such gifts where they may be expected to do harm to people.



Seattle Pioneer
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No. of Recommendations: 8
From reading your post, I'm a little unclear as to whether this is a "gift" or a "loan." I'm also a little unclear as to your current financial situation.

If you and your DH are financially secure and this $1500 was a gift, then everything is fine - at least until the next time your brother-in-law calls to "borrow" some more to get through a difficult time.

If you and your DH are still working your butts off to secure your financial well-being and this $1500 was a loan, then you need to get a written IOU. At the very least, the written IOU should contain:

1) who borrowed what from whom
2) when you expect to be repaid
3) signature of the lender
4) signature of the lendee

You can be as generous as you like with the terms. Give them six months to pay you back. Give them a year to pay you back. But if this is a "loan" and not a "gift", then you should get it in writing. Even for family.

I hope that you and your DH have made a conscious decision as to whether this is a gift or a loan. Loaning money to friend or family can be extremely unpleasant business.

Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, "Never a borrower nor a lender be."
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<I'm sorry to hear that things didn't work out for you. As for my sister and brothers, we have an unwritten mutual aid pact. If anyone needs help, we all do what we can to help out. I guess for us it isn't about money it is about family. >

Except that, obviously, the whole point of the original post was that you're out $1500 and the rest of the family isn't putting out anything. If you're for the family, and they're just out for themselves, guess what, you lose. For me, I've learned that love is action, not just words. There has to be give and take. If the giving is one-sided, it isn't love, it's just the giver kidding herself and the taker exploiting the giver's lack of perception into the reality of the situation. My life has improved so much since I decided to stop trying to save the world by enabling other people's lack of planning and responsibility. Also, I learned that I was cheating the person I "helped" by not giving them the opportunity to stand on their own feet.

As for the person with the retarded brother, to a certain extent, I understand your argument, but it also depends on the situation. There are some high-functioning retarded folks who do live their own lives instead of using their families. My mother has worked with retarded couples who have been able to hold jobs and buy their own homes. They do receive some special training, assistance, programs, etc. but after all this is part of what we pay taxes for -- to see that folks get a fair shake. My brother-in-law's retarded brother has traveled all over Australia on the dole, instead of just mooching off his well-to-do family. I realize not every handicapped person can do this. But I also realize that, in the past, I was giving too much and cheating folks of their own chances. By making a firm decision not to loan money, I have not only improved my life but other lives around me. Maybe this wouldn't work for everyone but I honestly believe it works a lot more often than loaning money does.

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pekinrobin:

My brother is high functioning, but he is still not always able to meet his expensses. He tries to assist my parents...and works a job, but will probably never earn more than minimum wage...and that is hard to live on in Northern California.

I've got a great idea. You do what you want, I'll do what I want...and we'll leave the value judgments to God. OK?
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<I've got a great idea. You do what you want, I'll do what I want...and we'll leave the value judgments to God. OK? >


No, actually, it isn't OK. My God gave me a brain, and He expects me to use it. It's a shame that making judgments has fallen into disrepute. More people should try it.
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Hey...make whatever judgments you want...just leave me out of it!

BTW, your God also gave you a heart...learn to use it...in your posts, that is!
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My very close friend's Grandmother lived with her son for years. I mean, it must have been decades. He owned a duplex and his parents were next door. Then he bought a beautiful home and had an apartment built for his Mom. He lost his job and eventually he was in a real financial bind and had to make changes. He got foreign students and needed to rent out his Mom's apartment to make the payments. He contacted all 9 of his siblings and all the adult grandchildren (there must have been 20+) requested that each one send $25 a month to help support their mother/grandmother. I think that 10 people send the money for a couple of months and it wasn't enough. Apartment rented and Grandmother began to go between 2 or 3 of her children. Everyone was willing to have him take care of everything.

I have also watched my in-laws provide outpatient care for the youngest and only daughter. Their adult child never had to worry about health insurance, paying for college, buying or paying for the upkeep on her car, or coughing up the money to buy her own airline tickets to visit. No one else in the family has received financial assistance. We also don't want any assistance, thank you very much.

My half-sister will not help with our mother at all. When she was sick, I took care of her although I asked for help. I know that I am on my own.

We are not a financial institution. We don't loan money. I will bring you a cooked dinner regularly if you are having troubles. I will go shopping and bring you groceries. You can stay with us. I will run your errands and tend to your children. I will help clean up your house. I would send the $25 a month to help pay for my grandmother (if it were my grandmother). Every decision is based on my head. Have these folks been blowing money and don't want to make changes? What have they done to take care of the problem? That helps me to know what is the right thing to do for me. Everyone's different.

L
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No, actually, it isn't OK. My God gave me a brain, and He expects me to use it. It's a shame that making judgments has fallen into disrepute. More people should try it.

Ok, I'll give it a shot... sounds fun!

1st Judgement - I think your God expected you to use your Brain wisely.

2nd Judgement - I think your God might have frowned on your previous post where you said that >>There are some high-functioning retarded folks who do live their own lives instead of using their families<< ... and I would expect many of those families to frown as well ... not sure they all feel USED.

3rd Judgement - While it's probably impossible to refrain from making a Judgement (IN YOUR HEAD) when you hear/read/see something, a well functioning brain should allow one to refrain from posting/talking if said brain realizes it may be inappropriate.

4th Judgement - Ducks is right... mix it up a little, use the heart too, it's just as fun!

...

...

Wow! This was fun, thanks!

Alessandro

P.S. Of course this was all a joke... maybe you're new to Online Message forums, but there's this magical formula used on discussion boards called "agree to disagree." That is what Ducks used when he proposed to let God make the judgement. It's a polite way to say "Drop it." And trying to continue the argument after that statement is akin to chasing someone who just tried to end a conversation in the physical world.

P.P.S. I'm a much nicer person than you may think from this post... I'm just being a little sarcastic to show you what happens when one doesn't use the usual restraint when posting.

P.P.P.S. An appropriate response to this post would be a nasty "Yo Momma" one liner.
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I'm judging you right now.

No, actually, it isn't OK. My God gave me a brain, and He expects me to use it. It's a shame that making judgments has fallen into disrepute. More people should try it.
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Not to put a damper on your generosity, but you may soon become the target of the family for a soft spot for money. You certainly want to help if there is a real need, but you don't want to sacrifice/share dinners to support other's spend-thrift lifestyles. As generous as you are, I would just watch out for others hitting you soon.
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It's a shame that making judgments has fallen into disrepute. More people should try it.

It's very important to be able to show good judgment in your own life. and I do know some people who are unfortunately so afraid of being judgemental that they instead exercise no judgement at all, which is indeed a shame.

BUT -- Making judgments about the actions of other people that have no effect on you is a pasttime that I think is deservedly in disrepute.

JennyJean
(is it "judgment" or "judgement"??? they both look wrong!)
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(is it "judgment" or "judgement"??? they both look wrong!)

From http://www.dictionary.com/


judge·ment (jjmnt)
n.
Variant of judgment.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


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I've gotten into trouble quoting Scripture on this board before, but I feel the prior exchanges warrant two short quotes.

"Judge not that ye may not be judged."

and

"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit."

Many people paraphrase the second passage as "judge a tree by the fruit it bears."

Ducks is right about judgment. God expects us to use our brains to make judgments - about our own ethical decisions, about the way we treat others, about how much money to lend people.

But he and others are also right about the hubris of judging individuals. Judging individuals for their conduct is God's prerogative, not ours.

So yes, feel free to judge situations as your mind understands them. And by all means use judgment in your dealings with others. We're fools (small f) not to use the best judgment possible, and that includes wise stewardship of our money. But when we cross the line from judging ACTIONS and SITUATIONS and start judging PEOPLE, everybody loses.

Personally, I would lend $1,500 to my oldest sister if she really needed it, because she doesn't waste her money, and I know she wouldn't ask unless she was truly at the end of her rope. On the other hand, I would not lend money to my youngest sister, who couldn't hold on to a dime if it was sewed into her pocket. I love them both dearly and can make those decisions by consdering the fruit of the tree, without cutting down the tree itself.

But none of you on this board know my family, so you can't make those decisions accurately. I would be equally out of line if I presumed to know enough about your families to pass judgment on your lending decisions.

Digrat, I greatly respect the compassion you demonstrated in helping out when it's needed. Such actions are intesely personal and require a lot more thought that what is best from an LBYM standpoint. I've read enough of your posts to believe that you have the intelligence to know what to do with your own money.

Don't let anyone here, including me, make you feel bad for exercising your own judgment. After all, isn't making your own financial decisions what The Motley Fool is all about?


Benevolent

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Personally, I would lend $1,500 to my oldest sister if she really needed it, because she doesn't waste her money, and I know she wouldn't ask unless she was truly at the end of her rope. On the other hand, I would not lend money to my youngest sister, who couldn't hold on to a dime if it was sewed into her pocket.

That reminds me of the time I stopped in a small town auto shop for some unscheduled maintenance. A sign in the shop said, "We require a 10% deposit from people we don't know, and 100% from some we do know!"
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