Should I swallow my pride and not look a gift horse in the mouth?
June 8, 2011 1:54 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend wants to help with my finances. I've always prided myself on being financially independent, but as of late, I REALLY need some help. How do I handle this?

First, let me give a tiny bit of my history. I'm divorced, I have a college education, a good job, I have 2 small children. I've dated a lot since my divorce, I’ve even been in 2 long(ish) relationships since. While I live paycheck to paycheck, I manage. My ex decided in February of this year that he isn't going to pay child support anymore. Since this is money I count on, this has made things a little difficult. I've had to retain an attorney on top of everything.

A month ago, I met this man. He is 13 years older than me (I'm 40). We share the same interests in life and have a great time together. I've fallen hard for him and he has fallen hard for me as well. This is obviously very fast moving but we have decided that regardless of how fast it seems, we are just going to go with it. The different thing about this relationship is we communicate. We talk about everything. The good things, the bad things, the hard things...everything. If one of us ever feel hurt/slighted/odd about something the other one has done or said, we talk about it. Our relationship, albeit short, is completely amazing.

We have never discussed personal finances. There has never been a need to. He is always quick to grab the check when we go out and has never accepted my offer to pay for ANYTHING. Given his profession, I know he makes considerably more money than I do, but again, it's never been a topic of conversation or an issue. (When I say considerable, we are talking probably 10x what I make)

As I mentioned above, since February, I've struggled a bit. I've used up my entire savings (not that much to begin with) and had to even do a *gasp* payday loan. I've been waiting on the state to put the garnishment order through on my ex's wages, but it's a slow moving process. I'm behind on everything. Last week, a representative of the company that my car is financed though showed up at my house while my boyfriend was here. I am completely embarrassed beyond belief. Of course, this turned into one of those 'we have to talk about it' things. He told me he wanted to give me the money to catch up my car payment, I explained that I had a plan, and while I appreciated the offer, I was going to decline. He let it go for a day then again, brought it up. He said he had the money and wanted to help and he wouldn't take no for an answer. After much discussion…(and tears on my part) he called the company, paid my balance, then said we needed to sit down and look at all of my finances. I just changed the subject. He left on Saturday for a 6 day (pre-'us') planned trip with his friends. We've talked several times a day, every day, but now I feel weirded out. I know, given the 'talk about everything' pretense of our relationship, I'm going to have to tell him, again, how this makes me feel...I just don't want to do it over the phone. He brought up the whole 'we need to sit down and look at your finances so I can help you' thing again yesterday on the phone and I changed the subject.

The bad thing is, I could REALLY use the help. I'm a month and a half behind on my house payment and I found out today that I'm only getting paid 10% of my normal paycheck on Friday. (due to some PTO time not being put in timely by my supervisor- I will get it all back on my next check, but that is 2 weeks away) My parents do not have any money to lend, my credit it too bad for a conventional loan, and even doing a couple more payday loans will only give me a little less than half of what I need. I've tried to rationalize this by knowing if the shoe was on the other foot, I'd offer to help him in a second. I would actually be happy to do it, no questions, not even a second thought.

He will be back in town in 2 days. I know he isn't going to let this go. I'm just looking for thoughts/ideas on:
#1- whether I should keep doing my own thing (and hope with everything I have that it straightens itself out before it's too late)- and if so- how to tell him this so he stops pressing,
or,
#2- how to graciously accept his offer of help and not let it ruin the amazing thing we have together?

I want a long-term relationship, not a Sugar Daddy.

Thanks in advance for your wonderful advice. I’m posting this anonymously for obvious reasons. :)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
You need some help. He wants to help you. Let him help you. It won't ruin your relationship and the gracious way of accepting an offer is to say thank you.
posted by joannemullen at 2:01 PM on June 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


I think that him insisting you should talk about it sounds like a perfect opportunity for you to explain to him why you are so uncomfortable about receiving help.

What I mean is: he's going to walk in wanting to dig out the spreadsheets and fire up Quicken and be all set to go, but you will have the chance to stop him and say, "Okay, look. On the one hand, yes, I'm in a tight spot -- but on the other this is how I feel about receiving financial help from you right now. So before we get into that bit, can we talk about how you can respect that these are my particular boundaries for this particular situation?" And then the two of you can work out the emotional/relational end of the situation to a point in which you're both comfortable, before you start opening up checkbooks and such.

The worst case scenario is that he will not want to discuss that, which seems profoundly unlikely -- especially after you've gotten into the "why" of why you feel as you do, and especially since you communicate so well. A more likely outcome is that you will have explained your concerns about being beholden to him for the help, and he will work with you to come up with a way to assuage that (anything from working out a "repayment plan" with you to just a heart-to-heart about each of your feelings about this), and you'll have grown closer emotionally as well as you getting some temporary help.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:03 PM on June 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


He might not actually be offering you money, either. The help he's offering might just be budget advice, etc. So I would keep an open mind.
posted by raisingsand at 2:05 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It sounds like you really need the money. If you'd give it, take it. If you want to make it a loan while you wait for your back chikd support to come through, make that clear at the time and agree that.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:06 PM on June 8, 2011


If he has a lot more money than you, he simply may not feel that what he'd be giving you is that much. Back when I had a good job (making a lot less than your new fellow, though), for example, I gave a friend a hundred bucks a couple of times because she really needed it. To her, it was a huge deal and to me it was...well...not pocket change but just a casual gift. If you're always pretty broke and he's very rich, a gift that means a lot to you may feel rather inconsequential to him.
posted by Frowner at 2:08 PM on June 8, 2011 [20 favorites]


maybe let him help ease your burden if he is willing to do so for an amount that makes you feel comfortable. it would bring you both some peace of mind - him to know that what may come easily to him is making such a big difference for you and you that you don't have to have the special stress that paycheck-to-paycheck living can bring.

but only what you are comfortable with. you could even set aside some money as you get back on your feet to pay him back a significant amount in the future, rather than just $20 here and there, if that would make you feel better, which is completely understandable.
posted by sio42 at 2:19 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's fair for you to have these feelings. Once you've shared your feelings, have the financial discussion. You also need to recognize that it's awkward for generous people of means to see people they care about suffer, and become prey for predatory lenders (e.g., payday loan company) when they could prevent it and especially if doing so is financially trivial for them.

If he understands where you're at, and still wants to help, then let him and be gracious. If he's going to do this, then you simply must do what you can to enforce your child support orders. There's nothing wrong with accepting help, but your ex not paying has helped drive you to this. Make sure to keep track of penalties and damage to credit that resulted from the ex not paying, as well as loan fees and interest, and ask your lawyer if any of this is compensable.
posted by Hylas at 2:22 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you're flirting with payday loans and car repossession, then you've got to do something different than you have been, because current patterns are not sustainable, and you are no longer "managing." The boyfriend now knows that you're not managing. Telling him that you're "okay" is simply a lie, so you shouldn't do that.

I suspect his main priority might be to ensure that you're safe and that you two can discuss money honestly, which seems pretty reasonable to me. You can use this opportunity to cultivate a healthy set of relationships between you, him and money. Don't just take his money and use it patch up a sinking ship; work with him to figure out the best use of limited resources -- yours and (maybe) his.
posted by jon1270 at 2:23 PM on June 8, 2011 [26 favorites]


My ex decided in February of this year that he isn't going to pay child support anymore.

The way you phrase this it sounds like he legally should still be doing so. Unless the date of the end of his obligation to you or your children together has passed, then he cannot "decide" this. If that's the case go to a legal aid office and get a lawyer to set him straight. It sounds like it's one deadbeat man's irresponsibility that's setting you up to be uncomfortably dependent on another man for money. Don't let the system do this to you.

To play devil's advocate to all those saying "Go for it" above, consider that accepting financial help from your current boyfriend might introduce weirdness into your relationship. Money is always tricky, financial inequality is always tricky -- even between married folks. I would think long and hard about what emotional and power-dynamic strings might be attached if he gives you money; even if he's a nice, well-intentioned guy, it might change how he views the two of you. There's no such thing as free money in our culture (unfortunately perhaps).

On preview, the idea of compromising by making it a loan is a good one. Also, seriously consider going to a credit counselor (if you haven't already) to make a long-term plan for getting your finances in order -- with or without the child support income, you want to be independent, secure, and have the confidence, self-respect, and options (like being able to buy a house or not worry about credit checks when applying for better jobs) that goes with that financial security.
posted by aught at 2:29 PM on June 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Absolutely let him help, whether it is budgeting advice or a loan. Admitting you have a problem you can't handle right now (because of circumstances largely beyond your control) and asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

It's perfectly fine to want to assert your independence and boundaries in you handle the help, though. I'd advise signing a promissory note to let him know you consider any money he gives you a loan and intend to pay it back.

Also, find out why it is taking so long to get your ex's wages garnished (after 12 weeks of non-payment, they can garnish up to 65% rather than 50%, I believe). You need that child support!
posted by misha at 2:43 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been in your boyfriend's position (making 10x the money, girlfriend needed help, etc). I think Frowner makes a good point -- the seriousness of this can be experienced very differently by the two parties. What is a lot of money / big deal to you may not be to him.

More importantly, though, is that to me it was all about being able to enjoy my relationship with someone. For example, when paying for things it only made sense -- we couldn't go out to a nice dinner if we split the check. So if I wanted to do those things, of course I would pay for both of us. I think this usage is more accepted (you already do this too).

But it's kind of the same thing here. If you're stressed over money, you won't have as much time for him and the time you do spend together will be less enjoyable. If he can give you the money you need, both of you will be happier and your relationship will be better.

Of course, this assumes he is doing it for those reasons, and does not expect some sort of strings/whatever in return. Since you have good communication in your relationship, be very explicit in talking about this. I think aught is right that it _can_ be problematic, however I would disagree that it's "always" tricky --- frankly, I've had many times in my life where I could give a large chunk of money and it would simply not be an issue. It sounds like your boyfriend could be in a similar position, depending on how he views money. (Some people with money care a lot about it, to others having a lot means they don't worry/think about it very much which makes this sort of scenario less of an issue).
posted by wildcrdj at 2:46 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think you need to think about HOW you would feel comfortable accepting a money from your boyfriend. The people above have made some really good points about what this may mean to him but I think you need to figure out what your conditions and boundaries around this are going to be.

You've only been dating him a month and I can see how having him become really involved in your finances could be emotionally difficult. Perhaps you want the loan of a lump sum to be repaid when your ex pays the back child support. Or maybe you want help with certain bills or you want budgeting help. You need to be clear on what remains your person finances and how involved you want him to be with them. Borrowing/accepting money from him doesn't necessarily mean you have to give up all control.

I think though that you need to decide what you feel comfortable with and what your boundaries are so you can clearly tell your boyfriend what they are and how you can both feel comfortable with the situation. I think its also important to discuss what happens with repayment or if you break up because talking about those things, even if neither is wanted/happens, will make you feel better.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 3:00 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Nthing talking to him about your feelings about accepting financial help before you talk about your finances, and get that issue out in the open first. Sounds like you guys have great communication, so while this will be a difficult conversation, you're much more equipped to have this conversation than many couples who have been together for years. You want a long term relationship, not a sugar daddy. Tell him that, word for word.

If he's earning the sort of money you mention, chances are he's seen a few golddiggers in his time and probably respects you for the fact that you pride yourself on your independence and have managed to get by up until now.

And as frowner said, if he's earning that kind of money, he's probably in a position to provide the help you need, without it being an issue for him financially. If the positions were reversed, you would do this for him, no questions asked - remember that.

To make you feel more comfortable with it, a couple of suggestions:
- treat it as a 0% interest loan, to be repaid when you are in a position to do so
- agree certain things that he will pay for, rather than just accepting a sum of money. So focus on particular things that are one-offs or yearly items

One of the things that sorts out good relationships from bad is how you deal with the bad times together. Whether they're financial or emotional. Letting him help you doesn't make you dependent on him, it doesn't make you a weaker person, or that the relationship is unbalanced. It just provides an opportunity for him to show how much he cares about you by helping you through a difficult time. And it also provides an opportunity for you to show that you trust him enough to accept his help - not accepting it may be taken as a sign that you don't trust him enough to allow him to help you through the bad times. Whether they're financial or emotional. For independent people, sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to accept help. But by doing so, you're showing that you trust him. (Tip - if this was an emotional problem that you were experiencing, would you talk to him about it and let him help you? Sounds from your post that the answer would be "of course!". Don't let the fact that the solution here is money change your response.)

Good luck - sounds like you've got a really strong relationship.
posted by finding.perdita at 3:02 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Let's say that in two days, your boyfriend returned and didn't bring up your finances, would you be relieved or would you be disappointed?

You should absolutely take his offer of help, whatever it may end up being. At least be open to discussing it. Sometimes opening up the books to an impartial eye can be very stress-relieving. Like others have said he may not plan on getting you completely out of debt; you have no way yet of knowing what assistance he has in mind.
posted by contessa at 3:04 PM on June 8, 2011


If I had a lot more money than a partner or a friend, I would want to help them financially if they needed it. Similarly, when I need financial help, I feel lucky to have friends or partners who can help me.

But when I'm in the position of needing help, it's incredibly hard to get out from under the cultural idea that I've done something shameful by being broke. This is one of the invisible ideas that floats around protestant capitalism in the US: people are rich who deserve it, and people are poor who deserve that. It's not true, and I'm saying it out loud here because I think it informs a lot of your (and my and everyone's) ideas about what it means to accept financial help from someone who is dear to you.
posted by rosa at 3:08 PM on June 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'll offer the contrary point of view. You've known him for one month. Of course everything is wonderful! It's been one month! In that short period of time, he's kinda pushed you into a situation where you owe him a lot of money (a lot to you, even if it's not a lot to him). And now, he'd like to delve into more of your financials.

Loans come with interest. In this case, even if you aren't paying him a percentage, you have the cost of embarrassment, inequality (unless he's going to share his financials with you?) maybe a sense of obligation, and maybe even a reluctance to end the relationship if it goes south (and how would that work out?).

Since the car note is already done, presumably you have a little extra cash. My advice is to spend that little extra cash meeting with a CPA, or go cheaper and run down to Consumer Credit Counseling to get advice about the debts you have.
posted by Houstonian at 3:20 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Agreeing with others that you should communicate to him your feelings around this issue.

A lot of whether or not to accept his help depends on whether he has an emotional attachment or feels a sense of entitlement around money. If he can lend/give money/advice and then forget about it, I don't think there is anything wrong with letting him help. If money equals control to him, or if he feels like you owe him something (other than paying back a loan) then don't do it. You probably already have some idea of how he would react, and talking about it first will only shed light on the issue.

If you're going to accept help from him, make it small and manageable for now, so that if he doesn't react positively, you have the ability to pay him back, squaring your end of the deal. My guess from your description is that it's probably fine to accept help from him and end up making you both happier.
posted by cnc at 3:34 PM on June 8, 2011


If you met this man 1 month ago, you don't know him, period. It doesn't matter how many times a day you talk. Truly knowing someone takes time and there's no way around that.

If he has entitlement or control issues around money, or in general, then you could be getting yourself into a bad situation. If he has issues around helping others that lead him to see people he helps as less competent, responsible, or knowledgeable than he is, then he may end up treating you that way.

I find it extremely inappropriate that he's insisting to see the finances of a person he's known for a month. That's none of his business. I've lent money to friends plenty of times before, sometimes in the thousands of dollars, and I'd never insist on that - I think it's paternalistic and rude.

And I think his reasoning for insisting on this is the most problematic part. It's not to see if you can pay him back -- it sounds like he's never mentioned wanting to be paid back. It's not to see how much money you need to live decently, because you could just tell him that yourself. The only reason I can think of is that he thinks you don't know how to manage your money and he can do it better than you -- which is disrespectful. That, or just to have access/control to your private information.

I also find it to be a very bad sign that you don't think you can say no to him when he pries into private things -- not only your personal finances, but even your own feelings around this situation. And that you can't say no to him when he "won't take no for an answer." Very very bad sign to me.

I wouldn't do this if I were you, until you know him WAY better. You said you had a plan for what to do, before he stepped in with these offers of money. I think you should go with that plan, this time.

If you get to know him better (a significant amount of time from now) and find that he doesn't have control or entitlement issues, or wouldn't think badly of you, then it wouldn't be as bad of an idea, IMO.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:54 PM on June 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


If you're having to go to a payday loan place, you're in trouble. The interest rates when you add in fees are crazy. You'll just keep going deeper in the hole if you have to go back.

Since your supervisor didn't put in the PTO, ask if the company can float you a loan. They understand that most people are going to have a hard time living off 10% of their check. I've worked at places that have done that....Just talked to my mom who's an accountant. She said that every place that she's work would find a way to cut a check if the mistake was the company's fault. Talk to payroll and see if they have some way to help you out.

After that, tell the guy you're dating that you'd appreciate any help he can give with trying to find ways to save money in your budget. Maybe he can offer some good suggestions. If there aren't any ways to make it work, then this gives him a natural opening to offer you financial help. If he does, you can tell him how you feel uncomfortable and don't want him to think you're a user. Write up a loan agreement that you'll pay him back a little each week if you can manage it, and the remainder whenever you start getting child support again. He can always forgive the loan if he wants but it shows that you are into him and not just his money.
posted by stray thoughts at 4:13 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow. I would be seriously uncomfortable with his insistence on this. You're not his kid and not his wife. You're his girlfriend of one month. This could get very very messy very quickly.

So the car thing was cool. GET IT IN WRITING that it is (or is not) a gift, not a loan. Good contracts make good neighbors.

If I were in your position, I would ask for a LOAN for $X and put it in writing. He does not need to see your finances at this point. If he insists, that would be a big, red, control-freaky flag for me.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:18 PM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's very difficult, but not quite impossible, to have an exchange of money in a relationship not change the power dynamic between the parties. If you accept financial help from him, it's hard to imagine a future where you don't always feel indebted to him. So if you do accept help from him, do it in a way that will minimize the emotional side-effects: as a one-time loan of a specified amount, with a simple written agreement specifying repayment conditions.

You know that saying, "It's better to give than to receive"? It is. For a decent person, it's easy to give, and fun, and satisfying. But it's so hard to receive, when you have to admit that you really need it. It sucks, and it can make you feel like crap, and it takes a lot of strength to do it gracefully. This transaction is like a bet that you're each making on each other, and on the relationship.

It may hurt him to see you struggle, but that doesn't entitle him to bulldoze over your personal dignity and sense of autonomy just to make himself feel better. Make sure he's really willing to respect your feelings on this, not just listen to them and then act like they matter less than his feelings.

The one thing that troubles me about your question is that you say that he "wouldn't take no for an answer" about your car payment, and, after discussion and tears, he went ahead and did it his way and paid it. That could be the beginning of a pattern of bullying and control. If you look at abusive relationships, and trace back how they get started, that would be one way. This is a good time to be really, really careful. What's this guy's history in relationships? It would be best if you could do a pretty thorough "relationship background check" on him before you let him begin to take control of big parts of your life. Are there any exes around? Do they still respect him, or did they have to pry him out of their lives with restraining orders?
posted by Corvid at 4:32 PM on June 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


IANAL

You want to maintain your independence. You are broke. (Not your fault)
He has spare resources.

Be very clear with him that you
a. really, really appreciate his help
b. want to be independent
c. are in a bind due to
_1. error in payroll
_2. ex defaulting on child care obligation

Ask him for a loan. Write a simple agreement.

John Terrific Smith agrees to lend Jane Awesome Doe $X,000 (some thousand dollars), at 0% interest. The money will be repaid on a schedule to be agreed on by both parties, but no later than December 31, 2011.
signed, dated

I would tell him that "not taking no for an answer" is unacceptable, no matter how caring. Tell him that when he picks up the check, rents the movies, brings over wine/takeout/etc., he's helping, and that you truly appreciate it.

If you think he can help you improve your budget, then let him help.

My 1 piece of financial advice is to join your credit union. They can sometime do short term loans; mine helped me out of a jam at one point.

And, let me tell you that you are amazing. Working, being a parent, keeping everything going even when the ex- pulls a fast one, and you didn't whine or complain one single bit. You are awesome, and don't you forget it. John Terrific Smith is a lucky guy, and I think he knows it.
posted by theora55 at 4:56 PM on June 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


For me, if I took his loan/gift/whatever, I would always be thinking he was watching every penny I spent afterwards, judging my money management. I think if you ARE going to accept his help, do it with a lump sum loan and a contract.

I have to disagree with the 'you don't know him after only a month' posts. I think, for some people, it is VERY possible to know what kind of person someone is after a month of being together. I have always had a sense for people from the beginning, even if it was a bad vibe that I chose to overlook at the time, I still had the vibe.
posted by Amalie-Suzette at 5:14 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does he even know you aren't getting the child support? Something about your question gives me the impression that he's not so much wanting to give you money as to take over decisions about how your finances are managed. If he doesn't know that you don't have the usual funds coming in he may be thinking that you are unable to figure out how to manage your money.

I think one month is much too soon to open up all of your financial records to someone. If he wants to help you out with a loan or something, I don't think he needs to know all of your account numbers to do that.

As to whether to take a gift or loan from him, if he's thinking that your relationship may eventually lead to combining finances, in the long run it would save money overall for you not to be paying payday loan rates of interest.

At a minimum you should talk to him about the reasons for your current financial state, he might be wanting to look over your finances in part to see if you would have habits that would lead to financial ruin for him if your finances were combined -- go over the basics you have given us in your question, with some numbers attached for $ amounts you are behind, attorney fees, etc. as well as interest rates on loans. Make up a spreadsheet or something showing how much you are short each month, your basic monthly budget, and the amount of money you need to catch up on your late fees, payments, and to pay back the payday loans.

You are seeing this as simply not wanting to get financial help from him, that might not be what he's thinking about AT ALL, or only a small part of it -- it's very possible that he could be looking at how you manage your finances in the context of a longer term relationship with you. If all he knows right now is based on this loan rep coming by your house, he's getting a poor impression of you which is not helped by you changing the subject when he brings up looking at your finances.

It's not at all clear in your question that the help he has offered you involves him giving or lending you any money, so I think your worries about that are quite premature.
posted by yohko at 12:51 AM on June 9, 2011


I don't get the impression that this man is setting you up to make you feel obligated to him or that he thinks you are stupid. I think he thinks you are awesome and he was horrified that your car was going to be repossessed.

He's probably wondering what kind of debt you are carrying and how best to help you make it better. I think he wants to see your finances because every late payment, overdraft, unpaid credit card balance, payday loan and repo costs much more than you can afford and they're all ways that financial services companies gouge money from the poor. He knows you are working and raising your children. He probably would be very surprised to find just how badly the odds are stacked against your success in today's marketplace and he'd unhappy that you are being subjected to the bloodsuckers just to put food on the table.

Tell him how you were managing while you received child support and the several reasons you are behind on finances now. (You wouldn't say so but one of those reasons might in fact be that you have given a bit more of your attention to him than you could do without incurring some extra expense, for example, sometimes buying convenience food rather than cooking in order to free up some time.) Then tell him how you feel about accepting help from him and what you fear about asking his financial advice and/or help. If you are not completely impressed with his good intentions and respect for your dignity in this, insist on signing a note for the amount due on the car and/or additional offers to help you now.

You really might have found a nice person who does not think the lack of a few hundred or a few thousand ought to be allowed to swamp your boat. And he might be falling in love with you, too.
posted by Anitanola at 2:22 AM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I understand where you're coming from on this one.

I will say one counterintuitive thing. IF you end up taking money from him, make sure its a gift and not a loan.

When you get your finances figured out, you will once againbe breaking even. And if the relationship goes south, having to spend years paying him back will be terrible.

If its a gift, you can still choose to pay it back...or not if things go really badly and you need him out of your life.

I totally get why you wouldn't want to accept financial help--- try to stick with financial advise.
posted by vitabellosi at 3:53 AM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


If its a gift, you can still choose to pay it back...or not if things go really badly and you need him out of your life.

I was going to say the same thing. There are potential problems with it being a loan rather than a gift:

1) If things go south in two months, a loan is going to look like a very bad idea.

2) There is a potential awkwardness with every payment. "Here's my payment..." "I don't need it, really." "I insist!" "So do I!" Yadda, yadda.

3) The amount in question may be very difficult to pay back on your earnings. Do you need $1,000, $10,000, or $100,000 to be even? The first is a relatively easy loan to repay, the next quite a bit more difficult and the last nearly impossible.

If you have good communication, I would probably consider asking him to take the place of the payday loan center. Short-term, low-dollar loans to help you get through the occasional rough patch, without the loan-shark fees.

I don't have a problem with you accepting the money as a gift, I'd prefer it, if I was on either end of the transaction. You're a great person and sometimes nice things happen to great people, eh? But I would only accept the gift on whatever terms make you feel comfortable, and talk about it candidly beforehand, of course.

I would also, if you agree to a gift and he implies the amount is open-ended (within reason), take the minimum amount, however large it might be, to get yourself sorted out for the foreseeable future (ie, pay off a couple of cards, pay off the car, whatever) so that it is a one-time deal and you can honestly say "I'm doing fine, thanks!" when he asks how your finances are. So if $1,000 gets you through the next couple of months but $4,000 pretty much sorts you out for the foreseeable future (assuming either is an option, of course), take the $4,000.
posted by maxwelton at 4:20 AM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you may be letting this relationship get in the way of your financial security. You're headed down that path that so many women take, to their detriment: depending on a man to sort out their money situations. You're obviously pouring a lot of time and energy into this relationship -- time and energy you should be spending on pushing your ex and your boss to pay up, getting a second job, getting on food stamps, selling your stuff on ebay, whatever. Assume he wasn't in the picture - what would you do financially? Do that.

And why does him helping you mean he has to "look at your finances"? If you do decide to take his help, why can't you just tell him the amount you need? The desire to "look at your finances" seems invasive and inappropriate to me. Giving you help is one thing; turning this into a financial planning seminar (with him as the teacher) is another.

And keep in mind that accepting a loan from him is far different from getting a loan from your credit card or a payday lender. If you default on those loans, no relationships are at stake. But if you don't pay him back, then things could get really complicated. At this point, it seems to me that you have no idea if you'll actually be able to pay him back, so things could get really sticky.

Despite all of these negatives, I do think that there are some scenarios in which you could take his money. First, it must be a gift, not a loan, because you don't want to incur obligations you can't meet. Explain to him you have no idea if and when you can pay the loan off, and so there's no way you could in good conscience enter into a loan agreement with him. Second, it has to be "no strings attached" -- meaning, he does not get a say in how you manage your finances. Third, you have to come up with your own, independent plan to get out of your financial straits.

Good luck ...
posted by yarly at 6:49 AM on June 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


On the one hand, I agree with the idea that when you have money, it's not even a hardship to give a loan or gift to someone who is living paycheck-to-paycheck. So you may be taking this much more seriously than he is. If you added up how much he spent on your dates, and he gave you that money directly, would you be uncomfortable with that?

On the other hand, it's been a month. If things go bad, this could get ugly, like guilt about the help he gave you.
posted by smackfu at 7:21 AM on June 9, 2011


payback plan is the way to go. If there is going to be a consistent need, define that need, how long it will last and payback terms. Plan on this being a short-term thing and stick to that plan. If the plan needs to be changed and extended, modify the plan. The key is that this part of it is always well-defined, making it just a number rather than an elephant in the room.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:58 AM on June 9, 2011


Yeah, with the 10% thing, you need to call HR and raise hell. It's not OK for any company to do this.
posted by schmod at 8:06 AM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't there a saying about not loaning money that you wouldn't give away or something?

I feel like every episode of the courtroom shows I watch (by accident!) features some ex-couple who are arguing over whether the money, the car, the flat screen was a gift or a loan.

Make it a gift. For me to be comfortable, both on the giving and the receiving end (and I am speaking from experience on both ends) of a large chunk of money, I'd want it in writing that this was a gift and that there was no obligation to repay it. Requiring that will show you right up front his attitude about this money he's giving you. If x amount of money is going to be, to him, like "loaning" you $5, then he'll have no problem with making it a gift. It'll probably make him happier and more comfortable, if he is really just doing this because he can easily afford it and only wants to ease your burdens.

It might make you think you'll feel comfortable about financial independence and shame and being a responsible adult to call it a loan and have a payment plan, but there are always problems with these friends-and-family loans being paid back. Look at how much trouble you are having talking about this now. Imagine having to tell him that you’ll be late paying this month, or that you need to reduce the payment amounts, or that something unexpected came up and you’ll need a hiatus. I think you’ll be better off picking an amount, getting it, thanking him graciously and lovingly, and then never talking about it again.

And to give him the benefit of the doubt, is he saying “let’s sit down and look at your finances” or “I want to take a look at your finances”? If it’s the former, and especially if you haven’t shared any of the other circumstances contributing to your current situation, I think he’s just being nice and assuming that you need help managing your finances. Which, I mean, you do. Not because you’re incompetent or have an eBay habit, and so maybe if you told him that he’d back off the needing to look at your spreadsheets thing. We don’t know that he wouldn’t take a number you give at face value. But I think it’d feel less Sugar-Daddy-y if you could say “Here is where things are, here is where they need to be, and as you can see, this is how much I’ll need to achieve that.” Because just money for anything in any amount feels kind of like an allowance, especially if it’s a gift instead of a loan.
posted by thebazilist at 10:12 AM on June 9, 2011


I've been on both sides of this. I have given money to friends/SOs and NEVER asked for them to explain their finances to me. That is very controlling and paternalistic. When I have needed help the people that tried to use my crisis as an opportunity to shame me irreparably damaged our relationship. He should have respected you when you were in tears and said no to the car payment. For a one month relationship he is pushing healthy boundries into a bad place.

I understand that when I am "rich" giving money to a partner is felt as disportionately more by the "poor" person. That he is fifty and does not understand that does not speak well to his empathy.

You have a (good) plan in place to conquer your temporary setback. I would continue with that plan and keep the relationship as a relationship - not a financial power struggle between you two. I would also file away the information that he does not respect your feelings equally as your own and monitor how you feel about that in other stressful situations.
posted by saucysault at 12:29 PM on June 9, 2011


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