What to say when a family member asks “Can I borrow money?”

When a family member asks to borrow money, it can be an awkward and sensitive situation to navigate. On one hand, you want to help out a loved one in need, but on the other hand, you don’t want to put yourself in a difficult financial situation or enable unhealthy spending habits. Here are some strategies for handling this delicate conversation effectively, along with some example sentences to help you find the right words to say.

Set clear boundaries

It’s essential to be honest and direct when responding to a family member’s request for a loan. Avoid beating around the bush or giving false hope, as this can lead to confusion and resentment. Instead, clearly communicate your financial situation and any limitations you may have.

I love you, but I’m on a tight budget right now, and I don’t think I can lend you the money.

I understand that you need help, but I’ve got my own financial priorities to take care of first.

As much as I want to help, I’m not in a position to lend you money right now. Maybe we can explore other options together?

Offer alternatives

Just because you can’t lend money doesn’t mean you can’t offer support. Think about other ways you can help your family member, such as connecting them with local resources, providing emotional support, or helping them brainstorm solutions to their financial woes.

I can’t lend you the money, but I can help you make a budget or connect you with a financial advisor.

Have you considered talking to a credit counselor or looking into government assistance programs?

I’m happy to help you brainstorm ways to cut expenses or increase your income. Let’s sit down and go over your finances together.

Explain your reasons

While it’s not necessary to justify your decision not to lend money, providing a clear explanation can help your family member understand your perspective. This can also help prevent feelings of resentment or frustration.

I’ve got some big expenses coming up, and I need to prioritize my own financial security right now.

I’m trying to pay off my own debt, and lending you money would put me in a tough spot.

I’m worried that lending you money might create an unhealthy dynamic in our relationship. Let’s explore other options together.

Set clear expectations

If you do decide to lend money to a family member, make sure to establish clear expectations and boundaries from the outset. This can include setting a repayment schedule, discussing interest rates, and outlining consequences for non-payment.

If I lend you the money, I expect to be repaid within six months. Let’s work out a payment plan that works for both of us.

I’m willing to lend you the money, but we need to draw up a formal agreement outlining the terms and interest rate.

I can lend you the money, but if you’re unable to repay it, it may affect our relationship in the future.

Practice active listening

When discussing a loan with a family member, it’s essential to practice active listening skills. This means paying attention to their concerns, asking clarifying questions, and acknowledging their feelings.

I can see that you’re really struggling right now. Can you tell me more about what’s going on and how I can best support you?

I want to make sure I understand your situation correctly. Can you explain how you plan to use the money and how you’ll repay it?

I know this is a tough spot for you, and I’m here to support you. Let’s work together to find a solution that works for both of us.


Handling a family member’s request for money can be a challenging conversation to navigate. By setting clear boundaries, offering alternatives, explaining your reasons, setting clear expectations, and practicing active listening, you can maintain a healthy and respectful relationship while also prioritizing your own financial well-being. Remember, it’s okay to say no or offer alternative solutions that work for both parties. By doing so, you’ll not only protect your finances but also foster a stronger, more honest relationship with your loved one.

Be kind ❤

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