Can You Help This Reader?

When You Can't Repay a Loan to a Family Member

I found a few articles on your site about the risks involved in loaning money to family members and friends. Do you have any advice for someone who borrowed from a family member and now cannot pay it back? Or do any of your readers? I borrowed money from my brother and sister-in-law to get my car repaired so I could continue getting back and forth to work and although I promised to make monthly payments to them, I have since had my work hours cut and simply don't have the money to pay them and my own bills. My brother is trying to keep the peace but I know my sister-in-law is not happy. I realize they have their own bills to pay, too. I have exhausted all avenues I have thought of for borrowing the money elsewhere and paying them back in full. Any advice for how the three of us can work something out without causing any further damage to our relationship?
A Broke Sister in Florida

Please send your answers email to canyouhelp (at) with "Cannot Repay Family Loan" as the subject or join the discussion below on Facebook. We'll include the best solutions in future issues.

How Can I Get My Retired Parents to Stop Spending on My Kids?

I could use some advice about a sensitive topic regarding my parents. They are retired and living on a limited income, but are continuously spending money on my kids and my nieces and nephews. My mother especially is always seeing some "small thing" at the store that she feels one of my kids just has to have. And she makes frequent larger purchases throughout the year so she can contribute a new piece to my daughter's Precious Moments collection or my son's model train hobby. These items are not cheap. My concern is that my parents are spending retirement savings that they could need in the future. And as selfish as this sounds, I would rather them stop spending on my kids now to minimize the chance that my husband and I will have to help them financially later. I don't see my siblings ever being able to help them much financially, nor should they have to. I just don't see how we can afford to send our kids to college some day, save for our own retirement and eventually support my parents. Does anyone have any advice on the best way to approach my parents with my concerns? Do I even have a right to be concerned about how they are handling their own money? I don't want to treat them like they are making poor money decisions, but from what I know of their finances, they did not enter retirement with a whole lot saved up. What is the best way to have this conversation with them without offending them?

Please send your answers email to canyouhelp (at) with "Retired Parents Spending" as the subject or join the discussion below on Facebook. We'll include the best solutions in future issues.

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