When many of us see someone we love struggling, we want to help. A financial gift can go a long way toward helping someone who is struggling with money.

Of course, once that money is out of your hands, you can’t truly control what the recipient does with it. What happens if the money that you had hoped would go toward utility bill or tent instead goes to buy a new TV?

Attaching Strings to a Gift

In an effort to ensure that the money is used in the “right” way, it can be tempting to attach strings to a financial gifts.

Sometimes, the strings are rather lightly attached: “Here is $300 that you can use to buy groceries.” Sometimes, though, the giver is a little more straightforward: “I’ll give you this money only if you promise that you will use it to pay your utility bills. I want to see the checks before you send them out.”

While you might want to help, the truth is that you also want to make sure that your financial gift is being used in a way that actually helps, rather than being “wasted” on something frivolous that does nothing to actually improve the recipient’s overall financial situation.

Is That Money Still Really Yours?

The real question, though, is whether or not you are really in a place to dictate terms to someone else. Once you give the money as a gift, can you really claim that it’s still yours? Do you really have the right to dictate terms when you hand over the cash?

For the most part, a gift becomes someone else’s the moment it leaves your hands. Do you really have call to tell someone else what to do with their money, no matter how stupid you think it is? It is possible, of course, to decide not to help out in the future. And if you are really vindictive, you could even tell the recipient that you refuse to help because of the stupid money choices made with your last gift.

Make Sure The Money Helps

If you are bent on making sure that your financial gift helps the recipient, consider staying away from money. There are plenty of ways to help your friends and family financially without handing out cash. Some ideas include:

  • Buy what the recipient needs: If he or she needs groceries, go to the store and purchase food for him or her.
  • Pay directly: Instead of giving money for rent, or for utilities, ask if you can be allowed to make the payment on behalf of the recipient. When you pay the electric bill directly, you know exactly where the money has gone.
  • Use gift cards: You could also buy a gift card. If you purchase a gift card for a specific store, that’s the only option your friend or relative has. He or she has to buy groceries, since the gift card is to the grocery store.
You might want to help your friend or relative, but the truth is that, in many cases, the only for him or her to see a better financial situation is to make fundamental changes in money management style. Nothing you do can change that.


Tom Drake

Tom Drake

Tom Drake writes for Financial Highway and MapleMoney. Whenever he’s not working on his online endeavors, he’s either doing his “real job” as a financial analyst or spending time with his two boys.