Homeownership Guidance, Advice and Blogs

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

Establishing boundaries with your family

In most minority communities, families are taught to take care of their own first, especially their parents and grandparents. And when you have the means to do so, and know that the recipient is deserving, appreciative, and wouldn’t ask for it unless they truly needed it, by all means help them out.

But if any of these four elements are not in place, here are a few things to consider:

1) Are you putting yourself in jeopardy by helping? If you’re providing a loan, will it impact your financial life if they never repay? If so, you’re not in the position to lend money, but maybe you can provide some sweat equity. If they’re behind on payments, try to negotiate with the lender on their behalf or, if it’s related to their mortgage, have them contact HomeFree-USA.

2) Are you really helping? There are times when money is the only thing that can help an otherwise sustainable adult. Other times, people are either looking at you as a bank or are just poor money managers. Whether you have it or not, is helping this person the key to them improving their lives, or is it just a piecemeal until the next catastrophe? If the latter - as much as this may hurt - consider saying no. They have to face their own issues, of which doing so will hopefully lead them out of this situation permanently.

3) Do they feel entitled? We all know at least one person who thinks that because they’re somehow connected to you, you’re supposed to look out for them. That’s simply not true. You’re supposed to take care of self, your kids and (current) spouse. I’m sure you also want to keep your parents and grandparents fed and sheltered, but the manner in which it’s done needs to fit your means, not necessarily their expectations.

4) Is this a need or a want? People need to eat, they don’t need to eat out. Likewise, they need clothing, not the trendiest pieces. Make sure that the request is valid. An emergency on their part doesn’t necessarily constitute one on yours.

Finally, remember one thing: Able bodied adults can and should work. Period. There are extenuating circumstances when the pay is short but the bills are long, but this should be an exception, not a rule.

And so it is.