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Maintaining a Healthy Relationship with a Loved One as You Manage Their Finances

Maintaining a Healthy Relationship with a Loved One as You Manage Their Finances

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Managing the finances of a loved one can be a challenging and sensitive task for anyone. Whether you are helping an aging parent, spouse, or a family member living with a disability, you’ll want to make sure they stay financially healthy and their money is able to cover their long-term needs. But when you’re taking over financial management from someone who is used to being independent and handling money on their own, conflicts can arise — often leading to frustration and tough conversations. Below, we'll explore some key strategies to help you navigate this delicate territory while preserving the bond you share with your loved one.

1. Involve your loved one from the beginning

Even when someone isn’t in a position to safely manage their money on their own, it can help your relationship to find ways to include them in your decision-making process. This could look like asking them about how they’ve approached money management in the past, what their financial goals are, and what they need and want to spend money on. When possible, try to avoid making unilateral decisions without your loved one’s input or consent, as this can lead to feelings of helplessness and resentment. 

Transparency on your part can also go far in fostering connection and confidence in your new role. Once you have a budget or spending plan, walk through how you came up with these numbers, what money they have coming in, what bills or other expenses need to be taken care of first (e.g. medical expenses, rent, utilities, etc.), and what’s leftover each month. 

2. Put protections in place without sacrificing their autonomy

People who are unable to manage their money independently are often targeted by fraud and scammers. This can leave family members nervous and paranoid, and push them to take unnecessary measures to protect their loved ones — cutting up their credit cards, taking away checkbooks, and leaving them without any way to spend money on their own. These experiences can increase tension on both sides of the relationship and can often be avoided. The loved one feels stripped of their independence when they’re not allowed to spend money as they have for decades, and the family member who’s managing their money must be present anytime the loved one needs to buy something.

If you want to put protections in place while still helping your loved one make some purchases for themselves, the True Link Visa® Prepaid Card can be a good option. With the Spending Monitor, you can set up where the Visa card can and cannot be used, block over the phone or online spending (where scams are common), and set transaction limits to avoid big purchases. Learn some more tips on how to help protect a loved one from scams.  

3. Know when to speak up and when to withhold judgment 

While you may be responsible for managing your loved one’s finances, this doesn’t mean you should feel pressured to control how every dollar is spent. If, for example, they get $100 a month to spend as they’d like after important bills are paid, do your best to withhold judgment on what a “smart” or “reasonable” expense would be. Giving your loved one autonomy to spend a portion of their money freely can help you develop mutual respect and acceptance about your role as a financial caregiver. And if you’re worried about them spending their monthly allowance too quickly, you can schedule weekly transfers via the True Link platform instead of transfering in one lump sum. 

4. Help in-home caregivers make purchases

If you’ve hired a home health aide or caregiver, they may need to make purchases on your loved one’s behalf (e.g. food, prescriptions, medical co-pays, etc.). Maintaining a good relationship with an in-home caregiver benefits both you and your loved one, so you want to avoid money tensions here as well. True Link can also be particularly useful in these situations. The caregiver can make purchases on behalf of your loved one using a True Link Visa Card to   help provide transparency into spending and reduce the risk of fraud, and family members can use the Spending Monitor to track spending, customize where the Visa card works (e.g. grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors), and load money onto the card as needed. 

5. Consult an expert when you need support

Managing a loved one's finances isn’t without complexity and can put a lot of stress on the family member who is taking charge of this responsibility. Remember that maintaining your own mental and physical health is crucial for providing the best care for your loved one, and there are many professionals who can help you navigate your role as a financial caregiver.

This could mean working with a financial advisor, accountant, or elder law attorney to take on specific tasks and help you make informed decisions. You may also decide to outsource responsibilities of financial management to a professional fiduciary or trustee which can allow you to focus more on maintaining a healthy relationship with your loved one instead of handling the burden of managing their finances.

While managing the finances of someone else can seem like an intimidating responsibility at first, if handled with care and proper planning, it can become quite manageable for anyone. And if you ever feel stuck or overwhelmed in the role, there are plenty of resources available to help and even professionals who can offer invaluable guidance and advice.

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