Ask Dave, Dave Ramsey

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Dear Dave,

How do you handle a situation where someone needs financial help, but has misspent money you’ve given them in the past? My wife and I have been trying to help a young man we recently met. He told us he was trying to get his life together after a divorce and job loss, and he just needed a little money for groceries and household items. He has asked us a couple of times since for more money, but we discovered he was buying alcohol with most of the cash we gave him. We learned from friends what he said about losing his job and being divorced was true, but we are unsure what to do next.

Andrew

Dear Andrew,

This young man’s problem sounds as much like a mismanagement of money as it is a lack of money. He seems to have an issue with lying, and possibly an addiction problem, too.

I’ve never been against helping people who have good hearts and just need a break. But if someone is bold enough to ask for your money, you have every right to attach requirements to the help you give—especially when it’s for their own good. If he really needs food or household things, you can just buy them for him. At least that way, you’d know you were providing necessities.

But in many cases, truly helping someone is a lot more work than just giving them money. Sometimes, you have to get down in their mess, get real with them and walk with them. If you haven’t been put off by what has already happened, and you still really want to help, I’d suggest getting to know this young man and his situation a little better. Be straight with him, and let him know you’ve learned he hasn’t been honest with you in the past. Hopefully, as a result he’ll apologize and start making better choices. If he does, you might even offer to arrange for him to talk to a good pastor or counselor.

This whole situation is much bigger than helping someone with a little cash. This guy needs someone who cares enough to help him get his life back together.

— Dave

  * Dave Ramsey is an eight-time national best-selling author, personal finance expert, and host of The Ramsey Show, heard by more than 18 million listeners each week. He has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Today Show, Fox News, CNN, Fox Business, and many more. Since 1992, Dave has helped people regain control of their money, build wealth and enhance their lives. He also serves as CEO for Ramsey Solutions.