Is It Ok To Give Cash To Needy Friends?

Yes, it’s ok to lend cash to needy friends, but only if you have a clear understanding of your gift and its effects. Money undeniably alters relationships, and giving can greatly complicate, if not entirely undermine, a valued friendship. Yet, money is also one of the most direct ways to provide help. The Times provided several questions to consider before making a gift…

    Grant Or Loan? There are arguments on both sides, but if you’re going to give a gift, then make it an actual gift. Granting a debt-laden person another loan is only going to cause more anxiety.

    Ask Or Act? Some people are too proud to accept help, even if it’s needed. Offering assistance can be a gift by itself, even if your offer isn’t accepted.

    Act Alone Or With Others? It might seem strange to discuss a friend’s financial situation with a third party, but consider if the situation is broadly known or doesn’t have direct roots in unemployment.

    In late January, Steven Roy lost his job, which provided health insurance for his family. A few weeks later, his infant son Isaac, who is known as Ike, was found to have a life-threatening illness. Within hours, friends of the family from the AustinMama Web community in Texas had erected to coordinate help for the family. A few hours later, there was $4,000 in a PayPal account with the Roys’ name on it.

    Anonymous Gifts?: Giving through your local religious community may be easier than handing over a gift. You can also use the group Giving Anonymously as a middleman. Sue Barnet, who received a $200 check in the mail said: “I come from a family of extraordinarily independent women, very determined. Sometimes that’s not such a good thing. I think I would have just been too embarrassed to accept a direct gift.”

    Cash Or Other Payments?: Cash is the most direct and flexible gift you can offer, but if you want slightly more control over the gift, you can help pay for things that the recipient’s children need, like music lessons or camp. If you aren’t in a position to offer cash, consider giving frequent flier miles, although redeeming them might be more of a hassle than a gift.

Would you consider helping out a friend? How would you do it? Tell us in the comments.

Helping Out With Cash: A Delicate Art [The New York Times]