Just Say No (and Stick to It): Practical Advice on How to Avoid Becoming a Financial Enabler

If you want someone to stop asking you for money, the worst thing you can do is say no and then give in after persistent pleading.Such "intermittent reinforcement" -- granting a reward after an unpredictable number of requests -- makes it more likely the person will ask for another handout than if you just said yes at the start, says Brad Klontz, a certified financial planner and psychologist in Lihue, Hawaii, who researches financial psychology. It's the same dynamic that lures people to slot machines and lotteries.Klontz doesn't actually advise giving in. But he says understanding the psychology on both sides of what he calls "financial enabling" can help people change their behavior.Financial enabling means giving money in ways that keep the recipients from taking responsibility and solving their own problems. It may include providing financial support to an able-bodied person who refuses to work, bailing a chronic debtor out of another financial jam or serving as a de facto emergency fund for someone who refuses to save.The best way to stop enabling is to first recognize when you're doing it and then create a plan for saying no.  Continue reading...

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