Vacation or Supporting Family?

Brian and his wife have a big vacation planned next year. Their family is pushing them to help family instead. The problem is the family members in need haven't changed their lifestyle.

QUESTION: Brian in Oklahoma City and his wife have a big vacation planned next year. Their family is pushing them to help family instead. The problem is the family members in need haven’t changed their lifestyle. Dave thinks Brian’s family is overstepping their boundaries.

ANSWER: Number one, whether they were living a lifestyle that you agree with or I agree with or not, neither one of those things gives them the right to decide on your vacation. The answer to that is, “Kiss my butt.” Seriously. You have got to be kidding me. You get to decide where I go on vacation. Really. That’s just completely over the top and absurd and way bad on boundaries. I have an iPad. I have a leased car. I have medical bills, and you shouldn’t go on vacation so you can pay my bills. Please. That’s just absolutely insane. Let’s just establish that. You can be nicer than that so that you can maintain relationships with family, but you don’t need to have that spirit inside of you and your wife.

These people are travel agents for guilt trips. They’re like punching your ticket to take you on a guilt trip. They have no say whatsoever in that. Having established that, under what circumstances do you want to help and are you doing good to help? The way I try to view that is the money that I have, I manage it as a Christian for God. What would God smile about when I do it with money? Well, He would smile for you to go on a nice vacation because the Bible says the diligent prosper. It says take care of your own household or you’re worse than an unbeliever. He says very clearly that in the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil. You’ve got choice food because you’ve been wise. Your Father is happy with that.

Do you support family? Absolutely, we help family. If one of your children was suffering and the other child was not suffering and the one that wasn’t suffering helped the one that was suffering, you’d be happy about that as a dad. That’s the same thing with our Dad—our heavenly Dad. He’s happy when we help each other. The question is are you helping someone who has an inordinately high lifestyle while they have medical bills and they refuse to trim it? No, you’re not. My rule of thumb with helping friends, family, and neighbors in situations like this is if you get my money, the only way that you get my money is you get my input. I don’t give money where my input is not welcome. My input is you’re going to adjust your lifestyle, and you’re going to start making some decisions here like getting rid of this leased car and putting your iPad on eBay. You’re going to put your house up for sale and move into a home you can afford because you people have medical bills you can’t pay, and you need to get your stinking act together. Again, you’re going to be nicer than that, but that message comes with my money in this situation.

You know what they’re going to do? You don’t have any right to tell me how to live—after they just finished telling you how to live! That’s exactly what they’re going to say.

I don’t want to lose the friendship either, but a friendship that’s based on me giving them money is not a friendship; that’s prostitution. Friendship’s not based on money; it’s based on friendship. If they want to play and me help them, this will be the circumstance under which I help them. I might choose to do a little bit like you’ve already done just to try to get them started and kind of prime the pump a little bit. You paid some of their medical bills. I don’t think you were wrong or wasteful by doing that. But you and I both know looking back on it that it didn’t change their life. As a matter of fact, if you pay off all their medical bills right now and wrote a check and did that whether or not you went on a trip, you still didn’t change their life, did you? They don’t save money, they don’t live on a plan, they spend everything they make—they spend like they’re in Congress. What changes their life is when their heart changes—not when their pocketbook changes. They got the cause and effect backwards. When you give people money, it doesn’t change their heart. When you change their heart, they’ll get money.

What we’ve got to do is if I’m in your shoes, I’m going to say to start with, my vacations and what I do in my personal life with my money is none of your business. If I want your opinion on that, I’ll ask. That’s thing one. Thing two is I’m more than willing to help you because we care about you deeply, but the way we’re going to help you is we’re going to require you to do some things that are good for you as a condition of our help. If you’re unwilling to do those things, we understand. You have the right to make that decision, but then you have to respect our right not to finance insanity. You’re going to sell your house, you’re going to sell your car, you’re going to put your iPad on eBay, and you’re going to get your lifestyle adjusted. You’re going to go through Financial Peace University, I’m going to pay for that, and then I’m willing to match you dollar for dollar up to the first $10,000 that you pay off of your medical bills. I’m going to help you turn your life around—not just pay your bills for you because I really care about you. But if you don’t want to go that route, I understand.

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