Lending Money

I’ve often thought about the other side of debting … lending money … and what Debtors Anonymous thinks about that subject. Recently, I wrote the organization and they responded by saying they have no official opinion on lending money.

It’s a slippery slope for me. First of all, I would need to figure out what category the loan would come from. As a compulsive spender, I could easily find ways to justify spending that I cannot afford.

I remember reading in non-DA literature that you should only lend money with the thought that it is a gift. So never lend more than you can afford to lose. If you watch Judge Mathis, Judy, or any other TV court show, you will know how often loans aren’t repaid.

Rather than getting into an ugly legal battle, it may be more peaceful to simply refuse to lend money that you rely on receiving back. That would certainly make the decision to lend a lot easier!

But sometimes, people borrow money by way of debt, both secured and unsecured. What I mean by that is, if you watch these judge shows as often as I do (I have a lot of time on my hands), you will see how many people sign as the guarantor for others on cell phone accounts and the other person racks up thousands without paying the bill. So the guarantor is stuck having to pay for them.

Or what about co-signing or just signing for a car or apartment or putting utilities in your name for someone who doesn’t pay. You, as the guarantor, are responsible.

I think a wise, sober way to look at loans if you are working a DA program would be as follows:

  1. Any type of guarantor loan (cell phone, utilities, car) is essentially a debt that may become yours. While we can take on secured loans (such as a car), it is important that you work out a spending plan with your PRG to ensure that you can cover the payments if the borrower doesn’t.
  2. If you lend cash, you would discuss this first with your sponsor or in a PRG, to determine what category this would come from. It is essential that you determine if you can afford to simply lose this money if the borrower doesn’t pay it back. If not, it is probably not a sober choice to make. I would think Gifts is an appropriate category for any loan, because of the possibility that you will never see the money again.

Though it is always wise to get any loan agreement in writing and notarized, in case you have to go to court to resolve a problem, think about the emotional price you will have to pay to drag someone you care about through this process, and the fact that it could destroy the relationship.

What always comes to mind for me is my son. What will I do if he is in a terrible bind after he graduates college this year? I am living on a very finite fixed income with little discretionary money. In fact, I will be pulling my financial support pretty much entirely once he graduates, other than the fact that this is his home if he wants to live here. But as far as supporting him on his own, there is no way I can afford to do that unless I wipe out my small savings to do so. And my PRG team has impressed upon me time and time again that when the oxygen mask drops, you put it on yourself first. That is great in theory, but extremely difficult in practice regarding newly grown children … at least for me.

It will be up to me if and when he does ask for a loan in the future to ensure that my boundaries are strong. The way for me to do that is to continue working my program, staying diligent to its principles, and continuing to connect with my network of other sober souls who can help me do what is best for all.

Doing what is best is not always what is pleasant. But a commitment to recovery is to listen and follow a Higher Power’s will, not our own. We act with integrity in recovery to the best of our ability. Unfortunately, our boundaries may be at odds with other non-program people’s desires. Clashes may occur, but when we act in integrity, we can still find peace knowing that we have made a decision based on sober thinking.

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