top of page

Positive Money for Families

I've always put my family first and that's just the way it is. - Jamie Lee Curtis

Pam is in her early 60s. She and her husband, both retired, live in a small house. In the past year, their two grown sons moved back in with them. One son has a history of addiction and hasn’t been able to hold down a job because of anger issues. The other son moved in with his girlfriend, three dogs, three cats, “huge” debt, and “terrible” credit.

Pam was reaching out to an online group for advice on what to do about the situation as it was becoming untenable financially and interpersonally.

Positive Money for Families

What are your thoughts about Pam's situation? Do you judge her for being a pushover or failing to set boundaries? Do you blame her sons for taking advantage of their parents? Do you relate to her or are just thankful you don't have such challenges?

Whatever your perspective, Pam's plight is not unusual, especially given the rising costs of living and the lingering effects of the pandemic. However, she does have choices and opportunities that could lead to more positive outcomes. For example, she could examine her actions through the Third Principle of Positive Money about serving a higher good and think, "Yes, we're serving a higher good by providing a roof over their heads during challenging times.” My response might be, “If that's true, what do you need to feel good about what goes on under the roof, and for how long?”

Positive Money for Families
Money is a challenging topic for families.

Money and families can get complicated, especially when it comes to limited resources and mental health challenges. As Pam's challenge demonstrates, it can be hard to draw lines and break patterns, especially out of fear or lack of support. This is one reason why the second principle of Positive Money is about the behaviors and beliefs about money we inherit and pass along. On the one hand, we want to think we’re individuals apart from our family. On the other hand, we’re cut from the same cloth. 

What You Can Do

The following are three strategies for applying Positive Money in a family environment:

  1. Choose a Positive Money Principle that resonates - One or more Positive Money Principles can be useful if you ask yourself how they can be applied in your specific situation. For example, if you choose the Fifth Principle about it causing no harm, you might ask yourself what harm looks like and what it would take to reduce it.

  2. Come from love versus fear - Even in the worst of times, it can be easier to take action when you ask, "What does love look like?" Love, for Pam and her husband, might be to offer housing for the next three months with clear guidelines for support moving forward.

  3. Focus on what you can control - There is much out of our control including how we want our loved ones to show up. This leaves the only true place for change being how we show up.


bottom of page