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My son and I are in the store and he wants to buy something. He knew we were going to the store ahead of time, but he said he didn't want to bring any money with him. But, since he now wants to buy something, we get to have a conversation about the difference between a loan and a gift.

I will, of course, loan him the money to make his purchase, because he still too young to carry a wallet everywhere he goes and definitely too young to have a credit card. Eventually, he will get a debit card and that will be another series of conversations, but for the moment, I wanted him to understand that a loan meant he would pay me back when we got home. A gift would be if I just bought the item for him.

He understood, we made the purchase and he paid me back when we got home.

It seems like a trivial thing to point out to him, except that I know that adults have trouble distinguishing between those two terms - especially when it comes to family. The charts on that article link tell me that while people may have the best of intentions in repaying a loan, a lot of those funds will never be seen again. And since a lot of money changing hands is between parents and their children, it's important to get everyone in the habit of setting expectations early.

How do you feel about lending money to family members? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.

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