Dear Dave,

My husband and I met a young woman through an outreach program at church. She is a single mother with a small child, and recently she asked us for money, so she could buy baby food and diapers. This isnt the first time she has asked us for money. In the past, she has used money weve given her to buy alcohol for herself after telling us it was going to be used for the baby. She truly does need financial help, though. Can you give us some advice on handling this situation?


Dear Angela,

Financially speaking, her problem sounds as much of a mismanagement of money as it is a lack of money. That, and she seems to have an issue with lying. If youre determined to help this woman, you can put conditions on your help designed to improve her decision-making abilities and her life.

If someone is bold enough to ask for your money, you have every right to attach requirements to the money for their own good. One of two things will happen if you handle it this way. Shell either graciously accept your conditions and welcome the help, or shell get angry and say you have no right interfering in her business. Ive never had a problem helping people who have good hearts and just need a break. But if someone cops an attitude with me in a situation like this, I wouldnt be breaking out my wallet anytime soon.

If you choose to do this, make the money a gift and not a loan. Concentrate on trying to get her on a path where shes a little more honest with you and thinks a little straighter. Hopefully, as a result she will start making better choices. Teach her how to create and live off a budget, or help her enroll in a personal finance course, too. Right now, just handing her money is like giving a drunk a drink.

This whole situation is a lot bigger than helping someone with baby food and diapers. The answer to that is easy. In this case, however, Id probably give it to her in the form of a gift card. Some of those dont allow alcohol purchases. You could avoid that possibility, too, by getting things for the baby yourself and taking them to her.

In many cases, truly helping someone is a lot more work than just throwing money at them. Sometimes, you have to get down in their mess, get real with them, and walk with them.


Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 16 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.


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