Money can be a source of great strain within families, on many fronts. From simple disagreements about how money is handled, that can be worked through with goodwill on both sides, to bullying and abuse.

I have seen cases where the wife was minutely scrutinised for all purchases including the weekly grocery shop, and where a woman was verbally abused for spending money on the children. In another case, one spouse tricked the other into signing to purchase risky shares that bottomed out and drained a joint bank account.

‘Sharing’ cultures have their own problems with financial bullying: I met a young mum who was being coerced every payday to give family members money. This young woman also told me that her cousin had her PIN number bullied out of her, and her debit card used for purchases that she would not have agreed to, that left her short of money for food and essentials.

Financial bullying of the elderly is unfortunately also becoming more common, especially since the housing and rental markets have become more difficult for many people. Older people are reporting being denied access to their grandchildren unless they hand over some money; being coerced into going guarantor for a loan; and tricked into signing documents and changing wills or insurances, by family members.

So what can you do, if you (or someone you know) is being financially bullied? There are organisations in your local area that you can turn to. They will have trained staff, knowledgeable about financial abuse – check out your local Community Health Centre or local government website.  

As usual, ASIC’s MoneySmart has a page dedicated to this issue If desperate, call 1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732 available 24/

Have fun and keep smiling – Aunt Sue