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Financial Bullying | How to Protect yourself

While on your journey to financial freedom, there may be many obstacles that impede your success. Some examples are: debt, medical emergencies, a big move, and even a job loss. The biggest obstacle for me was one that I never thought I’d encounter. peers and colleagues who have a negative impact on the monthly budget. though finances and friends may not always mix, certain behaviors can be considered financial bullying. Let’s look at the signs.

What is financial bullying? Financial bullying can come in many forms, and from many different people. You can be targeted by your boss at work, your friends, and even your family. So what does this look like? Here are a few examples:

  – Being pressured to partake in financial non-necessities at work.

 – Financial peer pressure from friends.

 – Unnecessary financial pressure from family.

These are three of many unfortunate ways that people like you and me encounter financial bullying. At first glance it may seem a little dramatic. But keep an open mind, and we will work through each different scenario.

                                                       Financial bullying at work

a group of people sitting together at a table and working - financial bullying at work

Sally from work is pregnant, and your colleague is telling you about the office wide bet that everyone needs to poole money for. The person who guesses closest to the due date gets the whole pot. Oh boy! Except, you only have enough budgeted to grab lunch and a coffee this week until you get paid. Naturally you say no, and its met with a weird reaction from your colleagues. your co-workers are frequently becoming quiet when you approach the water cooler. Or Sally no longer talks to you like she used to during break.

You are starting to wonder why the air has gotten chillier at work. I’m sorry to say, you’re experiencing financial bullying. Just think – How would the atmosphere be if you had said yes to your colleague? your work buddies would still include you in conversation, and Sally wouldn’t be giving you the cold shoulder. But you would be a few dollars short on a budget that you set for yourself. You would be sacrificing your goals for the comfort of those around you. people expecting that of you are exhibiting bullying behavior. Even if it’s unintentional.

How to protect yourself: Be wary of the work environment as early as possible. Gaining an understanding of how people handle boundaries at work will put you at an advantage, while allowing you to keep the culprits at arms length.

                                      Financial bullying / peer pressure among friends

4 friends standing together in the sunset - financial peer pressure among friends

As if personal finance wasn’t already a lot of work, you can even find yourself at odds with your buddies regarding money. This is the most common and painful type of financial bullying for me personally. In my case, this looks like having to fight to protect my boundaries. Setting boundaries is never an easy thing to do. However, your real friends will understand, or a least respect your decision. If you find that you are being guilted, shunned, or left out after protecting your assets, then they just aren’t that into you.

Some other ways that friends sneak their way into your pockets:

 – Planning pricey weekend hangouts every week.

 – Expecting you to buy gifts for holidays and birthdays

 – Trying to convince you to buy liabilities (that cool new phone or car. yes…this has happened to me).

How to protect yourself: Be prepared to be uncomfortable. It won’t be easy, but you will need to be transparent in saying no, and do not argue. Your goals will not always be clear to your friends. Especially if you are on different life trajectories. Creating some space may be a good way to re-establish your financial boundaries.

                                                   Financial bullying from family

family walking down a pier in the sunset - financial bullying from family

Financial family drama is the worst of the worst. It comes with so many underlying issues such as: abuse of power, ultimatums, filial piety, extreme guilt. The list can go on for a while, but the ones listed are the ones I hear of most. Sometimes, family doesn’t even know that what they are doing is wrong. It is often due to the generational curse that comes with it. For some families, it is expected to take care of your parents financially. This is setting you up for failure because:

 – It gives the older generation the choice to be irresponsible with money.

 – You aren’t able to get ahead financially because everyone’s needs come before yours.

 – Your kids will have a higher chance of needing to care for YOU in the same way.

Financial bullying from family can also look like you having to pay bills when you’re younger just because you have a job. Or having to keep your parents afloat “because they raised you”. It’s simply not fair.

How to protect yourself: This one is hard, but you’ll have to make a stand. Especially if you are over the age of 21. In my case, taking my life into my own hands became easier when I graduated college and got a job in a different city. This just isn’t the case in most people’s situations. You will most likely need a community, whether its friends, or people from school/work. There may be a period of transition while you establish independence. If you have an understanding family, they will support your needs once they see you working hard.


When I started my journey to financial freedom, I never thought that I would run into fiscal bullying. Most of the ways that I have been able to navigate this is through trial and error. I have lost friendships and relationships over money. It’s a hard lesson, but also a fact of life. Not everyone will have your best interest at heart. The faster you realize this, the better off you will be in the long run

When it comes to protecting yourself from this phenomenon, the main theme is creating space. You have to let it be known that you live your life for YOU. Anyone who wants to get in the way of that will be left behind for your own well-being.

Have you ever been in the crosshairs of a financial bully? and how have you handled it? For more content like this please check out the following articles:

Signs of a Toxic Workplace that I Regret ignoring.

5 people who may be impeding your success in life

This Post Has 35 Comments

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