If you feel that you are the victim or target of financial abuse in your family and amongst your friends, then you have to regain your personal power now. Financial abuse will only end when you decide to put your foot down and refuse to enable or entertain financially precarious behavior.

For those of us with a soft spot for the financial underachievers in our lives, establishing and keeping financial boundaries can prove difficult.

It can, however, be done.

To support your efforts, here are four of the best ways to establish and keep financial boundaries with your close friends and family.

1. Get clear about your financial philosophy and articulate it. Establish your financial boundaries by making your opinions and policies around borrowing clothes and money, cosigning loans, and extended visits, clear to your moocher friends and family members. If you want to be direct, say, “ No, I am not wasting my money on that.”  If you worry about ruffling feathers and want to be subtle, try this: “ I wish I could, but my finances are not allowing me to do that right now.”

2. Understand what your financial goals are and invest in them first. When you sit down and figure out what your financial priorities are and get excited about them, you will simultaneously want to protect them. You will begin to look at any request for a loan, a hook-up, and investment in a “legitimate” business as a threat to your financial future. You will realize that you can’t serve two masters: your friend’s finances and your own.  You will eventually choose to put yourself first.

3. Feel the guilt and still not lend the money. One of the reasons that we give money that we don’t have to friends and family is because we will feel guilty if we don’t. We want to avoid confronting uncomfortable feelings about how we may be perceived by others.

But what’s worse than feeling guilty for giving money that you don’t have to a family member or friend that will probably misuse it? The answer to that is feeling resentful, stupid, and used for doing so.

Discussions about money can be uncomfortable for both parties involved, but it’s up to you to make the decision that will leave you with the most self-respect and with your dignity in tact.

4. Craft a firm email. If you are not light on your feet when it comes to having conversations about money, use technology as a buffer.  Get your thoughts together about what you want to say. If you need to save it draft in order to revise and edit over the course of a few days, then do so. Once you feel that you have conveyed your feelings, expectations and limits, press “send.”  The beauty of technology is that even with an immediately reply from the recipient, you can respond at your own pace. If your family member or friend calls you soon after receiving the email and you are not interested in having a conversation about money over the phone, you have every right to ignore the call or to respond through a well-crafted text.

It is important to hold the people that we love accountable for the money decisions that they make. Being financially firm with them will actually improve their finances more than any no-strings-attached loan could.

Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at www.thefrugalfeminista.com Download her free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days.