Extended Family Expects Me to Help Them Financially

Updated on June 21, 2008
A.F. asks from Chandler, AZ
9 answers

I am in need of some good insight regarding my family. Here's some background and I'll keep it short: I am American Indian and grew up lower middle-class. I have since married and my husband's income puts us in the upper middle-class segment. My two paternal aunts (one is married & the other is single) think I should help my extended family financially. They have never mentioned this before until know and here's why: My grandfather (their father) is turning 80 in July. I suggested we throw him a party and buy him a nice gift. My family (husband & two kids) is flying to NC for it. I thought we could make a big dinner, give him a card with $80 cash ($10 from each kid & grandkid) and buy him a really nice leather recliner chair for about $1400 ($140 from each kid & grandkid-everyone is adults). My aunts think this is too much to ask and "I must be loaded" to think they can afford this. So, now they think I have so much money that I should be able to help everyone. Was this too much to ask? Lastly, my grandparents have supported these two aunts their whole lives. They have never worked and think they are entitled to everything.

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much everyone for your different points of view. I believe that maybe my expectations were a bit too high to think everyone could come up with the money for the leather chair. I just see it as my Papa's 80th birthday and all he's done for our family and that he deserves a nice custom leather chair but sometimes even if someone wants to give that as a gift they might not be able to afford to. As far as my aunts, I have never given them money and I'm not going to start now and be one of those who continues to enable them to rely on others.

More Answers



answers from Phoenix on

It may be a little too much to ask them to contribute that much if they struggle finanicially. However, DO NOT be an enabler and support them! Enabling = Crippling! You will regret it1! Unfortunately, it sounds like they have been crippled. I would not want to be accountable for crippling anyone! It's important people learn how to work for themself!
Good luck!



answers from Phoenix on

let me ask you to look at this from aunties point of view, you (your immediate family) is flying out there (how much is that trip costing?), and want to give him a big dinner (even home made is expensive - how is that being paid for?) and huge gift via contributions. where are your aunts? in NC already? do they have the expense of travel? can you gauge from a far whether you think $140 is too much for them to handle (really - remember what it was like, regardless where their money comes from) or are they just being cheap?
i have issues like this in my family as well, and i have just accepted that some people just dont 'get it' so you plan to make up the difference financially with or without the rest of the families help or dont do it/offer a grand idea. your options may be leave them out of the cash pool(and they dont get the credit of the gift being from them too), have them give 20 bucks or 40 each for the 80, decide to downsize the gift, or suck up their part and do what you want.
have they asked you for money since this situation?
how does the rest of your family view the situation? that should give you some insight on how to feel or proceed.

the big thing in our family is when we all (10+ or any number really) get together to go out to dinner, they always nickle and dime the check and put in just their amounts. it always comes up short and my tendancy is just to put in my share and cover the balance rather than make a big deal out of it because it is SO annoying and i hate that situtuation. if you cant afford it - dont come! and if you can, pay and get on with it (and not that i always can, it is credit).

am i making sense? i guess ultimately it is accepting the peeps for the way they are and moving forward to not perpetuate all the stress involved, since it wont change anything anyway.



answers from Phoenix on

Dear A.,
I was in the same situation--as I know a lot of people are. The requests came from siblings mostly--them wanting me to help them or their kids. I'm #5 out of 6--so they were usually older--a little intimidating for me. Finally, I did a financial study and it taught me how to say "no" politely--but firmly. You say, "--------(husband's name) and I have a family policy that we don't give out or loan money to family and friends" That's the end of it. Blame the policy. Always refer to the policy. They do stop after a while. Also, the going in on gifts is never a good idea b/c people are always at different financial stages. It's best to give what you want/can and not ask others to go in on any gifts. You don't always know what's going on in their financial lives.
Stay strong!



answers from Phoenix on

You have absolutely no obligation to help your extended family, and no one is doing your aunts any favors by enabling and supporting them while they don't work. I get very tired of that entitled attitude I see so much of. I donate regularly, but I try to give to people I see as true victims of circumstance (such as children and people in third-world coutnries and victims of disease). The financial situation you and your husband currently find yourself in is most likely the logical, expected result of hard work and discipline, and the opposite is true for your aunts.

But as far as the gift goes, $140 would be a lot for me to spend on a grandparent (I'm not super close to mine and it's just out of budget) and I wouldn't feel very comfortable if someone was trying to get me to pitch in that much. I think they are completely out of line to think you owe them or anyone else a cent for all the hard work you and your husband do to earn your income, but maybe they felt you were a little out of line to expect them to cough up that much money. You don't sound like you were pushy about it at all, but I have been in a situation before where I was asked to pitch in a certain amount and it's hard to say no because you don't want to be rude or cheap, but it's also not something you can or want to give. I like to let people donate what they want instead of suggesting an amount so they don't feel pressure and then decide what we can afford with the collected money. Or if I do have a certain amount of money to suggest to purchase a specific item, I try to let them know there's no pressure or obligation and it's fine if they already have a gift in mind so they feel they can easily say no. I just don't want to make anyone do something they don't want to do.



answers from Phoenix on

I think that we all have people in our family who think everyone owes them.

It is not crazy to ask everyone to pithc in $140.00 for an 80th birthday because it is a special occassion. But, if your fmaily is over lower income it would seem a lot and to them because you can spend it and they can not you are loaded in there mind.

I know a lot of wealthy people and thet are always being asked them for money. Just because someone asks or thinks you should help does not mean you have to.

If you are eating steak and they are not eating at all I would consider that to be selfish of you. We are suppose to help take care of our family and help provide them the neccessities in life. If they are expecting the luxuries that's another thing.

You have to do what is in your heart. If you are doing it because you think you have to then you are not gaining any point with God.



answers from Phoenix on

Bounderies protect you and your family ( which is your husband & your children). What a giving heart & thoughtful gift for your grandfather> That is a choice you & your spouse made out of love & respect (perfectly w/ in bounderies). Great responses for your Aunts would simply be to rephrase their requests 3 x while clearly stating no in 3 different ways.
For example...If I hear you correctly I am hearing that you would like my husband and myself to kick in finacially for extended family.However , While I love my extended family My husband and myself agree that our finacial responsibility is to our children.As grown adults , we are carefully budgeting our money for their future. So forth
"Guilters" are skilled in appealing toward your loving heart. I have a older grown brother who is one.It took me years to get clear boundries w/ him.
Last time I told him..We are both grown adults & able bodied..I have a bank account ( for my family )& yours is closed how is that working for you?What are you willing to do to change that.needless to say he hasn't called for a while,but when he does /he knows it is just to be siblings like we are suppose to be.( not the softie I used to be)



answers from Phoenix on

That sounds really hard. People that have never had to earn their own money have no concept of what it means to be "loaded." We have an uncle in our family who is the same what. He even sued his own mom's trust for money to buy a $50k truck! So sad! Anyway, be as generous as you can for birthdays etc. but sending them money outright is not good. Unless they are willing to provide childcare, housekeeping or cooking for you, I would not pay them. They need to earn it if they want to be included. Of course, that is just my opinion. Good luck and take care!



answers from Sacramento on

Hi A.,

I come from a very large extended family, I have a few cousins and a sister who do very well for themselves, but one cousin who is very "loaded". She and her husband made a very wise decision early in their marraige and so they are in the millionaire category. It seems that whenever someone in our family needs something, they will always be headed that way. I, however, personally believe that you should make your own way in the world. Now if my family was starving or homeless, I might ask for a loan from them until I got back on my feet, but would make sure I paid it back in a reasonable time. The past five years have been extremely tight financialy speaking for me as my husband has ADD really bad and has not kept a job for long and so it has just been my income some of the time. While it was very difficult at times I feel very proud of the fact that I did not need help from my family. While my credit is not good right now, I know I can rebuild it now that things are improving financially. I guess my point is that if they are not willing to try to help themselves, then you should not give them a hand out. However if they are trying then you could consider giving them a helping hand up. In the bible it says, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for life. I would explain to your Aunts that you are not willing to let them mooch off of you as they have off your grandparents and that if they are not happy with their financial situation that they should get off their lazy butts and do something about it. I am sorry I know that sounds harsh, and I would probably choose my words a little more carefully when talking to them as you do not want to severe ties with them I am sure. However there is a very tactful way that I am sure you can find to get this through to your Aunts. Good luck and God bless.




answers from Phoenix on

From your post, I'm going to assume that it is only your two Aunts who have decided you are 'loaded'. There is honestly, probably no way to change their perception at this point. I have an Uncle who was constantly provided money from his Mom, until she passed away and then he started requesting funds my Dad (his brother) and even us (my two sisters and myself) for his various bills, trips he would want, grand schemes..etc. My sisters and I would just never respond to the money requests (which for us was easy as he does most his correspondence via e-mail anyway); and my Dad got around it by 'loaning' him some money they knew he would never pay back - and future offers were met with, "Well, you still haven't repaid the $$." He has since stopped asking from them as well.

It could also help by just telling them that you saved the money over a period of time to help make the event special and with the economy right now, you were lucky to even get that saved up.

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