How to Keep Family Out of Our Finances!

Updated on August 12, 2009
N.W. asks from Buffalo Grove, IL
6 answers

Things have been tough for us for a while financially, and recently I lost my job. Still, we struggle along.

Recently my brother had a birthday and we couldn't afford a fancy gift, so we got him a small gift and then we went out with him and had a great time hanging out and talking. I made him his favorite dinner as well.

I just can't keep my family's noses out of my personal finances! If we appear to be "doing OK" then my parents get upset that we didn't "spend enough" on a birthday gift. If I let them know that we are not doing well, then it's a constant nagging of how we could do better.

Recently a friend offered to let us use their condo in the Wisconsin Dells for free! We are planning on going up for a weekend, cooking food, and enjoying the swimming pool and beach and other FREE activities. Except for the gas driving up there, I can't see how it will cost us much money if we cook our food. Maybe we'll go out to dinner ONCE (which is no different than what we do at home, going out to dinner once in a while as a special treat when we can afford it.)

I can already hear it now, I'll get criticized for taking a vacation instead of buying my brother an expensive birthday gift (even though he loved the book we got him and really enjoyed the dinner and hanging out).

I think I should spend our carefully budgeted money on many different things, and I don't think we should have spent all our money on my brother's birthday and not be able to go on a mostly free small family getaway. Instead I budgeted a small amount for his birthday and a small amount for our family getaway and I made sure to give him the gift of our time.

I did the same for my husband's sister's birthday, I sewed her a cool little purse and then we all hung out.

How do you handle things on a tight budget?

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

How I handle my finances on a tight budget is nobodies business, family and friends included. Unless you are asking them for money to help you out then they have no say in how you spend your money. I don't see why you even waste your time discussing this with your parents or siblings. If they raise the subject, I would use a curt response such as "finances are something my husband and I discuss in private" and then move on to another subject. period. Don't give any other explanations, just repeat the response over and over until they get that they are not welcome to address this topic with you. It's completely rude of them to bring it up anyway. Gifts mean more when there is thought behind them, such as the purse or book you gave, then when someone just throws money around. Especially if its money they don't have, I honestly think that is more embarrassing. I would go on your vacation and enjoy every minute of it. If you make it clear you don't appreciate them sticking their noses where they don't belong, then you won't have to get stressed out about it. Just be clear this topic is off-limits and go about your merry way =)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rockford on

Whoa! Go on that vacation and don't you dare even think about what others will say! Just put all of that out of your head and enjoy your time with your family. You and your husband can come up with something that both of you are comfortable saying to the nosey family that is quick and to the point, that you can say over and over again until they learn to stop being pests. Perhaps something like "our family finances are private and we prefer to speak only to each other about it" then change the subject and move on. Tell them, if they must be nosey, that as adults you prefer to give small gifts to other adults and to make the real gift your time spent with them. Their focus on expensive enough gift is juvenile! You do not have to justify anything you spend to anyone, and the sooner you and hubby bluntly and frequently tell them that, the sooner they will learn (hopefully) to back off and mind their own business. If they do not learn, you might have to go so far as to pick up and leave anytime they bring something up and do not heed your "warning." Sometimes people need a rude awakening, but hopefully it will not come to that. P.S. What you have done for the birthdays and the plan you have for the vacation are awesome!!! You do not need anyone to tell you how to do it better because you are doing it perfectly!



answers from Chicago on

Your mom seems to have forgotten what matters most in life. It's people not stuff. Even if you bought your brother an expensive gift he would hardly remember it a year from now.I bet he will remeber the great time you all had together. It's the memories of time spent together not things that matter. Have a great time on your vacation making memeories with your family. You deserve it!



answers from Chicago on

On my in-laws side we decided for Christmas we will only do a grownup grab bag, and the kids will just get gifts from Grandma. We do not exchange gifts with siblings on either side for birthdays. On my side of the family we do not give gifts to any grownups for Christmas, just kids. I do still buy for my MIL and my mother, but that is it. With that said maybe you decide to no longer give gifts for birthdays, and maybe just go out for lunch.

I think that having a short vacation with your family is perfectly acceptable, and your business not your families.



answers from Chicago on

First of all, unless all these people are handing you money and saying go ahead and pay your bills with it I hate to say it but you have to learn to ignore them. They are not paying your bills so you don't owe them any explanations at all.
Next a gift is a gift and it is not up to them what kind if ANY gift you should give anyone.
I have come to the conclusion that sometimes people want you to be poor in their minds. It makes them feel superior. We have had times in our life when we have more money than others. They don't seem to notice that. Then there are times when we went somewhere (for example we visited my husband's family in Arizona and Mexico when he hadn't seen them in years-truly wasn't a vacation but a family visit) and they have acted shocked as though I were jet skiing with Paris Hilton. Do these people not have anything better to do? You are working to take care of you-not everyone else. That is why we are working. And it sounds as if you would enjoy a much needed break. Since your brother was fine and your husband's sister was fine, give yourself a break, have a good time and don't worry about it. The little circle will come up with something new anyway.
I have an egotistical self-centered step father who laughed at me when I said I buy reading glasses at the dollar store. Well why would I want to pay fifteen dollars at another store if I can get several pair for a dollar? The eyedoctor said it was fine.
I have a teenaged son who I am trying to convince that it's okay to shop at a Walmart then the mall all the time and you can get the same things so much cheaper and made just as well. The point is if we don't have the money why can we not still have a night out, a little vacation or new gym shoes without someone making fun of us or ridiculing us. So back to my original premise: you can ignore them and enjoy your life unless they want to pay your bills-in which case you can grab the money offered to you and then buy an expensive gift.



answers from Chicago on

Oh my gosh, you poor girl! I can't believe that you have to put up with this from your own family! It sounds like you have it all perfectly together and your priorities straight. I agree with the other posters, to just keep the comments short and to the point when someone asks/comments about something so personal as your finances or what you select to give as a birthday gift! "We're fine, that stuff if personal." I think my feelings would have been incredibly hurt if someone commented on a gift that I had given someone else, especially a home-made gift. I probably would have cried and decided never to speak to that person again, even if they were family! You are a stronger woman than I am!

Have a blast on your family vacation. Ignore any mean comments, then walk out of the room and distance yourself from hurtful people until they learn to behave themselves around you and your family.

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