Author Topic: Family Generosity  (Read 6263 times)

stevesteve

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Family Generosity
« on: August 22, 2013, 10:16:26 PM »
I'm curious about your thoughts on family generosity and the mustachianism of 'taking advantage' of it.   I'm very often in the position of taking from family members.  I don't intentionally try to leech but being at least semi mustachian things end up that way.  I say I don't want to go out to dinner so in the end they pay for me (even if I offer to make dinner at home).   I have a smart phone (on dumb phone plan) because I got a family member's last generation phone.  It's not explicit but there's a bit of the dynamic of "you're cheap so I'll just pay".   I'm curious what the rest of you do in these situations.

galliver

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Re: Family Generosity
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2013, 12:20:46 AM »
If it's something they'd get rid of anyway (old gadgets, furniture, dishes, whatever), I think it's ok to take it off their hands without feeling like you're mooching.

If it's something that has significant resale value, e.g. phone, computer, car, then offer to pay them a reasonable sum. Depending on your family dynamics, they may refuse (mine would). But it at least gives them a chance to get their money back.

As far as going out, I think this is a case of frugal vs cheap. If you can't afford to go out (debt emergency), refuse stoically. But if you can make a little room in your finances, and can't bring your friends around to your ways of thinking immediately, and are unwilling to give them up (as I would hope you are, if they are friends!) then I think it's reasonable to simply scale back; e.g. go out with them once a week for one appetizer-as-entree and one drink. From what I gather as a newbie, mustachianism isn't necessarily about hard rules (e.g. NEVER eat out, etc), it's about optimizing decisions for max happiness, while knowing that consumerism does not bring true happiness. Friends and family do, however.

Goes without saying, keep trying to involve them in non-consumer activities.

markbrynn

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Re: Family Generosity
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2013, 05:39:41 AM »
I run into this issue all the time with my family (parents and sister). My parents have earned their desire to travel, eat out and stay in nice hotels as they retired in their early 50's and can afford it. My sister (and brother in law) are doing fine and just live a more upscale lifestyle than I do.

When we meet up (often in a random country of interest), my parents are more or less happy to pay for everything and they want to stay in a nice hotel/house and eat out a lot. They know that I am happy to go camping and cook my own food, which I do when they're not around (important to not be a hypocrite). What I try to do is pay for at least what my own expenses would be for the time period that we're together and then contribute that much (and a bit more) by paying for some dinners, transport, entertainment, etc. If I tried to pay for my whole share (at their lifestyle) it would completely blow my budget.

I imagine if it were only my wife and daughter with my sister and her family, then we would find a different compromise as my sis probably wouldn't want to pay for us. We would probably stay in separate hotels (or maybe a cheaper one) and eat out less/at cheaper places.

I have struggled with this in the past, but I try not to stress about it. They want the expensive stuff (and mostly won't lower their standards), so I don't feel bad about either opting out (which they don't want) or having them pay for me. I do this with my friends sometimes (though in that case I'm the one who has enough money to go for drinks and some of my friends sometimes don't). Mostly we just hang out at somebody's house rather than going out, but if my wife and I want to go to a pub/café and somebody would rather stay in for money reasons, we also have the choice to sponsor them.

As with most things, a little communication goes a long way.


CommonCents

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Re: Family Generosity
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2013, 09:37:45 AM »
Markbryne, do you ever feel that your sister is unhappy at your parents subsidizing you (but not her)?  I worry about that when I accept gifts from my parents, but generally they try to gift equally even though we're not all in the same place in life.

nawhite

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Re: Family Generosity
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2013, 01:18:56 PM »
I've had this problem with my parents giving mindset for a while and I've finally given up pushing back. My wife and I make as much as they do so I always want to split vacations with them because we live on opposite sides of the country. They wont hear any of it and always end up paying more than their share over my objections. I know they are financially stable enough that the gifts aren't undermining their retirement so I usually just end up taking their side and their money.

But yes it makes me feel weird and like I'm taking advantage of them somehow.

swick

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Re: Family Generosity
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2013, 05:16:03 PM »
This is something we struggle with on an ongoing basis - especially as we are getting married next month. We have decided we have to take it on a case by case basis and learn a little grace - or shut up and say thank you.

I have no problem with saving/re-purposing things that friends and family would throw out, and we are on the top of the list if people are upgrading - but this comes with it's own host of issues so we have had to be very clear what we are looking for, luckily we are pretty open with our families.

With monetary gifts and such, we find it much harder. My parents should be funding their retirements and not giving my sister and I cash for our birthdays, and every time I say this, they say they want to. So I have just been trying to be a good steward with the money I am given and use it for something they would see as valuable (continuing education courses and so on)

We also try and offset by being very generous with our time and the resources we do have - being generous in other ways makes people tend to change the mindset people have of us from "Cheap" to "having different priorities" which can get some great discussions going:)


markbrynn

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Re: Family Generosity
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2013, 04:51:23 AM »
CommonCents: My sister and I have a loving relationship backdropped by a childhood where we did our fair share of arguing (and the occasional hand to hand combat). She probably doesn't like everything that happens, but I probably don't care.

Luckily, everybody in my family (parents, sister and myself) is doing well financially, so there's less to bother about. It probably also helps that my sister is generally considered 'the difficult one'. So I might get some subsidies for more expensive vacations, but I'm also much more flexible on where we go, when we go, etc.

Re Swick's comment: I also try to be careful about accepting too much, otherwise my parents can occasionally try to use there generosity as an excuse to interfere in my life. So, mostly I accept money for things that they want we to do that I wouldn't spend money on myself, but not accept it for things I could perfectly well pay for myself or that I don't need.

Insanity

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Re: Family Generosity
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2013, 08:31:38 AM »
Both my parents and my in-laws are like that.   They are both more than well off after putting in their fair share of years of work.  Both make more in retirement than they did when they were working.   My family and I have an agreement - when we go to visit them, they pay when we go out -- when they are up here, we pay.

As far as vacation go - my in-laws, unfortunately, don't do much. MIL is severely overweight and her knees are in horribly bad shape.  But my parents paid for us to take a cruise with them.  It was partly for my dad's retirement, parents 40th wedding anniversary, and brother's 40th birthday.   My parent's have probably given more to my brother (both in terms of time and money) than they do to me.  I'm indifferent as they are also funding a 529 for our kids.  They've always taken the philosophy of they worked excessively hard so we wouldn't have to.  Of course, both of us do.

My in-laws tend to say: it is going to be yours at some point, so why not now?

Nords

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Re: Family Generosity
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2013, 03:30:58 PM »
I'm curious about your thoughts on family generosity and the mustachianism of 'taking advantage' of it.   I'm very often in the position of taking from family members.  I don't intentionally try to leech but being at least semi mustachian things end up that way.  I say I don't want to go out to dinner so in the end they pay for me (even if I offer to make dinner at home).   I have a smart phone (on dumb phone plan) because I got a family member's last generation phone.  It's not explicit but there's a bit of the dynamic of "you're cheap so I'll just pay".   I'm curious what the rest of you do in these situations.
Three possibilities:
1.  Your family member is taking a "victory lap" by trying to spread around a little of the joy they feel at being able to share the wealth and maybe even pay it forward.  We do this with our daughter when we visit her at college-- we pick up all the checks and invite her to bring friends.  (We had a tough time during our college years and we sincerely appreciated the occasional evening out on someone else's tab.)  Whenever I meet up with a particular cousin, I do the same for them.  We'll probably do something like this for the rest of our lives.

2.  You did them a favor that seems trivial to you, yet it impresses them so much that they go overboard looking for ways to repay it.  We have this happen all the time in our neighborhood when I help someone out with a handyman repair.  At times the generosity is a little embarrassing, but we've learned to say "Wow, thank you very much!"

3.  They want to have a good time at their preferred standard of luxury, and they're willing to pay for it rather than be deprived of your company (or even have an argument a spending debate) or risking that you be left out of a family gathering. 

We're doing #3 for our daughter's upcoming college graduation.  Spouse's parents, if left to their own devices, would stay in a cheap motel at least 30 minutes away from the college campus in the middle of freakin' nowhere.  ("But it's cheap, and we get our AAA discount!")  We know that we'd spend most of the graduation week shuttling them back & forth and seeking out all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets with free parking.  ("Let's eat here again tonight!")  To sidestep those issues, we're hosting everyone for three nights at a B&B in a walkable neighborhood full of restaurants that do takeouts and catering.  We're even arranging airport pickup for them so that they don't need to drive a car.  We expect to be able to spend the week vicariously enjoying our daughter's accomplishments (and relief) instead of feeding & driving these two (while listening to them bicker about what only cost a nickel in 1948). 

Not that we had these problems at our own college graduations 30+ years ago, and of course we're not bitterly brooding about it today...

homeymomma

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Re: Family Generosity
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2013, 08:47:11 AM »
How often does it come up? If it's not so often that the expenses would actually ruin you, it sounds like you're ending up a little on the cheap side. Perhaps when dinner comes up, suggest a place that is within a reasonable price range for you, so you don't feel unable to pay. If they insist on going to fancy place, then take the charity and let them pay.
My husband and I are in this situation sometimes, and we realized that we were partly letting our frugality reign, and partly being cheap assholes. We didn't value time with our family members as much as we valued time with our friends, so we were willing to pony up for a dinner with our friends, but scoffed at the idea of spending $$ to go out to dinner with family.
I'm not saying you are doing this yourself, but just be aware that how you spend your money is a reflection of your values. If you always refuse to pay when you go out, it can eventually add up to the message: I don't value this experience with you.

We have very wealthy/generous family members as well, and we have very mustachian family members. I think everyone has to own the place they are in life. If you are in a ton of debt, then make it clear that you have a huge goal and that all of your financial energy is dedicated to getting out of debt. But all you can really do is focus your mustachian energy on your daily, personal life. When it comes to spending time with others, you may have to break some of the rules you set for yourself when you're alone.

Good luck!

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Family Generosity
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2013, 09:21:41 AM »
I'm curious about your thoughts on family generosity and the mustachianism of 'taking advantage' of it.   I'm very often in the position of taking from family members.  I don't intentionally try to leech but being at least semi mustachian things end up that way.  I say I don't want to go out to dinner so in the end they pay for me (even if I offer to make dinner at home).   I have a smart phone (on dumb phone plan) because I got a family member's last generation phone.  It's not explicit but there's a bit of the dynamic of "you're cheap so I'll just pay".   I'm curious what the rest of you do in these situations.

I can totally relate on this one. And it is a sore subject with my family.

I try not to take too much at all from my family, because they think I'm cheap. After awhile I got a little sensitive about being called those names from my parents and brother. One time I went out of my way to buy my daughter a bike off of craigslist. It was only $25. The guy liked my (political) shirt I was wearing so he said, here just take it. I said no, I will pay for it. He said just donate the money to (name on my shirt). I felt good about it. I told this to my parents and Mum just called me a tightwad!?

Another story, for my brothers 40th bday, I made him a sign for his classic car. It took a couple hours and cost me $60. I was happy to give him that gift. Fast forward a year later, his nice car is updated, he wants a new sign just because and asks me to do one and tries to barter some things. I said, No Thanks, I'd rather have the cash. He said I was selfhish, cheap and should do more things for the family.

So you can see I have REAL family issues. This is why I never do any business with them. They always think I'm trying to rip them off or take advantage. This is why I never accept them to buy my family dinner or take any handouts from them. My situation is extreme here as I'm more or less thought of as a freeloader (unfairly in my mind).

So for these reasons we have drifted. I am on good terms with my parents but my brother and I do not talk.

My advice is to be careful with family handouts so as you don't ruin the relationship. They need to respect your choices if you choose not to go or not to accept a free meal. For us, we offer to host dinner instead of going out with my parents. They usually turn that down and go out themselves. It tells us they just want to go out to dinner, more than visit with us, it seems.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2013, 09:23:55 AM by Mr.Macinstache »

CommonCents

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Re: Family Generosity
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2013, 09:57:17 AM »
Mr.Macinstache, why not offer to do the sign for him if he pays for the supplies?  Seems like that might avoid the issue of not being interested in helping family out.  Or offer to help him make the sign - then you spend the time together plus he appreciates the work that went into it.  (I understand you may feel he does not need a new one, but compromise can help life with family run smoother.) 

ETA: whoops, meant does not need a new one, edited above
« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 10:16:10 AM by CommonCents »

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Family Generosity
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2013, 08:55:55 AM »
Mr.Macinstache, why not offer to do the sign for him if he pays for the supplies?  Seems like that might avoid the issue of not being interested in helping family out.  Or offer to help him make the sign - then you spend the time together plus he appreciates the work that went into it.  (I understand you may feel he needs a new one, but compromise can help life with family run smoother.)

Those are some good ideas, thanks. It was at a time when I was working hard on other projects for clients and trying to earn to pay some bills. I didn't really have the 2-3 hours of labor to spare. (self employed). So he gets all offended when I declined.

I've helped him work on his car for free and things like that. And in his mind, he thinks I tried to charge him? It just seems like he has a real chip on his shoulder against me and suits his memory to fit that. He's accused me of selling all his childhood toys on ebay and everything. It's just crazy.