Author Topic: Refusing / Returning Money to Family  (Read 20549 times)

Lentils5eva

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Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« on: October 16, 2014, 10:55:10 PM »
  My husband, Ioseftavi and I, recently got married.  When we started planning a year ago, we told my parents that we wanted – in particular – two things for our wedding that weren’t really up for debate:
•   We wanted to pay for it, or at least most of it, ourselves
•   We wanted to do it on a budget that we felt was appropriate. (our figure was meaningfully less than theirs)

We set out the first conditions for a few reasons.  First, we’re probably the most financially secure of their children (and in fact might be in better shape than they are).  Second, we’re older than a lot of newlyweds and we make enough and save enough that we knew we could pay for the wedding on our own.  Tradition or not, it doesn’t seem right to take money from your folks when you don’t need it and they're a few years from retirement with a lot more saving to do.  Third, we wanted control of our wedding if push came to shove.  We made lots of compromises, but we wanted to know that “WELL WE’RE PAYING FOR IT” wasn’t something that was going to be thrown around.  Fourth, we knew that if we took money from them, our wedding would not be value conscious like we wanted to be.  Anything we nixed as a "not worth it" would be "rescued" through their intervention.  IT'S NOT THAT WE CAN'T AFFORD TO RELEASE A HUNDRED DOVES WHEN WE KISS.  IT'S JUST THAT WE THINK THAT'S AN INSANE USE OF ANYONE'S MONEY.

However, several months before our wedding, my parents transferred roughly the cost of our reception into an old joint acct I had with them (leftover from college).  Given how strained things had been during the planning, we did not confront them about it at the time, and just kind of avoided the issue.  Now, our wedding is over - and we DID in fact pay for almost all of it (90%+) ourselves.  What do we do with this money – which we explicitly didn’t want - which is now just sitting in an account?

Our ideas include:
•   Confronting them and asking them what they want us to do with it, or if they’d like it back (this is ioseftavi’s favorite and probably my least favorite, because it will involve direct confrontation that will likely be ugly)
•   Putting it into 529 plans we set up for our nieces and nephews (their grandkids) and either telling them.  Or maybe not telling them? WHO KNOWS.
•   Putting it into an investment vehicle on their behalf (like a low-cost annuity or an investment account we've set aside specifically for them)
•   Wiring it to them against their wishes (turnabout/fair play?)
•   Giving it to siblings, to spend as they wish.

We realize that this seems weird.  It is weird.  This is the emotional side of money that can be so rocky.  We feel like keeping this money goes against our values, first and foremost. Almost as important, it would surrender ground we fought hard to gain in our relationship with them.  Lastly, we’re proud to have paid for our wedding ourselves, and if we don’t give this money back (or away) – in a sense, we won't have paid for the wedding ourselves.  Furthermore, we’re really troubled to think that this could be used to fund their retirement, help one or more of my siblings, fund college for their grandkids, etc… We need this money the least of all possible recipients, including my parents.

What do the mustachians think?

Exflyboy

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2014, 11:11:30 PM »
I wanted to do the same thing but my Wife overruled me and ended up taking a small contribution. Exactly as I predicted Her Mother turned into an absolute monster...

It got so bad I told future MIL I was about to cut her a check and un-invite HER from the wedding!.. Sadly for her she didn't take me seriously so I had to threaten her a second time.

A whole bunch of stress we could have done without.

As for what I would do.

Simple.. You laid out your requirements and your parents violated them. This is not your money.. Wire it back and simultaneously close the account.

Then send them a letter (or call them) and explain your actions.

They are interfering, you don't need the money and taking it would go against your values.. End of problem.

Frank

homehandymum

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2014, 11:16:33 PM »
It's a tricky one.  On the one hand, you are wanting to say "Look!  We did it!  Be happy for us!"  And also, "We love you, parents, and want to make sure that your hard-earned money goes where it is needed in the extended family - and that is not to us"

And they may well hear this as "We don't love your gifts, and we don't love you, we reject your help and, by extension, the blessing of the family".

You guys want to do it 'right', and your parents also want to do this 'right', but you're working from two different play books.

I'd be inclined to go with "Hey, we just found that money in those old joint accounts! That was very sneaky of you.  Thank you so much for such a generous gift.  We know that you know that we didn't need it to pay for the wedding, so what we're going to do is..."

Because it is a gift, and returning the gift would be, well, churlish.  But also, a gift can be received graciously and then used to do *whatever the heck you want* with it.

I'd opt for either an education trust fund for the next generation of your family, or a retirement safety net for your parents.  Or both.  I have no idea what sort of legal frameworks exist in the US, but here in NZ, that would be set up as a Family Trust, with you guys and someone else as Trustees, and you can name whoever you want as Beneficiaries of the Trust (Members of the extended LentilsTavi families, at the Trustees' discretion), or whatever legalese is required. 

So the script would go "what we're going to do is... use it to start up a trust fund for the future need of our family"  (You don't even need to tell them that *they* might well be grateful for it in 15 years - cross that bridge when you come to it  "No, Ma, you remember! That's what that family trust is FOR!  You are not taking money from *us* at all!"

Anyhow, that's how I'd play it :)

Chrissy

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2014, 11:17:55 PM »
Yes, turnabout is fair play.  if your old joint account is linked with one of theirs, can you just transfer the money back quietly?  If not, go to your bank and ask if they will reverse the transfer.  Then, close the account, of course!

If that isn't possible, then your idea of dedicating the money to their future needs, and investing it on their behalf, seems like the right thing to do.  If it's probable that someday you might have to shoulder some expenses for your parents, then earmark this investment for that eventuality.

It doesn't make sense to me for you to give the money to your siblings, but I'm not in your family, so what do I know?

Zette

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2014, 11:30:39 PM »
Do you have any unmarried siblings?  Perhaps you could return it under the guise of "We had extra left money left over, so let's put it toward X's wedding fund."

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2014, 12:05:34 AM »
I'd say "Thank you very much for putting it there, so we had a cushion fund for our wedding. It provided us with the assurance that we wouldn't run out. We didn't need much of it. Where would you like us to return it now that the wedding accounts are all settled? We would feel guilty if we didn't return it because we would hate for you to be unable to do the things you want to because of that money."

Argyle

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2014, 01:16:29 AM »
It sounds as if your parents really wanted to give you this money.  And they didn't interfere too much, as I understand, so that worry is no longer relevant.

Why not graciously accept the money? 

Are you planning to have kids, down the line?  Why not invest the money in something not too risky and look upon it as your parents giving your kids a great start at a college education.  If it turns out that your parents need money in future years, you can give the money back.  If not, you can use it for your grandkids.

It sounds to me as if you're a little annoyed about your parents giving you the money, and you maybe have an inclination to give it back to them in an irritated way -- "See, we did it by ourselves!  So push off!"  I don't know how controlling your parents are.  If they'd hold the money over your heads for years, maybe you do want to give it back now.  (Then they can gripe about your ingratitude for years.)  But otherwise, I'd take it a gracious spirit.

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2014, 01:29:13 AM »
You need to get rid of that account, pronto.  I'd suggest that you get your name taken off it, and tell your parents that now you are married it is no longer appropriate for you to have a joint account with anyone other than your spouse.

As to the money, I'd say "it was a very generous contribution to the wedding.  We had a wonderful day with all our family there.  We have done the sums, and it turns out that we did not need the money you put in this account.  We hope you will be able to put it towards something in the future for yourselves or my siblings."

Dicey

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2014, 02:03:27 AM »
Sigh. What a good "problem" to have. Good luck in figuring out how to put the money back on the family tree.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2014, 04:46:07 AM »
"Thank you for the loan for our wedding, now it is over we can finally repay you." Then wire it back post-haste.?

Apples

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2014, 04:49:26 AM »
Recent newlywed here.  I think you two have to talk to your parents about it.  This is the start of laying lots of ground rules about everything with them, and trying to duck around behind the scenes after they made such an obvious move is not healthy.  Ask them if they'd like it back, or have specific things they'd like you to do with it.  If they don't suggest anything, do something with it immediately (even if it's just stick it in your EF).  My MIL is a bit manipulative around money (though it's the opposite direction: "we were going to do this with/for you, but now we can't pay for it...") so I've learned directly and politely handling it then moving on is the best way to go forward.

You don't want that money to still be there in a year and they suddenly decide it's theirs after you try to use some, or for reminders about that gift you're not paying any attention to.  I like several of the quotes people have put on here.

tmac

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2014, 06:13:52 AM »
I'd be pissed. You were very clear with them and they didn't respect it. Be clear again. You love them but this is precisely what you asked them NOT to do. Send it back with no apologies.

MandalayVA

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2014, 06:18:40 AM »
As far as I'm concerned, it's your money now.  Do with it what you please, although I can practically guarantee you will DEEPLY piss your parents off if you give it back.  If you're okay with that, fine.

Casserole55

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2014, 06:19:35 AM »
I would suggest using the money as a future entertainment fund for family get togethers. You could start off with an anniversary party for your parents. Thank your parents for the gift, and tell them that because you had a frugal wedding you have quite a bit of money left over - but you want the money to be used for other events that bring the family together.

Not exactly the same, but I have a friend who inherited a condo with her 4 sisters. Instead of selling the condo, they rent it and use the proceeds for an annual vacation. They rent a giant house, sometimes in Key West, sometimes in Maine, and have a blast with their spouses, SO's and children. They share cooking and splurge on one fabulous restaurant meal where they honor the generosity of their stepfather who left them the condo.


La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2014, 07:13:48 AM »
Some people are saying to be be pissed, and I see that... but I see nothing to be gained by assuming their motives were malicious. Clueless at worst. If you do talk to them about it, don't think it of a "confrontation." People above have made any number of gracious suggestions; think them through and see what (a) feels most right to you and (b) seems least likely to upset your parents or most likely to please them.

I agree this is a good problem to have. On the other end of the spectrum, Mr. FP's father just asked if he could borrow $150 via Western Union. (We probably would have sent it--they are not close, so not much relationship to risk--but he withdrew the request. I guess something turned up in the meantime.)

Louisville

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2014, 07:24:20 AM »
"Confronting" them and asking them what they want us to do with it..."

Weird. Why does it have to be a confrontation instead of just a discussion?  Or even just a declaration: "I'm giving you ths money back."  Is everyone involved really that uptight?

There are all kinds of people in the world, I guess, but I'm very glad my family are just regular people whom I can deal with like adults without walking on eggshells worrying about hurt feelings.

Sorry if anyone thinks this post is less than constructive. Maybe my perspective, though, will make the OP think a bit.

Mrs. PoP

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2014, 07:29:55 AM »
"Thank you for the loan for our wedding, now it is over we can finally repay you." Then wire it back post-haste.?
+1 on this. 

We had a similar situation where we took a loan (at 5% interest) from Mr PoP's folks to buy an investment property and paid it back in full a few years later.  Then they tried to change the rules and wanted to return all the interest we had paid over those 3 years back to us.  We calmly refused and told them we couldn't in good faith take it back and we wouldn't have taken the loan if we knew this was their intention from the start.  They pouted a while, and I think the money is sitting in a sub-account of their checking account with our names on it... which is silly, but feels better than it being in our bank accounts.

Neustache

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2014, 07:36:58 AM »
My parents give us money every Christmas.  At this point, I feel very awkward about it.  But we are using their gift to invest and get out of debt, in the hopes that we are FI if they should ever need us financially in the future. 

They did violate your boundaries...but you still achieved the goals that the boundaries were supposed to help you achieve.  So..win-win? 

I would strongly suggest not returning the gift.  Thank them, tell them you wish that they wouldn't have, but let them know you will be wise with the money and will do X with it. 

MaggieDrsg

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2014, 09:01:11 AM »
First, I would calmly ask them if they wanted the money back.

Assuming they said no, I would thank them, and then take the money out of that account and get your name off of the account.  This will make it harder in the future for them to do "gifts" like this again.

Next, I would invest the money and use it for family as it can help.  Things happen - people lose their jobs, have major health issues, etc. - I would quietly use these funds to help out in those situations.  Someone can't make a holiday or other event with family because they can't afford a plane ticket because of medical bills?  Your niece/nephew's being able to go back to college one semester is jeopardized because of a parental or situation out of their control?  Your parents' abilities are declining and though they refuse "care" services, they're open to you hiring a person coming in to clean (really mainly to check on them)?  Using money that you don't even consider "yours" could be a big boost to everyone in that circumstance.

I would probably also donate a percentage to charities before investing, at least one "favorite" for each of the 4 of you.

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2014, 09:02:55 AM »
Congrats on the wedding!

I'd go with option 1, have the conversation. The right thing is usually not the easiest thing.

The day after our wedding my father-in-law and I handed each other checks. It was kind of funny. They had a number in mind and they didn't spend it all. We had a number in mind and we didn't spend it all. Both of us were trying to lessen the blow for the other. And we both cashed the checks, no feelings hurt, and we had a little laugh about it.

charis

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #20 on: October 17, 2014, 09:06:12 AM »
My parents are very similar, and they aren't great at saving and they like to give money away as a sort of expression of love.  Gift giving has also been very big with them. 

They wanted to help pay for our wedding, and it would have broken their hearts if we had refused.  But they were not very pushy about planning.  My H and I set firm boundaries on few fundamental aspects (very brief/nonreligious ceremony, a modestly priced venue with great good, inexpensive [but awesome] craigslist photographer and DJ, a very inexpensive wedding dress that I found online, and inexpensive cake at a new little bakery).  I think some of our decisions bothered them, but they were careful to let it show to much.  Ultimately, an amazing evening was had by all.  But my family is low drama/non-confrontational.

If I was in your shoes, I would probably take my name off the account and move on without a word - no muss, no fuss.  It is a joint account.  So the money is equally theirs as it is yours.  I would take the $ transfer as a passive-aggressive offer to help with the wedding expenses and nothing more.  Since you did not accept the $ in the first place, I think it would be a bit unethical to assume that you can do whatever you want with it now that the wedding is over and paid for. It may annoy you that the money is just sitting in their checking account, but that's their business. 

If they told you directly that the money is a gift, I would do what others have suggested.  Accept it gracefully and gratefully.  Invest the money as you deem wise and use it to help your parents years from now when they will need it again (for medical/cost of living expense, anything).


Señora Savings

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2014, 09:10:23 AM »
I understand they went against your wishes, but were they pretty decent in the wedding planning?  If your wedding was still two months in the future I'd say give it back.  However, it sounds like your wedding was conducted (mostly) in the way you wanted it to be. 

It was inappropriate of your parents to give you that money when you asked them not to.  However, like you said, money is emotional.

My parents are very concerned with being "fair" to all of the kids.  Each kid gets the same amount of $ from them, to the extent that my brother and sister in law were given a car and when they next updated their will they added the fact that my brother has received a $15k gift that the other siblings haven't.  It might just be something that's very, very important to them, and even though they acted inappropriately they had your best wishes at heart.

My suggestion would be to pay it forward, if you're really uncomfortable keeping it for your own personal use.  I like the idea of a college fund - do you plan on having kids at all? If not, nieces/nephews seems like a good idea.  You could donate the money or help out an unmarried sibling.  At this point, I'd close the account to avoid this happening in the future, but not make a bigger deal than necessary about returning the money.

My parents are also really concerned with this.  They are probably trying to prevent family problems by giving one kid more than the other (sounds like your sibs are already married).  It sounds like they're bad at talking about things.  I think that this is something that needs to be talked about.

I would also get out of having a joint bank account with someone who does this sort of thing and who you don't feel comfortable talking to.

RichMoose

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #22 on: October 17, 2014, 09:18:40 AM »
I would go with Option 2. Set up education funds for their grandkids. You can tell them that you guys ended up not needing most of the money because the wedding came in cheaper than thought, so you thought it would only be great to set up 529 accounts for their grandkids to help them with their education.

I would stay far, far away from Option 1 even though on paper its the right thing to do. We tried that with our wedding but our story was a little different. At first our parents said that they couldn't contribute due to financial problems from a recent divorce. We were fine with that because then we could control the wedding. As soon as they had any input, we shut them down without the guilt of money over our heads. We ended up have a frugal wedding and enjoyed it as much as any other wedding we've been to. At the last minute both parents handed us a check. We turned it down stating that they previously told us they can't afford to help and we didn't need it. You would've thought we took away their birthdays. Three of the four parents were crying and it was truly an all around shit show. They honestly felt it was their duty to help financially even though they knew they couldn't afford it.

Penny Lane

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2014, 09:25:23 AM »
First, congratulations on your recent wedding!  DH have been married for 28 years, and I wish you the happiness ( and financial harmony!) that we have.

Tricky problem here.  Is there some part of your wedding day that they especially wanted that you did not but you did anyway?  Not the doves,lol.  Maybe something about the food that was important to them, but not to you.  You could then say, thanks for the wonderful raw seaweed bar, we never would have done this, so fun, so we will accept this gift, but we'd like to return the rest to you. 

Greg

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2014, 09:30:18 AM »
If I was in your shoes, I would probably take my name off the account and move on without a word - no muss, no fuss.  It is a joint account.  So the money is equally theirs as it is yours.  I would take the $ transfer as a passive-aggressive offer to help with the wedding expenses and nothing more.  Since you did not accept the $ in the first place, I think it would be a bit unethical to assume that you can do whatever you want with it now that the wedding is over and paid for. It may annoy you that the money is just sitting in their checking account, but that's their business.

This is a good idea. Leave the money in the account, and take your name off of the account.  If you want to, let them know you've removed your name from the account as well.  But that could come across as spiteful.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #25 on: October 17, 2014, 09:48:56 AM »
How did you find out that the money was even in the old account?

If it was left over since college, then simple move would be to contact the bank and ask to have you removed from the account completely. As you're an adult now, that would make sense to me to disentangle yourself from your parents financially anyway.

If you can get off the account then do so, and then the money is your parents - just sitting in that account. Their move.


CommonCents

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #26 on: October 17, 2014, 09:53:37 AM »
What's most important to you?
- Returning the money directly to you
- Using the money for a "good" purpose (including saving for a rainy day for the family)
- Making sure they understand that you are independent, paid for it yourself, and do not want the money
- Something else

Once you figure out your highest priority, you'll know what action to take.

Lentils5eva

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #27 on: October 17, 2014, 10:03:51 AM »
Thanks to everyone who has provided input.  I'm chewing over all of the advice on here, but there are definitely some approaches I hadn't thought of that could help.

One thing that I didn't make clear enough in the initial post was that my parents DID tell me when they transferred the money.  It was within a few weeks of a terrible terrible argument between me and my mom where she said some really hurtful things to me.  It was also right after Ioseftavi and I made a significant change in our planning in a direction of appeasing my parents.

Ioseftavi was very upset about the money when it was first transferred, especially once we found out how much it was (they had only said "we put some money in your account to help...").  He wanted us to confront them right then, and honestly we probably should have, but I just didn't have it in me.  I was feeling so drained from all of the other fighting.  Then over the time between the transfer and the wedding, they mentioned it a few times, telling me I should use it to make large vendor payments, for example.  Instead of addressing it head on, I would kind of evade the issue.  So the problem we're dealing with now is partly of my own making.

former player

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #28 on: October 17, 2014, 10:11:01 AM »
Please don't think this problem was of your own making.  It was of your mother's making, and it is understandable in the circumstances (family upset! wedding! honeymoon!) that is has taken some time for you to get up the emotional energy to deal with it.

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #29 on: October 17, 2014, 10:20:19 AM »
Weddings can really bring out the worst in people. What a strange industry. I hope it all works out for you guys whatever you decide to do.

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #30 on: October 17, 2014, 10:34:39 AM »
I don't see any upside in returning it. Accepting gifts can sometimes be hard but returning them is insulting.

Lyssa

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #31 on: October 17, 2014, 10:50:27 AM »
I don't see any upside in returning it. Accepting gifts can sometimes be hard but returning them is insulting.

+1

Accept graciously what is given without strings attached. Should you're parents need your help down the road it is going to be much easier for them to accept it in turn.

Hotstreak

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #32 on: October 17, 2014, 11:00:19 AM »
I don't see any upside in returning it. Accepting gifts can sometimes be hard but returning them is insulting.

+1

Accept graciously what is given without strings attached.

Absolutely.  I wouldn't even treat that money differently than any other money you have.  Feel free to invest it in your standard investment account or use it to paydown debt, whatever makes the most sense financially and is in line with your personal investment statement.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #33 on: October 17, 2014, 11:05:34 AM »
Okay, sounds like you're in a family that uses money as both a carrot and stick (means of control or reward for doing what they want). I've been there, done that... lots of parent/child issues and enmeshed family relationships all over the place.

First thing, stop avoiding convos thinking they all are going to be fights. Go into things with a "hey, this is going to be cool as we're all adults here" and leave the baggage at the door. Calm and cool - you can discuss anything with this attitude. If things start getting heated, then say that you don't want to fight and that it is probably better to just drop this until you can discuss calmly. And leave if the parent or whomever doesn't want to back down from a fight. You get to do that now; you are an adult and you are not required to sit there and take it just because. What are they going to do - ground you and take away your car keys?


Then, the main thing - make sure you make yourself and your plans/intentions crystal clear.

If they gave you money, then tell them "I appreciate gift, but just so we are clear: I am no longer accepting any gift if there are strings attached, so if you still want me to have it, then you need to understand that is how I am going to view this gift."

And then do whatever you'd like with that money.

Same thing with the fighting. Tell them that if they can't talk calmly with you about stuff and treat you like an adult, then you will let them know they are crossing a line, and if they still won't stop - LEAVE, or hang up the phone or whatever. Grow up (and I'm not saying that to be mean) and realize that your parents are just people that have no power over you now other than what you give them - so take back the power and stand up for yourself. You've got to start working on letting go of the parent/child dynamic.


seattlecyclone

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #34 on: October 17, 2014, 11:27:52 AM »
I do think a conversation would be worthwhile. You need to maintain a relationship with these people. It's not healthy to let things like this fester. That said, a lot of it does depend on individual circumstances. My in-laws insisted on giving us some money out of fairness since they gave an equivalent amount to my wife's older sister when she got married. If my in-laws were at any real risk of financial insecurity in their retirement we would have probably pushed back against it, but instead we just decided to accept the gift in the spirit it was given.

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #35 on: October 17, 2014, 11:35:07 AM »
Here's my opinion.  Keep the money, invest it wisely, and make sure you have adequately thanked your parents for it.  Be grateful that they are generous.  If you do not agree with how they parent their children (in giving them wedding cash) - do not repeat those same things with your own future / potential / current children.  But do not confront them or try and give it back (unless this was expected).

As a parent myself, I'd much rather give money to children who would use it responsibly than to those who 'need it' because they are wasteful. 

tmac

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #36 on: October 17, 2014, 11:54:12 AM »
I understand where everyone is coming from, but I really think "making nice" or being "grateful" in this situation is a mistake. You told them specifically what you wanted, and they ignored it. That's not a kindness from them; it is only disrespectful.

You've got to set and enforce the boundaries, or you can't be surprised or upset when they keep crossing the line, because you've essentially told them it was OK. You don't have to be mean or angry about it, but you do have to be clear. Unfortunately, since you didn't do it right away, it's more tricky now, but it still needs doing especially if the matter was upsetting to your spouse. [I have personal experience with this.]

Once you've informed them that you won't be keeping the money for yourself, there are lots of great suggestions above to dispose of it: give it back to them, put it in a family trust, donate it, whatever. As long as you don't keep it and and they KNOW you're not keeping it.


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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #37 on: October 17, 2014, 12:01:45 PM »
Oh...this was transferred after a big fight?  Eesh.  That does change things. 

ioseftavi

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #38 on: October 17, 2014, 12:13:13 PM »
Thanks to all posters who have replied so far.  The posts below in particular really really synch up with my thinking at present on the subject.  Shoutouts to the people who included helpful language or mental models for how we want to approach the conversation, because that's likely half the battle for us.

I'd say "Thank you very much for putting it there, so we had a cushion fund for our wedding. It provided us with the assurance that we wouldn't run out. We didn't need much of it. Where would you like us to return it now that the wedding accounts are all settled? We would feel guilty if we didn't return it because we would hate for you to be unable to do the things you want to because of that money."

I think you two have to talk to your parents about it.  This is the start of laying lots of ground rules about everything with them, and trying to duck around behind the scenes after they made such an obvious move is not healthy...

Weird. Why does it have to be a confrontation instead of just a discussion?  Or even just a declaration: "I'm giving you ths money back."  Is everyone involved really that uptight?

I'd go with option 1, have the conversation. The right thing is usually not the easiest thing.

Please don't think this problem was of your own making.  It was of your mother's making, and it is understandable in the circumstances (family upset! wedding! honeymoon!) that is has taken some time for you to get up the emotional energy to deal with it.

First thing, stop avoiding convos thinking they all are going to be fights. Go into things with a "hey, this is going to be cool as we're all adults here" and leave the baggage at the door. Calm and cool - you can discuss anything with this attitude.

...Grow up (and I'm not saying that to be mean) and realize that your parents are just people that have no power over you now other than what you give them - so take back the power and stand up for yourself. You've got to start working on letting go of the parent/child dynamic.

I do think a conversation would be worthwhile. You need to maintain a relationship with these people. It's not healthy to let things like this fester.

I understand where everyone is coming from, but I really think "making nice" or being "grateful" in this situation is a mistake. You told them specifically what you wanted, and they ignored it. That's not a kindness from them; it is only disrespectful.

You've got to set and enforce the boundaries, or you can't be surprised or upset when they keep crossing the line, because you've essentially told them it was OK. You don't have to be mean or angry about it, but you do have to be clear.

Big shoutout to Cheddar Stacker for his "The right thing is usually not the easiest thing", which is a fantastic, pithy way of summarizing what we've got here.  I think that we don't have to make it a confrontation, but it will be a bit of an awkward conversation, and we do need to have it.  And thanks to TMAC for clarifying what I was going to say - 'making nice' or 'being grateful' for a gift that goes against our stated wishes seems like a big mistake.  Frankie's Girl's post hits on some of the issues we're tackling too.

Sylly

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #39 on: October 17, 2014, 12:19:10 PM »
What the OP should do really depends A LOT on her relationship to the parents, and what the family dynamics are when it comes to money.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I'm more likely to bend over backwards to make family, especially parents, happy. But I also have a pretty good relationship with my family. So what I say below also assumes a good relationship between OP and her parents -- if that's not the case, then it changes things.

With that frame of mind, It sounded to me that they didn't use the money to override decisions in your wedding planning. While you did make changes to appease them, I'd like to think the money was their way of saying 'Here's something to help with additional costs incurred from changes in your plan.' Or perhaps they really wanted to contribute more to the wedding.

My suggestion would be to talk to them. Tell them you ended up not needing (most/all of) their money to cover the cost of the wedding. Tell them you'd be happy to return it to them. If they insist you keep it, just accept graciously. What you do with it depends on your family dynamics when it comes to money, I think. If you think your parents will need help in retirement and either you won't assist out of your own pockets, or they won't accept such assistance when offered, then you can put it in some sort of saving vehicle for their benefit. On the other hand, if you think they'll need help, and you will assist and they will accept, then I'd just use it like any other money.

To clarify why I suggest that, I'll explain how I view finances when it comes to my family. I kind of think of the family as a financial unit, even if we're not in the same household. For example, I pay for family phone plan that covers myself, parents, and an adult sibling. It's an existing plan, it works for us, why bother breaking it up just because we moved out, got married, etc.. It's not that we each can't pay our share, but I figure it's all the family's money, so I don't ask for contributions.  I suspect my parents may need help in retirement, and my spouse and I have agreed that we're fully prepared to help them indefinitely should that need arise. So we let them treat us when eating out. We accept any food and gifts they offer, and we don't worry whether they're hurting their future retirement, because we know they'll have the whole family to fall back on.

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #40 on: October 17, 2014, 12:23:31 PM »
ioseftavi, I appreciate the kind words. The way you summarized it at the bottom makes it very clear what you want to do. Step back for a minute though and make sure you are fully listening to lentils because it seems like she's not fully with you. You guys are clearly a good team, don't let this change that dynamic.

Good ted talk I caught a while ago on "Tough Conversations".

http://www.ted.com/talks/ash_beckham_we_re_all_hiding_something_let_s_find_the_courage_to_open_up

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #41 on: October 17, 2014, 12:35:43 PM »
I will add my 2 cents for what it is worth.  I think a conversation is your best bet.  It sounds like the family dynamics are at play here and it's not just a matter of money being in whatever account.  The reality is the money is not the important piece to this discussion.  It really doesn't matter if you keep it or give it back.  What does matter is straightening out the family dynamics and setting clear boundaries that are respected etc...

Good luck, family dynamics can be tough. 

ioseftavi

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #42 on: October 17, 2014, 12:52:23 PM »
ioseftavi, I appreciate the kind words. The way you summarized it at the bottom makes it very clear what you want to do. Step back for a minute though and make sure you are fully listening to lentils because it seems like she's not fully with you. You guys are clearly a good team, don't let this change that dynamic.

Good ted talk I caught a while ago on "Tough Conversations".

http://www.ted.com/talks/ash_beckham_we_re_all_hiding_something_let_s_find_the_courage_to_open_up

Will definitely check out the TED talk tonight, Cheddar. 

And you're right - I need to make sure lentils and I are both happy with our solution...I have an urge to 'defend' her and 'attack' her parents for ignoring our requests and making the process more difficult than it needed to be if they had just honored our initial request.  I'm trying to ignore that feeling, since it isn't helpful, but it's undoubtedly a factor in my thinking on some subconscious level.

As a lot of people have mentioned, I think the issue of "how do we frame our conversation" and "how do we establish boundaries going forward" is at least as important as "where does the money end up."

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #43 on: October 17, 2014, 12:54:43 PM »
 
However, several months before our wedding, my parents transferred roughly the cost of our reception into an old joint acct I had with them (leftover from college).

This sounds like the Nigerian bank account scam.  Better check to make sure the rest of your money is still there. 

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #44 on: October 17, 2014, 01:00:00 PM »
She was coming out of the closet, but it's about hard conversations, not about that specifically.

The three rules for how to have the conversation, taken from the transcript.

7:29 Number one: Be authentic. Take the armor off. Be yourself. That kid in the cafe had no armor, but I was ready for battle. If you want someone to be real with you, they need to know that you bleed too.

7:43 Number two: Be direct. Just say it. Rip the Band-Aid off. If you know you are gay, just say it. If you tell your parents you might be gay, they will hold out hope that this will change. Do not give them that sense of false hope. (Laughter)

7:57 And number three, and most important -- (Laughter) Be unapologetic. You are speaking your truth. Never apologize for that. And some folks may have gotten hurt along the way, so sure, apologize for what you've done, but never apologize for who you are. And yeah, some folks may be disappointed, but that is on them, not on you. Those are their expectations of who you are, not yours. That is their story, not yours. The only story that matters is the one that you want to write.

charis

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #45 on: October 17, 2014, 01:16:22 PM »
I understand this position, which is similar to mine when I am dealing with my own parents.  I feel a strong need to set boundaries and make myself heard.  Which is not really a bad thing, but it can also work against me by tuning out other, valid, points of view.  I ask this sincerely - what is the point that needs to be made?

Some questions to consider: What do you think motivated her parents to transfer the money?  What do you really lose by accepting it? What do you hope the outcome of your conversation will be? 

It sounds like this is about a lot more than the money.  If it was simply about the money, you could just acknowledge the gift for what they purported it to be, helping out with the cost of the wedding.  The wedding is over, the money is still there.  But it is their account too.  Take your name off the account and move on.  Or have the conversation, if there is something else that needs to be said.
 
« Last Edit: October 17, 2014, 01:24:02 PM by jezebel »

CommonCents

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #46 on: October 17, 2014, 02:12:09 PM »
"Thank you for trying to look out for us by giving us money for our wedding.  It's really important to us though, that we paid for it all ourselves, so we wanted to ask you what you wanted us to do with the money that is in the old joint account.  We can transfer it back to your accounts or we can use it to set up  529s for our nieces and nephews.  Which would you prefer?"

This thanks them for something you believe in (perhaps?) but does not thank them for something you don't (e.g. a "loan" of the money or giving the money in the first place).  It concisely says why you don't want it (don't say too much or you'll waste your time defending it instead).  And it gives options for the money, but keeping it is not one.

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #47 on: October 17, 2014, 02:46:41 PM »
I understand they went against your wishes, but were they pretty decent in the wedding planning?  If your wedding was still two months in the future I'd say give it back.  However, it sounds like your wedding was conducted (mostly) in the way you wanted it to be. 

It was inappropriate of your parents to give you that money when you asked them not to.  However, like you said, money is emotional.

My parents are very concerned with being "fair" to all of the kids.  Each kid gets the same amount of $ from them, to the extent that my brother and sister in law were given a car and when they next updated their will they added the fact that my brother has received a $15k gift that the other siblings haven't.  It might just be something that's very, very important to them, and even though they acted inappropriately they had your best wishes at heart.

My suggestion would be to pay it forward, if you're really uncomfortable keeping it for your own personal use.  I like the idea of a college fund - do you plan on having kids at all? If not, nieces/nephews seems like a good idea.  You could donate the money or help out an unmarried sibling.  At this point, I'd close the account to avoid this happening in the future, but not make a bigger deal than necessary about returning the money.

+1 to this.  Did they help your siblings with their weddings?  Just say 'thank you for the lovely wedding gift', close the damn account so this doesn't happen again, and use the money that they *would* have spent on the wedding on something meaningful to you. 

I don't know your parents, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt here:  they wanted to help you/keep things equal.  If that's not the case, then send the money back, knowing that returning the money has the potential to make your relationship with them worse.

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #48 on: October 17, 2014, 03:25:03 PM »
What the OP should do really depends A LOT on her relationship to the parents, and what the family dynamics are when it comes to money.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I'm more likely to bend over backwards to make family, especially parents, happy. But I also have a pretty good relationship with my family. So what I say below also assumes a good relationship between OP and her parents -- if that's not the case, then it changes things.

With that frame of mind, It sounded to me that they didn't use the money to override decisions in your wedding planning.

Yes, that' how I would understand such move if it came from my parents. However, they have explicitly stated that they would contribute to a wedding what they think is appropriate. No matter how big or small, cheap or expensive it actually was going to be.

And that strikes me as fair.

Just like treating your children equally does. Apart from special needs children, giving money according to "need" usually leads to the irresponsible and/or lazy receiving a lot more than their fair share.

If I would be "equalizing" gifts as a parent (and I probably would) I would be more than a little annoyed if it would be rejected.

If on the other hand parents are not equalizing but trying to control: feel free to send it back.

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Re: Refusing / Returning Money to Family
« Reply #49 on: October 17, 2014, 09:08:44 PM »
It sucks but I think it's better in the long run to start having conversations and setting boundaries now. The more you evade it, the more tired you will feel.
True story: it took me many years to establish boundaries with my mom. There was one time I said no and was firm and she actually threw a tantrum. It was extremely painful but eventually she got it and our relationship is much smoother now.
For my dad we went to family therapy and that helped too.