When your significant other’s family is a financial mess


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I’ve covered this ground so many times.

I won’t rehash it all for oldtimers, but suffice it to say my fiance’s family are broke as broke gets.

I have a problem saying no, so it’s good that requests get filtered through him. While we he also has a problem saying no, since this recent fiasco, he’s put his foot down, and rightly so.

That got tested last month. There was a big family occasion, but not enough money to put into it. As the go-to people, we (or really just me) were asked if we could front $300.

Sorry, but my answer was a HELL to the NO. It had to be.

We were already putting more than I would have liked towards a keg (that was our contribution), and I sure was not going to lend out money that might or might not be repaid.

In the end, I ended up personally chipping in about $60 toward food and the like. I wasn’t overjoyed about doing so, but I’m not a complete miser, and it was much less than $300.

In theory, our financial situation should improve in the coming years.

T and I are young, we’re just getting started in the world, and we’re on the up.

His family members, on the other hand, are, going nowhere fast. The easiest way to deal with this is obviously to disclose as little as possible, but the fact that we can take any holidays at all, or will be funding a (very frugal) wedding, says enough.

I can only assume this is going to lead to setting new boundaries as the goalposts shift. I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to get harder, not easier, as we really start building our lives together, saving for a house, and all that jazz.

For those of you whose other half has a financial disaster of a family, how did that affect your wedding planning and post-marriage?

14 thoughts on “When your significant other’s family is a financial mess

  • Reply Sense October 20, 2011 at 18:10

    My dad’s family is a mess, my mom’s a frugal person’s dream. we always lived closer to my dad’s fam, though, so it was tough. my dad was the only one who actually made anything of himself–the rest languished on welfare, government housing, my grandmother who was an immigrant and worked long hours in a fast food chain and collected social security as her only income, etc. It was (is) a nightmare, but my dad is no longer in a position to lend money out. Growing up, I cannot remember a single time where all 4 brothers and sister (3 boys (one is my dad), 1 girl) were getting along. The fights were ALWAYS about money, as little as $5 sometimes. My mom stayed out of any of it but forbade my dad to give them money very early on. I’m POSITIVE that my dad snuck around and gave money anyway somehow, but as my mom never found out, it was fine for our immediate family (My dad got paid under the table a lot for his jobs.). My dad’s brothers and sister were extremely jealous of how well my dad did (maybe they could have done well too, if they had actually WORKED!!). Eventually I think my dad realized that they hated him even when he gave them money, so he doesn’t do that anymore. He still gets called to do free odd plumbing jobs for them–pays for parts out of his own pocket and even though he is very very ill. And the two remaining siblings still hate him even after all he’s done for them, though my aunt comes around occasionally to ask him for his extra pain meds because we suspect she is an addict. So no, no good tips for you other than to keep out of it and don’t let them have an inch. They will NEVER change. Hopefully T will not sneak around behind your back to help them like my dad did/does to my mother.

    • Reply eemusings October 20, 2011 at 22:51

      If he wants to help in small amounts out of his own discretionary money, that’s fine. Beyond that…not so much. He has been doing it periodically out of our joint money over the past years, which irritates me no end as it throws off the budget (and if money gets paid back, it’s usually in cash that doesn’t all make it back into the bank account, if at all).

  • Reply Stephanie October 20, 2011 at 19:52

    Judging by what happened in my family with my parents and their families, there’s going to be a mess somewhere down the line, but it might be long after your wedding. But if you significant other is responsible like you, which I’m sure he is, then you two will be just fine as a couple.

    I hope that this all gets sorted out soon, and that he yells at them all for being irresponsible.

  • Reply Revanche October 21, 2011 at 03:15

    Well, being the messy side, it’s sort of shite. But I am lucky in that while my parents have made unwise choices in the past, they try really hard not to ask me for a penny more for their most basic needs, ever. The only times they’d spend (my money really) on entertainment type stuff would be for me, or if they had a wedding to attend (obligatory gift of money). And these days, they make it a point not to take that mney from me either. They’ve chosen to live an extremely ascetic life since they went on Revanche-support. Not because I asked them to but because theu knew that all that was money I could have had for myself. So that’s them. And then there’s the sibling.
    He gor a hard stop cut off on cash. Basically, it doesn’t matter how much/little I make, I never talk about amounts and he never sees it. If I choose to give a gift, and I did for many years, that was my choice, and on my terms of when and how much. I had to decide I would only celebrate Christmas, for example, because that was the only time I could afford to be a little frivolous for a long time.
    It set pretty specific boundaries: I gave things or dealt with bills. Never ever gave cash. I felt that gave an imoression I didn’t want to encourage. And it’s easier to say, let me get back to you about whay I can do, with that method as well. Though that phrase works with money.
    I was asked to cosign a home loan title a while ago by someone else. But this is getting too long already 🙂

  • Reply addvodka October 21, 2011 at 03:43

    Wow, I couldn’t imagine if either mine or my boyfriend’s parents asked us that. We would definintely say no. I actually just wrote a post about my boyfriend’s parents and finances (http://add-vodka.com/2011/10/19/archaic-finance/) but they’re more ridiculously frugal, and I don’t think they’d ever ask us to borrow money. However, if boyfriend gives them money, they’ll take it no questions asked. When he lived with them, one day he offered to give them $1000 when he was on disability (car accident) and had no money, just because he thought it was the right thing to do. They took it, and he couldn’t even drive to physiotheraphy for the weeks following, because that was ALL of his money.

  • Reply Vanessa October 21, 2011 at 06:46

    Good job with learning to say no and to stop disclosing. I had to learn the hard way when my parents began to bother me for money or make snide comments after I mentioned that I was thinking of going to Europe last year (they ended up bullying me into not going). Now I don’t tell them anything about my financial life — they have no idea that I have a 2nd job, no idea what kind of rent I pay etc.

    BF has unfortunately not learned this lesson yet. He routinely tells his family about how much he saves etc and is constantly hit up for loans. He’s able to say no most times but it’s still a huge hassle to deal with and makes him feel like crap for turning down a family member.

  • Reply krantcents October 21, 2011 at 08:45

    Did I understand that they were going on vacation and asked for money? Can you send me some money too? Vacation is not life and death nor is it important. I would have no problem saying no.

  • Reply Harri @ TotallyMoney October 22, 2011 at 02:23

    Families are complicated at the best of times. Throw money into the mix and they just get that much more complicated.

    It’s hard, but you have to put your foot down. Bailing them out every now and again will mean that they’ll never take responsibility for their financial situation and it’ll put more strain on your relationships.

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  • Reply Qiqqles March 20, 2012 at 05:06

    My fiances parents are broke the dad works in two jobs but still cant do it . My fiance and i have had alot of expenses and alot of unpaid things we need but his parents sort of dont qet it. They ask us constantly on lending $100 $200 even $300 . And i say yea few times but its honestly streasing me out . My fiance does not mind at all and he says yea but when he sees i get mad he backs down on them . But its really hard being with people who dont get that we need alot of money for our new place , wedding expenses and alot we are not in a situatiin to be letting borrow money constantly. What should i do :/

    • Reply eemusings March 20, 2012 at 09:23

      It’s simple.

      You have two choices. Keep giving them money – or NOT.

      And if you want to stop the cycle, then you need to STOP GIVING THEM MONEY RIGHT NOW. No exceptions. Show any weakness, give in just once and you’re back to square one. It doesn’t matter what YOUR situation is; they don’t care as long as you’re feeding them cash, even if it’s at your own expense.

      But the bigger problem is that you guys are on different pages. You two need to decide together on a plan of action because if you’re not united on this, it’s not going to work. Even if your finances are separate now, it’s going to cause bigger trouble down the line.

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