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My partner’s family has been financially struggling a long time (way before I even entered the picture). Their parents frequently ask for money (which at times can be their entire weeks paycheck).

As we develop our relationship, I’m starting to become concerned with our future. Eventually, money responsibilities will be shared. And I don’t really think the parents are going to stop asking for hand outs.

I know my partner feels obligated to continuously give to their parents. They know how tough it’s been and they’re family. But, at the same time, I really don’t think it’s something we can afford in the future when we’re just starting out.

I’d really like to address this concern with my partner in a way where I don’t discount their family relationship or put any divisions between them.

I don’t want to be in a situation where I have to worry about the next time they ask for money. I’m sure my partner wouldn’t ask from me, but I still don’t believe they should be giving so much away. Their income simply can’t support it.

Summary

My partner’s family keeps asking them for money, and I’d like to communicate in the most graceful way, my concern for this in the future when financial issues are actually shared between us. How would I go about this?

  • Do you know if your partner knows what make their parens ask for money and have financial problems? – SZCZERZO KŁY Dec 17 '19 at 8:43
  • How long have you been dating and have you talked in general about a future together? – AsheraH Dec 17 '19 at 8:49
  • @SZCZERZOKŁY Yes, they usually give my partner a reason. Sometimes it can be vague though. – Krúžok Dec 17 '19 at 18:12
  • @AsheraH We’ve been together for awhile. We’re comfortable discussing the future. However, of the things we have discussed, financial concerns haven’t been a huge topic. And the issue in this question as of now was my biggest concern. – Krúžok Dec 17 '19 at 18:17
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I know several young people are the ones in their family who have "done good" or "made it" -- they have a steady job and a stable place to live. Their siblings or parents may move multiple times a year, drive cars that keep needing calamitous repairs, and work off and on when they can. In these families, the one who is doing well looks after the others. That might mean putting someone in your spare room (or living room floor if you have no spare room) for a week when their spouse throws them out, or lending someone your car for a week, or "lending" someone rent that you know very well you won't see again. If you didn't grow up in a family that had this dynamic, I expect that to you this looks like prunable spending, equivalent to a daily latte habit or spending too much on cigarettes and alcohol. But from inside the family, be assured that this is not optional, and is part of the obligation of being part of the family.

Sometimes it's all one-way: I knew a young woman whose mother was a complete leech: she lived with them, paid no rent (used her welfare money for herself) and refused to watch her grand-daughter, so the young woman was paying her entire rent and daycare costs herself. But that's the exception. Usually in families like this the unemployed brothers show up to help you move or chop the firewood you got cheap because it wasn't split, people will care for your children or do an amazing job of organizing parties or whatever. There is a sort of family labour towards overall family goals. Some years maybe one person does a lot more or a lot less than others, because they are going through a hard time, or they had a run of good luck, or whatever.

So, knowing that, what you really need to discuss with your partner is budgeting in general. What you as a pair will spend on food, rent, gifts, vacations, furniture, transportation, clothes, treats and splurges, and, yes, money to family. You can work a number out together. If the family asks for an amount that is out of budget, you can say that. "Sorry, we just don't have it this month." But you can mostly say yes and provide an amount that, as a couple, you can afford. You and your partner can work out the tradeoffs -- more support to the family means a less luxurious vacation, or no eating in restaurants -- rather than just hoping the money will come from somewhere. If you want to save for a new car, or a downpayment on a house, you can see that this much a week to the family means this much longer until the savings target is achieved.

Your partner may decide the correct amount to budget for family support is zero. It's more likely they will not, but having a number (and sticking to it) will let you feel better that your other goals are still being met. Understanding how money and sharing works in your partner's family may take a while and require more listening. Perhaps your partner has told you why it's important to provide financial support, and what non-financial support the family has provided (or still does, or will) in the future. It's not as simple as "sending these people money is cutting into my latte budget so it needs to stop."

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    Framing it into a matter of budgeting rather than just a familial issue is a great idea. I really want them to know I’m not here to raise issues with their family, but to make sure we do well in life when sharing responsibilities. This answer really solves that goal. Thank you! – Krúžok Dec 17 '19 at 18:10
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    Wish I could upvote this more than once. It's really something every prospective set of partners ought to do in the first bloom of their income consolidation. Creating a budget and having a commitment to it from both partners is a huge step toward avoiding a major source of relationship stress, ie, money. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Dec 30 '19 at 17:46
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I think it is best to frame this into more general talk about how you will deal with shared financial burdens in the future.

There is various ways to share these but the ones most common in my circle of friends and generation is either sharing 50/50 or so that each gives an equal percentage of their pay to the shared burden.

Money that is not spent on these shared burdens can be seen as personal (you can include shared saving efforts towards costs as well) and up to them on how to handle it. They can decide to give it to their family or not. But this is something else you'll have to decide on and talk about. And this can fit in as a part of that talk.

During the talk, you can bring it up that you are worried about their habits of providing money to their family and how that will fit in with the way you two decide on sharing your future financial burdens. Chances are that they have not really thought about this yet, on the other hand, perhaps they did and have prepared for it.

I think that by framing it in a more general finance talk it will remove a bit of the focus on them supporting their family and move the focus more on an "Our future, how will we handle it" kind of narrative.

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