Author Topic: s/o of "You Can't Afford This"..."They/You Can't Afford That!"  (Read 5004 times)

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nuit93

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What do you do when the person telling you "you can't afford that" is a relative?

My mother has a tendency to be judgmental about how people manage their money/finances.  Growing up, she was very careful about budgeting and rarely spent money on anything indulgent--Starbucks once a month was a special treat and anyone who drank it more often was irresponsible/destined to be broke, etc.  To be fair, it wasn't like there was a lot of money anyways but it always bugged me that she had to have such a...TONE about it.

Throughout college, me or my sisters would sometimes make mistakes with money or perhaps spend money on something we shouldn't have...a haircut somewhere nicer than the $20/cut chain store, an accidental overdraw, lunch out with coworkers instead of brownbagging a PB&J...nothing over the top but just a part of the learning curve.  Based on how she would bad-mouth my sister's mistakes to me, I could only imagine what she said about me to them.  Later, when I made plans to move out at 24 (I lived at home through college to save money), she talked constantly to my middle sister and her friends about what a stupid mistake I was making, how I had no idea what I was doing and would just end up broke and back at home again.

Middle sis confided this to me, and I promptly wrote mom an email (since I was too angry to say anything to her face) explaining that 1) it was NOT okay to talk to talk to sis and especially not her friends about what I was doing, 2) that I was an intelligent person who knew how to create a budget and live by it, and 3) while I'm addressing my list of issues, the snide remarks about my religious beliefs were extremely offensive and inappropriate and would no longer be tolerated by me.  She later gave a half-hearted apology and admitted she hadn't realized she was being offensive or inappropriate in her actions.  I'm not sure how she couldn't, but whatever...

Fast forward to now, some eight years later.  Middle sis and Mom have both gotten married to men who are well off--as in, able to pay cash for new cars, own their own homes nearly outright even though we live in an expensive part of the country.  As such, when traveling for family events they usually book rooms at a hotel.  Since BF and I are of more modest means and wants (pretty solidly middle class on paper but we've been dealing with medical bills, plus I'd like to be able to retire before I'm too old to work), we usually opt to make them day trips or stay somewhere cheaper/with friends. 

On the most recent trip for my sister's graduation, we made it a day trip even though it was four hours each way.  We probably could have swung for a hotel room, but we had each booked other travel plans for this year already and while gas and food were well within our budget, a hotel would have been pushing it. 

I don't like telling the family about money issues because I don't feel it's appropriate, so I explained that we were making it a day trip since BF was on call for work (half true) and that we don't sleep well in beds not our own (also, kinda true).

There was something of an attitude shift in how mom regarded me and BF compared to Middle Sis and BIL.  At one point, she discreetly handed me a gas card for much more than we really would have spent in traveling.  I thanked her profusely and told her she didn't have to do that, and she said not to worry about it, she'd given one to Baby Sis since she was broke and just out of school.  When I asked if she'd given one to MS she said "heck no, they can afford their own gas and then some...don't tell them I helped you".

I was still grateful to accept the gas card, but it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth.  We aren't poor by any stretch, but we certainly aren't as well off as MS and BIL.  BF told me I should just accept the gift and not obsess over the motives, but I couldn't help but feel like a bit of a charity case.

Is it so weird that I felt a bit degraded?  I certainly did my best not to show it, and it's not like I ever ask Mom or her husband for money (and I wouldn't).  Do I just need to get over this?

TurtleDove

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Re: s/o of "You Can't Afford This"..."They/You Can't Afford That!"
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2013, 02:52:22 PM »
BF told me I should just accept the gift and not obsess over the motives, but I couldn't help but feel like a bit of a charity case.

Is it so weird that I felt a bit degraded?  I certainly did my best not to show it, and it's not like I ever ask Mom or her husband for money (and I wouldn't).  Do I just need to get over this?

Your BF is right, and you need to get over this.

NyaChan

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Re: s/o of "You Can't Afford This"..."They/You Can't Afford That!"
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2013, 02:54:57 PM »
You feel how you feel, there's nothing wrong with that.

I would note however, that you did ask specifically if she gave middle sister a card - that really wasn't your business and it opened you up to the comment.  After being asked, it makes sense to explain why she left one daughter out of this gift.  I suspect the added on comment about not telling middle sister about it was meant actually to reassure you that she was no longer chatting about her perceptions of your finances to others so that you wouldn't feel bad.

Also, as far as obsessing over motives, weren't her motives pretty obvious anyways?  It wasn't a birthday or Christmas and she didn't owe you money.  She gave you the card to help you out with an expense she though might be hard on you.  That's nothing to be ashamed of.


wheeitsme

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Re: s/o of "You Can't Afford This"..."They/You Can't Afford That!"
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2013, 03:18:46 PM »
It sounds like your mom was trying to help.  And you said she was discrete about it.  It sounds like she was just trying to make things a little easier for someone she loves.

nuit93

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Re: s/o of "You Can't Afford This"..."They/You Can't Afford That!"
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2013, 03:43:02 PM »
You feel how you feel, there's nothing wrong with that.

I would note however, that you did ask specifically if she gave middle sister a card - that really wasn't your business and it opened you up to the comment.  After being asked, it makes sense to explain why she left one daughter out of this gift.  I suspect the added on comment about not telling middle sister about it was meant actually to reassure you that she was no longer chatting about her perceptions of your finances to others so that you wouldn't feel bad.

Also, as far as obsessing over motives, weren't her motives pretty obvious anyways?  It wasn't a birthday or Christmas and she didn't owe you money.  She gave you the card to help you out with an expense she though might be hard on you.  That's nothing to be ashamed of.

I was actually a bit indirect about how I asked if MS had received a card, the conversation was more like this (paraphrasing):

Me: Thank you!  That was very generous of you, you didn't have to do that.
Mom: Oh, we wanted to help out, gas prices and all...
Me (kind of jokingly): Well, we do get better gas mileage than BIL's car by a long shot.
Mom (also laughing a bit): Oh, heck, they can afford that and then some! (more serious) You didn't tell them about this, right? I wasn't going to give them anything...
Me: No, I wasn't going to, it's okay.


You're all probably correct, I should really just get over it and accept a gift for what it is.  I just hate having to admit when something is out of my budget, even if it's something that most people would find ridiculously expensive anyways (like a $50/head restaurant when we can more reasonably afford $20-25/head).  I just prefer to make a polite excuse as to why we can't do X or Y activity.

wheeitsme

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Re: s/o of "You Can't Afford This"..."They/You Can't Afford That!"
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2013, 03:57:59 PM »
You feel how you feel, there's nothing wrong with that.

I would note however, that you did ask specifically if she gave middle sister a card - that really wasn't your business and it opened you up to the comment.  After being asked, it makes sense to explain why she left one daughter out of this gift.  I suspect the added on comment about not telling middle sister about it was meant actually to reassure you that she was no longer chatting about her perceptions of your finances to others so that you wouldn't feel bad.

Also, as far as obsessing over motives, weren't her motives pretty obvious anyways?  It wasn't a birthday or Christmas and she didn't owe you money.  She gave you the card to help you out with an expense she though might be hard on you.  That's nothing to be ashamed of.

I was actually a bit indirect about how I asked if MS had received a card, the conversation was more like this (paraphrasing):

Me: Thank you!  That was very generous of you, you didn't have to do that.
Mom: Oh, we wanted to help out, gas prices and all...
Me (kind of jokingly): Well, we do get better gas mileage than BIL's car by a long shot.
Mom (also laughing a bit): Oh, heck, they can afford that and then some! (more serious) You didn't tell them about this, right? I wasn't going to give them anything...
Me: No, I wasn't going to, it's okay.


You're all probably correct, I should really just get over it and accept a gift for what it is.  I just hate having to admit when something is out of my budget, even if it's something that most people would find ridiculously expensive anyways (like a $50/head restaurant when we can more reasonably afford $20-25/head).  I just prefer to make a polite excuse as to why we can't do X or Y activity.

And your mom didn't say anything about your not having the money, or you not being able to budget.  She just wanted to help your life be a little easier...  ;)

NyaChan

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Re: s/o of "You Can't Afford This"..."They/You Can't Afford That!"
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2013, 04:03:11 PM »
Actually the conversation you related makes it even less a negative IMO.  I wouldn't dwell on it if you can avoid it.

courtsmad25

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Re: s/o of "You Can't Afford This"..."They/You Can't Afford That!"
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2013, 01:02:21 PM »
You're all probably correct, I should really just get over it and accept a gift for what it is.  I just hate having to admit when something is out of my budget, even if it's something that most people would find ridiculously expensive anyways (like a $50/head restaurant when we can more reasonably afford $20-25/head).  I just prefer to make a polite excuse as to why we can't do X or Y activity.
[/quote]

 OP sometimes its not a matter of being out of budget, but, would you blow money in as certain direction. For instance I may find a shirt that is $50, and think "that's cute, but it's not $50 cute".. Yes, you may have $50 in your wallet, and yes, you may need a new shirt, however, you may just feel better knowing that you could find 2 cute shirts for $20 a piece AND get a pair of flip flops for $10. It's a matter of choice on what you would rather spend your money on, and quite frankly with your choice to want to really retire one day, well, I'd sleep better at night knowing I'm closer to retirement vs having a new shirt in my closet.

LibraryLady

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Re: s/o of "You Can't Afford This"..."They/You Can't Afford That!"
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2013, 03:07:28 PM »
OP, do accept what your mom and MS may give to you.  For a long time, my parents were not able to take all 5 of us kids out to eat even at a Dairy Queen.  When it got to the point where they could, Daddy was gone.  Mother would insist on it being her "treat" and we would say No, let us pay.  She finally told me, that she wanted to make up for the times that they COULDN'T treat us, so now when she wants to buy me clothes or takes us out to dinner I/we would let her.  The same way with my younger sister.  Although Joe and I do insist on treating them when they are in OUR town.

Although now that mom is entering the end times of Alzheimer's, we just tell her that yes, she did pay for lunch/supper/the clothes, even when we have taken care of it - it still gives her pleasure thinking that she did.

LL


PS  I am like the other poster  I have to stop and think - are those shoes $70 cute?   ::)

Miss Understood

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Re: s/o of "You Can't Afford This"..."They/You Can't Afford That!"
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2013, 12:05:51 AM »
Please forgive me if this is too forward, but may I suggest that at age 32 (doing the math from your OP) you might want to think a bit about enjoying life now rather than planning for retirement.  It's admirable that you are doing so, and I don't mean to discourage it, but it sounds like your DH and you are depriving yourselves from normal happy times (which sometimes cost money). 

My PILs have been retired for 30+ years, but they have never gone anywhere or done anything that they wanted to do and of course now it's too late.  I'm not saying that you shouldn't save - you absolutely should, and take advantage of any retirement benefits such as 401K that your employers offer, especially if they match.   But splurge on yourselves now and then - you will be 42, 52, 62 and beyond before you know it, without the memories to go along with the milestones if you don't create them.

*inviteseller

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Re: s/o of "You Can't Afford This"..."They/You Can't Afford That!"
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2013, 12:14:05 AM »
I get a bit prickly when my sister or dad do something nice, because Dad has been critical in the past of his idea of how my money should be spent (and I am pretty frugal, but he is cheap) and my sister thinks I am still 5 and can't function without her telling me what to do, including embarrassing me in public by loudly proclaiming "You can't afford that!"  But, I have learned to tune them out, or tell my sister quietly that I am fine to please not be loud, and they have in turn learned to back off and when they do do something nice ...extra at Christmas or Birthday or a small just because gift, I can take it in the spirit it is given.