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sending money to IL family abroad

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
are there other mamas on here who send money to your in-law's family overseas? how do you and your DH deal with it? in terms of agreeing on it, coming up with the money, etc.

i am struggling to understand DH's family situation in a very poor country and
his obligations to them. it is all so complex and i feel guilty for even thinking this but sometimes it seems his family thinks money grows on trees here and they can just ask him because his rich (NOT!) american wife can come up with the cash.

what do other people do, especially if you are living on a tight budget (by american standards, anyway) and barely making ends meet yourself?
post #2 of 34
Are they truly needy? Or do they just think your family is wealthy and should share the wealth?

DH's family was truly needy--his dad was too sick to work anymore and his mom was having health problems as well. We no longer do this because DH's family moved here to live with his brother, as they could get better care this way. But when we did, DH was very clear on how much he could send, and didn't send any extra except in truly extraordinary circumstances because it would represent a hardship for us. He also had an agreement with his brother, who also lived here, to send an equal amount. We sent the same amount every month, and if they asked for more we simply couldn't send it. We really couldn't, we weren't lying.

Your DH needs to be clear that his family (you and kids) come first. He cannot put you in a hardship situation to let his family go on believing he is rich. But if they're truly needy, then he and you need to figure out together if you can spare a certain amount every month and send that.
post #3 of 34
I'm dealing with working out a budget to those ends right now, and it is coming up TIGHT and likely sometimes short. Obviously we won't always have it. But I do look at it as an obligatory part of our budget. If I have the food, shelter, medical care, etc, that I & my family need, I can't very well leave my in-laws hanging without just so that I can have a small cushion in the bank.

However -- and it's a big however -- if we ran into serious trouble ourselves I know they would do whatever they could to help us out in turn, we have friends who would do the same, and we have other options available to us. Lacking that ... well, lacking that I wouldn't marry into the situation, but if it was unforeseen I really don't know what I'd do.
post #4 of 34
I can relate, we used to send more money to his family in egypt, but we dont have it now. When we get income tax etc we send it, but he has 2 brothers and they can help too. I used to get bitter, but now we both are trying to get back there so we are just focusing on us atm. good luck and I hope you find a resolution. There is def a misconception that us american women can work and send money and its easy and flows lol.
post #5 of 34
Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
I'm dealing with working out a budget to those ends right now, and it is coming up TIGHT and likely sometimes short. Obviously we won't always have it. But I do look at it as an obligatory part of our budget. If I have the food, shelter, medical care, etc, that I & my family need, I can't very well leave my in-laws hanging without just so that I can have a small cushion in the bank.
I think it's great that you're helping them, but I also think it's fair to have a cushion in the bank. You never know with how the economy's going. Having a good cushion could mean being better able to help others in the future too.

To the OP, rather than having to send money whenever it's requested, would it make things easier on your budgets to send a set amount every month?

My sister struggles with this and because her DH is the breadwinner, he feels she should have no say. They send money a LOT, and just this month her cable got shut off and she found out that the rent which DH was supposedly taking care of...was not last month. Anyhoo, not saying you'll ever be in that situation but I think it's good to set reasonable boundaries now and that it's wise to put your family first.
post #6 of 34
We've always sent money occasionally to DH's family (north africa). As a PP said, if we needed something, they would do everything in their power to help us. We have no "cushion" so to speak and do have trouble making ends meet, but it's obligatory to help family as much as possible, even if it means cutting back on shopping or something extra. DH's mother has Rheumatoid Arthritis and needs money for private dr.'s (as opposed to free gov't dr.s) and medicine. Her husband is unemployed, a big problem there, but they don't live excessively AT ALL. Othertimes they need money for school books & school supplies or utilities, and they only get new clothes for holiday presents. So basically we know where the money we send goes and fully support the use. So, I don't feel resentful (although it has crept out a couple of times) but happy that we are able to improve their quality of life.

But they do think that money grows on trees and that we're rich (a rumor that DH would NEVER dispell). :
post #7 of 34
yep we send money every month my MIL saves it lol we went in april and we needs to change some american money for libanese money and she pulls out 2 purses of cash lol it was almost all the money we sent her over almost 6 yrs of marrage lol we asked her why did u save that all we sent it soo u buy what u need and she goes i save it for just in case ur father cant work anymore or ur brother cant work anymore or someone in family needs help lol

soo we still send 500$ a month even through we know she is saving it but we r going to buy a new house over there for everyone meaning her and my fil and our little family of 4 and my little SIL soo it is good she is saving the money we can use that to help with the down payment and stuff

now my family live here in america and well they look at us like we r rich and our always asking us for money but we help them when we can and we never ask them to pay us back we r not rich but we tell them my husbands family lives very poor which they do they just dont spend money at all they want to save it for a rainy day or in a case a war decides to brake out
post #8 of 34
Well, for me it's a religious issue as well as a cultural one. My DH is from Egypt and we are both Muslim. I believe everyone is given what is "theirs", and sometimes that comes through other people, like adult children, etc. So we have sent money every single month for the last 18 years to my IL's including extra when needed. I have never set a "limit" or "boundary" on how much we send because I simply don't believe the money we send them is "ours". It's theirs. In other words, if we sent them $200 a month, and decided not to send it to them, then that $200 would not come to us. That might not make sense but that's how I look at it. When we first married, DH drove a taxi and I stayed at home. Shortly after, I had our first child. Then DH was a taxi driver, Master's student and I stayed at home with our son who had leukemia and so I spent most of my time going back and forth to the hospital for his treatments, and taking care of all of his needs. During that time, we were my IL's only source of financial support. We never had a month where we didn't have enough food, or a car to drive (even if it was old and raggedy) that wasn't mechanically dependable at least. We always had a place to live, even if it was modest and not in a fancy neighborhood. We always had clothes to wear, even if they came from a second hand store. We bought our FIRST new piece of furniture when we had been married about 10 years. My DH is now driving his first ever new car. We never had cable.

I have never regretted a dollar we sent to my DH's family. His family love me and treat me fabulously because they say that *I* was the one who made it possible for DH to send them money. Mind you, I never worked to send them money. When I worked, the money I made was "extra" so I bought stuff (like a bread machine for me and, as an anniversary gift, a platinum wedding band for DH) that I wanted to. One of the reasons my DH says he loves me so much is because of the complete and uncomplaining support I gave him while sending money to his family. He says he knows I could have refused, made his life miserable, demanded the money stay with us for our family/children but I didn't.

I've seen many women who've made this a battle with their DH's and have *never* seen it go well. Even in cases where I agreed with the woman that the husband was being unreasonably "generous" to his family (i.e. they have no real need for money, but he just wants to look like a big spender and puts his immediate family in cc debt, etc), it hasn't turned out well.

And I have to say, just so that I am sure go get good and flamed, LOL, that I personally do *not* agree that I and my children come "first" as a responsibility for my DH. I believe that my DH's parents absolutely should be a priority over me. I am young and healthy and can work to contribute to the income if I need to. Also, there are so many ways to stretch a dollar in the US and things that we don't *need*. My MIL and FIL are old and sick. FIL is senile and bedridden, MIL can hardly walk due to back issues and surgery that left her legs almost useless. She probably leaves her house twice a year, maybe if there is a huge reason. They raised my DH, worked hard to put him through school (and his siblings of course), loved him, made him the man I married and who I continue to choose to spend my life with and raise my children with. How can I be ungrateful and deny them some comfort in their old age?

There has been times in the past when MIL asked for extra, for stuff she didn't *need*, like some money to buy gifts for family members weddings or whatever and my DH would tell me he was going to say no because it would make things tighter for us. I always insisted he send it and more. I made myself an advocate for my IL's from the first day we were married, years before I met them face to face, and it has always served me well. Always.
post #9 of 34
Originally Posted by patty_g View Post
I made myself an advocate for my IL's from the first day we were married, years before I met them face to face, and it has always served me well. Always.
I'm the same. I remember once (several years ago) DH told me that a lot of couples get in fights over sending money/buying gifts for their family back home and how MIL loves me so much because I treat her like I treat my own mother. I can't imagine sleeping well at night if they genuinely needed support and I refused, rather spending it on something extravagant.
post #10 of 34
I think I'm starting to understand another viewpoint here....but also want to clarify that by having a "cushion" I don't mean cushy lifestyle. I think it's important to make sure that the family that's helping everyone out has the basics, and some money put away in case of emergency so that they can continue helping.

In my sister's case, the family "back home" are telling her that she's taking advantage of her DH by not working (is studying to be a nurse to bring in more money for the whole family), while these same relatives (one woman in particular) can stay at home with her kids thanks to the help she gets from sister's DH. There's something unfair about that to me. The constant calls for financial help have now left them in the position where their rent cheque bounced and their cable has been shut off. The youngest son has now also been taken out of preschool because they can't afford it.

I have no problems with helping family who genuinely need it, but there are situations where families here are taken advantage of due to the belief that they're rich and "should"...that is all. My husband insists on helping both our mothers (and my father) every month with a set amount to help make life a bit easier for them, and I am very thankful for this and love him for his generosity.
post #11 of 34
I understand the idea of having a "cushion" and don't disagree with the principle. We have a rather good one now, thankfully, because we have had an increase in our income. But for many, many years we had 0 savings because we sent money to the ILs and paid our own expenses, etc, with nothing "extra". That's okay. It was our choice and I understand that everyone is different and have different circumstances, outlooks, etc.

As far as the "you're from/in the west, so you're rich" attitude goes, yeah, it's everywhere. We get it alot. But then so did my SIL when her DH worked in Saudi. So it's actually, "You work anywhere that's not here so you must be rich". Thing is, I don't care how much people think we have or don't have, I am just amazed at the attitude that if we have, then they have a right to "it" just for the asking.

We have paid for "extras" outside of my ILs needs. We paid for one niece's wedding, which I did not object to. We've loaned money to help nephew or cousin start a business or pay their child's school fees. There have been rare isolated incidences where someone has asked for money and I have put up a stink because the person/people have already proven themselves to be irresponsible or untrustworthy. Sometimes I've gotten my way but more often my DH will lend the money anyway with the understanding that I get a "return" on that if the person proves himself to be a flake. For instance, with the house we are building, I get my dream kitchen without an argument about the high cost because if we have the "extra money" to lend to nephew X, who has shown himself to be a complete flake when it comes to money and business, well, then we definately have the "extra money" to get my kitchen.
post #12 of 34
patty we r a muslim family as well and well i never regrett it or fight it i acually remind hubby to send the money and i always set it aside for him and i tell him please dont forget and during remamdan we send extra and for eid we send extra

hubby is the oldest male soo he has to take care of everyone soo he sends money to his little brother in germany as well plus he has a brother here he is taking care of he also tells his dad to make sure his sisters and there kids have everything they need too soo he has the everything on his shoulders being resposible for everyone in ur family plus taking care of ur own is very hard

but we live and we make it every month do to god half the time we send money we send our rent payment and but cause of god we always come up with that money again
post #13 of 34
I wish I had a good answer for you. This is an issue that keeps coming up for us, and in some cases the family overseas is not particularly destitute but just makes irresponsible choices. We just decided on an amount and DH did it so that I never had to think about it. It is a sensitive subject, and any time you combine money and family, it gets complicated. Cultural issues and obligations sometimes make it simpler!
post #14 of 34
It's good to know we're not the only ones in this boat. While I totally resent the attitute that we're in the West and thereby "rich", and so we must send money since we're positively swimming in dollars, I never resent actually sending it.
I'm usually the one who reminds DH to do it, talks him into it, or does it myself. His family is very, very poor and I want the best for them. What we do send is very little compared to all of their needs. We have been richly blessed here and I feel we should help support his mother and siblings. I wish we could send more, I want us to buy property and build his mother a proper house with a shamba (garden) and build a small house for us to visit in (assuming we can actually get back to visit with plane tickets costing what they do.) As the oldest, he has an obligation to them.
What's especially hard though, is when they need money and we are very short and cannot help them. I think they assume we're lying when we say we can't send anything at that time.
The other thing is how his other relatives here (aunts, cousins) make fairly good money but they choose to spend it on "stuff"--they have closets overflowing with clothes, more pairs of expensive shoes than I can count, nice cars, think nothing of dropping $100 on a baseball hat, blow upwards of $250 at bars every weekend, etc. I've been agonizing over a pair of $40 jeans for six weeks now, trying to decide if I should spend the money. But, according to them, we're doing quite well since we bought a house and they rent. So all these reports go back home that we have money, and lots of it.
post #15 of 34
At this point, we don't send money on a regular basis because we just don't have it. We moved to the US a few months ago for DH to start grad school. He's a full time student and hasn't been able to find part time work yet. I'm 9 months pregnant with our first child and working part time. I'm on medicaid and WIC - we're thrilled about this child but the pregnancy wasn't planned - I was planning to work full time when we moved to the US. We weren't sure if we would still be able to afford grad school but decided it was worth living on an extremely tight budget for 2 years.
I wish we had money to send, and I'll be happy when we are financially able to send some support.
However, the attitude that we're rich because we're in the US drives me CRAZY. I don't think his family realizes how tight things are for us right now, and then I feel like they resent us because we don't help out. They are always telling us how hard things are, and I know DH feels guilty that we can't help out. I just wish they could understand that we are not being selfish but that we are genuinely struggling ourselves.
post #16 of 34
When I was a child, I kind of noticed the same attitude from my mother's aunts and cousins in Japan. Mind you, my grandmother's family back in Japan is pretty well off. There was always an expectation for my grandmother to send relatively lavish gifts to her nieces and nephews, and every time a family member would visit from Japan, Grandma and Grandpa would put them up in a hotel and literally spend a couple of thousand dollars taking them sightseeing.

Granted, at the time it wasn't too much of a stretch financially for Grandma, but as a teenager, the attitude of entitlement from Mom's cousins and their kids really bugged me.
post #17 of 34
Thread Starter 
it is really helpful to hear how other mamas are dealing with this and other perspectives very different from my own.

i'm trying to look on the bright side, which is that this most recent request for
money has kinda forced DH and I to have a real discussion. since i am in charge of our budgeting i showed him where the money is going every paycheck and how it is just IMPOSSIBLE to come up with several grand in cash when a relative asks for it out of the blue. based on what some PP have written, i wanted to make sure he knows that i DO support sending money...when we PLAN for it...so now we (or realistically, ME, since i do all the financial stuff) are going to set aside a little bit from every paycheck to go for his parents.
post #18 of 34
We sent money whenever we can. Dh's family is in Ethiopia and they are truly needy. I have to say, he has been a little frustrated that his older brother (the oldest son) hasn't done much for the family, even though he has a steady government job.

The biggest problem is, there is no way to send enough for them to save into the future. The concept of saving just isn't there, and banking is difficult, awkward, and unfortunately corrupt at times. Also, bankers and the government do not look kindly on poor people bringing in a ton of money to put into an account, and when dh did financial stuff for missionaries, he was always at risk of being arrested if he was found with the salary money they gave for him to distribute. So it's complicated.

However, I have tried never to complain about what we send because they are truly worse of than we will ever be. When dh was working his factory job, we agreed that any overtime money he wanted coudl be saved up and sent over. He never let us go hungry and often dipped into that overtime money to cover our own needs, so I could hardly resent him. Now that we have a very nice amount of savings in the bank, we send larger chunks over at certain times, or when we hear that they have needs.

We have not been troubled with friends and extended family asking for money. Partly I think that must be because anyone who knows dh well knows that he is not easily moved. Also, if someone writes who he doesn't know (his sister's highschool teacher, for instance), he usually doesn't even respond, because he generally intuits that the intent is not to help his family, but to see if they can tap a "rich American" for some money. :
post #19 of 34
With regard to the "rich Americans" attitude, I tend to think of it in the context of for how long and how hard America (at large, not any one of us personally) has tried to project itself throughout the world as the land of prosperity, the land of opportunity, the place where anyone who works hard enough can make it big, etc, etc, etc. While relatives should listen when they are told there just isn't as much extra as they want or need, they are certainly not trying to be obtuse ... they're just trying to process the difference between our words and what America has had to say about itself. Given the longstanding projection of this being a land of the fulfillment of dreams, it can be kind of like watching a relative win the lottery and then tell you they're sorry but they can't spare more than a dime. It might well be true. But it's still tough to imagine.
post #20 of 34
I think I'm in with patty_g. You just *get* it, don't you?
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