Pay Dirt is Slate’s money advice column. I have a question? Send here to Athena and Elizabeth. (You are anonymous!)
Thanks to a string of good fortunes, I am much more financially stable than my older siblings and do not intend to have children.
So my siblings expect me to pay for everything when they go out and always give more to my nieces and nephews. It feels like a walking wallet. I am not asked anymore. They just hand me the bill or tell the kids, “Auntie will buy this and that.”
My sister-in-law and I are already obsessed with it because my nephew was mad at me for not buying me a random new video game. It wasn’t even his birthday. My sister-in-law accused me of holding my money over my head because they couldn’t afford this game and I could, and that I hurt his nephew’s heart. accused of being My sister “jokes” that she can’t afford to send her daughters to college, so I’m glad I’m an aunt. I feel so alienated from my family that the only reason I come here is to see my parents. What should we do about this dynamic?
— bag of money
who don’t value bags of money,
Of course you feel alienated. Your brothers seem to think of your money as money to do what they want.
It may be difficult (or very difficult) at first, but the key to keeping your family from taking advantage of you is to shut it down before it starts. how do i do this You have two options. First, call everyone at random and tell them you won’t pay their whimsical fees anymore. Alternatively, you can set an example by practicing clear communication and boundaries whenever you’re together.
Next time you are invited to dinner, please drive yourself. Make sure the server knows you’re in a separate tab away from everyone else before everyone orders. If they ask why (because you will), mention that you are currently working on various financial priorities and can’t keep everyone afloat for the time being. If they make a ruckus, suggest going to dinner somewhere else within your budget. If they continue, get up and leave.
If your sister-in-law tries to make you pay for your kids’ groceries, remember that it’s not your job and walk away. The next time your sister talks about college, end the conversation by reminding her that there are other sources of funding for her daughter to attend school. This dynamic did not develop overnight, nor will new boundaries ever be constructed. Remember, buying video games for your nephew is nobody’s job but his parents. It’s up to you to decide what you do with your money.
Further advice from Slate
I am a sentimental pack rat. Nothing comes close to hoarding levels and nothing that gives me or anyone else serious concern. You can remove things when you need them. I don’t like throwing away birthday cards or little trinkets from old friends. As a matter of fact, I have a young daughter now. And one day, she will paint a picture. And take school papers home. Then cover the piece of paper with the sticker. And making flimsy arts and crafts projects.