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Do I really need to tell my family that I'm poor (and why can't they figure it out themselves!)

(29 Posts)
windygallows Sun 24-Jul-16 16:41:29

I've been a single parent to two DCs for the last 3 years and work FT. My lifestyle was obviously a lot better when I was with ex-DP although we were never rich. Now things are really tight - covering all expenses plus mortgage and FT daycare for youngest DC is tough. I get by but there's little left for luxuries, holidays etc and I spend free time selling stuff on ebay just to make a little money.

Parents (and their respective spouses) both retired and very very well off. Since the breakup they've not asked how I am and just don't consider the fact that I may be struggling financially. For instance they booked a family holiday last year and assumed we'd come along - it took me a year to save up for plane tickets for all three of us. I just don't think I can afford it next year but am too embarrassed to tell them.

It's even small things like the fact that my father lives about 2 hours drive away and always expects us to visit them - even that can be expensive with the costs of travel to and parking in London. It sounds crazy but when you have limited disposable money it's hard to spare the 100 pounds for one day out.

I suppose when you've always been well off (as they have been for many years) it blinds you to money problems in general but it's driving me crazy that they never think that I might be struggling. They don't ask/check and they just assume I can afford things which I just no longer can. It makes me sad too that they don't have the capacity for empathy in this area.

Do I need to me more overt in telling them I can't afford things? I'm embarrassed to have to explain but, I suppose, it's the only way they'll get it.

OurBlanche Sun 24-Jul-16 16:44:22

Say it out loud into empty rooms, then, when it sounds natural, say it out loud to them:

No! Sorry but I cannot afford to do that!

They really won't know unless you tell them. And it isn't something to be embarrassed about. You are living within your means, not rattling up debts!

BackforGood Sun 24-Jul-16 16:48:44

Not sure why you feel embarrassed. Its nothing to be ashamed of. Its also to be expected in the circumstances.
Just say to them - I can't actually afford to spend that on a holiday, all my wages go on mortgage, childcare and day to day living. I struggle to find the petrol and parking money to visit you even, so, no thanks, I won't be able to come on the holiday next year.

MrsHathaway Sun 24-Jul-16 16:50:00

If they're nice (and you haven't said they aren't) then you should be able to say "I can't afford that" or "why don't you come to us - I don't have enough in the budget for the petrol and parking" without needing to make a big thing of it.

And if you always do pony up then how would they know you're right up to the line?

That said, it's very easy when you've always had something to forget that not everybody has it - to use words like "when" not "if" about extravagant foreign holidays and new cars. They could do with a reminder.

Msqueen33 Sun 24-Jul-16 16:50:42

You've nothing to feel embarrassed about. Sounds like you're working really hard. Is the children's father contributing? I'd explain when things come up that you're not able to do that as you don't have the money and hopefully they'll understand and help you out. You're doing a fab job.

Eminado Sun 24-Jul-16 16:51:28

What Backforgood said is perfect.

And never be ashamed for living an honest self sufficient life and living within your means.


TheSilveryPussycat Sun 24-Jul-16 16:54:36

Depending on how well off they are, and what their future wishes are, it might be that they would be best advised to take advice re IHT mitigation.

For example, I know someone whose DF gives them £3K a year. They are an only child, and this is the annual Capital Exemption for Inheritance Tax (IHT). My friend had to approach his DF to suggest this, which was tricky. If my friends DF dies within 7 years and IHT rules remain the same, this will save 40% of £3K = £1,200 in IHT for each year that his DF has done this, in the previous 7 years. The exact details vary with how much money is involved, so professional advice is best.

If similar might apply, then being straightforward about your own finances might open the gates to further discussion on these issue - I mean, what their wills state, for example.

windygallows Sun 24-Jul-16 17:17:55

Thanks for all your advice. I do really need to say something so just need to be honest. And I may one day bring up the option to explore funds in lieu of IHT.

It's just quite tricky as my dad can sometimes be very vocal about money and his 'net worth'. He's a lovely person and self made, and currently invested in lots of companies so sometimes he'll gloat about how well his investments are doing. He can be more than a little gauche and insensitive but I accept that he probably doesn't have anyone else to share this with except family so we put up with it.

So when he talks about his millions I just stare into my glass and wonder how my stuff is selling on ebay! Sigh!

Finola1step Sun 24-Jul-16 17:22:32

I'd tell them straight. "Sorry Pops, won't be able to make it up to London until Christmas as there's very little wriggle room in the budget. You are of course more than welcome to visit us. When shall we book that in?"

Creatureofthenight Sun 24-Jul-16 17:27:10

You should not feel embarrassed to tell them you can't afford plane tickets or anything else. Ideally it might have occurred to them to offer a helping hand! But it could be you're managing so well that they have no idea that your budget is tight. Just be honest.

bloomburger Sun 24-Jul-16 18:01:19

I think myself and DH would actually feel quite upset if we were your parents that you were struggling and didn't tell us. Especially if, as with the plane tickets, we'd made your struggle worse.

Just tell them.

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Sun 24-Jul-16 18:05:08

"Say it out loud into empty rooms, then, when it sounds natural, say it out loud to them:"

"No! Sorry but I cannot afford to do that!"

Yep, and once you've got that covered add on "I don't think you realise quite how close to the wire my finances are these days."

No, there's nothing to be ashamed of in having a tight budget. And there's plenty to be proud of in managing to live according to your means.

If your parents are kind and decent people I expect they'd be mortified to think they may have encouraged you to spend money you couldn't have easily afforded.

Lindy2 Sun 24-Jul-16 18:09:54

Be honest with them. They probably assume all is fine unless you let them know.

MatildaTheCat Sun 24-Jul-16 18:14:54

OP, I have a very wealthy brother and he just doesn't get it that some things are beyond the budget of others. He's very generous but for example, a couple of years ago he rented a fabulous holiday house for all of us ( big family) and paid for meals etc. It still cost us quite a lot in fares and other expenses but was wonderful. Now he's talking about doing something equally lovely next year but is suggesting that everyone contributes half...well it's simply not possible for some of us. I also haven't had that conversation but I need to.

In your example just saying that since your separation things have been very tight so sorry but no. They can come to you and fingers crossed invite you on holiday as well.

Sgoinneal Sun 24-Jul-16 18:27:59

I suspect they've no idea - definitely tell them. You're doing really well to manage as you are, hats off.

jelliebelly Sun 24-Jul-16 18:31:57

They clearly have no idea and would probably be mortified if you told them. Honesty is the best policy here - they may be glad to help you out - I suspect they are oblivious to the amount you earn and the costs of childcare in particular.

Two4601 Sun 24-Jul-16 18:53:57

It is hard and it is exactly where I was a few years ago. You are doing everything alone and the children are so small. It does get easier. When the children get older and the childcare costs reduce it won't be so hard to make ends meet.

CatsGoPurrrr Sun 24-Jul-16 18:54:11

Aw Windy, I know how you feel.

I'm in the same situation with my family. My mum asks what I do with my 'spare money'. Spare money?! I would love spare money.

I'm upfront about saying I can't afford things. They don't 'get' it, but that's their problem.

It really isn't anything to be ashamed of.

Jayfee Sun 24-Jul-16 19:51:49

Assuming ex dp pays support, your parents are probably assuming everything is ok financially? They would definitely want to help.

throwingpebbles Sun 24-Jul-16 20:05:40

You do need to say, if they don't know they might just be oblivious.

I've been a similar situation, working my socks off and budgeting every last penny. My (fairly wealthy) parents knew and helped out a bit - I'm too proud to let them help much, but they would show up with some food shopping and buy a takeaway, and when I travelled to them my dad would shove cash in my hand for the petrol and insist I took it. They also replaced the various things (bikes, scooters, coat and wellies) that nobhead ex took and refused to return angry

I don't think it would have occurred to them I was struggling if I hadn't said something, the world they live in "scrimping" means moving their yacht to a slightly cheaper mooring grin

KramerVSKramer Sun 24-Jul-16 20:08:24

Yes we are in a similar position with a set of parents and an uncle. They even had us paying for our meals at a family gathering when they paid for all other siblings' food because they have wrongly assumed we are comfortable. The ones living at home still who splash their cash on cars, bikes and holidays get everything paid for where as my wife gets nothing.

My uncle, despite having huge cash reserves, a healthy pension, share portfolio and numerous other investments can't even bring himself to contribute towards Christmas even after everyone else buys him gifts and feeds him.

They sound out of touch and so do yours.

windygallows Sun 24-Jul-16 20:27:59

Sorry to hear you're in a similar position, Cats, Throwing and Kramer.

I think if it's exacerbated by the fact that my parents have not come to visit me in 3 years (!) ever despite being invited. (Another issue - but very upsetting). If they did they'd see that the area I live in isn't quite South Kensington. So I think because they've never seen my set up and live in a world where most people are like them, it's hard for them to conceptualize the frugal world I (and the majority of people live in).

I need to be more honest with them, even if they find it crass!

candykane25 Sun 24-Jul-16 20:38:27

I say I can't afford it or we can't afford it. After bills are paid we don't have a lot of disposable income.

Life is much more expensive than it was.

My grandad has no idea how much things really cost. In his day he wasn't rich but could always afford holidays and so on.

If mortgages are paid off then it's easy to lose track of how expensive life is,

My DSis has a lot more minutes net than me and just forgets that we don't. They don't think anything of dropping a couple of grand on a piece of furniture whereas we get everything second hand. She'll get we get new Windows or new doors and it doesn't occur to her that would take us a long time to save up for so it's actually not a priority for us at all.

It doesn't bother me, I just respond with we don't have that kind of money and leave it at that.

OppositeOfGenius Sun 24-Jul-16 20:47:36

Could you invite them to yours then? If possible, just be really breezy - "oh sorry, the budget won't stretch to that. It would be lovely to see you though - how about you guys drive down here next Saturday? We can all go out to the park and have a lovely picnic."

AnnaMarlowe Sun 24-Jul-16 21:10:38

A person who regularly talks about his net worth can hardly accuse you of being crass!

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