Interfamily financial friction

by Anonymous

This CollegeConfidential post must have hit a nerve because it generated so many comments.

Is this “greedy”? Really?

FIL passed away recently. FIL (and the sons) were terrible about money in the sense that they were always throwing wads of money at each other. “Here let me pay for that. No really I INSIST.” “No really WE INSIST.” Yada, yada.

Typical situation: When everyone was returning to base for the funeral week, SIL spent $200 to stock up the MIL/FIL house with food for the incoming hoard (it was empty for the season when they winter over in the south). H gave SIL $100 because MONEY. Not sure why it was our responsibility to pay for stocking the house (there are 5 siblings) since we live in the same place and were not the ones eating all that food, but that’s how it is. We’re wealthy – it’s not like it matters.

So people were spending hither and yon, and H and I had a discussion about whether everyone was going to keep track and start billing each other. We agreed that since MIL is not poor in any sense of the word, and all this tracking and billing would be a PITA (and why?), we would generally have MIL pay for her own expenditures as we went along.

Since she has a hard time getting around, one of the things I am trying to do now is pick up things at the market once a week or when I happen to be going I ask if she needs something. I get a separate bill and have them bagged separately and she reimburses me when I take them in. Tonight, I picked up a few things she asked for and made dinner at her house as well. H showed up and tried to waive off the $10 for her groceries. I took the money because that was the plan. Now he is having fits and says I’m just greedy. I basically told him to pound salt.

The initial comments indicate some readers believe other issues besides money are at play here.  But isn’t that usually the case?  Money can represent so many things — love, prestige, self-worth, independence, etc.

Misunderstandings can easily occur.  I was recently surprised when a relative insisted on compensating me for my Uber expenses after I did her a favor.  At first I was a bit surprised, as if she considered it a financial transaction instead of a favor.  Then I realized that she just viewed these types of things differently and did not want to burden me financially.  And I made a mental note that she would probably expect to be compensated if I asked her for a similar favor.

How does your family operate?  Do they “nickel and dime” expenses among each other?  Or do they tend to be more casual?  How are restaurant bills split?  Have you had major (or minor) disagreements?  Financial dealings between parents and their children can be particularly touchy.  Part of what makes these types of dealings potentially more complicated are discrepancies between family members’ wealth.  But even when everyone is in a similar financial position, misunderstandings can occur.

Have you ever borrowed or lent money to family?  How did that turn out?l

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204 thoughts on “Interfamily financial friction

  1. That’s a bit ridiculous, its just $10 and that is his mother. I don’t agree with nickel and diming everything. If it was a huge amount like thousands, I understand. her MIL is old, going through a hard time, I agree with her husband, she is greedy

  2. So interesting. Every family operates differently. I have realized after being exposed to others, that my family is generally pretty stingy. My mother in law’s family is generous. The idea that my parents would ever buy the groceries when they were in town was laughable – you might be lucky for them to offer to pick up a meal but my husband expected it from his mother and she would be offended if she was not offered the opportunity. When my children are grown and have kids (god-willing!), I want to be the generous type, including sponsoring beach trips and vacations for the kids and grandkids and certainly buying them groceries without expecting $10 back for their share.

  3. We’re wealthy – it’s not like it matters… I get a separate bill and have them bagged separately and she reimburses me when I take them in.

    I want to punch her so fucking hard.

  4. My take is that it is important to the MIL that she pays for her own stuff and the DIL is trying to respect that desire. We have this dynamic with my dad and MIL. We cover plenty of expenses when they aren’t paying attention but if my dad insists on reimbursing me I will take it even though we are wealthy and he is decidedly not.

  5. Especially when Mr WCE and I were young and starting out, this was awkward on a few occasions when we were at restaurants that were not in our budget trying to “have family time” with his grandma, dad and uncles. I expected to pay and was frustrated at the cost of what they chose; culturally, his uncles competed to pay the bill. At my Dad’s wedding, my uncle ended up paying the bill for everyone when we went out, even though we all expected to pay. I think he knows one of my brothers is on a tight budget and the original plan was to eat reception leftovers, of which there were not enough.

    Mr WCE and I have parents who can easily afford groceries, but some of my friends are careful to always take more than they eat when they visit their parents, so that their visits are a net restocking.

    If everyone is financially comfortable, I don’t understand why they want to hassle over $10 grocery expenditures.

  6. I don’t think it’s a problem or that she’s greedy. I think that MIL paying for the groceries is in some ways a way of retaining her dignity and independence.

    It doesn’t always make sense mathematically. Like sometimes DW’s mom will be shopping and pick up a few things for us, and when I’m reimbursing her, she’ll look at the receipt and figure out nearly the precise amount that I’ll PayPal them. OTOH, on Christmas Eve morning, FIL and I were out running errands, including picking up the ham and a bunch of sides that I naturally paid for since we were hosting, but when we were later checking out at Walmart, which included groceries for dinner and the next day, and also a lot of other things, he insisted on running his credit card through the scanner since I’d already spent a bunch. It works out.

    Also, if we’re at a restaurant with them, we’ll usually split the check (50/50, which means they end up paying for 1.5 kids, but they also tend to order more alcohol), but if we’re somewhere with us AND my BIL and SIL, then FIL always pays. Why?? Same thing if we do anything together, like when all nine of us went to Busch Gardens after Christmas.

    Separately, BIL had mentioned something in passing to DW (his sister), about “Mom and Dad” (their parents) “taking” the five of us — my family — to Disney World. DW felt compelled to set the record straight that we paid our share for everything, which apparently was a surprise to BIL.

  7. Scarlett,

    I quoted it.

    Sorry, that was my Y chromosome talking. I find it a huge difference between men and women. If a bunch of guys goes out together and they will either fight over the check or they will just toss their cards in. If someone had two beers and someone else had 6 cocktails, app, entree and desert, it’s all good. You never ever question it. But women, well, I only had a salad and she had a salad and a glass of wine so she needs to put in 22.52… Grrr, makes me all stabby it do.

  8. I was on a call and may have misread the OP. Upon further review both the DIL and the MIL deserve to be punched. Life is way too short to be worrying about this sort of nonsense especially if you have money.

  9. “My take is that it is important to the MIL that she pays for her own stuff and the DIL is trying to respect that desire”

    That’s how I saw it.

    “Life is way too short to be worrying about this sort of nonsense especially if you have money.”

    So then the question I’d have is how big would the bill have to be before you begin to worry about it. That’s so particular to an individual’s perspective (and their budget!). Let’s say this happens a few times a week, sometimes $20, sometimes $40, and so on. If it’s coming out to equal $300-400 a month, does that make a difference?

  10. This reminds me of a situation my parents were in with their elderly neighbor, a retired pastor’s wife with very little money. My Dad mowed her lawn and my Mom bought groceries for her, and in her mind, an occasional $20 more than covered a few items at the grocery store. She eventually moved in with her son, and her son realized how much my parents had been subsidizing her groceries, gas for the lawnmower, etc. and sent them a check for $1000 and an acknowledgment that he had no idea how much they had spent, but it was clearly at least $1000 over time.

  11. I agree that splitting a restaurant bill equally makes sense most of the time, but then I hear complaints from people on tighter budgets that they can’t afford to go out very often with some friends or relatives who eat and drink much more and still want to split the bill equally.

  12. Rhett – We had one guy in the wardroom, who happened to be one of my closer friends (and was one of the very few who didn’t flake last summer and actually flew down for my lake reunion) who was *always* the guy who had to pick apart and itemize the check. He did this all over Italy, Bahrain, and Spain. It was a running joke. He’s a born-and-bred thrifty New Englander type who early on was sowing his Millionaire Next Door seeds, and he’s made himself into a small time real estate baron. Lives right near you, too, on Beacon Hill.

    I thought of something else. When my grandmother died last Fall, there were varied beliefs in my dad’s family about whether (adult) grandchildren would be expected to attend the funeral. My parents didn’t think it was necessary, but DW is always eager for an excuse to get away, so she and I planned on going. My dad’s very traditional brother thought not only was it expected, but the estate of the deceased should traditionally be raided to pay for everyone’s airline tickets. So his four kids, two of their four spouses, and maybe half of their 14 grandchildren all booked flights, cars, and hotels. This uncle is also the executor of the (very minimal) estate.

    My gay uncle, who was the main caregiver and affairs manager for years, reacted, according to my dad, like “WTF, Chuck?!?” So there was some friction there, and I think to keep the peace, my uncle decided to pay for all his kids’ and grandkids’ travel himself, out of pocket. Hearing this, my Dad told DW and me that he’d reimburse us for our travel, to which I said “sounds great!” but he apparently forgot about it.

    We invited them out to lunch recently when we were in the area, and DW ended up grabbing the check when it arrived, which my dad felt guilty about, and I said “We’ll get it. You’re on a fixed income now.”

  13. With married DS, I try to honor his desire to be the provider by not buying “necessities” for his kids. So I wouldn’t buy a winter coat for the toddler but don’t hesitate to buy toys and books that they can keep at our house or take home. Money is fungible of course but the symbolism is important.

  14. If it’s coming out to equal $300-400 a month, does that make a difference?

    If the MIL is poor then no it doesn’t make a difference. If she has money then she better be taking the family on a cruise, paying for the summer beach house rental, etc.

  15. “You never ever question it.” Agreed.

    Both of our sets of parents have plenty of $$ and they share it generously with all their kids and grandkids both during visits and just because.

    DW picked up a few Christmas gifts for our kids from her parents at her mom’s request; it amounted to maybe $150 total. Her mother expected to pay DW back (even though the amount of cash gifts received from her far exceeds that $150). Everyone agrees that’s the right thing to do.

    As to our kids, all 22 and younger, all are still on the dole. But oldest definitely wants to be free of the shackles that come with taking the money, so gradually, not glacially, funding is going away. In a surprise, he came home this past weekend. He had to work till 10pm Friday so he drove a couple of hours, checked into a motel, drove the rest of the way in the morning (vs trying to do it all in one shot and arriving at 3 or 4 am). We paid the lodging, since we fairly insisted he break the trip. We also paid the gas…our choice totally. IOW, keeping him cost-neutral for coming home so that’s never the barrier. At some point he’ll just tell us he’s a big boy and can handle those things in his budget.

    I agree with the comments supporting the mother paying her $10 for groceries. It’s an independence, not a financial, thing.

  16. My in-laws insist on paying for everything – from me ordering something to support niece’s school (it was $20… seriously I could have handled that), to dinners out. FIL and I have a good-natured war on who pays for dinner… he came to RI to help DH with some home/car maintenance issues that cropped up last year. I paid for dinner because FIL worked all weekend. FIL gave me the stink eye. I promised him he could grab the check next time. I think they want to pay because (1) they can for the most part and (2) they like to “be there” for their kids. They also spoil my son so I really don’t complain. I guarantee you my MIL will show up at my house next week with money for lunch/dinner even though I invited them.

    This is not what I’m used to from my family. But I accept that they are different and I move on. It frees up money to support my parents when the time comes.

  17. The story in the OP reminds me of my mom and her mom. If my gram wanted something and mom picked it up, gram paid for it because she felt she needed to. My aunt and gram had the same relationship. I don’t see it as greed, just “that’s how things are”…

  18. keeping him cost-neutral for coming home so that’s never the barrier.

    My parents always paid for my travel home, and paid for DH’s travel with me after we got married. I plan to continue to pay for DSS and DIL to come see us. I figure it’s bad enough having to waste vacation days visiting your parents; paying for it is adding insult to injury.

  19. RMS – agreed. My parents have a vacation home in a lovely location (aesthetically) but it is like a full travel day with either expensive flights or flying and then a long drive. If someone is paying for my flight, I would think about whether I use precious vacation days to get there. It is also far enough away that I think about staying longer but then realize dad will drive me crazy in three days….

  20. Rocky,
    agree completely. But, IMO, it has to be done kinda ex post. As in after the decision has already been made if not the tickets paid for. Otherwise it just seems like a bribe (which at least in part it is) to come see us. But if the transfer is made after he/they incur the cost, it’s just a gift. And of course if it ever were “I really want to come see you guys, but I can’t afford it…” then we’d just pay up front.

  21. We do more of the rough justice approach in both my family and my husband’s family — no precise tallies, but everyone trying to put in their share somewhere in terms of buying groceries / cooking / picking up the check. But I would also say that if we’re talking about just one dinner out with my parents / in-laws plus some combination of their adult children and grandchildren, my father / FIL will always want to grab the check. Also, I’d say there’s an expectation that college or grad student family members will not be taking a turn to pay.

    Paying for others’ travel is not a thing that happens in our family.

  22. My inlaws since they moved here have never paid for anything. They sold a condo in the home country and FIL has been banking his pension every month for the past 11 years. They expect every expense to be taken care of by their kids. FIL controls the money and the only money they have taken out is for small gifts for significant life events for their grandkids. There is no offer from them to pay for anything. They are extremely frugal so anything you buy them is worn till it is torn.
    They are totally different from my immediate and extended family where who paid for what discussions were amicable and people took turns volunteering.

  23. They sold a condo in the home country and FIL has been banking his pension every month for the past 11 years. They expect every expense to be taken care of by their kids.

    Bless his heart.

  24. “Both of our sets of parents have plenty of $$ and they share it generously with all their kids and grandkids both during visits and just because.”

    For the most part, this is how it is for us, and it is appreciated, but not needed. There has been very little conflict over $$ with either of our parents. His parents tend to always pay for everything, whereas when we spend a vacation/weekend with my parents, we tend to pick up the check here & there as a token gesture (and they let us). But besides that – it’s pretty similar.

    It is more with the siblings that things can get sticky. A few years ago, my parents rented a beach house & paid for everyone’s travel to get there including the grandkids. The siblings were supposed to buy groceries for breakfast/lunches/snacks. We also decided to handle a couple of dinners each. Brother 1 & I spent a few hundred each on grocery & supply runs (things like sunscreen and additional beach chairs). Brother 2 spent absolutely nothing, but had no problem requesting special items & snacks for others to get for him.. Brother 2 also sat around on his iPad while B1, his wife, DH & I cooked/cleaned so that our mom & dad could relax. I was IRATE, but chose not to confront him to keep the peace. Brother 1 did the same as I found out when we discussed it later. I probably should have said something. I was going to discuss with him in advance when my parents did this last summer, but then Brother 2 had a work issue & couldn’t make it.

    We’ve had squabbles with DH’s siblings as well, but I don’t get as personally worked up about those.

    My parents generally pay for our hotel when we visit to it, but if they don’t get around to it, I never ask for it. I would never think to contribute grocery money when we visit their house, and I imagine that they would be offended if I offered.

    I am an even bill-spiltter in most situations, but I do try to be sensitive if someone is in a significantly different financial position or ate/drank much less than the others. It seemed to be more of a thing when we were all in our 20’s than now.

  25. Since both sets of parents are retired, we pick up the check every time. Since DH supports his parents financially (80%), any gifts from them or offers to pay are mere formality though they like to pretend otherwise.
    Unlike Rhett’s assertion about men, DH does care about splitting checks when we go out with certain set of friends. But honestly, these particular people will consume more than three times of what we consume, often ordering excessive amounts of alcohol. Not to mention their kids ordering half the menu which they wont even eat.
    Another particular friend is known to be super super cheap and we and other friends end up complaining amongst ourselves.

  26. Hard to tell from the article. I would never give someone a receipt for that amount (and wouldn’t give my parents or in-laws receipts for any amount, generally speaking) but if someone insists on paying me back, I don’t argue.

    My parents are spectacularly generous and would prohibit their kids/grandkids from paying for anything if they had their way. But my sibs and I and our spouses have figured out ways to pay, and when we do, my parents will protest and then just thank us and move on. Between siblings, we never have issues.

    With friends, we split the check. For years, DH insisted on getting all checks but he’s finally able to stand splitting it. So funny. And the guy will tip an astronomical amount if left to his own devices.

    When our kids are grown, we will be like my parents and never let them pay for anything. Now, I’m like Fred and will pay their costs to come home. I also pay all costs for them to visit any family – mine, DH’s or my ex’s – as I love that they do that and don’t want costs to ever prevent that.

  27. And the guy will tip an astronomical amount if left to his own devices.

    He’s a good man.

  28. In my family, I am the wealthy one and pick up as much as my mother (dad is deceased) will let me get away with…..including paying for trips, dinners out, theatre tickets, big ticket appliances (when necessary), phone and cable bill (started out as a “gift” and now years later just continues automatically), tons of extra food when I visit to deliberately stock up, gifts of house cleaning services, snow removal, etc. All to make her life easier (she is too frugal to pay for a house cleaner, but in her 80s too old to worry about cleaning a large multi story house). She had large medical expenses in the high 5 figures, even after insurance, that I happily picked up. I would not take grocery money from my mother, but she frequently tries to “do her part” and feels badly if I don’t let her occasionally pick up the dinner tab or buy something for my son.

    For my siblings, the wealth discrepancy definitely has its difficulties. Not only does my financial support of my mother remove that burden from them, but I have also provided “loans” of thousands of dollars—generally not paid back in full–multiple times for multiple siblings. I have the lake house and the ski condo and there is an open invitation for all siblings/spouses/nieces/nephews/significant others to come and stay. I have purchased a house for one sibling as he was losing it to foreclosure and his family has lived in it for over a decade since then (with the idea that he will buy it back from me when he is able). I have paid private school tuition for some of the nieces and nephews–both in high school and elementary school–where the situation warranted it. I have not paid for college tuition, but have been generous with random cash gifts for the college kids. I have gifted my used cars to all in turn. I have bought computers and iPhones and iPads for all in turn. So, all in all, I feel I have been generous and a financial safety net for all of my family.

    Nevertheless, not by my siblings themselves, but their spouses certainly can be envious and get really ticked off if I decline to fund a specific request. (For example, I have declined to pay for airline tickets for one family to take an overseas vacation and I have declined to pay for flight/tuition/fees for a summer enrichment program for one of my nieces (that I personally just thought was a joke) and my SIL still holds those decisions against me—despite being the beneficiary of many of the other gifts outlined above.)

    At the end of the day, I try to be generous and kind. I want my sibs to know they can come to me if they need support, but I don’t want to feel guilty for my financial success and I want to ensure that I can take care of the things that I value.

  29. “We’ve had squabbles with DH’s siblings as well, but I don’t get as personally worked up about those.”

    Do most people tend towards more squabbles with their own family of origin than with in-laws, or do you see your sibs as closer to your heart, making you willing to pick up tabs for them?

  30. Once we were out of school we made enough to travel to see our parents. These flights were international so not cheap but siblings took turns informally so there was hardly a year when our parents went without a visit.

  31. I have mentioned before I have an older sibling that flunked out of college. This sibling also had a hard time transitioning to being a financially independent adult. To this day, this sibling struggles with basic adulting (my favorite phrase).

    I think in reaction to that, my parents were super, super strict financially with me. Once I graduated from college, I was completely financially cut off. No help with anything, no money for graduate school, no money to travel to see them (even in the years they lived across the country), and at dinners out they would announce ahead of time to the waiter we would need separate checks (them/DH & me).

    Now that I’m a parent myself, I have come to believe they did it out of desperation – they wanted to force me to stand on my own two feet and not follow the path of my older sibling. But, as these things go, I am the driven and independent child. I would have been independent even without them pushing so hard, and all it did was hurt our relationship for a long time.

    Ironically, as soon as I was totally financially independent (out of grad school, owning a house, steady income), my parents became almost too generous. They want to pay for everything now – all dinners, random gifts, etc.. When we bought our beach house, they insisted on helping us with some new furniture for it. Every once in a while, my mother will slip me $1000 and tell me not to tell my dad.

    I accept these acts of generosity, because I think they are trying to make up (in their minds) for how strict they were when I was in my 20’s. I’ve had to personally work very hard to get over some resentment over all of it – $300 when my car broke down when I was 24 would have felt life-saving, whereas the money now makes little difference.

  32. MIL has a $1M trust fund but comes from a working class background. On our last visit, we discussed with local BILL the status of a kitchen floor project. “Oh, it will take more than a month to get that done.” The kitchen is galley sized and the new tile already chosen. So then it was clear that BIL, who cobbles together several part time music gigs, is planning to install the floor himself when he has free time, even though a phone call could give MIL a new floor that would make her ridiculously happy in a week and spare him from potential injury to his playing hand. It makes no sense but not my problem so I say nothing.

  33. “Do most people tend towards more squabbles with their own family of origin than with in-laws, or do you see your sibs as closer to your heart, making you willing to pick up tabs for them?”

    For me, the former. With the IL’s, I am able to be more rational I think.

    DH & I have both said that we will NEVER loan money to any of our siblings. We’ll see. There are a couple between us that are not good with money.

  34. In my family, the older generation always pays. My grandfather always paid, now my dad always pays. When we get together with my brother’s family, we just split things however it seems reasonable.

    DW’s family definitely has a mindset that the hosts pay for everything. Whenever they visit us, we pay for all the groceries. When we visit them, it’s similar. If we go out, we divide things by how much people spent.

  35. DH & I have both said that we will NEVER loan money to any of our siblings.

    Give? Sure. Loan? Never,. You’re never getting it back anyway so why go through the motions of lending when it’s really a gift?

    Grrr, this post is hitting all my hot button issues.

  36. So I have a non-family money situation but it is on topic and I need advice, so here goes.

    DS’s best friend has a single mom and money is tight. Last summer I arranged and paid for summer camp for both of them, but I did not want to let the mom know I paid and so had the school offer the camp to Friend through an anonymous scholarship.

    I drove both of them to camp and watched Friend as needed until his mom was done with work.

    This year the friendship is strained for unrelated reasons, and DS wants to go to a much more expensive camp this summer without Friend.

    There are a few problems: (a) the expensive camp’s schedule would involve a lot of time watching Friend if I sent them both, which I don’t want to do because of the cost and time and DS’s reluctance, (b) the school will not help me by offering a camp scholarship anonymously even though I am willing to pay for a less expensive camp with a longer day (I already asked), and (c) I don’t want to offer to pay for a camp directly, especially when I am sending DS somewhere “better.”

    My main concerns are that Friend’s mom will not make an alternate plan for the summer and will simply send Friend to my house whether DS is around and wants to play or not, or that Friend will spend the summer sitting in an office because there is not enough money for any camp.

    Suggestions?

  37. Give? Sure. Loan? Never,. You’re never getting it back anyway so why go through the motions of lending when it’s really a gift?

    Yeah, this is absolutely correct. I take that same approach with friends, too. Either give it or don’t.

  38. Temp Anon,

    How strained is the friendship, and is this a boy you think of as like family (maybe a nephew) even apart from his relationship with your son?

    And, how old are the boys?

  39. Our parents (both DH’s and mine) take more of the rough justice approach while paying for a lot of things. They would never allow us to pay for dinner if we went out to eat when we were just starting out/in grad school/etc., but now sometimes they do. My parents will also always go out to the grocery store when they visit and buy things.

    DH’s parents have paid for us and BIL’s family to go on vacation for the past few years, but after the first year we have been quietly reimbursing them for part of our share. We are better-off than BIL and his family, and the quiet method of payback works better than trying to discuss it and hammer it out, etc.

    I do have a sore spot with my parents’ summer place and one of my siblings. They and spouse are ALWAYS there for the whole summer since they work for themselves and can do it, which means that we always have to go around their schedule when our family comes and we don’t get any time there by ourselves, whereas they get maybe 6 weeks there by themselves or with my parents when we are not there. Grrrrrrr.

  40. When we visit our siblings we offer to pay for joint outings, dinners etc so that the host family is not on the hook for everything. If we go to the grocery store while we are there to help
    them restock a few things we pay for that. All of us are financially comfortable so it hasn’t been an issue.

  41. @ Anon, I mean this with kindness, because you are clearly a kind and generous person. But you have a made-up problem. That was so generous of you to do that last summer. However, what Friend does this summer is not your problem. If he has to spend the summer sitting in his mom’s office, so be it. If Friend gets sent to your house, send him home. Stop agonizing. You have your child to raise, she has hers. Amazing that it all fell into place last summer, but you have no further obligations.

  42. For once, DH’s entire family was united in not bailing out his Idiot Niece (hereinafter IN). Usually either we, or his parents, or his competent sister, will bail out Incompetent Sister’s children. This time we’re all really fed up. IN is 39 and should know better, and no one is thrilled about the way she just ditched her kids to run off with the high school boyfriend. Incompetent Sister wrote IN a long email about why no one was bailing her out. IN is pretty mad, but tough tacos. Don’t sell meth, you moron. I don’t know if we’ll pay for the lawyer. We paid for the Idiot Nephew’s lawyer when he was busted for selling pot, but he was much younger. IN is arguing that it’s only fair that we pay for her lawyer too.

  43. Anon – I’ll address the last part at least. You do not have to allow Friend to just hang out at your house all day when your son is away at camp. If your son is around and does not want to play with Friend, depending on their ages that’s between them. (Realizing you don’t need friend’s mom calling you saying your son is being mean to her kid.) And, while kind of you, if the friend ends up in his mom’s office a lot during the summer he can still read, play computer games, do Kahn Academy, right? If you want to take on that project, that’s generous of you, but not required. And you certainly have no obligation to fund the more expensive camp.

  44. The children are in third grade. Sometimes they get along for half an hour or an hour at a time, but the other child is much larger than DS and a dominant personality.

    I feel very responsible for the child – his father died and they need help. But part of the reason I don’t want to watch him is that he cannot safely be left alone with my younger children; he fought with one over a toy and left a large cut and bruise.

  45. Louise, given your in-laws’ belief that it’s up to their children to support them, do your husband’s sibs chip in toward that support, or do you and your husband end up basically covering it all since they’re living with you?

  46. “IN is arguing that it’s only fair that we pay for her lawyer too”

    Things like this can become a problem when gifting money to certain relatives but not to others. The ones who don’t get the money feel miffed even though the donor feels he has good reasons for his decisions.

    I lent some money to a relative and deeply regret I didn’t make it a gift. So far I have not seen a dime paid back, and it makes things awkward.

  47. Temp Anon, in that case I’d say that spending a boring summer hanging around Mom’s office isn’t the end of the world. And if the school doesn’t want to support a special anonymous camp scholarship for one specific child, perhaps the APT would be willing to instead support a camp scholarship fund to assist children with financial need whose parents’ work/school schedule is such that a day camp is needed.

  48. “I do have a sore spot with my parents’ summer place and one of my siblings. They and spouse are ALWAYS there for the whole summer … which means that we always have to go around their schedule when our family comes and we don’t get any time there by ourselves”

    Are you my wife?

    This is exactly what happens with their family beach house (technically the 3 daughters own it, but my inlaws built it, fund the household, etc). DW hates it, but she loves going to the town so much. She’d hate to pay for rental digs when staying in the family place is “free”. Other than that, everyone including the grandkids/cousins get along great. Me? Go with the flow, listen to DW complain and after a while ask her if there’s anything she really wants to do/say about it.

  49. Rhett: We always frame the exchange as a “loan” to allow sib to feel ok about taking the money. The intent on their side is always to pay it back, but they rarely can.

  50. I never understand why splitting the bill is an issue. You either get separate checks or decide that either everyone gives $3 or $4 dollars in a higher tax city (to cover taxes and tip) for every 10 spent and always round up (if your meal was 22 dollars you’re throwing in $10.50 or $12) , which is stated at the beginning. This way the server doesn’t get screwed over or result in one friend being resentful in covering for others. It isn’t fair that the vegetarian or non drinker pays for the steak eater or $20 specialty cocktail drinker. This works very well and generally once the money is counted up, there is always extra (even with a generous tip) and folks get back a couple of bucks. This is a much better situation then when I was in my early 20’s and the bill was always short and then have to say to friend X “oh you’re only giving a dollar for tax and tip on your $30 portion”.

    The problem is that people can’t seem to be direct about money so instead it becomes an issue when the bill arrives and resentments result. If you make more money and want to be generous to family/friends who have less money, make it clear at the invitation that you’re “inviting” them to dinner and cover the bill.

  51. Honolulu, there IS such a camp scholarship, there is just so much demand for it that this kid is not first in line.

    That’s why I’m annoyed the school won’t do it, but my annoyance is irrelevant.

    I was thinking of telling the mom that I may be going back to work (true but unlikely) and sending her a link to the camp to sign up, and offering to help pay if she needs it.

  52. Fred – when the property technically passes to us after the term of years, then I will insist that we have a co-owners’ agreement and everyone gets either 2 or 3 weeks per summer TO THEMSELVES and we have a lottery for dibs. This is always a problem I think, but since there are 3 of us, maybe 1 of us will buy the other 2 out when we are older.

  53. I have a cousin who is in an NP training program and was doing a rotation for a couple months near my parents’ weekend house. She’s been an occasional guest there for a weekend or so, but anticipating this relocation, she sent my mom some cryptic email that was essentially inviting herself to live there for the entire eight weeks or so, but not quite saying it 100%. My mom wrote something back like “looking forward to seeing you. when you get settled in to wherever you end up, let’s compare calendars and find a weekend that works for all of us.”

  54. Louise, I thought that might be the case but I’m sorry for your sake to have my suspicions confirmed. I hope your own children remember your good example when they’re grown and considering how much to prioritize time with family in their lives.

    Temp Anon, it seems like the problem is that this boy’s need is foremost in your mind because you know his situation better, but perhaps there are others with as much or greater need in the school. If the camp scholarship were better funded, perhaps it could cover more kids? In any case, I don’t think you need to keep paying for his summer activities just because you did it once, and it sounds like you’d be doing it more out of guilt than affection.

  55. Milo – yes, they run their own company (together) and can work from the vacation house all summer, so that’s what they do.

  56. L that is how the cottage with private beach rights that my MIL owns with her two siblings works. Unless explicitly invited, you do not show up, even just to the beach, during the other siblings’ weeks. It is just not done.

  57. It seems like the cold but rational thing to do would be to simply force the sale of these old beach houses upon inheritance rather than draw up all these time share schemes and lotteries with siblings…and then what? All the first cousins?

    If it’s a $750k cottage, would you ever voluntarily put in $250k to buy a place with your siblings?

  58. Rhett: We always frame the exchange as a “loan” to allow sib to feel ok about taking the money.

    The problem is human nature. If you give them $1000 and a year later call them and say you need help getting a piano out of the attic, they are going to feel more of an obligation to help you than if you lent them $1000 they had no intention of paying it back.

  59. Related to the OP – If I read it correctly, MIL and DIL live in the same town, other relatives do not. DIL is already shopping for MIL, taking groceries to her and sometimes cooking. It is not clear if MIL cannot shop on her own, how often these “small” purchases are made, how far MIL lives away, or how tight the DIL’s finances are. The “wealthy” comment I thought was meant to be sarcastic.. And, the decision was made that MIL would pay her own way rather than all the sibs aggregating and then splitting the costs.

    Therefore, I think DIL and MIL have a process/agreement in place and DIL was just following through. Sounds like the DH isn’t much involved in this caregiving, so it was easy for him to say – oh don’t worry about it.

    When I started doing more caregiving for my parents, I had one of their credit cards and just charged the stuff for them. Yes, there were times when I was picking up things for me and would remember she they needed one item and no I didn’t do a separate transaction.

    My family – My parents almost always paid if all of us when out, filled up my car with gas when I was driving them all over, and made sure they paid me for anything I picked up for them, but they had the ability to do so. My partner’s parents did not have the money. So, I would send pictures to be printed at the local Walgreens of their grandkids, but would prepay so they didn’t have to. We usually paid our own way when around them except for one meal they would treat us to and were cautious about how much we ate out of the pantry. We always stayed at hotels as their house was too small (plus hording).

    About splitting the check – I usually just split the check down the middle. However, I try to be aware of the other person/people’s situation. If I know I order more or more expensive things and they are needing to be more frugal, then I will make sure what I pay covers everything I ordered. Years ago, I was going through a divorce, had just moved out and had also changed jobs, so funds were tight. Second day on the job, we had an office lunch. I ordered very frugally to stay in my tight budget (my prior office everyone paid for what they ordered)/ But, then the bill was split evenly and my portion was almost 3 times the cost of what I had ordered. I paid and didn’t say anything, but I had several days before pay day that were ramen noodles for lunch and dinner.

  60. Milo – considering my mom is facing the exact situation you describe, I completely agree… 2 brothers begat 5 children (one of which is my mom)… F that. Have one branch buy the others out or sell outright and move on. And it’s better to do it sooner than generations later (if those 5 children begat 10 grandchildren) – more money to split. And the wars will come because not all children will hold an equal share…

    2 brothers… 1 has 2 children, 1 has 3. The 2 children each get 25% while the 3 each get 16.67%. The splits get worse with each additional generation…

  61. @Rhett – Yes I agree. Let me be more explicit. We have talked about never GIVING any money to our IS (Idiot Siblings). If there was a real issue with our nieces/nephews where we could help them directly because their parents did something stupid – potentially. This has not come up yet, but all 4 of our parents are still alive & in good health. My parents have never been inclined to just bail us kids out though. There was a time when they did help me get out of a jam financially, but they handled it very formally & made me pay back every cent on a schedule even though I was still in college. I think that was good. They also have refused to help their own IS’s. (There is only one between them, but she’s a doozy.)

    @anon – I agree with Lark and HM. You are very kind, but this doesn’t have to be your problem to solve unless you want to make it your problem to solve. If you want to follow your giving instinct, could you offer $$ to fund an additional scholarship to the camp directly to help another child that may need it (or potentially this child)?

  62. Milo the problem is when you grew up with private beach rights in a area that over the years has become very expensive, you’re used to it and most likely can’t afford to buy the others out. This is the case for MIL’s family. MIL did buy out the siblings for the Florida condo but couldn’t buy the cottage. It has gone on the market because they have 3, 2 and 4 children respectively and realize that keeping it is going to be an issue but like many regulated areas there are constraints on selling/buying. AFAIK it hasn’t had any reported interest in the months it has been on the market. It is hard for my DH and his siblings because they too have enjoyed this all their lives (into late 30’s/early 40’s) and have no chance of buying anyone out. The other cousins have too but they are all under the age of 23 so less of a pull to own it.

  63. FWIW, I would be taking the money I would otherwise spend sending one of my younger kids to camp and spending it on DS’s Friend, just to ensure Friend does not spend every afternoon in July at my house.

    I’m not interested in setting up a general scholarship, as kind as that would be.

  64. “AFAIK it hasn’t had any reported interest in the months it has been on the market.”

    Maybe it’s not as expensive as everyone thinks?

    “It is hard for my DH and his siblings because they too have enjoyed this all their lives (into late 30’s/early 40’s)”

    I know this sounds snarky, and I don’t really intend it that way, but this kind of thing is so far removed from my world growing up that whenever I hear people say this kind of thing it causes a very pronounced eye-roll.

  65. AFAIK it hasn’t had any reported interest in the months it has been on the market.

    Milo beat me to it. Their asking price is way too high.

    Thought – maybe the reason everyone thinks they can’t buy it is because they think it’s much more valuable than it actually is. Perhaps once they price it for the market they figure out they can actually afford the buyout.

  66. “Friend’s mom will not make an alternate plan for the summer and will simply send Friend to my house whether DS is around and wants to play or not, or that Friend will spend the summer sitting in an office”

    Waaaaaat? No way is that acceptable. First time big kid shows up, you could send mom a message saying “DS isn’t here today and won’t be here to play with kiddo for the next x days. I hear that [teen down the street] is looking for babysitting jobs this summer” or suggest a place to look for sitters if you don’t know anyone offhand. If you feel bad about this, invite them to dinner at your house a couple times. Send home leftovers if you want. If she reciprocates, accept and be sure to appreciate the good stuff at their place without noticing anything that’s a mess. Be a good guest, treating her by the same “I’m not that weak” principle that leads to the MiL insisting on paying for a $10 item.

  67. Friend will spend the summer sitting in an office because there is not enough money for any camp.

    In the grand scheme of things it’s not that bad. I’d rather go to a lakeside camp than sit in an office as well. It’s not the end of the world.

    If there were threats to his health and safety that would be totally different of course.

  68. I am just jealous of all your parents who have the ability and the generosity flowing towards you. In our case, it is the other way around. But I am glad we are able to help whatever little we can.

  69. When I was a lifeguard at a lower-income apartment complex, it was extremely common for eight-year-olds and up to spend the entire summer at the pool, open to close. The parents were either back home sleeping/watching TV or working. I was surprised by how much power it gave me with any sort of behavior issues, because someone who was ejected from the pool for the day had no other options. I used it very infrequently, but one kid who was kicked out simply sat right outside the fence for about four hours waiting for the rest of his friends to come out after the pool closed.

  70. Louise, your inlaws better leave your DH all the inheritance they can. I cannot believe the siblngs are not financially chipping in, especially when they dont have to host them as well.

  71. About the camp issue the YMCAs here where my kids attend summer camp has free/reduced summer camp tuition. It runs from 7 am to 6 pm and is very popular with working parents of all income levels. Anon – if there is such a camp, it could be a suggestion for Friend’s mother.
    I considered other camps but with their 3 pm pickups they were an option for maybe a week or so.

  72. Milo, no offense taken but note it won’t be removed from your kids’ life when they talk about growing up on boats depending on how far you go with it. :-)

    And yes, I too have rolled my eyes at my DH many a time when trying to get him to try camping as I did when growing up. I can’t even sell him on glamping!

  73. Philanthropic anon, if you hear the kid is spending the summer at the office and want to do something about that, you could give them some kind of gift that’s educational but not pedantic, like a tub of Lego or puzzles, maybe Snap Circuits or an age-appropriate coloring/ art thing, that could be used quietly in an office.

  74. We always pick up the check when going out with our parents, although DH’s dad usually picks up one check when he visits and same with my dad. We also pay for DH’s dad’s plane ticket to come here every year for Thanksgiving but don’t make that offer for our other parents because we spend a lot of money visiting them every summer. Siblings are a mixed bag. My younger sister is a bit of a freeloader but she and her husband are voluntarily poor by virtue of him having to be a professor (because doing something more lucrative would be selling out). My other sister married a very frugal guy who amassed a few $100K before their marriage through living like a college student so they’re frugal but always willing to go to nice restaurants with us. Dh’s brother and his wife are stingy – we went out to eat with them years ago for lunch at a burger restaurant where they had been gifted about $300 worth of gift cards and as we sat down DH’s brother said “just so you know we won’t be using any of our gift cards today”. DH and I still laugh about it.

    My in-laws were just here over Christmas and I took them out to dinner with the kids and they tried to pick it up but I insisted. Then later DH’s step father was telling me how he had the worst two months in his business after my MIL just retired (they can’t really financially swing her retirement but why does that matter?) so I was glad I insisted on paying. My feeling is if you come visit us we pick up the checks for almost everything. My dad still buys groceries for us when we come to his house in the summer.

    We’ll be inheriting my dad’s house on the Cape so I really hope we can all share it. We don’t really have an expectation that my younger sister will pay for anything but the taxes aren’t a huge expense so I’m okay with it.

  75. Rhett – no where near the flood plain (7 minute drive to the beach on the bayside). I think my dad’s taxes are less than $3K per year (small little cape).

  76. ” Dh’s brother and his wife are stingy – we went out to eat with them years ago for lunch at a burger restaurant where they had been gifted about $300 worth of gift cards and as we sat down DH’s brother said “just so you know we won’t be using any of our gift cards today”.”

    OK, this is funny. I’m glad that you can laugh at it now!

    @Anon – I would maybe put energy into how to nicely, but firmly, keep Friend from showing up & hanging out at your house instead. That is not acceptable and not your problem. You are not doing anything wrong by not providing either free babysitting for a 9 year old or funding an alternative. See: Milo’s mom & the lake house. How does this happen – the mom would just leave a 9yo home alone all day long all summer long & he will just show up at your house?

    I’m all for “free range kids” but a full workday home alone for a 9 year old? Did that even fly in the 80’s? (I was the oldest, so we always had summer babysitters into my HS years, which I HATED.)

  77. If there is a big family event out of town, I get a suite of rooms at a good hotel and pay the bill, rent a car if needed, pick up the tab for side meals or group outings. Each person arranges his or her own air travel. For regular one kid at a time visits, DH or I picks up the check usually, but the kids usually get a brunch now and then when it is not a large gathering. No visitor in my family every went out to buy groceries, but if they did pick something up they wouldn’t hand over the receipt.

    Sometimes my kids need a little cash to make things easier, but we have evolved a pretty workable system where the extra money changes hands by topping up a birthday or holiday gift. For amounts that might involve gift tax planning we are able to have a proper discussion like adults. We are both only children with deceased parents. When Mom was alive, I just spent money from her trust for her care, but I was the sole heir so what was the difference?

    When we got with friends usually just split the check. I don’t see a male/female thing there, but I am the accountant at a group table and if there is a big discrepancy ( a non drinker, or somebody who just had a salad or appetizer, I’ll just say everybody but Susie puts in $35, Susie $25, and I’ll top it up if the tip is too small. You don’t go out with the people who aren’t in sync with you.

  78. I don’t think I ever knew a single person growing up whose family owned, or even had familial access to, a secondary residence.

    In college one roommate’s grandmother had a cabin on a lake near Gore Mountain, where we skied a couple times; another roommate’s stepdad owned an A-frame cabin near the Utah ski resorts, where we spent two Spring Breaks.

    “note it won’t be removed from your kids’ life when they talk about growing up on boats depending on how far you go with it. :-) ”

    True. And that terrifies me. :) But I think they got a tiny bit of culture shock when we were at the American Girl store right around the corner from Trump Tower. They commented that there seemed to be all these kids in here — “toddlers even!!” — who are just walking around picking out whatever they want like it’s nothing. This was after they observed one four-year-old who was working with one of the store’s personal shoppers as her parents looked on lackadaisically. So I said “Look, this store is for rich people. That’s what you get.” My oldest replies “We’re not rich.” “Well, no, but we’re not poor. We have a lot more than most people.”

    Later, going down the escalator, my 7 yo makes the insightful comment that “You look around, and you see all this great stuff and you think how awesome it would be if you could just, like, have all of it. But no matter what you get, no matter how great you think it’s going to be, once you get it, the newness is gone really fast, and then it’s not any different than what you had before.”

    So I have a mini-MMM.

  79. “You don’t go out with the people who aren’t in sync with you.”

    The reality is that you usually find friends who are in similar financial circumstances, but with family you have no choice. I do know a couple who are friendly with another much wealthier couple. When they vacationed together overseas, the wealthy couple used their air miles to pay for the other couple’s flight. It seems awkward to me, but I guess it works for them.

  80. We always just split the check when we go out with friends. I hate hate hate nitpicking over who owes what. All of our friends make about the same $ or more so it’s just not an issue.

    We’ve “loaned” money to my mother and Dh’s mother/stepfather and given them both cars before. The car thing is still a sore spot for DH with my mother because we were trying to help her out financially and she turned around a year later and traded it in for a car she then had a monthly payment for. It was irritating but we did give it to her. My in-laws actually paid us back last year for half the money we lent them years ago and we took it thinking we might as well invest it now because we’re guessing we’ll need to step in financially for them in the future.

  81. “people who aren’t in sync with you”…that is hard sometimes when you don’t yet know them well enough or if you are in a work situation.

  82. But no matter what you get, no matter how great you think it’s going to be, once you get it, the newness is gone really fast, and then it’s not any different than what you had before.”

    Hence all the buyers remorse about the boat.

  83. “All of our friends make about the same $ or more so it’s just not an issue. ”

    That’s not true for us at all. When we’ve taken families out on the boat for the afternoon, or evening, typically they want to provide dinner. Predictably, when it’s friends DW knows through the church Moms’ groups, usually SAHMs, then they tend to pack sandwiches and pasta salads. And that’s absolutely fine — they tend to be better cooks than DW or me, anyway.

    When we go out with the anesthesiologist, or with the orthopedic surgeon with the NP DW, they always suggest going out for sushi, or the other waterside restaurant, and they always pay for everyone.

  84. Ohh – house on the Cape. I am envious. I love Cape Cod. We have family properties and we are straddling the third and fourth generation. I want to buy people out or fix it up and neither is happening. Just waiting for us to drive up for our week and find a pile of rocks where the cabin once stood.

    I was going to also suggest YMCA for the kid friend with the single mom. Ours is great and picks up kids at various points throughout the area and the shortest day is 8am to 5:30pm (they get on a bus and go to the lake). Dirt cheap too – working parents’ dream. Other option might be Boys and Girls Club, if you have one? We often help out kids of single mom’s. We have one whose kid is kind of a behavior problem but wicked smart. I encouraged him to apply to a fabulous private school and he got in with nearly a full ride.

  85. When they vacationed together overseas, the wealthy couple used their air miles to pay for the other couple’s flight. It seems awkward to me, but I guess it works for them.

    I assume the entire point to to avoid awkwardness. Bill and Phil can talk about and do the stuff they are interested in and Helen and Miriam can do and talk about what they are interested in. Without Phil and Miriam, Bill and Helen are just sitting in awkward silence.

  86. Milo – funny. When I was growing up a lot of people had a camp on a lake, mountain, or shore, or a ski place. Even if the regular family home was nothing special (and in that case the camp might be a 400 sq ft shack) – still very common.

  87. yeah, I’m long over that.

    I know – some things really are just that awesome.

    Cough…

    Cough…

  88. The way I handled the difficult situations in general social situations or with family is two fold. In a social setting or at work, if it looks like there is going to be one of those awful line item fusses, I just threw in 10-15% more in cash than I actually owe and say I have to leave for an appt or some other excuse. Then I have the information about the other diners I need for next time, if there is a next time. With family I just expect to pay for the table unless someone surprises me.

  89. How is that not a floating condo? It is literally a tax deductible second home if you structure the financing right. It was not meant to offend. At least you can take it to more than one location. You can’t pick up and move a beach condo or a lake cabin!

  90. It honestly has more to do with me needing to be closer to a window or cockpit to puke out of. I get that seasick.

  91. “me needing to be closer to a window or cockpit to puke out of”

    But you want a sailboat?

  92. If you are in a work situation, isn’t it usually paid for by the company? I guess there are times when I am in a work situation where there’s a happy hour or coffee date that isn’t going to be expensed. Usually the person higher in the hierarchy pays. If it’s equals – dutch or trade off instances.

    American Girl has personal shoppers? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. These are the moments when I am glad that I do not have a girl because the thought of spending an afternoon at that store gives me the shakes even though I liked/played with dolls as a kid myself. Hanging out at Dick’s Sporting Goods is just not the same sensory overload.

  93. We have given a couple of “loans” to family and friends knowing that they were really gifts and were never going to be repaid. The one to a non-family member was worth it because after having received some financial gifts from us they stopped asking for more once we had given them a “loan”.

    I won’t mix money and business with family. Siblings own some rental properties together. We declined getting involved as we didn’t think it would be a good mix of personalities.

    We are overly generous when we go out on covering the bill. Usually we will just split the bill when we go out with friends who we know are in similar circumstances. Other times we throw in extra for the tip. We used to be friends with a couple, but they were cheap (not frugal) and repeatedly would be the one shorting the bill by not putting enough in for tax and tip, but they’d also be the ones to complain about the food or quality of drinks etc. You learn a lot about people when you go out to eat with them.

    I hope to be like Meme with my kids when they are older.

  94. I know this sounds snarky, and I don’t really intend it that way, but this kind of thing is so far removed from my world growing up that whenever I hear people say this kind of thing it causes a very pronounced eye-roll.

    But it’s your world now, isn’t it? Don’t you take your boat to your parent’s lake house?

  95. My parents’ house isn’t on a lake. I need a truck and trailer before I can get it there.

  96. I knew about the hair salon and the cafe where you can have lunch with your doll. The personal shopper seems even more over the top for some reason. I could see using it myself as a clueless aunt without the child there, but why does a 4 year old need one to pick out her own doll stuff??

    In MN, it seems like every family has a “cabin” on a lake “up north”. Some are trailers on a very small plot of land, some are mansions on Lake Superior. But almost every single person I know there has at least one lake property in their family, including the working class ones. (tcmama – do you agree?) Here, it seems to be a much more UMC+ phenomenon, but there are far fewer areas where you might own a lake home within 2-3 hours I suppose.

  97. Back to the OP, I put all the blame on the DH. They’re wealthy, MIL is not poor, therefore, the $10 is just symbolic, so why is he getting worked up over $10 when the other two already had a working understanding in place?

    Just leave good enough alone.

  98. If you are in a work situation, isn’t it usually paid for by the company?

    You never go out for lunch with co-workers?

    My favorite story on that was one time I went out with a group of 8 or 9 coworkers. Three of them had birthdays within that week or so, so at the end of the meal, someone said “we’ll pay for X, Y, and Z” for their birthdays, without actually asking the rest of us if we wanted to do that. X, Y, and Z tried to refuse, but the person insisted. So I had to help pay for three extra meals.

  99. “I do know a couple who are friendly with another much wealthier couple.”

    That reminded me of PTM and his ultra-wealthy friend.

  100. Milo, you’ve talked about the dock they have in the back. Or am I confusing that with another family member?

  101. my in-laws have the house with the dock. :) But they’re not on a lake, either.

    In reality, the big difference for DW and me is that these places were purchased long after we were grown, out of the house, married, and with children of our own. So there’s no “oh, we always came here growing up, we can’t POSSIBLY sell it! We have such precious memories of this place!”

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/chatterbox/2005/09/summerhouse_lit_part_1.html

    I do not own a summer house. The summer house I don’t own has not been in the family for three generations. It’s a simple, shingled affair, weathered and dear, with fishnets not hanging from the ceiling, duck decoys not arrayed on the shelves, and a large, yellowing map of the area, festooned with incomprehensible nautical markings, not stuck to the wall with pushpins not manufactured in 1954. I love the scent it doesn’t give off of mothballs mingled with mold.

  102. If you are in a work situation, isn’t it usually paid for by the company?

    Boy, life must be very different in the private sector. All our business related lunches, snacks during meetings, office coffee supply, etc., are paid from our own pocket, although if we’re on travel there is a per diem allowance. In fact, I remember a letter to the editor a couple of years ago complaining that government workers should not be allowed to use the taxpayer-funded electricity in their workplaces to run their personal coffemakers! Most people don’t take it that far, but it’s definitely not the done thing for a government employer to pay for work lunches.

  103. “You don’t go out with the people who aren’t in sync with you.”

    Yes. When we go out with friends, one of three things happens:

    -One friend will pick up the tab for everyone. If it’s not us, then DW will be angry at me later for not trying harder to pay our share; this just happened a couple of days ago. DW’s excuse for not being the one trying harder to pay our share is that she’s always running out of cash.

    -One person will take charge of the bill and figure out how much everyone pays, usually splitting the bill evenly.

    -Everyone will figure out what he/she ordered, add tax and tip, then throw in some amount that’s more than that, and we end up with a bunch of extra money. Sometimes we use that to go for dessert.

    ““people who aren’t in sync with you”…that is hard sometimes when you don’t yet know them well enough or if you are in a work situation.”

    OTOH, in work situations, very often, not enough money is thrown in. At my former job, one person in particular, the department head, was notorious for ordering something expensive and drinks, then just splitting the bill. Eventually the department admins would plan any department-wide lunches that included the dept head, sending out menus and taking orders in advance, and collecting from everyone based on their orders.

    “If you are in a work situation, isn’t it usually paid for by the company?”

    Not usually. Most events paid for by the company were like company picnics once or twice a year, and maybe a Xmas lunch. And government employees probably don’t get any.

  104. Ivy – I agree. At first I thought nobody in my family has a second home, but then I remembered my sister has a trailer “up north”. Going to the cabin is very common around here.

  105. I guess we don’t ever go out to eat with a group of friends. When we have dinner with friends it’s always at someone’s house, or possibly at one of those picnic-on-the-lawn concerts or plays. I hadn’t really noticed that until this discussion.

  106. At my current job, when I go out to eat with co-workers, it’s usually at a fast food place where we pay for our own lunches.

    At my previous job, except for the depart-wide event lunches (e.g., someone going away), we self-segregated, and those who liked to split the bill evenly ended up with others like that, and those who watched how much they spent ended up with others like that. It mostly came down to most of us not wanting to go to lunch with the department head.

    I guess there were some company-paid lunches, typically when we were interviewing someone, when we didn’t mind going with the department head.

  107. “You never go out for lunch with co-workers?”

    I guess when I do & we are paying ourselves, it’s usually a fast casual place, not a sit-down place, so everyone pays their own bill separately. It hasn’t come up in a long time. I go out to lunch with coworkers much less than I used to – most of my peers work through lunch & eat at their desk at current company/level.

    Sometimes there are celebration lunches but it is obvious who is going to pay on those. “e.g., let me take you to X for lunch to celebrate your promotion/big birthday” Happy hours we usually pay our own as we go. Lunch meetings & catering are always paid by company.

  108. Finn, your wife needs a debit card. Besides being able to be the one arguing for the tab, she’ll also get a written record of what she spends, where. My bank splits this data up into categories like “food”, “entertainment” that I can tweet if I’d like and displays it on a pie chart.

    Growing up, I knew one family that had a vacation home. I think it had been in the family for a long time. It was just where they did their summer vacations, didn’t seem that exciting, and “Cape Cod” meant nothing to me except the place where the neighbors go in the summer. I don’t think my relatives did either. One side was all farmers, so taking off for a few days just didn’t happen. On the other side, they were spread all over, so we mostly just knew my aunt who lived in Az. I don’t think they had a second home either. Now my parents and a lot of the people they were social with when I was growing up have second homes in the same general area. Always seems strange to me that they decamp to an entirely different place and go out to eat with the same people. There is also a cluster that have homes (FT) in or near Hilton Head. A couple of my WI cousins have hunting shacks.

  109. I think a lot of it is regional. I grew up in ATL, in a time when it was not nearly as moneyed (monied?) as it is now, and tons of families had a lake house. It wasn’t particularly remarkable, just like owning a boat where we are now isn’t particularly remarkable.

  110. “tons of families had a lake house”

    Lake Lanier or not, these tons of families still had to be comfortably in the top 5% of the wealth curve, probably top 2-3%.

    Tons of people in the region where I grew up had second houses on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, or at Deep Creek Lake, or in the Blue Ridge or Pocono Mountains or down in the Outer Banks. We just didn’t know any of them.

  111. A lot of people maybe a little older than me still seem to have lake houses/mountain houses and then their parents have the beach houses in Seaside/Kiawah/Amelia Island. The stay at home moms decamp once June hits to the summer abode with the kids and the dads visit on the weekends. So I can say I summer on Cape Cod but we’re really just staying in a modest cape that needs to be fixed up.:)

    DH has no desire to own a second home. I sometimes send him links to fixer uppers on Cape Cod but he says my mother would end up living there.

  112. I have a wonderful sister-in-law who I love to death. My brother is the wealthiest of us all, My sil came from a poor background, She cannot give gifts over certain amounts even though we all give her family gifts worth a lot more, As an example, when my two girls received their Masters the same year, we gave a large party. My brother and his family were unable to join us so my sil sent a card and cash – $ 50,00 to each. The next lowest check was $ 250.00 from a cousin who is married and raising two children and the highest was $2,500.00 from my sister,. I know my brother would be mortified to know what his wife sent, He knows what we send for gifts to his children. I take it with a grain of salt. She is just unable to do more – so what – she will give you anything if you needed help. She is also cheap with herself – I know she has gone on expensive cruises wearing some clothes from Walmart. She looks upon my brother’s expensive suits and shoes as a necessity for his job,

    On the other hand, my brother-in-law treats himself very well, will take what anyone will give him and never, never picks up a check or offers to split it. He has been to our house for more dinners and holidays and never walks in with a hostess gift, bottle of wine – nothing. Go figure.

    As far as loaning money, if family needed money, we give it and call it a gift If you do this there is no animosity if it is not repaid. Again, my bil asked to borrow money – we gave it to him as a gift and he promptly took a very nice vacation with it while my husband and I decided to not take a vacation as we didn;t want to take money from our savings, Go figure. We decided not to get upset and treated it as a funny story.

  113. OLD MOM, you have more grace than I do. You’re in line for sainthood after Louise.

    I share the view that money to family should be a gift or not given, unless it’s merely a cash flow issue. (Both of my siblings wanted to maximize house down payments and so we had an informal “if you need a house repair in those first months, we’ll lend you money.) We paid one mortgage payment for BIL who can’t manage career/money, and MIL has paid far more. As a one-time thing, I let it go, but I am not willing to subsidize people long-term who spend more freely than I do.

  114. A lot of the houses on the Cape are little cottages that are fixers. That’s what I love about it. I adore cottages and just can’t get anyone in my family to agree to live in them. One day….

  115. I got in a massive fight with my brother last fall after my DH and I used the professional services of someone other than my SIL, who had provided said services to us in the past. The combination of money and family made for a massive, emotional explosion. I’ve papered things over for my mother’s sake, but my relationship with my brother will probably never recover – I no longer like him as a person.

    My parents own two vacation properties and have 5 children. I have no desire to co-own property with my siblings (especially the above mentioned brother) and honestly have no idea how my parents plan on handling that. I should probably tactfully inquire….

    As for the OT, after reading through most of the comments and getting some more information from the original poster – there are a lot of issues other than/in addition to money going on in that family.

  116. Even the Kennedys got the hell out of Cape Cod when it got too cold, and headed for Palm Beach. “Mar a Lago.”

  117. I got in a massive fight with my brother last fall after my DH and I used the professional services of someone other than my SIL

    My family had problems with my uncle who, after becoming accustomed to being overpaid for his services as a carpenter and property manager by my grandparents, then expected that he was owed a piece of any building project or real estate transaction by a family member on the same island and would get very pissy if you hired someone else. It caused some nasty fights with those in his own generation (sibling / cousin), and later with the generation after him.

  118. Even the Kennedys got the hell out of Cape Cod when it got too cold, and headed for Palm Beach. “Mar a Lago.”

    Summer People!
    The fall is beautiful. My youngest sister was just up there for Christmas and was telling me how she got up really early one morning to get coffee with my dad and she just couldn’t get over at how beautiful the light was there in the a.m.. She said my dad was looking at her like she was completely crazy.

    My mom said she used to see Jackie Kennedy out and about sometimes in the summers. DH and I would move there year round if we were at all employable up there. It’s a nice place to live (if you can avoid the heroin problem I guess).

  119. “I share the view that money to family should be a gift or not given, unless it’s merely a cash flow issue.”

    We take a different view.

    When my brother bought his first place, I loaned him much of my savings for his down payment. It allowed him to avoid PMI and get a more favorable mortgage. He paid me back a few years later, at in interest rate better than I’d have got at the S&L I’d had it in, but lower than his mortgage.

    When DW and I bought our first house together, my dad loaned us some money. We didn’t need the loan from him, but it was a win-win again because he got a higher interest rate than where he had it, and we paid a lower rate than on our first mortgage. My dad wrote it all up, mainly so we’d be covered if we were ever audited because we deducted the interest we paid him.

    We loaned BIL money a while back when he had a chance to buy a CC membership. That ended up working well for him, as he’s made a lot of contacts there, including the then-owners of the company where he works now (the owners later retired and sold the company to its employees, including BIL). He did pay us back later, and I think that loan helped improve relations between he and DW.

  120. We loaned BIL money a while back when he had a chance to buy a CC membership.

    The mind boggles.

  121. On going out with friends. In our 20s we were friends with another couple and a single guy. Five of us would hang out and go out a lot. The agreement was when we went out either one of the couples or the single guy would pick up the check. The other couple was very happy to go to the latest restaurants, movies etc. They picked up the check a few times but then they started saying things like they forgot their wallet. One time DH and single guy decided that they would not pay and force the other couple to get the check. The meal ended and the check lay on the table like a hot potato. The waitress took several rounds checking on the status on the check. At last I couldn’t stand it (I was new to the group) and I picked up the check. I was the youngest and made the least money. We did continue to see the couple but after several incidents of such behavior DH decided not to continue the relationship.

    When we go out at the office, (if not on company dime) all the restaurants offer individual checks. It has made paying so much smoother.

  122. “The fall is beautiful.”

    Yeah, it really is. And so is Winter. But it’s the Spring that drives me mad.

    I’m still $15k in the hole to my brother.

  123. @ Milo – I don’t think so. I’m not talking about Cashiers, Highlands – that’s where the Atlanta Money has always gone. I think it was more a function that living in Atlanta was easy in the 70’s and 80’s. Jobs were stable, cost of living was low, public schools were pretty good, and lakes in N. Ga are plentiful – not just Lake Lanier, but also Big Canoe, Lake Burton, etc. with lots of fairly modest houses. Being truly middle class and yet owning a second home was attainable then. It really wasn’t something reserved for the well-to-do.

    It’s definitely changed now.

  124. I just had a chance to check in and read today’s topic. I’m bummed that I wasn’t around because this has been a big topic in our house due to holidays and bat mitzvah.

    Both of our siblings are “takers” from our parents. We’re constantly amazed at similar stories since our sibs don’t know each other, and our dads are very different with how they handle money.

    We had a really nice break and enjoyed the holidays except for a few incidents that involved money and paying for gifts. My feelings about my brother and SIL are still too raw, but these posts are making me realize that it happens in so many families.

    DH thinks life is short, and I just have to accept how greedy they are and move on. I can’t let go that easily, and it is getting to me.

    I only knew one kid with a second home until I got to college. A few kids had beach or ski properties.

    I would like to own a second home, but DH won’t do it. We bought this place when we were in our late 30s, so he thinks we should just wait to move to our “second” home when DD is done with college.

    I would love, love to own an apartment in NYC. I just don’t think it’s going to happen unless we inherit some money, and I can convince DH. He doesn’t have the same love of apartment living.

  125. “Personal shopper is a job that will not be replaced by robots/AI.”

    I disagree, think that “personal touch” (even when aided by spread sheets of past purchasing behavior) will be the basis of expansion in anything where people can figure out how to apply it.

    Milo, maybe not Lake Lanier, but listen to what Alan Jackson says about way down yonder on the Chatahoorchee.

  126. One of my close friends married a guy that was from MN. He had a large family, and made it clear that the only compromise that he would never make was leaving MN. I used to visit them frequently when I was single. They lived in Minneapolis, but had a lake house. Everyone did have lake houses, BUT they rarely left Minnesota. Most of his brothers and sisters were doctors, lawyers, corporate types etc. They were educated and could have afforded to travel, but they didn’t want to because they preferred going to the lake.

    They come to the east coast for weddings and other family stuff, but they generally stay in MN and like people to visit them. It’s an interesting phenomenon and it seems to be cultural for some people the grew up in MN.

    NYers are the opposite. Our apartments are tiny and we need to get out and explore.

  127. I’ve never been to Highlands but always assumed it was only really wealthy people because all of the really wealthy people I know own second houses there.

  128. “Milo, maybe not Lake Lanier, but listen to what Alan Jackson says about way down yonder on the Chatahoorchee.”

    Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee, it gets hotter than a hoochie’s coochie. We laid rubber on the Georgia asphalt, got a little crazy but we never got caught. Down by the river on a Friday night, pyramid of cans in the pale moonlight. Talkin’ bout cars and dreamin’ ’bout women, never had a plan just a livin’ for the minute.

    Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee, never knew how much that muddy water meant to me. But I learned how to swim and I learned who I was, a lot about livin’ and a little ’bout love.”

    That’s all I got, Saac. Are you saying they owned houses there?

  129. DH has a professional colleague who lives on Lake Minnetonka. Used to be a prof but now runs some lucrative data thing from his house on the lake. DH went there once to work on said data and was blown away by how gorgeous it was up there and actually began considering the merits of relocation. Then he happened to speak to the guy last APRIL and learned that the ice had finally melted on the lake that day.

  130. Thanks Lark! I know all the best words, but that doesn’t mean I can spell ’em.

    I haven’t read the conversation on the site where the OP started, but I suspect it did not go from a discussion of $10 for groceries to gifts of $2.5k, loans for a down payment on a house, or a loan of several thousand dollars.

    What do you spend on gifts for family members? Standard in our family is around $25 or $30. This fall I skimped on birthday presents so I could spend more for Christmas. Hardest people to buy for are absolutely my parents. We could spend 10x the usual amount and the amount wouldn’t be a big deal to them. Figuring out what they want/need is the key to getting stuff for them. Tracker tags (that we set up), framed pix of Florida waterbirds, and Jenga have all been successes. I have the feeling many of you give much higher dollar value gifts.

  131. Scarlett – I know a few people here whose primary residence is on one of the lakes here. These people usually work from home but it is not too far to come into the office. One couple commented that with their lake house and boat they felt like their life was a permanent vacation. Our neighbors have a lake house. Even though it is not that far, they move up there during the summer.
    Here older middle class folks may own a beach condo which family can make use of. One older neighbor couple has a beach condo.

  132. Milo, sxactly. If he learned to swim and was in the muddy water a lot, it would’ve been when he was little, right? Teens might drive down on a Friday night, but families must have stayed there if the kids were playing and swimming and it was really hot out (so afternoon, not night). Right?

  133. Stuff skips a generation. DH’s grandfather had a cottage on a lake in Indiana. My great-grandfather, on the faculty at Univ. of Kansas, had a cabin in Estes Park (well, Moraine Valley Park, actually) that Mom visited every summer in the 20s. Both sets of my grandparents had “household help”. Neither vacation homes nor household help were common in Palo Alto in my parents’ generation. Now they’re back.

  134. “the fall is beautiful”
    It’s all in the eyes of the beholder.
    In Ohio two weeks ago, I was admiring the hills and valleys as seen out the breakfast room window, looking at all the shadings and richness. Not five minutes later my mom was talking about what a drab,ugly day it was. I looked out again and could reel off colors I saw in the trees, the valleys, the fields and woods…
    On the plane to Ohio, I had a chatty seatmate who is from Ohio (the flat part in the NW) who has lived in the Tampa Bay area about as long as I have. We have observed many of the same things, but put pretty much 100% opposite values on them. I get sick of the same damn green every day. She loves seeing palm trees every day. Neither of us goes to the beach much, but she loves that it’s there whereas I really don’t care, prefer to drive the couple hours to get to the ocean any way. She is glad to be out of the cold whereas I hate the heat… I tried not to be a downer, but every time she tried to bring up something cheerful, I just sounded like Eyore. I resorted to saying “to each their own” a lot, and telling her I was happy for her that she is so happy.

  135. I have a wonderful sister-in-law who I love to death. My brother is the wealthiest of us all, My sil came from a poor background, She cannot give gifts over certain amounts even though we all give her family gifts worth a lot more, As an example, when my two girls received their Masters the same year, we gave a large party. My brother and his family were unable to join us so my sil sent a card and cash – $ 50,00 to each. The next lowest check was $ 250.00 from a cousin who is married and raising two children and the highest was $2,500.00 from my sister,. I know my brother would be mortified to know what his wife sent,

    This brings up a related point. How do people handle family gifts and such? DW and I have an arrangement where she handles them for her family and I handle them for mine. And we are aware of what each other sends. The idea that a wife would send money to her husband’s niece and he has no idea how much she sent (or vice-versa) just boggles my mind.

  136. You should see some of the ice houses on the Minnesota lakes! You just need to remove it before ice out. In the winter Lake Minnetonka (and any of the up north lakes) has a certain beauty to it, but I’ll admit that if you don’t like cold weather you’d hate it. Also, you need the right gear people! It is all about the right gear.

    When we drive back to visit my parents my dad will calculate how much gas prices are and what my car’s mpg is…so I’ll get random amounts – $185, $220, etc. Its a nice offering, especially since this is the same guy that loaned me money in ms and hs to go to europe, and never forgave those loans. I paid him back..eventually.

  137. My parents used to always pay for meals out, etc, but once my parents retired and now we have spouses and kids, we always offer. Sometimes they take us up on it. When they are here, we always pay for all the meals. There is a cost to traveling, so everything should be free once they get here. My mom makes me laugh when she tries to give me $3 when I pick up something at the grocery store that she knows I am getting just because they are visiting. I have to keep reassuring her that I can swing the $3. I am going up to visit my dad next week, and have refused the money my mom wants to give me for the airfare. She said she put $100 in the room where I’m staying and doesn’t want to argue about it. At this point, I am aware that there will be some inheritance when they pass on, so $100 now or $100 in a decade seems stupid to argue over, so I am letting it go. With my dad, though – he is very generous when he wants to be, but he has no patience for anyone acting like he owes them something. I borrowed money from them when I was first out of school and had a car accident, but it was with a plan that I would pay back $x per month for 10 months, or whatever. If I just expected them to pay for stuff, it would not have happened. But as long as my siblings and I were working hard, he was generous in gifting things like appliances for first home purchase and furniture for our first child’s room (but he went with us to shop and we picked out what we could afford, thinking we were buying it ourselves, then he picked up the tab – there was no getting the top of the line on his dime.)

    On my husband’s side, we always paid for his mom. She was a widow and lived on a paltry social security survivor benefit so I was always happy to pay. Sometimes I did resent it when his siblings, spouses and their adult children would come also and one of them would say “Who’s getting the check?”, making it clear that they were not. That always happened at the restaurant, not at home. Once my BIL died, that kind of died away. We’ll pick up the tab when we’re out with my husband’s brother, and he will offer to get the tip. He only tips 10%, though, and he caught me once throwing more in after he left the table. We each navigate handling the money with our own families when possible, although his sister used to come to me to ask for money rather than him.

    I grew up in the middle of the country where having a lake house was pretty common, as it is so far from any ocean. They ranged from very casual, decades old linoleum floor to custom built beautiful homes that slept 20 and had multiple hydraulic boat lifts and tons of water toys. We did not have one, but enough of my friends did that I spent most weekends at the lake my last two years of high school. As someone else mentioned, having the second home was unremarkable. What is remarkable when I think back on it is that my friend’s parents would let a bunch of 16-17 year olds go up to the lake for the weekend all the time without adults. We drank their liquor and took the boats out all day, had people over at night. Between the last day of high school and our graduation ceremony, a group of guys I was friends with were at the lake and one of them got electrocuted and died. That was a tough thing for a handful of 17 year olds to deal with without an adult around.

  138. At this point, I am aware that there will be some inheritance when they pass on, so $100 now or $100 in a decade seems stupid to argue over,

    In my grandfather’s last few years, he kept saying that he’d rather see us enjoying his money while he was alive than inherit it when he died.

  139. I may need to up my graduation gift money as I did for wedding money some years ago. Like some older people, I get into a rut of how much to give. We’ve been giving $100 for both HS and college graduations, but that may be cheap in our circle.

    My widowed MIL lives mainly on SS, so we always pay for meals and trips we’ve taken with her. We give her cash for birthday/xmas/mother’s day, so that means a few thousand per year in spending money. The family home was gifted to my husband’s least wealthy sibling when she and her family moved in with MIL. It was win/win since they got free childcare and a nice house while MIL got companionship and care as she aged. We think it’s a fair deal for everyone, and it seems to work.

  140. Does anyone else deal with a cover-stealer? This is new this winter, and I’m about to scream.

  141. My parents are very generous, MIL not so much. MIL does not drive much and several times a year I drive the seven hour round trip to pick her up and bring her to visit us for a few days. She rarely offers to pay for gas. My parents live in the same town as MIL, so I visit them when I go to pick up MIL. My parents know that MIL does not pay for gas, and so my mom always gives me a couple of twenties when I see them . Money is not an issue with MIL, so I have no idea why she never offers to pay, and I would never suggest it to her. It just irritates me.
    For the past several years, on my birthday, DH birthday, and our on our anniversary my parents always write us a large check (but below the $14,000 limit). We are extremely grateful for their generosity and hope to one day do the same for our kids.

  142. “Also, you need the right gear people! It is all about the right gear.”

    Exactly. The below-zero parka, the below-freezing down coat, the 35-50 degree packable down coat, the thin down jacket, the insulated rain coat, the downhill ski parka, the cross-country ski jacket, the assorted game-day gear, bins of hats and gloves….there is a reason that the hall closets are filled to capacity, but there is ALWAYS something to offer houseguests who come here unprepared.

  143. Does anyone else deal with a cover-stealer? This is new this winter, and I’m about to scream.
    No, we have kind of the opposite problem. I am always too hot and DH is always too cold. We have a king-size bed, and we have a twin-size electric blanket that DH keeps on his side. The cat likes it too. I stay on the other side of the bed with my lightweight cotton blanket. It’s kind of too bad, because if I roll over to throw an arm around him, in about 5 minutes I’m roasting to death and have to roll back.

  144. Ha, Scarlett, your post reminds me of my friend who went from the Bay Area to University of Michigan. “They have entire coat wardrobes here!” In Palo Alto you had a sweatshirt and a lightweight coat. That was it for gear.

  145. Does anyone else deal with a cover-stealer? This is new this winter, and I’m about to scream.

    Use separate blankets/comforters.

  146. Does anyone else deal with a cover-stealer? This is new this winter, and I’m about to scream.

    In Germany they have two duvets, one for each person, to deal with the heat and stealing issue.

  147. Winter gear discussion…we are getting SNOW tomorrow. My kids have their warm jackets ready. The heavier jackets for kids are such a waste. They will use them only a couple of times each season. Then they will outgrow them. But they have to have them to play in the snow. The grocery store is rapidly emptying out and the brine trucks are out. Tomorrow we will be frozen in for sure, after that depends on temperature.

  148. Government employee here too, so looks exactly like HM described. In prior jobs, we were often at meetings away from the office and lunch would happen in between. Since we typically carpooled there, you had lunch together. I really like the order then sit down places because it avoids all of these issues, but they are not always convenient. And, frequently we were peers, so all dutch. Around here, restaurants used to be much more adamant about not doing separate checks. I think with all the technology, it is much easier to separate them.

  149. By the way – the gear comment applies to the heat too. I notice so many northerners say “i can’t stand the heat”- but they are wearing completely wrong stuff. The key is to COVER your skin from the sun- also wear light colored, loose fitting clothes. There have been huge innovations in clothes for heat just like the thinner insulation jackets. They have slits with mesh that allow you to breathe, they wick away moisture, etc. Also the hats- People where these very hot “summer hats” Of course they are hot!

  150. “wear hats” not where. Hats are good but they have to be the right kind. Keep the sun off your head and your face but it has to breather. If you have dark hair that’s even more important. And you blue-eyed folks, put sunglasses on!

  151. I, too, missed the great discussion. I gave $1,000 for birthday presents when my nieces were born for their 529’s. I will probably give about $500 in cash for high school graduation and $1,000 for college graduation. For more distant relatives, I give much less.

    The benchmark I use for gifts is about $50 per family member and $75 per niece for Christmas. My kids’ gifts are usually in the $200-300 range for Christmas and birthdays.

    I’m considered the cheap one in the family because I don’t buy a lot of stuff for myself, don’t like fancy trips, or the theater. However, I like to be a generous gift giver.

  152. ” DW and I have an arrangement where she handles them for her family and I handle them for mine. And we are aware of what each other sends. The idea that a wife would send money to her husband’s niece and he has no idea how much she sent (or vice-versa) just boggles my mind.”

    We are the same way. That said, neither of our families are big on presents, which suits us fine. (e.g., at Xmas neither side exchanges adult sibling gifts and only one side gifts nieces & nephews – we all have SO MUCH CRAP already) There is one SIL (married to DH’s bro) who is really into presents, and I think she is having a hard time with the lack of “gifting culture” in the family.

    Laughing at the coat wardrobe. I have a lot of different gear for the temps that range from below zero to 100 degrees. It takes up a lot of space! But when I would go to my college boyfriend’s house in MN, his family had an entire wardrobe of gear filling a huge walk-in closet plus all kinds of areas of the outbuildings and shed. Also gear for every winter sport known to man. We would randomly decide to go X country skiing, and his mom would loan me all her spare gear & equipment. Then we’d go snowshoeing – same thing. Then we’d go for a winter hike, and she’d let me borrow the ice hike gear (semi-rural area near the Mississippi so it was very steep & rocky).

    “You should see some of the ice houses on the Minnesota lakes! ”

    I’ve seen some popping up on my instagram feed lately from college friends. :) Some are SO elaborate. Minnesota really is a beautiful place. Like I’ve said, we’ve considered moving, but it is really nice being so close to DH’s family among other things.

  153. Here’s a gear story- When I went form South America to a New England boarding school years ago my parents and i went to a ski shop to ask about what to buy to keep me warm in the winter (this was a million years ago) so it was “down jacket, thermal underwear, scarves, hats, mittens, various levels of warmth for sweaters, etc. He explained about layers and types of fabrics that were warmer, and warmer. After I was in school for a while I said to my roommate, “OK, I am now wearing all my warmest gear. Does is get much colder than this?” She said, “Mafalda! it’s still fall!”

  154. I have a question on gifting. We were invited to a Bat Mitzvah but were unable to make it. I need to send a card and would like to include $$. Could someone here tell me the right amount to send? I consider this family good friends.

  155. I would LOVE for the grandparents/aunts/uncles to give money to the 529 but they all want to give stuff. Seriously, some money in the 529 now would ease DS’s burdens in 16 years. He doesn’t need more toys. He plays with exactly 5 toys.

    It drives me nuts because every year when I write his Xmas and bday lists, I always put at the top – money for his 529 account or experiences, like our zoo membership. He loves that place more than toys – we go monthly and he never gets bored. I’d like to expand to the Museum of Science or the Aquarium too. But no, everyone wants to give clothes and toys. Sigh.

    I went to bed being told we’d get an inch of snow today… now being told 2-4 inches. Tomorrow – 3-5. Looks like DS may get all bundled up like the kid in A Christmas Story and go fall in the snow.

  156. It is cold here today, high of 37 with wind chills still keeping in around freezing. Hit the high 20’s last night. We have about 4 weeks of this weather a year, so we really aren’t terribly prepared for it clothing-wise and typically just avoid being out in it very much. We are much more prepared to handle the hot weather, even in the 101-105 degree range. I don’t like the cold, so I can’t even imagine living somewhere I would have to content with truly cold weather regularly!

    This reminds me of news articles a few years back where a camp in the northeast cancelled camp because kids were getting sick from the heat. It was a residential camp with highs at/just over 100 degrees. We were all shocked here. I can remember being at camp for two weeks where only one day was the high below 100 and we had no AC anywhere but in the nurse’s station. My kids were at a day camp a few years ago with the same scenario – every day >100 degrees – and no health issues.

  157. I’m still a bit bitter about a quick overnight trip I took with a couple. We were all well-employed at the time. I forgot my credit card. I drove my car, paid cash for dinner we ate. They had bought concert tickets in advance, I had paid for the hotel. We were pretty even until the drive home, when they had to spring for gas, and we did some outlet shopping. When I went to send them money, I said, “I owe you x for this and y for this, right?.” The husband responded, “Well, we did put gas in your car, and you’re going to use most of that without us. And don’t forget that you owe tax on y…”

    Basically, he wanted to haggle about how much I would pay him back. In that situation, I think you broadly round (I wasn’t going to ask them to compensate me for miles on the car, or the host water they used in the house the night before). I told him to tell me a number, any number and I would gladly pay it. I think his wife about killed him.

    Which is to say, at this point in my life, I consider it a privelige to not sweat the small things about money. I took a trip to Europe after high school with my BFF – we split expenses down to the penny on everything – because we were both living on $30 per day. Being well-paid means I don’t have to do that anymore.

  158. “I can remember being at camp for two weeks where only one day was the high below 100 and we had no AC anywhere but in the nurse’s station. My kids were at a day camp a few years ago with the same scenario – every day >100 degrees – and no health issues.”

    This is my own personal nightmare. I think I’d rather deal with what we have today – temps barely above zero with wind chills well below.

  159. That said, neither of our families are big on presents, which suits us fine. (e.g., at Xmas neither side exchanges adult sibling gifts and only one side gifts nieces & nephews – we all have SO MUCH CRAP already)

    We’re the same. We just send cash to the kids and adults don’t exchange gifts.

  160. The heavier jackets for kids are such a waste. They will use them only a couple of times each season. Then they will outgrow them. But they have to have them to play in the snow.

    Louise, just get waterproof shells that the can use year-round and they can layer underneath it.

  161. “Which is to say, at this point in my life, I consider it a privilege to not sweat the small things about money.”

    ITA. And this is why I find it hard to be angry with people who are financial “takers.” They are sweating this stuff all the time — always trying to figure out how to avoid picking up the check, how to pay less than their share, how to get something from the parents, etc. I would haaaaaaate to have to live like that. And I expect they’re not just dealing with that on the days we see them–like over the holidays if they’re family, or at dinner if they’re friends–but every single day of the year, with everyone they deal with. It must be terribly stressful, and they must have all kinds of horrible feelings of jealousy and inadequacy and worry.

    In the end, I don’t think the “takers” are getting away with anything. They might be getting their parents or siblings or friends to pay more, but emotionally, and stress-wise, they are more than paying the price, imho.

  162. I feel like we have a complicated system that we all abide by, but it seems to work. If I am with the kids and no husband, my dad always pays. If my husband is there, he usually pays except for breakfast in which case my dad pays. If my mom is with us without my dad, we always pay regardless of husband being there or not. If we are with either of my 2 older brothers, we all switch off. If we are with either of the 2 younger, we usually pay but they will occasionally pick up the tab for drinks or breakfast. With my husband’s side we almost always pay. I can remember one time where someone bought us ice cream. We usually pay for their travel expenses. Same with my mom. But never my mom and dad together. We have given fairly large gifts of money to family members and purchased 2 new cars for 2 that really needed something reliable and we hold the note on a mortgage for one of them. Seems to be working fine. On my side we try to ignore the fact that some of us have a lot more money than others and just kind of make it work. On my husband’s side there is a lot of discussion and angst over it.

  163. Risley- I agree- your description probably fits many of those “takers,” but I think you are underestimating the number of people who feel gleeful that they are “winning” and getting away with not paying their fair share. It’s like a game to them and they actually think it’s fun and get a charge from getting away with enjoying something without paying. I know this is so far from how you think that you can’t even imagine it.

  164. Mafalda – you’re right. I haven’t ever considered that there are people like that. Which doesn’t mean they don’t exist, and it sounds like you’ve had some experience with some. I never have. The only “takers” I know have seemed extraordinarily stressed about money and although they have been shady about having others pay their way, there has been a palpable level of embarrassment, jealousy or defensiveness on their side. Those folks, I cannot be angry with.

    The ones you’re describing should perhaps be introduced to Rhett and his right fist. ;)

  165. Lark, was it an invitation for all four of you, or just the adults?

    When just kids attend they usually give $54, or send $36 if they can’t make it.

    It’s trickier for families. If you were all going to attend, I would have said $360 to $400 since you’re four people. Some people will give $450 to $500 for really close friends, but that’s not as common.

    I think you can give 250ish if all four of you were invited, but unable to attend. You can give $180 to $200 if just invited as a couple and unable to attend.

    There are some guidelines for mitzvah gifts on a blog called Lulu and Lattes. The post was around September time, and she actually has suggestion by region of country and number of people.

    It varies by region, so my numbers are for NY/NJ/CA. If this is nea

  166. I was thinking of the Totebag this morning when I went out to my car. It felt really cold and then I checked the dashboard temp and it said -9, so I went back into the house and got a hat. We went to Paris and London over winter break and the weather was between 35-50 every day, so I think I need a few more days to adjust to the cold. I remind myself that part of the benefit of living here is that we don’t have as many types of icky bugs and snakes!

    Good points on adjusting to heat and wearing the right clothes too. I should invest in better summer gear.

  167. Lauren – what is the significance of those amounts like $36 or $54? Are they symbolic? We haven’t been invited to any mitzvahs yet, but I expect we will in a few years.

  168. Here’s a nice brief explanation:

    Eighteen is the numerical value of the Hebrew word “chai” which means “life.” It is a Jewish custom to give monetary gifts in increments of 18, thus symbolically blessing the recipient of the gift with a good long life.

    When giving charity, the number 18 has another significance. It expresses our prayer that the merit of the charity given stand in our good stead, that we blessed with life and prosperity.

    http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/484894/jewish/What-is-the-reason-giving-money-in-multiples-of-18.htm

  169. Worked with one guy who was always a net taker in shared lunches. Like ordering an appetizer or salad on a shared check but then suggesting we split it evenly and only tip 10%. He is Dutch if that makes a difference but he has been in the states for 25 years.

  170. Ivy, I am so much in agreement with you today! Sunny, icy seasons can be beautiful (if, as others have said, you have the right gear). When we returned from 40 something Ohio and walked out into an 80+ Tampa afternoon, I nearly started swearing about the temps. High temps (over about 80 for me) are harder to deal with than cold, and we don’t need any more crap. In my case, gifts to me are also not fun, because my family generally refuses to take a general wish and find the item; they want very specific requests. Kills me, because Mom used to hate that Dad’s sister wanted page and item numbers from the Penny’s catalog for our gifts, and asking for URLs doesn’t seem much different to me.

    Rhode, this fall my son repeated what he’d said last year, but made it r e a l l y c l e a r that he wanted cash and gift cards for his birthday and Christmas, and that’s mostly what he got, along with tickets to a couple of things and some small knock-knacks. It took me a few years to learn that I didn’t have to accept everything we were given. I’ve talked to both my sisters about it. One lives in the same town as my parents, so found it really easy to return the clothes. The other said she often just tosses the food before it ever gets into her house. Don’t know why I didn’t figure that out myself, and much earlier. Fortunately, the clothes thing (random outfits whenever, and when I showed Mom what kinds of clothes I would like for him instead, she said she thought he’d look funny in them, and continued with the other) ended partway through grade school. The food I can give to panhandlers; Tampa’s got plenty, and I know where a couple of them stay.

  171. In my case, gifts to me are also not fun, because my family generally refuses to take a general wish and find the item; they want very specific requests.

    But then if they don’t get you what you want, you have to return or exchange it. It seems to be a lot more efficient to tell them the exact item so they don’t have to try to read you mind. Yes, I understand the thought process of “it’s disappointing that they don’t want to make the effort to pick something out on their own.”

    Maybe it’s because I’m so incredibly picky about things that the first way seems to be miles better than the second.

  172. Denver, you’re right that if what they get me doesn’t fit the specs I laid out, I don’t like it. I just don’t see what the point of the whole exercise is. I never request anything I wouldn’t buy for myself any other time of year. I’ve bought clothing too small, to motivate myself to lose weight. Now that they fit, I asked for and received a certain style of pants size x from a certain store. I asked for and received a Fitbit that records swimming. I had been meaning to get a tracker for a while, but hadn’t looked into which ones do that and how they are rated. A week before Christmas, that became an emergency. And those are the big things. The other stuff, $25-$30 each, is even less worth the need to figure it out Right Now. I rarely ask what people want, and they rarely return gifts from me, even though I give them gift receipts. That’s because I pay attention to what they say all year long. If someone comments in July that they think x is cool or that they have a need that I know y would fill, I either buy x or y and stash it in my closet half a year, or I make a note on my calendar. A couple years ago I gave in and asked one sister what she wanted. Clothes for exercise classes. The pants I got her exactly matched some she already had. If someone paid attention to my tastes and needs that much, I’d like it. But as it is, it’s just that a bunch of stuff I would’ve picked up in the normal course of things has to get figured out ahead of time. Sometimes I do for myself what I do for them–write down something I was about to buy for myself, so they can give it to me a couple months later. Call me Eyore, but I can’t get excited about that.

  173. I asked for and received a Fitbit that records swimming. I had been meaning to get a tracker for a while, but hadn’t looked into which ones do that and how they are rated. A week before Christmas, that became an emergency.

    How is a fitbit an emergency? I’m missing something here.

    If someone comments in July that they think x is cool or that they have a need that I know y would fill, I either buy x or y and stash it in my closet half a year, or I make a note on my calendar.

    How do you know they haven’t bought it themselves in the intervening 6 months? Or that their opinion hasn’t changed and they no longer want it?

  174. A Fitbit is NOT an emergency. My family thinks not having a present for me is. So when they realize they don’t have something for me, they want to know exactly what I want, pronto. So then it becomes an emergency for me to find one that does exactly the functions I’m looking for.
    Well, my sister did have those pants! But generally, I pay attention and notice if they get the thing I’m planning for them. And I do include gift receipts. To me, figuring out something they would like, even if I would not; is a big part of the gift. Finding something in that price range worth giving is tricky too. Yes, I found a shirt dress in my sisters size at Sports Authority for her birthday for $30 once. Would’ve been easier to just go full price. Sorry. I’m just not into the whole thing

  175. *I don’t like short dresses, but heard her say she does. Mom says she wore it twice during the week they were together.

  176. S&M, when we were very little, Mom bought us presents. But by the time we were tweens she was past even asking for a specific list. We had to go out and buy the stuff ourselves. (She reimbursed, of course). Then when we were young adults we even had to wrap the damn things ourselves! So we’d wrap our own presents and then go through this ridiculous charade of opening them Christmas morning. There was something really wrong with my mother. She only cared about matching external appearances, and you had to have your children unwrap presents on Christmas morning; didn’t matter if we’d purchased and wrapped them ourselves. As adults my sister and I don’t exchange presents because we are both burned out on family-of-origin Christmas rituals.

  177. Denver, my mother was a force of nature. It was much easier to go along with the hurricane than to fight it. My sister and I used to go out Christmas afternoon to the movies and decompress after first doing the Mom Christmas and then the Grandma Christmas, which was a whole nother surreal theatrical event with us as reluctant actors.

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