Managing money can be scary, frustrating, and so mysterious; one day you have money in your account and the next day it’s gone. See! A mystery right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Educated Latina is excited to collaborate with:
“A company focused on understanding personal finances, getting out of debt, and building a strong financial future for young Latinx. Through its online community and in-person support, Dinero Diaries seeks to create an open dialogue about personal finances specific to Latinx communities.“
In this three-part series, Co-Founders Camila Antonia and Laura who will be solving the mystery of our missing money by helping us understand personal finance through practical tips sprinkled with their personal experiences.
Family + Money = ___________. You fill in the blank. Everyone handles this issue differently, but there are some emotions attached to that equation we all share like duty, guilt, and sometimes frustration. In this post, Laura shares some practical tips on how she personally manages money and family. Check it out!
I have divorced parents who live in different countries, one abuelita, one tio abuelo, four sisters, one brother, one niece, 50-something tias(os) (because who knows who are the “real” ones), an unlimited amount of cousins, two dogs, a partridge, and a pear-tree. So you could say I know a little something about having a big family. And with big families come big responsibilities.
So your prima’s husband got into a car accident back at home and requires a special surgery. Who can pitch in? Or your little prima’s daughter needs new shoes to play with her soccer team. Who got the shoes? But then mami pulls out a “yo te pari” (“I birthed you”) card and you better help her with the bills too. You see, I know you want to help everyone and you MUST repay your mami too. Pero, like who is going to pay for you? The truth is you cannot take care of anyone else until you have taken care of yourself first. You cannot financially take care of anyone else until you have become financially stable yourself. PUNTO.
So how do I manage this? Below are some tips to balance your Dinero and family life.
Set boundaries. Are you still struggling with your finances? Helping while still on survival mode can be a huge setback for both you AND your family. Practice saying NO. Be realistic about the situations and amounts of money you can help with. Voice your boundaries and remain consistent.
Emergencies are not the same as expenses. Your cousin’s husband’s surgery is necessary and needed for survival and is, therefore, an emergency. Your cousin’s daughter’s shoes for her soccer game are not for survival but rather for lifestyle, so they are an expense. Take time to reflect on these differences. You are not responsible to maintain anyone’s lifestyle other than your own.
Mami as a priority on my budget. (Who is your priority?) Although I no longer live at home, I have a financial responsibility to my mother. No, I do not pay for her to go on shopping sprees but do consistently pay part of her bills. Which means she is included in my monthly expenses, so I consistently include her in my financial plans. Is there a family member you’re responsible for? Assume this expense will be a constant monthly bill and include it in your budget.
Some colchoncito for me and some colchoncito for you. Create a separate savings account for those extra family emergencies. This account should be completely separate from your own emergency fund because your personal emergency fund is only meant to take care of you. This account does not need to collect big sums money but rather extra money you have left over at the end of the month. My family-colchoncito never grows bigger than a couple hundred dollars and I don’t automate more than $15 per month. EXTRA TIP: If this account starts to collect more than you expected, consider taking part of it out and gifting it to mami or a charity you’re passionate about. But remember, no more digging into any of your other accounts.
Break the cycle. Start talking about finances with your family. Remember that financial support does not always equal physical money. Constantly rescuing family out of financial hardship does not help them get out of a toxic financial cycle. What is the real underlying problem? Perhaps they need help creating a solid budget, setting up an emergency savings, applying for a better job, etc. Your time and knowledge is worth money and you can invest both of these resources in helping your family.
I know balancing money and family can be a tough concept to swallow. Te entiendo. I often find myself in tears torn with the idea of not helping a family member. After all, quién me creo enjoying my own stability and not taking care of everyone else? Take a deep breath. Remember your accomplishments may be a reflection of those behind you. But you’re not meant to be used only in case of emergencies, but rather as a tool to break the cycle and help those behind reach success of their own.
“When you leave you must remember to come back for the others. A circle, understand? You will always be Esperanza. You will always be Mango Street. You can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.”
-Sandra Cisnero (A House on Mango Street)