Keeping Parents and In-Laws From Meddling in Your Finances
When you get married, you also might get some tax benefits, someone to split a Costco membership with, and, of course, a whole other family. (As in, more relatives to get to know and hopefully, learn to love.) But with all the good stuff, there may also be some less than desirable aspects. You may also get more relatives who want to meddle in your finances, especially parents and in-laws.
Now, your parents and parents-in-law probably mean well, but it can be difficult to navigate the relationship if they start to get nosy about how you spend or save your money. Merging finances with your spouse after you get married is tricky enough, add in some financial tension with parental figures and you’re looking at a recipe for a marital mess.
There are multiple ways that parents may try to get involved with your finances. Some are used to giving advice freely to their child and may just want to extend the same gift of knowledge to their child’s spouse—whether they want it or not.
Others may see your joint income as an opportunity to request financial support for themselves when times are bad. Or, on the other hand, some parents may impose their money on you and constantly want to pay for vacations or offer to help with home down payments. If it’s the latter, you may not be complaining, but that doesn’t mean you feel totally comfortable with the situation.
Here we’ll look at different types of parental over-involvement, and offer some tips for setting boundaries.
The In-Laws Who Want to Pay for Everything
If you have parents or in-laws who offer to pay for every dinner, movie tickets, or even want to pay for your large expenses, you may find yourself uncomfortable with their generosity. Everyone likes free stuff, so why might these gifts make you and your spouse feel uneasy?
That feeling may stem from guilt. Either, you feel guilty that someone is spending their money on you, or you may feel that certain gifts come with strings attached. It’s important to evaluate your parents’ or in-laws’ intentions when it comes to giving you money or lavish gifts.
If they have extra cash to spend, they may find joy in splurging on their loved ones. In that case, you should be able to accept and enjoy the gifts within reason. However, if you feel that the money is being used as a means of control and leaves you indebted to the giver, then it may be wise to limit how much money or how many gifts you accept.
When money is used to control someone’s actions or force a relationship to be maintained, it can be seen as financial abuse . While this scenario is more likely to occur within a romantic relationship, this dynamic can extend to other people close to you. It is important to take any discomfort you are feeling seriously and work to set boundaries for the relationship.
Ideally, your parents or in-laws are being generous as an act of love, but it may still be worthwhile to tell them what contributions and gifts you are and aren’t willing to accept moving forward. Next time they offer to pick up the check at dinner, thank them, but use that moment as an opening to discuss what you would like your financial relationship to look like moving forward.
The Parents Who Ask for Money
You may feel like your parents gave you so much in your childhood that providing for them, when they need it, is a no-brainer. But now that there is a partner and another family in the mix it can get complicated, quickly.
One of the first steps you should take toward setting financial boundaries with family members is to first learn how to talk to your partner about money. You and your partner should be on the same page when it comes to lending money.
To avoid financial fights with your spouse, it’s important to run any lending or giving away of money by each other first. Giving money to in-laws or parents isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if it’s something you and your spouse can’t afford, or if it’s an act that makes either of you uncomfortable, then you’ll need to come up with some limits.
Keeping your financial matters between the two of you can help you deflect a family member who asks for money frequently, since they won’t know what resources you have to give.
The Know-It-All In-Laws
You may be well-versed in how to deal with a nosy mother (your own), but relationships with in-laws can be even more fraught.
It may be the case that you and your spouse respect a particular parent’s financial savviness and would love to receive their advice. But, if you find an unwelcome parent getting involved in your finances and adding to your financial stress, then there are a few steps you can take to try to stop them from meddling in your finances.
Step 1: Not Sharing the Details
By keeping the details of your financial life private—such as your salaries, how much you have in savings, or how much you’re planning to spend on a house—parents should have fewer chances to chime in with their opinions.
Step 2: Being Confident
Try not to waver on your financial decisions in front of family members if you don’t want their input. When they express doubt, assure them that you and your spouse have the resources you need to handle your finances on your own.
Step 3: Changing the Subject
This may sound like an easy out, but if it works, it’s a pretty pain-free solution. If you can avoid financial conversations from the get-go, then perhaps you won’t ever have to listen to your in-laws’ insights on your spending or investments.
If the topic does arise, try to change it. Hopefully, they’ll be able to take the hint that you don’t want to discuss finances and, over time, they may learn to respect your boundaries.
Step 4: Setting Boundaries
If the first three steps don’t work, then it’s time to have an honest, straightforward conversation with your in-laws or parents. Ideally, you and your spouse should both be present for this conversation.
You could start by briefly telling the parent (or parents) that you’ve decided, as a couple, to keep your financial conversations private and would prefer not to discuss them outside of your marriage.
Finding Your Way
Just like there is no one roadmap to a happy marriage, there is no one set of money rules to follow when it comes to keeping parents and in-laws from meddling in your finances. At the end of the day, you have to forge a path that works best for you and your spouse.
As you and your spouse create a financial life together, organizing your finances with SoFi Money® might help. SoFi Money is a cash management account that allows you to track your spending and create vaults within your main account to save for specific goals.
Whether you and your spouse are building your first budget together or saving for a home together, SoFi Money can help keep your joint goals (and financial life) organized. SoFi Money offers joint accounts so you and your plus one can have access to one account together.
Ready to manage your money sans in-laws? Learn more about SoFi Money.
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