Managing family expectations may include having tough conversations with parents and relatives before you agree to help them financially. Setting boundaries with family members is always difficult, but if you do not look after your own finances first, you will not be able to support them.
Mlibokazi and Zihle, two of the contestants in the 2023 City Press | Absa South Africa Money Makeover Challenge have had to learn how to set boundaries.
“There were a lot of family members who needed my help,” says Mlibokazi, adding that it reached a point where she had no choice as she felt pressure from all angles.
Mlibokazi also had to have an important conversation with her husband about the state of their finances. “We are now saving together for emergency funds, as little as it is, but we are trying. He also keeps me honest and reminds me of my goal to be debt-free.”
Medical technician Zihle became the breadwinner when her mother passed away. She turned to credit to make ends meet and provide for her two sisters.
Through the Money Makeover Challenge, Zihle has realised that she has a future as an individual and not only as a provider and caregiver to her sisters.
“I realise I can start to plan for my own future. I can think about what happens when they finish studying, about getting a place of my own when I am debt-free and even saving for my retirement.”
Tips to help manage family expectations
For family emergencies
If you support your family, consider having an emergency fund so that you wouldn’t have to incur the expense of a loan to deal with, for example, a family funeral.
If you have a group of friends or family members who are all working, consider getting together to set up an education fund to help relatives or community members to further their studies.
You can also assist the family members to apply for bursaries and funding, including from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. It’s not always about money; information, knowledge and access are important too.
You can read more about how Mlibokazi and Zihle have gone about managing family expectations here.