Culture

How to Afford Cultural and Family Expectations

4 Tips to Afford Cultural Obligations

We shared the difference in finances when it comes to cultures and how we manage it before. Now, we are faced with a big decision due to numerous issues – how to afford cultural and family expectations.

Last year there were funerals and other expenses, the family car in Vanuatu (which is also income) needed significant repairs and we had strong pressure for new phones and other things for the family.

Since we live in Australia, the view from Vanuatu is we are super rich and can afford everything. In some ways, we are a lot wealthier, have higher incomes etc.

But we also have high expenses and it cost us around $100,000 the past few years to repatriate, set up a house, buy a car, retrain for a new job, move to another state etc.

Yet we have been constantly pressured to buy a new bus/van for the family which is about $40,000AUD or $27,000USD. Buy a boat, pay for education, retirement and more.

We have been happy to do what we can but the demands have grown and we have to make some tough decisions. It is at the point where the expectations exceed what we can do and things need to change.

Bells Beach, Australia on a work trip

How to Afford Cultural and Family Expectations

For many of you reading this, I assume you are in a position where you have extra expenses due to culture. Or you are in a relationship where the cultures are clashing with money and expectations. Or something came up suddenly and you now need the cash, fast.

Here are our tips on managing these unexpected expenses and cultural expectations in general.

1. Determine If It Is Essential

Being Caucasian (I, Ms Aspiring Millionaire, am) means so many things can be dismissed. The cultural expectations are not as strong and it is easier in some ways to decline demands.

Mr Aspiring Millionaire is from a rich culture in Vanuatu where certain things CANNOT be ignored or dismissed without causing more issues. Many cultures around the world will understand this.

There have been some things we could ease off on but others need to be adhered to. If you are facing cultural financial expenses, determine if it is truly essential, what the pros and cons are of adhering to it and what you can do.

As an example, we paid for car repairs last year as, without it, his father couldn’t work. But the phones were not essential, we gifted them for Mother’s Day.

The car we have fixed many times on a block of family-owned land in Vanuatu

2. Decide on Your Budget

What the family says you need to spend or send doesn’t matter. How much you contribute is up to you. As an example, recently, family requested $10,000 Vatu (about $120AUD) for a funeral. We sent that immediately, without hesitation.

However, the constant demand for a new bus is not in our budget and not something we are willing to do at this time.

For 2023 and the next few years, we have decided to send a set amount each month. That is it. We won’t be paying for anything extra on top of that.

If we don’t set this boundary, we will never get ahead here. Buying a house and some educational expenses for the oldest two children are top priority instead.

It is ok to set a boundary around the budget and say no to everything else! They might push and try to guilt you but the reality is you cannot help if you aren’t set up.

Set yourself up, follow your own goals and path, while continuing cultural obligations within a budget you determine.

3. Plan It Out

Realistically, everyone needs an emergency fund for unexpected and unavoidable expenses. Those in interracial relationships should also add a category for cultural expenses. We all know they will happen.

Set aside a small part of your budget now so when things come up you have some money at least to manage things. This might be for you to fly back to the country for a funeral or something else. You decide what an emergency covers and how that money will be spent.

Do not let the family know you have this account. Otherwise, there will be an endless stream of ’emergencies’ and you still won’t get ahead.

Create a plan for this account, how you will fund it, how much will go into it and what it will be used for.

A plan is essential because it is too easy to get into debt or take on too much due to cultural pressure. Know your limits, put your immediate family first and plan out what you can and can’t do.

Our neighbours in the Solomon Islands where our kids spent every day until we repatriated mid 2020.

4. Make Money

Chances are you haven’t set aside money up until this point and you are reading this because you are disagreeing over money and cultural matters or you suddenly need to find $10,000 or more.

Be honest with the family, if you don’t have it don’t say you do and don’t go into debt for it. Look at ways to make money but do it quietly. If you happen to make enough and want to send it, you can.

There are many ways you can make money fast. Here are a few we have done:

Reselling

Buying things to resell has been great for me. Especially rockabilly clothing and collectables. Know what things are worth, where to sell them and be consistent. Check out How to Make Over $10,000 a Month Reselling for exact tips on this.

Renting A Room

If you have a spare room, rent it out. For those renting, check with your landlord first otherwise you might breach your lease and that would leave you homeless. This won’t get you heaps immediately but if you have a month or so to get the money together, you might save $1,000+

Odd Jobs

Delivering flyers, cleaning, yard work, deliveries etc. There are so many odd jobs available through Facebook groups, apps such as Airtasker and delivery apps too.

If you have the time you might be able to generate an extra $1,000 or more a week with this.

Overtime or a Second Job

Again, this requires time and isn’t always feasible. If you can get overtime at work or you are eligible for a second job, it might be a good option. The consistent income will also help you budget but it can be exhausting juggling two jobs.

How We Afford Cultural and Family Expectations

Previously, we sent money and paid for things as they came up. As of now, that is not happening anymore.

We have decided to focus on our goals here in Australia. Mr Aspiring Millionaire will send a set amount each month to his parents. That’s it.

If we don’t have it here, we aren’t providing it there. By this, I mean we don’t own a house in Australia, so we are not paying for his parents retirement yet. We don’t own new cars so we are not buying them a new car. A boat would be amazing for our lifestyle here and until we have one here, we are not buying one for over there.

Did this ruffle some feathers among family? Absolutely. Do we feel better about our finances and direction? 100%!

Making these changes will see us achieve our goals here faster. This means in the long term, we will be able to provide better over there as well.

How do you manage cultural and family obligations?