• Culture,  Life Lessons

    How to Review Goals and Cultural Obligations

    This past year was a mess. That is putting it mildly. We achieved some great things but so much of my life was on hold. No childcare, moving house twice, high achieving kids requiring a lot of my time to get them to and from events etc.

    I had no time for myself or for my $2 to $1,000,000 project. With 4 kids here and doing most things on my own, I can barely think.

    On top of that, there have been some big changes and issues with some cultural matters. I’ve written before about how we manage our cultural obligations (including sending money back to Vanuatu, planning to support the parents there in retirement etc).

    This means it is time to review my goals and cultural obligations.

    3 of the kids playing where we were living in Noosa.

    How to Review Goals

    If the goals you set aren’t working for you, it’s ok to change them. It’s also ok to take a break if you need to so you can reset and decide if those goals will truly get you the outcome you want.

    My $2 to $1,000,000 goal is mainly a hobby and bit of fun for me. As such, I do it when I can but haven’t focused on it as much as I would have liked.

    Some opportunities were suggested that would have worked great with that goal. However, it’s been months and those things still have not happened, so I am moving in another direction with it to ensure I can keep doubling my money.

    Making these decisions wasn’t easy. Here is how I reviewed my goals.

    1. Look at the Past, Compare the Good and the Bad

    Maybe you set a goal and it isn’t moving ahead as fast as you thought or it’s not providing the result you wanted. Look at what has been happening with it, both the good and the bad.

    Have you dedicated proper time and resources to the goal to ensure it happens? Was it a realistic goal to begin with? Did you have a proper plan?

    What success have you seen on the journey with this goal?

    Thoroughly review what you have done and can do to achieve this goal. Be honest with yourself. We often overestimate what we can do in some stages of life and at times we need to adjust our own expectations.

    For me, with a baby, a toddler, two teens, doing it pretty much on my own, dealing with other issues in the background plus needing to move house twice this year and having severe health issues due to a traumatic birth means realistically, I couldn’t do my goals.

    I achieved numerous other things but in this stage of life, with no childcare or help, I need to be realistic and accept I cannot do the things I wanted to, yet.

    2. What End Result do I Want?

    While we do need to be resilient and persist so we can grow, it’s also ok to ask yourself if this goal will get the end result you want? When life changes, sometimes goals we set are no longer relevant.

    If a goal won’t get you the life and end result you want anymore, and you are being honest with yourself that it truly won’t, it’s ok to change tactics.

    How is This Impacting my Family?

    Family is my everything so this is something I ask with every decision I make. If my goals detract from my family, cause stress or anything along those lines, it is not worth it to me.

    Due to all the other issues this year, my goals needed to take a backseat while I supported my family. Now, moving into 2023 and beyond, I can focus more on myself.

    3. How is This Impacting my Mental Health?

    If you set goals then beat yourself up because you didn’t achieve them or you feel awful because you can’t achieve what you set out to do, it might be time to re-evaluate your goals and choices.

    At times my mental health has suffered because the goals I set were too extreme. This impacts my family as well so is something I need to constantly check.

    4. Make Changes

    If a goal will still provide an end result that you want but it isn’t working for other reasons, work out what changes you can make so you still achieve it. Sometimes a few tweaks is all that is needed to make it easier or better.

    How to Change Cultural Obligations

    Let me start by saying, it wasn’t me that lead the decisions on this. Being Caucasian means I haven’t grown up with these expectations placed on me. We tried to make them work but due to various lies and other issues, we are stepping back.

    Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

    You cannot help others if you are struggling or barely breathing. As with emergencies on a plane where you fit the mask on yourself first and then help others, the same can be applied to cultural obligations.

    A lot of pressure was put on us to provide financially, for the parents to retire, for us to buy a new car for the family there (we did pay to repair theirs and then a family member messed around with it and completely destroyed the engine).

    We keep getting asked to buy a boat and so many other things.

    Yet, in the past few years we had to repatriate, set up our home, get residency, a commercial diving course, move states etc. All up, it’s been about $100,000 to get set up here with all of that. On top of regular living expenses.

    We did send money back, paid for house repairs, car repairs, new phones, education and more. But we have goals here that aren’t happening because of the pressure and expectations from Vanuatu.

    It is ok to put yourself first.

    How much more could you do and how much better off would everyone be if you got your own life sorted first? One thing I noticed, with the financial expectations from family is how they expected us to improve their life before even being set up here.

    Getting a house here, a second car, childcare and other things mean we can then develop more in Vanuatu. So we have started to say no and set proper boundaries.

    Let Them Know

    This was hard. Letting them know we won’t buy them a boat, a car, pay for retirement right now or anything else as we have other things we are focusing on was tough.

    Not everyone handled it well and there were some things said and done that showed true colours. That also helped solidify our decision though.

    Decide how you will let family know things are changing. You don’t need to go into a lot of detail. Set a time to call or if you are going to see them in person, it might be better to do it then.

    Outline the changes. Make it clear these boundaries are firm. Then stick to it.

    Stand Firm

    Family will push back and try to guilt you into doing what they want. Stand firm on your boundaries. If you let them keep pushing you around, you will never achieve your financial goals.

    As hard as it can be, if they behave this way, you might need to step back for a while. Don’t let them suck you into drama.

    Be clear on the life you want, the plan you have for your finances and stick to it.

    What tips do you have for reviewing goals and financial obligations?

  • 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?

  • Culture,  Save Money

    What is Insourcing and Why You Need to do it aka How to get Everyone to Help at Home

    Too often everything in the home falls on the shoulders of the mother. The mental load is huge and expectations are high. Mothers now are expected to work as if they don’t have kids and raise kids as if they don’t work.

    Research shows a woman’s workload increases when she gets married. Even more once kids are involved. The amount of us that are doing almost everything at home, working full time, doing most of the child things plus all the paperwork and mental load things is huge. Burn out is real and this is why.

    Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

    What is Insourcing?

    Insourcing is getting others who live with you to do things. In our home, we are of the view that we all live here so we all need to pitch in. This means we take turns cooking dinner, my kids pack their own lunches, whoever cooks dinner doesn’t have to clean, laundry is alternated etc.

    Although there have been many times where it slips, for the most part, having this approach means the actual chores within the home are shared. The mental load is another thing though.

    How do you get Everyone Else at Home to Help More?

    The younger you start, the easier it is. As soon as my kids show any interest in any house chore I was doing, I involved them, even though it meant the task took longer.

    Some examples, as soon as my son could walk, he wanted to help his older siblings take the rubbish out, he wanted to help load the washing machine and push the buttons. By encouraging this, I know he will turn out the same as his older siblings.

    His older siblings are 13 and 15, they each cook 2 nights a week, clean the kitchen after dinner, take the rubbish and recycling out. Once a week other chores such as the bathrooms, floors etc are rotated and they do these. We all live here so we all help and they don’t complain, they just do it.

    Involve your kids! It can be a pain in the beginning, messier and slower but it is worth it. My kids have been capable of everything including cooking dinner since age 7. My nieces and nephews are the same.

    Fair Play

    At one point, things slacked off at home. My son was a few months old, I was the only one providing financially, we were trying to get a residency visa, did a 3 week road trip in the middle of Covid to get all our stuff from another state (Noosa to Melbourne and back) and so people could meet my son.

    I ended up doing everything and I was exhausted. So much paperwork for the birth of our son, registering Mr Aspiring Millionaire, the visa, Medicare, tax, stuff with the teens. It broke me.

    Enter Fair Play, a deck of cards that really helps show just how much each person is doing, the mental load we carry etc. There is a book and cards. Both are so useful in visually showing and getting everyone in the family to see what the reality is when it comes to who does what and how much needs to be done.

    Life Admin Hacks

    If there was ever a book that would save you time and money by helping you organise everything from doctor appointments to tax, this is it. Life Admin Hacks covers every aspect of your life and budget, and provides you with resources and systems to streamline it and make your life easier.

    It is a must-read book for everyone.

    Family Calendar

    This was a game-changer in our house. While my family has been pretty good with splitting chores, no one really understood how much was required to run the home and our lives efficiently.

    Once I set up a family calendar and started putting things in, time blocking and allocating what needs to be done, they realised how much I did. Every appointment and task from car maintenance to the dentist was put in.

    A family calendar also helps everyone see if there is time to go to a friends or accept an invitation etc. We know what we are all doing and when so nothing is double booked or forgotten.

    Meal Plan

    We shop once a week and plan our meals around what is in season and on sale at the market. Before we shop, I cook what we have left or organise it into things so nothing gets wasted. For example, any vegetables that are too soft will be used in a soup or spaghetti bolognese or similar.

    The foods made from what’s left at the end of the week are typically meals we can freeze to use on a night we don’t feel like cooking. It prevents us from getting takeaway on those nights and prevents general waste.

    A meal plan makes it easy for the kids to know what they are cooking and when. It also enables us to teach them more recipes and for them to make decisions about what they want to cook or learn to cook.

    Childcare

    This one is still a juggle and a work in progress. As most of my work has always been done around the kids, it was taken for granted that I would do the bulk of the childcare. However, with a toddler and a baby, Mr Aspiring Millionaire working long hours and sometimes away overnight, it got tricky.

    With no childcare available, we had to work out options and routines to make this work better until the youngest two get into childcare or we get a nanny. Otherwise, I won’t be able to work much at all and all our goals will be on hold.

    The way we’ve ‘insourced’ childcare, for now, is the kids all play together at times. Our toddler thinks he is one of the teens anyway and they love teaching him things. Then on weekends or if Mr Aspiring Millionaire finishes early, he looks after them for set times then so I can work.

    Our main reasons for doing it this way until we can get childcare is so I can still have an income, the kids are all close and the older ones do not feel like permanent babysitters. It’s important to us that it is play, not constant childcare when they are with their younger siblings.

    Chores

    With the rest of the chores such as washing, sweeping, mopping, the bathrooms, ironining etc. I do some during the week, around the younger two. The older two chose their chores and we aim to do all the big chores on one day so it doesn’t feel like constant work.

    Since we all live here, we all help. By having that attitude and the kids being raised that way, insourcing this has been relatively easy.

    What and How do you Insource?

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