Accepting financial help from family

I’ve been pretty broke since September, when I started a Master’s degree. I’m not doing too badly - I’ve cut my expenses down and I’m short about $100 dollars (or maybe $200) every month. Okay, maybe some services are going to be cut off this month if I don’t find extra money for the bills, but I’ve been there before, and I can live on rice and instant noodles for a month or twelve.

I mentioned the shortfall in passing to my parents, and they mentioned it to my grandmother, who wants to give me $500 a month toward my schooling. I’m torn about what to do. I need some money, but not that much. Really, I can make do with just an extra $100, and the decision to pay so much for a Master’s degree was mine, and nobody else’s. She is insisting that the money (about $6000 until I finish my degree) must be a gift, not a loan, and the amount is non-negotiable. My parents say her feelings would be hurt if I don’t accept.

I know why she’s insisting - she’s been acting like the family bank every time someone comes across an unexpected expense. My cousins have made some pretty bad decisions (dropping out of high school, having children out of wedlock, supporting a live-in unemployed boyfriend…) and have been relying on handouts from my grandmother every month to survive. I don’t want to be like them - I don’t want to take advantage of my grandmother’s generosity.

The reason she won’t let me pay her back is that she’s 87 years old, and she doesn’t figure she’ll need the money. She said if it makes me feel better, she’ll write me out of the inheritance instead. Also, as soon as I finish this degree, I plan to get married, and she doesn’t want me to go into marriage in debt. And she thinks it’s unfair that my cousins get rewarded for making bad decisions, while I struggle to get an education by myself.

I really appreciate her offer, and I really need the money and would love to accept, but I still feel bad about it. Maybe I’ve been living in Asia too long - the role of grandparents is to be supported and looked after by their children, not to be an ATM for their grandchildren’s budgeting errors. I should be sending her money every month, not the other way around.

Anyway, do you think I should graciously accept charity from my 87-year-old grandmother, or should I try to make it on my own? I’m leaning toward accepting the money and sending her a lovely hand-written thank-you note, but I’ll still feel bad about taking her money.

I think it is noble of you to want to do this on your own, but it would be wise to accept the help from your grandmother. She has graciously offered and wants to reward you for trying to better yourself. She may also be looking to gift monies to her heirs now in order to reduce taxes upon her death. It would be a huge relief to you to have the additional funds, and you could always save the additional money she is giving you for a rainy day and put it towards something charitable or helpful for your grandma should she need it later.

I would accept.

She can’t hug and kiss you. She can’t fix dinner for you or have you stay overnight at her house and play with her old toys and sit on the sofa watching TV with you. She can’t take you out to a show or a county fair or church.

Giving money is a practical way she can demonstrate her love right now, along with prayer and letters/phone calls.

My father is this way. He doesn’t hug or kiss, but he gives money. Perhaps because he lived through the depression, he realizes just how wonderful it is to have enough money, and so he is generous about helping people with his money (even though he isn’t a zillionaire). Money is his “hug.”

You say you only need a extra C-note each month? Then try to save as much of the $500 as you can so that it is available for you to give back to your grandmother if she should need it. Also, if you can really save $400 month for several months, you will have a very nice financial cushion going into your marriage. Even if you can only save a hundred a month, that’s still some extra cash at wedding time.

Make sure to write and call your grandmother regularly–at least once a week–and tell her all about your school experiences, especially your successes, and keep up with her life, too. She is giving you quite a gift.

I think you could accept and pay her back someday by helping someone else out in your family with a gift. Families are supposed to help each other out. If they did more of this there would be alot less social services needed.

I am answering from grandma’s POV that I would love to be in a position to help grandchildren with education expense, and would feel terrible if they rejected my gift and dropped out of school. I feel no obligation to bail them out of credit card debt, buy cars, or send money to spend at the electronics store, for a vacation, or to enable an immoral lifestyle (downpayment on pad with bf for example).

Unless grandma is the kind of person who uses money to manipulate people in to doing things her way I would accept the gift graciously, put it to good use and let her know periodically how it is used, and how much benefit you derive from it, what you are learning, your future plans with this degree etc. And I would study hard and watch my finances like a hawk to avoid wasting the gift. then while you should regard it as a gift, consider paying it forward, rather than paying it back, helping a younger sibling etc.

after a period of real poverty for several years when my dad got laid off without benefits or payout a few months before retirement, my mother inherited some family money, enough to ensure her comfort for the rest of her life, with plenty to spare for charity. She did support several favorite charities as well.

Mom said she did not want us to have to wait for this money for necessities, and begged to be allowed to have the pleasure of helping with a grandchildren’s medical expense, therapy, special school, scout jamboree or educational travel such as trip to Spain with HS class, art classes, music lessons etc. She especially enjoyed feeding a creative urge, and set up one grandson with a simple garage recording studio. This grandson with that nestegg is today, in his 20s, a top music exec in his own hot music co. in Detroit. Another grandchild used the gift for a music scholarship and is travelling to opera auditions around the world, and looks like he will be star one day. She discussed these gifts with the grandchild and their parents, they weren’t a matter of trying to buy a child’s love, but carefully considered. and we are very grateful.

How nice it must feel for your grandma to give a gift that will be used to help someone move up more easily, rather than continually pouring money down the drain for others.

It sounds like you are her hope for the future. She sees that finally her money will be put to good use. You did not ask. She offered.

I would take the money graciously, keep her updated on your progress, send her copies of your grades, let her become “involved” in your experiences. Once a month or so, have a Mass said for her in thanskgiving for her generosity.

Let her experience the joy of giving a gift, rather than the feeling of being used as bail-out.

Accept it w/ grace, use only what you need, and save the rest. You might be able to help someone else one day. (your grandchild, perhaps :slight_smile:

I like this idea. And I definitely agree with the other posters. Your grandmother is offering, unasked. Let her give this gift. It will make her happy to contribute to your education.

I think you will be honoring your grandmother by graciously accepting her gift and ‘multiplying the returns’, so to speak. Others here have said the same.

You say others seem to have squandered Grandmother’s gifts. Well, you be the one who doesn’t.

(And by all means write that hand-written thank you note. She will probably treasure it for the rest of her life.)

Thank you all for the advice. You have made me feel a lot better about accepting the gift, which I will certainly do, and you’ve given me some nice ideas for ways to thank her and pay it forward.

Puzzleannie mentioned that I should accept as long as she doesn’t use money to be manipulative - thankfully, my grandmother doesn’t do that! I know a lot of people whose family use money to control them, but my grandmother just feels secure in her future and wants to help her family feel the same.

I’m so lucky to have such a great family. I wish I could thank her over the phone, but she’s deaf, so I’m going to send letters - maybe I’ll e-mail my parents and have them print the letters for her, and send hand-written letters occasionally (they take so long to reach my parents’ house from Korea).

Hi JW;

I agree with others who say to graciously accept it. You know, God puts people in our paths to help us…and you are a very gracious person. You are struggling…and not over extending yourself, so it’s not like you have been wasteful, and someone is coming to bail you out. You truly need some good old fashioned help–and how nice of your grandmother to be that person God placed in your path to do that for you. I can’t recall the passage in the Bible, but there is a part that speaks to this very thing–about accepting help from our brothers and sisters. Ugh, I can’t recall now if it is even OT or NT, but that comes to mind when people have offered to help my dh and me in the past when we were starting out as husband and wife, for example.

God bless you, JW.:slight_smile:

Go for it. :slight_smile:

And write the lovely handwritten thank you notes, with chatty details about what you did with the money - she won’t want you to account for every penny, but something along the lines of, “I got a new binder for my third period class because the old one was coming apart, and I was able to get supplies for my lab in time to complete my experiment. Things are looking good, my grades are improving, and I hope to do an interview with Professor Nimblewits to see if I can get into the higher level program next term; my guidance counsellor says there’s no good reason he shouldn’t let me in. Thanks for all your support, Grandma; hope to see you for supper on Sunday.”

She’s 87, she lived through the Depression, she knows what it’s like to be in debt and not able to get out, and she doesn’t want your life to end up like that.

And she’s right about the fact that you do not want to start your married life in debt. Money isn’t everything; it is, however, the grease that keeps everything from falling off the track. Your grandmother knows that from personal experience; it’s why she saved up for her old age, and why she can now afford to help out the younger generation. Benefit from her experience and from her wisdom.

PS: I support three young people, at present, and it’s the chatty thank-you notes that I love best. :slight_smile:

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