I am the oldest of five and the only one with a good job. I’m married, and my husband has a successful career too. While we are a close-knit family, this financial disparity has created resentments on all sides. My siblings have variously struggled to find careers. They are all self-sufficient but live paycheck-to-paycheck and are open about their financial struggles. This translates into an expectation that I pay far more than my share of group costs and that I pick up the tab for dinners. I don’t mind treating my family sometimes, but I hate the expectation. I hate the dinner-table “joking” that since I have a savings account, I can pay the dinner tab. I even buy my kids’ birthday presents on behalf of their aunts and uncles but never get the promised reimbursement.
I am now considering buying our parents’ vacation cabin to give my parents liquid funds and allow my parents a few more summers up there. I also want my kids to experience the joy of the mountains I had. But I am filled with dread knowing I’ll be bombarded with requests to use it (for free) for weekends with friends, etc. I had planned to rent the cabin out most weeks to recoup some of the costs. I sometimes want to scream: “While you spent your 20s flitting from job to job, taking months off to travel, and buying luxury goods, I was eating ramen in grad school and socking away every dime to pay down debt! We made different choices! I love you all, but it is not my job to pay your tab or provide you with free vacations. You’re adults!” I need to figure out how to draw boundaries without ruining these relationships. Am I being a miser?