This weekend the challenge is to decide how you are going to handle the demands of your extended family on your finances. These situations can come in several different ways, and whether you are single or married, you need to be prepared with how you want to deal with certain situations before they come up. Planning now will put you in a position where you can make the choices you want to, and help in the ways that you feel comfortable. The answers to these questions will vary depending on your situation and personal values. The only overriding principle is that if you have to go into debt to do something, you should most likely not do it.
Some families expect you to come home every year for a visit or to travel to certain places around the country or world for family reunions. When you are single or just married, these trips may not be a big deal, but as you have more children, it may become more and more difficult to pay for a trip every year for your family. This can be compounded if you are expected to travel to both sides of the family when you are married. You may want to institute an every other year or every three years rule with your families. If you need to travel to see your family, you may also want to set up an emergency fund that will pay for tickets for funerals or to visit your parents if they become ill.
Another choice you may have to make is what to do when other family members ask for financial help. There may be times when your family members come to you and ask for money because they are out of work or in danger of losing their home. This is a decision you may have to make based on all the factors that led up to the crisis. You may want to help out by providing groceries for a few weeks or other support. You may not be in a position to help at all. If you are married, you and your spouse need to come to a decision together about who you are going to help and how. If one spouse does not feel that you should help, then you should not help. You may also need to set a limit on how much you can contribute to family members.
You may need to be prepared to help care for your aging parents. This help may come either with helping them out monetarily as they need additional care at home or by providing additional care for them at home. As your parents age they will need more help with getting around, shopping and driving. You may come to a point where you need to pay for long-term care or take one parent in to live with you. Although most people in their twenties do not have to make these types of decisions, it is important to think about them now, and discuss them with your parents and siblings before the situations arise. This will help you to know what to expect and how to prepare yourself now, so you can help in the ways you want to later.
Another issue you may face in the future is the financial impact of gift giving. You may be able to set up a rotation system with your siblings, so you do not have to give to all of your nieces and nephews each year. You may also opt to give family gifts instead of individual gifts. You may also want to institute a monetary limit on gift exchanges, so everyone feels like everything is fair. You will also need to decide on how much to give for birthdays for children and adults. If you do this, you can easily budget in the expense to spread it over the year. The amount you give may depend almost entirely on your budget.