A big reason of why I have to be wealthy, is so I can help without jeopardizing my own future.
What do I mean by that? As an immigrant, I mean being able to send back money to family members, and hand over money to aunts and uncles because your mother asked you to help out your family.
Why send back money? Because people aren’t poor because they’re lazy. Some are, to be sure… but not all of them, and I don’t like generalizations that simplify things down to: “poor people, just stop spending so much money and you’ll be rich, you dolts“….
So…. long-time OG blog readers will kind of know a bit of the saga I had with my aunt in the U.S. a while back. I won’t rehash it here, but it happened but I didn’t go into great details here. VERY kind readers reached out with resources, help and all this U.S. info I had no idea existed because I don’t even know the first place to search for something not in my own country.
(THANK YOU ALL AGAIN.)
I then, based on that advice, created a short list of what to do, and basically master planned the whole trip and situation.
This is what happened afterwards
I realized I may not have talked about this but …my partner offered to go in my stead, instead of leaving my (then) toddler alone who would very likely be distraught and unmanageable for 5 days not realizing WTF happened to Mommy, and in the end, my brother decided to go at it alone, not wanting to ‘air dirty laundry’ and make someone who was not part of our blood family have to deal with this (my partner).
In grateful exchange, I master minded the whole trip down to the super crazy details (I am talking mapping out where to drive, where to stay, and I paid for the whole transition from where she was to relocate including the hotel stays, food, etc).
I then paid for her first and last month’s rent, outfitted her entire apartment with supplies, food, furniture & appliances needed, and my brother did all the grunt work in helping set her up with a bank account, etc. It was a lot of work on his part, and I was very grateful to be able to throw money at the situation.
All said and done, I paid about $10K for the entire relocation.
Until recently, I sent back money on occasion or just bought her things she needed (I heard it via the Mama grapevine), and I only recently stopped doing this unless it was a dire emergency because I got wind that she actually bloody refused to go and accept food from the Food Banks because it was free and she “didn’t take charity”.
WTF WAS ALL OF MY MONEY THEN? Magic beans!?!?!?
It wasn’t even a big deal in that we were also helping supplement her food as well, but Food Bank food was a welcome help for her to stretch her savings.
I won’t go into the details, but that really made me upset that as someone with no options to speak of, and living on pure luck of having a sister like my mother who then birthed us children who managed to be successful in our own rights, she wanted to hold on to her pride and starve instead of accepting help from her new community who was willing to do it.
PRIDE DOESN’T FEED A HUNGRY BELLY.
After all the work and help we put into getting her to be able to ‘retire’ on her meagre Social Security and less than $20K in savings to give her a frugal but livable environment… it was kind of a slap in the face for all the work we did and money we spent to help her try and basically survive independently.
As I know you’ll all think it — yes, her situation is sad and she worked under minimum wage at horribly low pay her whole life, but as with every story, she was not completely blameless in all of this, she certainly did not save for her retirement and did things like buy an expensive Mustang because she wanted one…. and then, made poor decisions the rest of her entire life until we basically bailed her out and relocated her.
Again, not totally her fault. But she’s also not totally blameless.
Financial Literacy is the key
My aunt is poor not because she’s lazy, but that she made terrible choices because no one was around to help or teach her any better. This is why financial literacy is key, and yes, she could have learned on her own how to save her money, and invest in index funds, and not be in the position she is in now, to become well-off and successful, but the fact of the matter is that like most of society — she didn’t. She didn’t think about it, the way I never even thought about it until I was 23 and suddenly loaded with $60K in student loans.
She didn’t have the support of people around her who were able to push her past her situation and pull her up, and while she isn’t blameless, it isn’t 100% her fault either. That’s just the way it is/was, and the reason why I am extremely driven to have become, and to stay wealthy. Not just rich. WEALTHY.
(And also to push this financial literacy stuff down everyone’s throat..)
Generational wealth I will pass on in knowledge and money to my son, and he to his children if he has any. My son is not going to get off scot-free and as long as he listens to me, I will be spouting money talk his entire life.
Please also note, I don’t regret any of the spending – it was more for my mother than for myself, as I love my mother and it was painful to see her be so stressed over the situation. I have never met this aunt in my life, but she has called every year on my birthday to wish me happy birthday and asks after all of us, so there’s that connection.
Other family members needing help..
On top of this, I do send back on occasion money because when converted, it is a fortune for my extended family.
The only reason why I have been doing this recently from my savings is because my other aunt back home had to recently be admitted into a nursing home because she has a lot of health problems that became far too much for her siblings to care for her, including paying for medication and so on. You have to understand these people are 80+ and it simply isn’t physically possible for them to lift her out of bed, bathe her, move her back in, etc. They needed help.
I am not the only one sending back money, because my other family members are also helping, so that $500 once in a while (every 3 months or so) out of my savings is to help the costs be covered.
I am happy I have the money, but this is absolutely why I need to be successful AF. Not only am I expensive, I have family members I do help out on occasion (not regularly). This is just what you do, and I know not everyone agrees with it, but that’s why I have the extra money.
It’s also the reason why I am a little stressed about having to save enough money, more than enough, because then I will have my parents to care for as well as they age.
That’s all to say a few things I truly believe in, which are:
Broke is not the same as Poor
See, broke people, are the ones you see who can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, but can’t seem to cover a $500 emergency that comes up because they’ve spent every penny, or are in credit card debt. Broke people, can make any amount of money, and they simply do not live within their means. They’re broke.
Poor people, are people who simply don’t make enough money and while in some cases it could just be that they need to get a better job or a second one, it doesn’t fully explain the situation away.
People aren’t poor because they’re lazy
Sometimes people are born in circumstances out of their control, and some get out of the environment (my mother, some of her siblings).
My mother got lucky. She got out.
Some of her other siblings also got lucky. They went to other countries at the right time, and got jobs at the right time, and made it.
Today? I doubt they would have made it with the way things are going. It just gets harder and harder as the world becomes smarter and more ruthless. It was in some ways, a simpler time back then. Working hard was the key, and they didn’t need much in way of luck to become lucky, if that makes sense.
Her other siblings weren’t so lucky or as brave. They were stuck where they were for various reasons – one of which was they chose to stay back and care for my aging grandmother.
Sometimes they’re poor because they’re not lucky
Another reason, was they simply didn’t have the intelligence (and the grades) to get out.
I hate saying this about them, but it’s true — they didn’t make it into the schools they needed to get into (they were, as my mother put it “unable to study and retain any info in their brains“), and stayed where they were trying to make ends meet in a dead country, so to speak.
She doesn’t blame them and no one else in our family does – it is what it is. She just marvels at how she managed to make it out given the circumstances. They tried very hard to get out and were very motivated to leave their lives no matter how, but not everyone makes it, and my extended family is proof positive that even with motivation and drive, sometimes… it just doesn’t work out. Call it what you will, but that’s the truth.
Sometimes when you’re that poor you can only think of food
I strongly believe a lot of it had to do from basically not having their essential needs met in childhood – proper shelter without rats, solid food to eat and nutrition for their brains and bodies as they grew up, having a support system of parents who actually worked (my grandmother was constantly pregnant, and my grandfather was a formerly rich spoiled wastrel who lost his fortune on his first wife and didn’t know how to work hard because he never had to growing up, so he didn’t), and siblings who weren’t supportive but instead, acted out a real-life familial Lord of the Flies situation where siblings beat each other up for food because they were so poor, instead of supporting and encouraging each other.
My mother has a heart so big, she is even supporting siblings who used to mercilessly bully and terrorize her as a little girl because she feels pity for them. The stories of what this aunt in a nursing home whom we are helping did to her, are horrific. Truly horrific, and too private to post, but let’s just imagine how vicious girls can be.
Sometimes you can’t work even if you want to
And lastly, even though they stayed, they are a minority race in where they live, so there’s a lot of … how shall we say.. preferential treatment going to other “native” workers of the country, and they are passed over for these jobs, and given stuff that no one wants to do.
Even if they want to work, sometimes they can’t. There simply isn’t any work living in a small village, but also, in a racist one that holds you back. It’s why I feel so strongly when I hear what’s happening here.
Money smooths over these little rough obstacles
I also think it is also a question of luck, again, and family circumstance. If you are unable to make it with your intelligence alone to push past all the barriers, then you need to compensate in other areas like having family money to help by hiring tutors, parents who have time to sit down with you to study and learn new concepts, or simply just being able to be in the right crowd/group of people who help encourage and push you along.
Money, solves those kinds of problems and makes up for the deficiencies that are otherwise crippling to those living in poverty. Her family and siblings had none of that to overcome these hurdles, and this is why some had to stay where they were, and some succeeded.
AGAIN … I am not shaming any of them, so please don’t call me an ingrate ‘airing out dirty family laundry’. It simply is what it is, and that’s what life was like for my mother growing up (she is very frank and astute about it all). A lot of what I know about the family, is via her observations and words of what happened.
No one is judging, shaming or blaming them for not being successful, we’re all just thinking — okay, so what can we do?
It’s why my mother is/was focused AF on education + food
This is why my mother is so FOCUSED on making sure all her children and her grandbabies had ALL THE EDUCATION POSSIBLE (you should see the books she bought all of them, and the constant testing and educational things she gets so excited over to buy for them), and she never let us ever think that we weren’t smart enough to achieve things. It was never a question in her mind that we would all be successful, though the way they raised us so lax and haphazardly not being very strict at all, they’re lucky we didn’t end up drug addicts. LOL
She supported and encouraged us so much to push and push, and never let us give up even when we wanted to. I had one brother who wanted to drop out and work at minimum wage to have a “simple life”, and she was so angry and burst into tears during this whole exchange, that he backed down and stuck it out.
Now he makes almost 6-figures and is VERY happy. My mother smiles each time she sees him happy about something he paid for and enjoys, and says: SEE? Didn’t Mama know best? Aren’t you happy you got your degree and worked it out?
He replies: Yes yes you were right… *eye roll* … but he knows she helped him a lot, and this is why he helps her so much when he is with them, being their main caretaker / helper as we are all scattered around Canada.
(She’s totally lording his success over him because without her, he wouldn’t be here! LOL)
My mother was also adamant we all ate well, and her grandbabies all eat well. I mean we’re talking loads of ‘brain happy foods’ as she calls them, which included vegetables, fish, nutritious, wholesome foods, cooked and pureed… She went all out trying her best to feed all of us the best she could to make sure we never had a single day of hunger.
I remember being fed cod liver oil as a child to help my brain grow. I actually didn’t mind it, to be honest.
When I asked her once when I was younger why she was so into food, she looked at me and quietly said: When you grow up hungry your entire life, it is hard to concentrate on school. When all you can think about is the wolf inside your stomach gnawing at your insides, you can’t concentrate on your ABCs. You can’t learn anything, all you can see and dream about is food.
It’s the reason why when I send her photos of Little Bun she laments: HE IS SO SKINNY! He’s just skin and bones. OH PLEASE feed him more… he must be so hungry..
Me: OMG. He is a little eating machine. HE IS FINE.
All she can see is his skinny little boy arms and legs because she’d rather him be chunky and ‘well fed’, but I can see a well-fed, healthy boy.
So… I can’t begrudge my mother anything
I simply cannot and it includes helping take care of her family.
The other part of it, is letting her spend every penny she wants on anything she wants. She has $199 in savings, and a small negligible pension from work if she retires.
Honestly, my view is she might as well enjoy her money now. It’s kind of too late in her 70s to change her, and we have the means to pay for her, so let her be. I’ve definitely become more blasé over the years because I myself am in a good spot financially.
The good news, is that we are all successful children, and smart, so she lucked out that we are able to help as much as we do.
So, there is my other main reason for becoming rich and wealthy. It’s to secure myself and my family, but also so I can secure those in my immediate family who needs help, and then, to pay for my parents.