I don't want your money, but don't give it to her.
August 20, 2007 5:08 PM   Subscribe

My uncle recently sent me some money through my sister. And just as she always has done, she's frittered it away and I'll never see a cent of it. I don't really care because I'm used to it, and I don't care for the money either. But how can I warn my uncle without giving off a "Give me more money" message?

The tricky part is that my uncle's siblings have always been pressuring him for this and that and money. To the point that he finally decided to move several states away. I've always tried not to be like them, but he does offer money sometimes - and I've always turned it down when possible. Exceptions: the Take-It-No-You-Take-It battles I've lost, and money he passes to me through relatives.

The best way I can think of telling him is somewhere along the lines of: "Grandma told me you sent me some money to me through my sister, a while ago. I really don't need any of it and don't care for any of it, but don't send anything through my sister - she'll take it." And to him, so used to the subtleties of money-grabbing, that may come off as "I didn't get any of the money, please re-send."

And why don't I want my sister getting the money? I don't want her to pinch my uncle for more money than she already does. I'm guessing that she may (if she hasn't already) use the "Xere asked for money, I'll pass it to her" excuse.

MeFi experts, please suggest to me a way to handle this with grace and proper etiquette.
posted by Xere to Work & Money (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Say something like, "I really appreciate your gifts, but my sister, bless her heart, isn't the best with money, and if you give her money to give to me, I usually don't see it. Please do not re-send any past gifts, but I just wanted to let you know this.

"I feel a little awkward bringing this up, but since you're kind enough to send me the money, I thought you deserved to know that it is not reaching its intended recipient."
posted by jayder at 5:13 PM on August 20, 2007 [7 favorites]

don't even tell him that she spends your money. just thank him for the gift, and give him your current address.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:21 PM on August 20, 2007

what jayder said.
posted by desjardins at 5:28 PM on August 20, 2007

Best answer: I don't think you should be at all concerned about covering for your sister or feel that you are somehow rude or tattling to let him know what's going on. He needs to know this, especially since you suspect that she may use your name as an excuse to wheedle more money from him. I think the graceful way to handle it is saying something like this:

"Uncle, thanks for generously trying to give me money through my sister. You should know that I did not receive it and that this has happened in the past when you've given money to her that you meant for me. The good news is, I'm doing just fine and don't need the money, so please do not resend it. Please know that I love you and that your good wishes are all I really need."

If you really don't want to tell him what happened, then ask him to always check with you first if someone else tells him that you need something from him before sending anything on either to you or another family member. Accustomed to this sort of behavior from your family as he is, he'll probably figure out the rest for himself.

Poor man -- how awful for him to be treated this way by his own family. Good for you for not joining the rest of them by trying to exploit his good will.

(On preview: or use jayder's less wordy and more gracious version.)
posted by melissa may at 5:31 PM on August 20, 2007

Tell your uncle. And while you are at it tell him exactly what you wrote in your post. Have an actual conversation with him about it.

If he is a generous person and wants to give to you of his own choice, you should respect that. Maybe he likes giving to people who don't ask. You can always give it to charity-or turn around and get HIM something nice with it.
posted by konolia at 5:34 PM on August 20, 2007

Probably a terrible idea, but send him a link to this page and an explanation? The fact that you're trying very hard not to ask for money comes through loud and clear in this post.

Your feelings about your family also come through loud and clear, though.

Barring that, I think what you said you had come up with sounds very good.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 5:39 PM on August 20, 2007

I think being very matter of fact that neither this money, nor money he has sent you in the past via your sister has reached should convey exactly the right message. If you were money grubbing, this wouldn't be the first he'd heard of it.
posted by Good Brain at 6:20 PM on August 20, 2007

you know, i had another thought: here's a way you can tell him directly that things going via the sister aren't getting to you without getting weird about money. send him a note and say that you had heard he'd sent you a card/letter (not money) via your sister.

so, in a light way, say, "grandma told me you sent me a letter via lucy. thanks for thinking of me! i'm sorry i haven't actually had a chance to read it--you know lucy, most things that go into her house never come out again. but i was glad to hear from you. here's my address so you can send mail to me directly from now on. i hope you are well. [other platitudes as appropriate]"
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:48 PM on August 20, 2007

"Uncle Elmo? Yeah, it's me, Xere. Listen, thank you for sending me money, but as I've told you before, I really don't need it. After all, (list reasons why you don't need it so he can feel comfortable you're not the charity case he thinks you are)."

"I'm not sure if my sister is facing hard times, though, because she borrowed all the money you sent to me through her."

"No, I only found out because grandma mentioned it. I don't want to complain, and nothing against sis. But please don't give me any money. If you do, I'll just buy something for you with it."

On preview, what thinkingwoman said.
posted by Pants! at 6:55 PM on August 20, 2007

I second Jayder and Melissa May.

You shouldn't have to cover for your sister or her actions.

Be honest but tactful and at the same time truthful.

Emphasise that you don't need the money, appreciate the fact he's thinking of you, but that your sister has spent the money before you received it.

And yes, give him your direct postal address so if he wishes to send you anything, he can do so directly.
posted by chris88 at 6:58 PM on August 20, 2007

First I would demand it all from your sister, then go to your uncle w/what jayder said.
posted by uncballzer at 6:40 AM on August 21, 2007

Best answer: please DO say something! i had a similar instance, but substitute Father for Uncle and Mother for sister and you get my scenario. it was years after the fact, and after Mother had died, that Father mentioned money that was supposed to be specifically for me. never saw a dime of it, and he never connected that she wasn't giving it to me and was sore about the fact i was never thankful to him.

while your uncle may not wonder why you don't thank him, etc., he should at least know that the intended recipient of his generosity is not receiving said gift.
posted by kuppajava at 10:20 AM on August 21, 2007

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