Some attribute financial disparity to choices (good and bad), marriage, luck, privilege etc. and all these could be real factors. Rather than leave it to any explanation, these are the definitions’ of sibling financial disparity, from an economic / financial perspective:-
#Definition 1: While one sibling is doing exceedingly well, the other is struggling to make ends meet
#Definition 2: While one sibling is doing reasonably well, the other is not as affluent as their sibling is
Any of these definitions may apply to you; however, how this disparity plays out for siblings largely depends on actions based on positive or negative attitudes towards each other, oneself and about money/wealth.
So, how should one deal with the financial difference without deteriorating sibling-and-family ties?
Be cordial. Treat financial/wealth related affairs as a business transaction and consider the pros and cons of entering into such an arrangement
Here Are 5 Common Sources Of Family Wealth-Gap Feuds & How To Handle Each Situation
Scenario 1: The “Selfish Wealthier Sibling” Claim
People have a habit of labelling others as selfish when they disappoint us, especially where one's ego is bruised. “Selfish” is a common word, you’ve probably heard it being used or whispered around at family events – as people volunteer to determine who the “hero and leech” of the event’s success is.
To avoid the downward spiral of blaming each other as entitled and selfish, have matter-of-fact conversations’ about family-shared activities, shared financial ventures and if you require assistance (after all, everyone needs help in some way).
For example, the wealthier sibling may require the lesser affluent sibling to volunteer more of their time to check-in on their parent(s) for a real-time assessment and help with updating a budget while the wealthier sibling makes financial contributions to their parent(s) budget.
Scenario 2: The “Lazy Sibling” Claim
In this scenario there is a perception that the less successful sibling’s work ethic is lacking or not-good-enough. This a sweeping generalisation that will most often not be true of the sibling. Rather than assigning the label ‘lazy’, an understanding of the events that led the sibling into that situation should be sought.
Understand what is, what’s required, and how to determine the right resolve - for example is your sibling in need, by no fault of his or her own? Are they lazy about watching their spending? Lazy about saving up? Lazy about earning or growing their earnings? etc.
For example, if the sibling can comfortably meet their household budget, the wealthier sibling can ease the financial burden by opting to pay their college / training course fees, their medical bills (etc.)
Scenario 3: The “Family Crisis” Affair
Where sibling disparity goes by definition.2 above, family conflict occurs due to the assumption of financial inequality when the siblings have to take care of their family i.e. parents, other siblings and grandparents.
Here’s how it often plays out - either the wealthier sibling(s) may give generously and not resent it or the wealthier sibling may give and are resentful because it’s not an equal takeaway for / by the less affluent sibling(s). Sometimes, the less successful may refuse help or resentfully contribute to what they believe are drop-in-the bucket costs, for their wealthier sibling(s).
To avoid finger-pointing and unfair support-and-distribution; it might be a good idea for the wealthier sibling(s) to contribute the money, and other sibling(s) to pitch in via non-monetary ways, like with their time and providing physical help.
Most families have traditions that require every family member to attend and participate (birthdays, religious holidays, graduations etc.) Ensure that all planning is prompt and agreeable to all parties involved: there should be an understanding about the roles the wealthier sibling(s) and less affluent sibling(s) have.
For example, if two of four siblings want to host a family event or trip, the two should be willing to equally divide and financially cover the less affluent sibling(s), parent(s) and all who are invited / tagging along.
Remember, smart money moves start with smart decisions. Consider each person’s availability and financial goals.
Do not assume that one person’s financial need is a financial want for everyone (and vice-versa)
Scenario 4: The “Inheritance” Affair
Inheritance disputes have made many rich throughout the decades and remains one of the top sources of conflict across humanity.
This scenario is a tentacle-like situation that just keeps wrapping, tagging and twisting when you ignore and/or poorly handle the planning stages.
Inheritance is a source-of-conflict that can arise between parent(s) and children, mistresses, sibling(s) and their spouses / in laws, sibling(s) and sibling(s), grandchildren and grandparent(s), aunt(s) / uncle(s) and their niece(s) and nephew(s), step families (etc.)
Inheritance is an issue when the parent(s) or a family member does not have a legal agreement / will, which formally addresses how their property or possessions are to be distributed and/or custodianship terms.
Inspite of any sibling(s) financial status, the division of assets and custodianship must be legally divided and not by the parties involved in the dispute; even if the parents or the person looking to setup a will / division of assets is alive
Scenario 5: The “Other Half” Affair
“Yes, Dear, No Dear, Maybe Dear, I Don’t Know Dear,” can easily be default phrases when your spouse is involved or questions your relationship with your family (aka. their in-laws), while under the illusion that you’re keeping the peace at your own home.
When you’re married, “we” quickly replaces “you” and that includes financial decisions.
You’re able to get your house in order, as well know, exactly how much you can contribute and your availability to help
For example, if the less affluent sibling and their spouse are paying off their car loan – the wealthier sibling, (who’s also married), may take on a less strenuous financial contribution to their parents, without financially disrupting their family’s financial future.
Your spouse is more likely to know your blind-spots and can encourage or warn you when you’re holding back and/or when you’re going overboard with your financial plans, contributions etc.
For example, if talking to your sibling(s) is a daunting task - your spouse may be better suited to step-in without undermining your ego.
For those who are too quick to say “no” or be dismissive: this undesirable trait encourages conflict. By involving your spouse, he/she can appeal to your compassion by saying, for example, “You were harsh with your sister / brother. Why not help them set up an account to save up for a new laptop and they can learn how to save for future larger purchases too, and you can check-in weekly to see if your sister / brother is making headway”.
On the flipside, if saying “no” is a problem for you, your spouse can cut-off enabling behaviour by saying, for example, “You can’t keep giving your sister / brother money, she / he is spending it on gambling.”
By being considerate and rational, you can quickly resolve existing and potential hurdles that destroy families due to financial disparity.
Balance Your Best Interests. Grow Together & Learn Together
Whether this article applies to you or someone else you know, you’re better off understanding that life circumstances play a huge role in your sibling and/or family relationship and your financial status.
To resolve the challenges of “sibling financial disparity” often leads to questions like; Are you comfortable reaching out and asking your sibling for help? Should you take a loan from your younger sister / brother? What sort of help are you comfortable asking for? How much and how often? Do you have collateral to repay the help? (etc.)
Don’t stress out, every family is different. Each has its own set of problems and solutions to match, no matter the cause(s) of conflict.