I received a long email from one of our readers who was hurting after her generosity over last December holidays left her pockets with deep holes.
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During the last holidays, she said she had learnt an important lesson in money management that she wished to share with you, my readers – about money and relatives.
It happened that she hosted a number of relatives in her house; some of whom had come from abroad. This meant making teas, meals and driving them around. These were added expenses to her normal expenditure per month.
But while she was breaking her back and raiding her pocket to make the guests comfortable, she realised they were actually exploiting her! Not once did the visitors, close family members, from abroad fuel her car even for errands she was running specifically for them.
The other relatives who came visiting them in her house were hosted at her expense. After all, the reasoning was, that was her house.
“While I am smarting from my hollow pockets, I have learnt that I will not be a fool again when hosting such guests. You see they are not the poor of Calcutta that Mother Theresa served all her life. Besides, I am not the angelic nun. My visitors were loaded with dollars - and meanness,” she wrote.
So next time she hosts such guests, she wrote, they are not going to fleece her and her days of being a ‘fool’ are over! They must contribute to the running of the home during the period they are part of the household, she concluded her letter.
How many times have you found yourself in a similar situation like this reader and disputed the saying that ‘visitors are the heart’s medicine’?
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You probably have, once or twice, hosted visitors who take advantage of your generosity. You see them lavishly spending the money they should have used for accommodation but do not know how to express your displeasure.
If you find yourself in such a situation, here is what you can do to minimize the disappointment.
• Be clear from the onset what you will provide and what you will not. Do not carry the burden of entertaining such guests who are not paupers. If they come as a family package, insist that they get a furnished apartment for the duration they will be around.
• You can take them on a ride in your car, but not all the time. They can hire a car or you can make one available for them which they can fuel when they need to use it. Long distance journeys should be at their cost.
• If visitors come to see them, let the hosted guests foot the entertainment bill. Remember they have to see them not you.
• Time. This is one aspect of entertaining that people forget to account for. For example, if you sit to do some extra work in the evenings, this aspect will be affected because you will obviously use this time instead to talk to your guests.
• Distribute financial ‘risks’. If they are siblings, talk to other siblings and come up with a schedule of hosting the guests in turns. You can have them for a week, then another brother or sister picks them for another week or so. This arrangement should be arrived upon before the visitors come so that even the duration of their stay is planned for well. Distribute duties such as who picks or drops them at the airport.
• Share the spoils. Drawing a party for these guests? Do not sweat it out alone. They are not exclusively your guests. Get everyone to chip in.
• Bills. If they stay at your place the whole time they are in the country, then make it clear that they will have to pick some bills such as water, electricity and probably a fraction of the rent.
Before you host, you must be financially ready. With the hard economic times, it is advisable you talk openly about the challenges of hosting a family and your expectations.
Do not suffer silently and end up feeling ‘used’ long after your guests are comfortably back in their abode abroad, shags or wherever!
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