Why I Gave My Sister $7,000 For Her Wedding

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As some of you might know, I have a younger sister, who is currently in Vietnam.

The last time I mentioned her on my blog, she was considering going to Malaysia for a new career opportunity.

As the story goes, she started dating someone, and the two of them decided to get married on January 1, 2019.

What happened was the guy’s mother went to see a fortune teller who said that based on their age, they should get married either before February 5, 2019 (before the Chinese New Year starts) or wait for another two years.

Long story short, they felt that they were ready to tie the knot now rather than waiting for two more years at the fortune-teller’s suggestion.

I tried to convince my sister to wait a bit longer and not believe the fortune teller.

But she made her decision, and our family had to follow her wish.

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The wedding

Typically, the bride and groom’s families will have their own weddings at two different venues (possibly on two different dates).

However, my family and the groom’s family decided to combine the two weddings into one to make it easier for the newlyweds.

My parents will invite 200 guests, and the groom’s family will invite 300 guests. Each family will pay for their own guests. They will also have two separate gift boxes for the guests to put their envelopes (with money in them of course).

Usually, the money from guests will help pay for the wedding. You put down a security deposit for the catering and venue. After the wedding, you can use the money to pay for the rest.

I know for my wedding with Mr. FAF, it cost $4,000 which was paid for with gift money from the guests (mainly extended family and neighbors).

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Our $7,000 gift

I asked my parents how much it’d cost to organize a wedding for my sister. My dad said about $5,000. My parents said that they have the money, and that I shouldn’t worry about it.

However, now that Mr. FAF and I have paid off our mortgage, I want to take better care of my family, and that includes supporting them financially when appropriate.

I told Mr. FAF I wanted to send my parents $5,000 for them to hold a wedding for my sister and give my sister $2,000 as a wedding gift. Mr. FAF agreed.

My parents said that I don’t need to give her $5,000 since they can help my sister with that. Plus, the guests will probably offset the costs of the wedding. My sister is grateful but only want to accept $1,000. However, I know they only said that because they were worried about me. I made my decision and told them I’d stick with it. They’re family after all.

I usually don’t go around giving family or friends thousands of dollars for the sake of it. Mr. FAF and I also don’t squander money like there’s no tomorrow.

In fact, we are a frugal couple who wants to save even a quarter every single day. We pack our lunch to work, use Kirkland toilet paper as napkins, mend our torn clothes, refuse to pay $50 a month for gym membership or yoga, and own one paid-off Toyota Corolla.

We don’t want to waste money. But we are willing to spend it on something we consider important.

I want to give $7,000 for my sister’s wedding for the following reasons.

1. $7,000 is less than a month of take-home pay for us.

Mr. FAF and I take home much more than $7,000 a month. In fact, each month, we are able to save $5,000 or more.

It wouldn’t affect our finances in a majorly negative way to give my parents and sister part of our disposable income for this special occasion.

$7,000 is less than what we make a month, but it’s what my parents make in probably a year. I’m happy to help them out when I can.

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2. It’s a special day for all of us.

It’s one of the most important days of my sister’s life. And it’s the day when my parents give their daughter’s hand to someone else and have her moving out of the house.

It’s also the day when my sister will start her own family. It’s an important day for all of us. And I have only one sister, so I want to show my support from half way around the world not only emotionally but also financially.

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3. My sister never asked for any gifts.

My sister never asked me to buy her anything expensive or anything at all when I visit my family in Vietnam. She understands that I was a poor student before, that Mr. FAF and I were trying to pay off our mortgage, and that we have two young kids we have to take care of.

However, there will always be something in my life that I need to take care of financially. And since she never asked for anything, I want to make it up for her with this gift.

I told my sister not to spend the money on frivolous things, and that she should save it for a house purchase, to which she happily agreed.

4. My family has always supported me.

I’ve been in the US for more than 13 years. During those years, my parents have always supported me emotionally and sometimes financially.

I have been working full-time for the past three years and never really gave them money or bought them any expensive gifts. I want to at least relieve their financial stress and burden on this special occasion.

$7,000 is not a not in a grand scheme of things. But it’s a good opportunity for me to show my parents that I am grateful to them.

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At the end of the day, I feel happy with everything that I have: a (relatively) good husband, two adorable kids, a full-time job, a house, a car, clothes and food.

I am content with my life. Money at this point is not to make me feel complete. It is a tool for me to take better care of my family and prepare for the future.

As Mr. FAF and I make more money in the future, we will sure give more. We’re taking one step at a time, and I feel pretty happy about it.


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25 thoughts on “Why I Gave My Sister $7,000 For Her Wedding”

  • What a sweet gesture!! What did your sister say/react? Was it emotional? 🙂 I wish I had siblings myself to grill and gift haha! Was there a reason why it was $7k specifically? I see wedding bells in my best friends future (she’s like a sister to me) and I’m wondering how to approach it… It’s probably odder just because we’re not family-family…I wonder what figure I can get away with.

    • Thanks, Lily! My sister was grateful, but she didn’t want to take so much cash. But I gave it to her anyway. 7k = 5k for the wedding + 2k wedding gift. It’s totally up to you how you want to approach your friend’s wedding. You can just be there to help her or attend her wedding, and I’m sure she’d love it. My best friend got married 2 years ago, and we gave her $300. 🙂

  • Your husband agrees to you giving your sister $7k and you refer to him as a “relatively “ good husband? I think your continual disrespect of your husband is sad.

    • Hi Sarah, just because your husband agrees to give your sibling money (part of which is your hard-earned income) doesn’t make him “perfect.” Don’t you agree?

    • What’s sad is that you chose to focus on this one detail out of the entire post about love and generosity for family.

      Mrs FAF – this is an amazing and lovely story for the new year. That you and your husband were able to agree on such a generous gift highlights a) the cultural differences from the U.S. that I find so fascinating and b) that you both have come a long way in your financial journey together!

      • Thank you, JM! I realized that gifting money to family is not common in the US, so that’s maybe why some readers are a bit surprised and confused. But it happens a lot in Vietnam, especially in my family 🙂

    • I don’t think I would ever agree to giving thousands of dollars to my husband’s family for anything other than a dire emergency. It’s half his money too. And I agree, to spend $3,500 of your husband’s money and then go on to call him a “relatively” good husband seems mean-spirited. No one is perfect, but is he really okay with being publicly shamed for any shortcomings?

      • I’m pretty open about my marriage, so you can go back to the old posts and read them to see why I use the word “relatively.” I am not sugarcoating anything. My husband is aware of what I write about him and our marriage, and he is ok with that since it’s just the reality.

        I’d agree to give Mr. FAF’s family 10k or more if they need it. And maybe that’s why you and I are different? What’s the point of having money if you can’t help your family?

        • Me and my husband both agree to give money to each other’s families all the time. That hardly makes either of us perfect. I think it is very important to acknowledge the reality and the shortcomings of ourselves and our spouse (as well as positives), and you Mrs.Faf, have done both admirably. It is one of the reasons I continue to visit your blog. It is so refreshing to get a honest point of view in today’s age of curated social media where everyone tries to pretend their life is perfect.
          On a happier note, many congratulations to your sister and wish her a very happy and long married life. I am sure it must be a huge relief to your parents that she found a good guy. I hope you attended the wedding and will share some details with us.

  • Wish them all the best. Asian families may not be the best with words, but they do like to express it with their actions. 👍

    It’s funny, I had this conversation again with somebody quite recently, of why I don’t care that much about giving money here and there for certain causes/situations – When money ceases to become a problem, it’s when we should reach back, and start giving more of a helping hand.

    Hope all’s well with everything. Looking forward for the continued awesomeness in 2019. I’ve had to catch up on all the posts. 😁 (Things have been picking up a fair bit of steam for me.)

    • Thank you, Will! I’ve never told my sister I love her, but she knows I do. And this is just a small gesture to show her that I do care about her and her new future 🙂

  • Goodness — that money will go such a long way for the newlyweds; how incredibly generous of y’all! I can only imagine how grateful your family must be.

    I love hearing about how other cultures approach weddings and marriage. SO interesting!

  • Giving generously to family back in Korea (and in the U.S.) is a motivating factor for us to get out of debt. I hope your sister and her new husband are wildly happy in their new partnership. (Also, January is totally the best month to get married–not that I’m biased).

    • Mr. FAF and I got married in January too! There’s something about people’s belief that the beginning of the year is the best time of the year, I think.

      That’s a great motivation. And actually, that’s our motivation to work hard and get out of debt too. We want to take the best care of our little family and our parents!

  • This is so lovely. If I had your income, I would do the same for my family in a heartbeat. Now your sister has some $ for a home purchase., and your parents saved a year’s worth of income with your help! I think this is what you’ve always wanted to do, and how awesome to start the new year off with such an amazing gift.

  • That was nice of you to give your sister some $ gUaP $. She can use the money to start an online side hustle and work online in her spare time to be a future “side hustle millionaire.” If there’s anything I love about the internet, it’s the opportunity to start out small and capitalize in feeling big and tall. 🙂

  • Hello:
    Long time reader here but first time commenter. I have been following your blog for a year or so now and at first I thought your blog was really depressing and full of negatives but I came to fall in love with your honesty and transparency of everything that you write about in your life.

    I too are from a south east Asian country and have similar humble beginning as yours. This post really hit me home because I recently gave one of my cousin who is like an older sister to me $5,000 to come visit us in America. You see she has been there for me when I was little and helpless. Two years ago, we found out she has breast cancer at the age of 38 and we thought we were going to lose her but she fought cancer hard and survived. So this was more like a I love you and good job for beating cancer’s ass gift from me and my husband.

    • Hi Sam, thank you for following the blog! That’s such a generous and meaningful gift from you and your husband. I’m glad your cousin overcame such a big health hurdle in her life. 🙂

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