How to Cope with Living in Canada while Sending Money to Family Overseas
Q: My husband and I immigrated to Canada almost 20 years ago to give our children a better life. We each work two jobs because we're also supporting family back home. We're behind on our mortgage and credit-card payments. What can we do?
A: For many Canadian families, sending money home is an absolute necessity. Their family relies on this financial support to pay for safe housing, buy enough food, obtain health care and education and support family members who are unemployed or retired.
The home country often has no way to provide the social support we are so fortunate to have in Canada.
You are faced with a challenging situation because the survival and well-being of your family back home may depend on the money you send them. This is a compelling reason to help, and you may feel morally obliged to.
However, the financial support you provide must be balanced against the needs and well-being of your family here in Canada.
The stress that comes from dealing with debt can interfere with your performance at work or could cause you to become so ill that you can no longer work.
You may also face financial consequences such as eviction, foreclosure or bankruptcy because you are unable to make all of your payments. Many families borrow from any available source to send money back home, on top of what they have already sent.
Start by taking stock of your situation and get your personal finances under control. Establish a realistic budget that allows you to pay for what you need and get your debts back on track. We'd be happy to help you with that.
Then, looking at your budget, determine what you can afford to send home while meeting your needs and obligations in Canada. While your family back home depends on your help, if they know that you'll be sending less money home in the future, they can take steps to prepare themselves.
Life in Canada comes at a cost. Finding a way to ensure the well-being of your family at home, while maintaining a reasonable standard of living for yourselves here, will give you peace of mind.