Every month, we get at least one call from my H's mom or sister to ask if we can give them some money. Sometimes they say it's a loan, but we always agree we don't expect the money to be returned. We never refuse to help. Not even when they assume things that they know they can't pay, and later on they call us to bail them. (My MIL is a dog breeder and made her dog get pregnant knowing she could not afford the expenses and we had to pay for everything. She's a widow, lives from deceased H's pension, my SIL is young but works and studies)
2 weeks ago we received a call at about 11 pm on a tuesday requesting for cash, and not only we give them, we have to take it all the way to their house (20 miles to go and return). My H refused to take the money that night because he arrived from work at 10 pm and could barely move from exhaustion, so he told them he would take it the next day. The next day, when we called to arrange the meeting, they did not answer the phone nor return the calls. So when we met them on the weekend, we gave them what they requested.
It's the end of the month. We're barely making it this month because of some expenses. However, we had such a rough week that we decided to go out and eat, a dinner of 25$ for two. We invited my MIL and SIL (God forbid they saw on 4SQ when H makes a check-in), knowing they already have their monthly cheques. My H made it clear to her that she was invited but that day, she had to pay for her expenses. She later called to cancel.
Then my SIL calls my H saying that we're cheap, how come we are not paying for MIL's dinner, why didn't we take the money to them, that the expense of the dinner was little money for us. My H is a calm person and yesterday he got fed up.
Bottom line: I told my husband that we should never refuse to help them, no matter how strangled we were on our finances. But now I feel our finances are being scrutinized and if we don't pay for dinner out, or give them a huge bill, they are thinking "how come they don't help us? they both work, they live nicely, they go on holidays". It's not easy. It's not fair to work so hard and feel that people are evaluating your expenses to see how much you can give them to bail them.
Of course I abide by Rule Number 1 of "Dealing with the In-Laws": always let your spouse handle his/her own family. But it made me so sad yesterday, we have helped them so much and we are being evaluated because we're going on holidays after two years of saving, so they think we are swimming on money, so they just assume we refuse to help.