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Budgeting 101 - Part I: Finding the right budgeting strategy

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

Figuring out budgeting and what that not only meant for me, but how that would work for me, was one of the best wake up calls ever!

Pacific Island culture does not necessarily frown on budgeting – but it does see it differently in comparison to Western standards. Personally I don't think they should be compared (because, 'apples, oranges'!), but for the sake of this blog, I'll try and be as broad as possible.

For us, wealth (particularly familial wealth) is communal, and to be used by the family.

It is not uncommon to have siblings contribute together towards extended family’s children’s school fees; or combine money for a family wedding, or death.

As alluded to in a separate blog, the unintended consequence of further education for some of my peers, has resulted in what I call ‘culture-induced overwhelm’.

So for you to say to your family ‘I’m budgeting’ or when you do tell your family you do not have enough funds to lend them, but they see you spend that money somewhere, there is a quiet backlash.

By Western standards, you are entitled to do as you please with the money you have worked for – but by Pacific standards, you are ‘selfish’ and not respecting your elders or putting your family first, when you withhold your money for yourself.

I use the term ‘family’ loosely, because the word ‘family’ is all-encompassing for us.

Matriarchal or patriarchal, we are tight-knit communities, who are raised to treat our aunts and uncles like second parents – our cousins, once or even twice removed (and further), as we would our own brothers and sisters.

Some of us are even raised in homes together with our cousins.

Some get passed through aunt’s and uncle’s homes growing up because our parents are back home in the provinces and not living in Honiara (Solomon Islands’ capital) where most of the best schools and opportunities for further education, are situated.

There is then an unspoken equivocation that you are hence indebted to them for assisting in raising you, most particularly if you become well-educated and hold a decent job.

But the yardstick for measuring that debt is transient.

Is it $5,000 or $50,000?

Is it re-entering the cycle and taking on another less fortunate child in your family and also putting them through school?

I think there has to be a give and take.