or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Frugality & Finances › Is $50 enough or just an insult?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Is $50 enough or just an insult?

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
My sil has issues galore, the end result being she is chronically in financial crisis. Honestly, I don't think at this point she can learn new ways to manage her finances. I do know that the stress of her situation takes a serious toll on her mental/physical health. We used to send her the occasional $50, but dh was determined not to make it a habit that she would come to expect our help. MIL thinks that $ will only be a help if SIL can count on it each month... and I am starting to agree w/ MIL. If the goal of us giving the money is to lessen SIL's stress, then being able to count on the $ would work towards that goal.

Now for the question... at this time I really think we can only afford to send her $50 on a monthly basis. We've got a number of quite large and unavoidable expenses coming up this year, so to promise to send more might cause a problem. (There may be months were there is extra to send, but I don't want her counting on it). So would $50/month sent say in the 3rd week, be a help, or just an insult? I really don't spend any time w/ SIL anymore and can't get a good read on how she would interpret the help. She's used to being bailed out by MIL, but MIL's $ is short now. fyi, DH's family tend to think that he is flush w/ $ because he is the only one w/ steady work and some financial sense.
post #2 of 46
No, I don't think it would be an insult at all. If she was going to be insulted by that, she should try to get her finances in order by herself. I think the fact that she would accept it is a sign that she has no room to be insulted.

I would, however, caution you to give it if you think your dh will become resentful. I have a little sister who is a notoriously financial wreck, and one day she called me from the brake shop because she had no money and couldn't pay $380 for her car to get it out. She was babysitting for me every Saturday then, so I gave her my checkcard number to pay for the brakes and told her that she could then work it off. Well, that would have worked fine except that every time she called me and said she couldn't come because she had something come up or was too hungover or whatever, I was seething. I would have been irritated anyway, but the fact that she owed me money anyway just sent me over the edge. Finally I blew up at her and said some things I really regret and it has taken us a long, long time to really patch things up. I think I would have been better off if I'd just offered to pick her up from the brake shop and let her figure things out on her own. It was HARD on our relationship. Anyway, if you can give it with a more charitable heart and mindset than I had, I commend you and think you're doing a great thing.
post #3 of 46
I would not give cash. If anything I would agree to give a $50 FOOD CARD per month, one that can only be used on groceries (not Wal-Mart). Maybe I'm cynical, but I don't think this is going to help your SIL learn to manage her money. SHe has to learn that on her own. Offering a food card is IMO more like offering to take care of a basic expense partially. IT's giving food instead of giving her $$. I would feel less resentful if I knew the $$ was going for something like food. If she has another need (like clothes, medical bill, ect.) that you would *like* to pay, then offer to do that one specific thing at that time. Sounds like a tough spot to be in.
post #4 of 46
my advice would be - don't send her cash. pay a bill / part of a bill for her instead. what happens if you find out she takes the $50 and blows it at a casino or for a night out drinking or something else that you think it foolish when she has other bills to worry about?

whereas if you decide to say pay her home telephone bill each month, it's still helping her but without some possible issues with you guys getting annoyed at how she spent it.

i am assuming it would bother you if she blew it on nonsense, b/c it would bother me. you guys might feel differently.
post #5 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Free Thinker View Post
I would not give cash. If anything I would agree to give a $50 FOOD CARD per month, one that can only be used on groceries (not Wal-Mart). Maybe I'm cynical, but I don't think this is going to help your SIL learn to manage her money. SHe has to learn that on her own. Offering a food card is IMO more like offering to take care of a basic expense partially. IT's giving food instead of giving her $$. I would feel less resentful if I knew the $$ was going for something like food. If she has another need (like clothes, medical bill, ect.) that you would *like* to pay, then offer to do that one specific thing at that time. Sounds like a tough spot to be in.
This is true, but if she really isn't a good budgeter, she could just take fifty dollars that she WOULD have spent on food, and to something else. My sister is like that. "Oh, I don't have any money for groceries...wanna go see a movie?" Stuff like that.
post #6 of 46
I would do something like pay her water bill (ours is about $50/mo)
post #7 of 46
Do you know the ins and outs of her budget? Perhaps you can offer to help sit down with her and the two of you work out a budget. Then maybe if you see what her actual expenses are, you can see where the $50 would best go.

FWIW I don't think it's necessarily "wrong" to give it in cash. Unless she is prone to spend it truly foolishly, like alcohol or whatever, who knows what she could use that $50 for. At this point if someone gave me $50 and told me to go wild, I would probably spend it at Walmart, but not in getting "fun stuff" - I'd probably spend it in the hardware section, buying a lot of little things that our house needs, like light switch covers or extension cords. Or I might go to the thrift store and stock up on misc things we needed for the household. Just because it's not spent on a hardcore necessity like food or a water bill doesn't mean it will be spent frivolously. But you know your sister best.

ETA: Also, and this is really kind of OT, I don't think people who are doing poorly financially should NEVER get a night out either. Everyone deserves a little enjoyment out of life. If you live near your sister, perhaps you could use the $50 to take her out to lunch once a month, catch up, etc. That way you're both getting something out of it.
post #8 of 46
I don't understand why you're giving her money at all. I don't see how it's really going to help her if she's not learning how to manage her finances.
post #9 of 46
I would think if it were something she was interested in- learning to manage finances, that it may help. But even then, I would maybe get her some good books, not send money. Unless she had some clear cut goals and it was evident it was really going to be spent helping her. But just giving cash is probably not the best. Lots of things look appealing when you've got cash in your pocket. I use cards because they keep me from spending. Maybe I am weird, but cash doesn't work for me.
post #10 of 46
The amount isn't an insult.
I don't think more money is going to help her get better if she doesn't know how to manage it. I agree with paying a bill or sending a grocery store gift certificate instead of cash.
post #11 of 46
Why is your SIL chronically low on money; what is her situation that her income doesn't meet her expenses?

Does she need help in finding a better job or second job? Does she need cheaper childcare?

Does she need to pursue child support from an ex-spouse? Or to get a leeching friend or boyfriend out of her life?

Does she need to find a cheaper place to live? Does she need help in accessing any community resources she may be eligible for? If she has a lot of old debts, would credit counselling lower her monthly expenses?

Or is she just a hardcore addict of some kind, and you KNOW where her money goes and are just too polite to say?

These are all just possibilities I'm thinking of as to why a person might need to take money from relatives, month after month.

If she is constantly broke due to spending her disposable income on bad habits, then it's pointless for you to send her anything. Tell her that when she is ready to seek help for her addiction, then the money you are NOT sending for her maintenance, will then be offered to pay for treatment.

If she is broke for the reasons I listed above, ie she truly has no disposable income, then perhaps you, your dh, your mil, anyone else close to her, could do something to help her change the situation: something like help her network to find a better job, a cheaper rent situation, etc. She might need immediate financial help right now, but shouldn't the goal be for her to become a self-supporting adult like everyone else?

Hope this makes sense, I was up very late last night! OP, it shows what a caring person you are that you are willing to send assistance to your sil, no questions asked!
post #12 of 46
i have to agree with the PPs

giving her money when you know she is financially irresponsible is like giving a recovering alcoholic a bottle of wine. it may seem like a nice gesture, but likely, the gift will be used in a bad way.

first offer to come over once a month, or every two weeks, have her gather her bills, and show her how to get things together, write out the checks yourself, and mail them for her. she may truly not know how to manage her money, or even budget.
if she's not keen on that. then offer to pay a certain bill each month (water, phone, internet, something about $50) or a $50 food card like someone else suggested.

thats my 2 cents!
post #13 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
I don't understand why you're giving her money at all. I don't see how it's really going to help her if she's not learning how to manage her finances.
I completely agree. This is not going to help her learn to live within her means at all. What about offering to help her with a budget each month? Maybe just starting small, like keeping track of grocery bills and finding ways to cut costs there at first would help her see that it isn't impossible.

I agree with the PP that said that you are very caring to want to help her--it's so hard to watch someone you care about take their finances down the drain! I hope she will listen to you.
post #14 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
I don't understand why you're giving her money at all. I don't see how it's really going to help her if she's not learning how to manage her finances.
Like I said, at this point I don't think my SIL will ever learn financial wisdom... too many mental issues/habits that are too far gone,kwim?

I guess what I'm really wanting to do is let her know that we see what she is going through and we care. Even if she does blow the $ on something I would not choose, my main goal is for her to feel like someone gives a darn about her. Does that make sense? Admittedly, I would love for the $ to go towards food or an essential bill. Unfortunately, we live on opposite sides of the country and are not close enough for me to be famiiliar w/ her bills w/out sounding overbearing (don't think she needs lectures, she knows things are screwed up, but she has a dh who is an absolute financial albatross).
post #15 of 46
If the goal is to let her know that you care about her, then sending her a gift (or repeated gifts) does sound like a nice gesture.

If the problem is her DH, and not her own personal spending, then I'd go with a grocery store or gasoline gift card. It shouldn't be too hard to find out what stores are near her so the card is actually useful, and then it's something her DH can't mess up with.
post #16 of 46
Thread Starter 
From this distance I don't have a great grasp on what goes on w/ SIL, but this is what I think is happening:

SIL gets disability check at beginning of month. She, but moreso, her dh think "yippee! We got money!' and they/he go buy stuff w/out budgeting for the month's bills to see what $ will be needed later in the month. Her dh works, but doesn't make great $ and switches jobs a LOT. Honestly I think SIL's disability is what keeps a roof over their heads and the barest basic needs met (SIL is the cash cow for the household)... I don't dare get started on what I think of her dh... that would be a loooong rant. For whatever reason, she won't dump him even though it would be the best thing for her in so many ways (ways I think she can no-longer see).

Anyway, when the $ has run out about the 3rd week each month, SIL is fielding the calls from bills/creditors and trying to put food on the table while her dh gives her grief. At least it is just the 2 of them. No young kids.

Ideally, she would have some competent person managing her finances/bills and giving her a weekly allowance. Perhaps if we are able to move closer in a year or so, I can make that offer, but I seriously doubt her dh will go for it. I think there are some shady areas where his finances are concerned that he wants to keep hidden.
post #17 of 46
Thread Starter 
I'm able to get VISA gift cards through our credit union that are in her name only. So if I decide to go ahead w/ this plan, that is the way I'll go, so her dh cannot access the $ (unless he coerces her, but there's nothing I can do about that)
post #18 of 46
If she gets Disability, does she also qualify for Food Stamps? That might be something worth looking into, and it would be a longer-term solution than an extra $50 here and there.

I'd also try to encourage her to pay all her bills in the beginning of the month, and then play "oh, goody, free money!" after the bills have been paid.
post #19 of 46
Isn't there a program for people on SSI that have these issues. A financial guardian of sorts. That way bills are all paid, and money given out weekly, not monthly.
post #20 of 46
Instead of sending her money, I'd send her a personal finances textbook. Then I'd try to discuss it with her, and if she seems enlightened at all, THEN i'd send the money.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Frugality & Finances
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Frugality & Finances › Is $50 enough or just an insult?