Is $50 enough or just an insult? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#2 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 04:00 PM
 
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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.

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#3 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 04:29 PM
 
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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.
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#4 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 04:36 PM
 
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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.

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#5 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 04:38 PM
 
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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.
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#6 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 04:42 PM
 
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I would do something like pay her water bill (ours is about $50/mo)

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#7 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 04:50 PM
 
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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.
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#8 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 04:59 PM
 
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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.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18, and Jack, 12
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#9 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 05:06 PM
 
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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.

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#10 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 05:09 PM
 
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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.

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#11 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 05:21 PM
 
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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!
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#12 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 05:22 PM
 
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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!

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#13 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 05:26 PM
 
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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.

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#14 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 07:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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).
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#15 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 07:06 PM
 
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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.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18, and Jack, 12
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#16 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 07:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#17 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 07:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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)
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#18 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 07:34 PM
 
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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.

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#19 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 07:42 PM
 
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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.
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#20 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 07:50 PM
 
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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.
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#21 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 08:08 PM
 
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Maybe I'm the odd one out on this, but I really don't see why so many people give family members money, especially continually. I would give family members money if first and foremost I could afford 2) They were going without basic necessities - medicine, shelter, clothing, food, electricity. and/or 3) needed the money because of unexpected circumstances - losing a job, large medical bills or some other circumstance where they can no longer live within their means.

Insulting? What's insulting is that she is continually bad with money and continually expects others to bail her out because of it. If you send her $50 and she's insulted, well that'd be the last $50 she ever got from me.
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#22 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 08:19 PM
 
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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.
:

Another idea is to either see if there are sevices available (because she is disabled) to help with managing finances or pay for a financial advisor to work with her, or pay for a counselor to help her deal with some of the underlying issues. Until the root problem is solved, there is no point to sending money at all.

I speak from experience on this. At one point, long before we had kids, dh and I were always in financial crisis because we made really stupid decisions and kept begging for money from family to bail us out. When they finally stopped giving us money, it got worse before it got better, but it allowed us to experience the natural consequences of not managing money. Once we had a good plan in place and started making better decisions, then they would begin to help us out if we got in a tight spot with unexpected expenses, but we also became much more stable and less and less likely to ask for help.

We also had friends whom we loaned money to when they hit a hard spot. Unbeknownst to us, they had the money, they were just trying to save it for a down payment on a house. (they had gotten an inheritence that we didn't know about). We bought cloth diapers together to save on the shipping, but they didn't have the money and asked if they could pay us back later. Well, it was several months before we got it back, and in the meantime we were actually going hungry because it shorted us too much. I learned to NEVER lend a cent to anybody unless I knew that our expenses would be covered first. My family has to take priority over other families.

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#23 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 08:33 PM
 
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$50 is not an insult at all! If it is just the two of them, that should buy them groceries for at least a week, longer if they stretch it.

You are very kind to be thinking of her, and I think any amount you can give is generous.

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#24 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 08:37 PM
 
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I don't think it would be an insult, and I think your idea sounds fine.
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#25 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 08:41 PM
 
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I don't think it would be an insult, and I think it is very kind of you to think of her and send what you can.
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#26 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 09:31 PM
 
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I don't really have an opinion, because I can see both sides of this argument. From what you've said of her DH, though, I wonder this: Would sending her a Visa card in her name lead him to abuse her in some way to get to it? I'd worry that if he knew she had "cash" and wouldn't let him have it, it might lead to some kind of altercation. Would it be better, then, to go back to paying $50 toward some sort of bill for her? Does he pay the bills, or is there anything she pays exclusively, where the help would be hidden from him? I really don't think he needs to know about any help you're giving her.

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#27 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 09:46 PM
 
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Here's a thought, maybe they just don't make enough to pay the bills period? Unless your there yourself your making assumptions that there just spending the money on shopping sprees. Its quiet possible the money just isn't there. My moms DH got really PO'd when she wanted to help me with an expense and he had spent month and months thinking I was just wasting my money. It wasn't until I sat down and showed them a detailed budget and what money I had coming in that he realized it truly was a matter of I don't have enough income and not that I was just wasting money. It really bugs me when people assume others are just wasting money when they may not be.

Seriously?
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#28 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 09:50 PM
 
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Maybe you could get her a book like The Total Money Makeover and see if there's a Financial Peace University class near her where she can learn to budget and manage money?

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
13yo ds   10yo dd  8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds  
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#29 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 10:00 PM
 
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We're in a similar situation. My partner's brother (and his wife) are ... incredibly irresponsible about money.

We NEVER give cash because they would blow it on the wrong things.

We send gift cards to specific places. Such as grocery stores (not big ones where they can buy things other than groceries). We send gift cards to the kids for clothing stores.

In this way, they're limited in where that money is going. While they could still, technically, be buying all the wrong things ... at the very least, they'll have food and clothes for the kids.

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#30 of 46 Old 01-04-2009, 10:28 PM
 
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I don't really have an opinion, because I can see both sides of this argument. From what you've said of her DH, though, I wonder this: Would sending her a Visa card in her name lead him to abuse her in some way to get to it? I'd worry that if he knew she had "cash" and wouldn't let him have it, it might lead to some kind of altercation. Would it be better, then, to go back to paying $50 toward some sort of bill for her? Does he pay the bills, or is there anything she pays exclusively, where the help would be hidden from him? I really don't think he needs to know about any help you're giving her.
Just because he's irresponsible with money doesn't mean he will jump to abusing her. I don't know her DH obviously but irresponsible with money doesn't equal domestic abuser.

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Here's a thought, maybe they just don't make enough to pay the bills period? Unless your there yourself your making assumptions that there just spending the money on shopping sprees. Its quiet possible the money just isn't there. My moms DH got really PO'd when she wanted to help me with an expense and he had spent month and months thinking I was just wasting my money. It wasn't until I sat down and showed them a detailed budget and what money I had coming in that he realized it truly was a matter of I don't have enough income and not that I was just wasting money. It really bugs me when people assume others are just wasting money when they may not be.
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