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#1 of 17 Old 07-30-2012, 06:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am feeling like a real loser these days, and need a place to vent. I would also welcome any suggestions...

 

I have 2 "issues" (really 2 solutions) going at once, and 2 teenage dc's to hate me - one for each!

 

The bottom line problem is that income doesn't equal expenses. About $1000/month difference at the current lifestyle. Obviously, I can either add to income, or decrease expenses. I am meeting strong resistance to either approach, while one kid supports each plan.

 

Plan #1 - Extreme frugality. We already live pretty modestly, so this answer is fairly radical, and frankly I question if we could realistically maintain this long term, and even if we could really cut enough to make it work. BigGirl, 17, is enthusiastic about this - she enjoys planning and cooking economical meals, has little interest in cable TV, and shops at thrift stores anyway. YoungSon, 16, on the other hand, loves him some cable TV, junk food, current video games, and name brand clothes and shoes. Grouchy, nasty teenagers are no fun to live with. I don't mean to give the impression that he is a spoiled jerk. He contributes to the household in a big way. But these things are important to him. Him getting a job and supporting his own habits is a long term possibility, but he is mildly autistic, and this would be a very slow process.

 

Plan #2 - Get a house together with my mother. YoungSon is actively supportive of this - he looks forward to spending time with his grandmother, and to living in a bigger house. And the end of our financial woes. BigGirl, on the other hand, sees this as an invasion of her privacy. She is homeschooled, so is home alone while I am at work (YoungSon will be back in school when summer ends). She treasures having the house to herself, and dreads just the presence of another human. We just ended a room mate situation, and then summer came, so she had really been desperate to be alone again. Let alone that she doesn't have much to do with grandmother.

 

From my point of view, well, it is complicated. My mom, 93, is my best friend, and I love her company. We lived together until a couple years ago, when I had a couple high needs foster children, and her need for peace and quiet clashed with the ambient chaos level in the home. Foster kids are gone now, and peace reigns. Mom has been living in a personal care home, where her care has been more than adequate, but with some major (and valid) gripes. Most of the problems have to do with communication - she has been deaf all her life, and reads lips. All her caregivers are non-native English speakers, and difficult for her to understand. They don't understand her either, and many minor communication issues have become obstacles out of proportion. If she lives with us, we will hire friends to help with her care, and the communication will not be an issue. It will be demanding of my time, however. I will need to be home to cook a real dinner every night (independent teens can manage on their own occasionally, but not provide for her). I would need to make arrangements to go away for a weekend. I will need to keep the house to a higher standard than when it is just us. She is a little OCD, and I feel she has earned that right. But it doesn't come naturally to me! Money wise, it would be great - she would pay me what the personal care home charges, and even after paying a daytime helper, the increase in rent for an appropriate house, increased utilities and food, I would still come out ahead. Way ahead. Enough that I could seriously expect to be saving at least $1000/mo. AT LEAST! And that would be with no lifestyle changes, moneywise. The bad news is that Mom can't live forever - I would not be able to afford the increased rent after she dies. The good news is that I would have some money in savings for the first time in my life.

 

The situation is further complicated by the fact that to save the money for moving (1st, last, deposit, plus movers) we would have to share this tiny dump of a house for 2 months. While the right floorplan in a new home would be able to meet BigGirl's need for privacy, it would be very close quarters at this place for now. Rough on all of us, Mom as well.

 

Thanks for the chance to write this all out. I would welcome any insight/advice. I posted this here because the issues from the kids' points of view are pretty much money related. My own emotional perspective comes into play, but it is really the question of which kid to support in financial decision making that has me boggled. How far can you ask your kids to bend?


Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)

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#2 of 17 Old 07-30-2012, 07:32 PM
 
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I'm not in the same situation but I have teens of similar ages and dispositions. Honestly, I would move in with mom and try to give your dd as much "alone time" and privacy as possible. I also have a third and have actually built a shed in my backyard to provide this for my 16 yo ds. This is not just about them or your mom. If you can create a cushion of savings this will be good for YOU. The kids will not be in your home forever and a bit of a cushion would allow you to live more comfortably.
If your mom will have some care givers she won't necessarily be at home all day every day. I work at a senior center and we have an incredible array of activities going on every day. If your mom and caregiver could go to activities 1-2 days a week on a regular basis your dd would be able to plan for that alone time.
Sounds like your mom is pretty reasonable. The gift of spending the last few years with her could be priceless for you all (granted I am slightly biased - my dad just extended the olive branch to his brother over a fight they had 20+ years ago)
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#3 of 17 Old 07-30-2012, 09:14 PM
 
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Me personally, I would have to go with choice number one. I totally understand your daughter's need for privacy. Your son can learn to live without some materials things for a while until he brings in his own money. Living with less is worth it to me in order to have my personal space.

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#4 of 17 Old 07-31-2012, 07:44 AM
 
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If you believe you can cope with the added work of having your mother live with you, I'd look into doing that.  At the same time, I'd try extreme frugality, at least for as long as it takes to save the money for a move to a home that better suits your needs.

 

For the frugality, I'd make a point of taking your son to borrow DVDs (and possibly games) from the library. You could also look into making snacks (a homemade mix of cereals, popcorn, pretzels) and at a means of portion control so snacks aren't eaten too quickly.   As for clothes and other purchases, I'd do what my parents did - give him a lump of money and tell him that's all he gets for clothes this year (or season) and a list of things he must buy (such as required gym shoes) and tell him he can spend the rest as he wishes.  Help him make a list and budget, and research prices.  He can choose to buy expensive runners or basic ones, designer or thrift, but will quickly realize that if he wants to buy more items he'll have to plan his spending.  If he is careful, he could have money left over to buy a game (new games often start showing up at used stores within a month of release, and even if the game he wants doesn't show up right away there will be other games he hasn't played there).  Give him what you would comfortably be spending on him anyway for clothes, and he'll probably appreciate the responsibility and control he'll have.  You might want to make sure that he buys the most needed item on his list first, though, as he might make some mistakes and be short otherwise, and bailing him out by buying for him after he's spent on wants instead of needs won't help him learn to budget.

 

For your daughter, I can understand feeling a bit uncomfortable with someone else it the house - it can be intrusive even when they aren't in the same room.  First, I'd make sure that it was understood that her own room was entirely her own, and that she and your mother knew that when she was in there she was to be left alone.  Then I'd talk with her and your mother about what they each plan to do during the day - when they expect to come and go, what activities they may do in each room, and what their own expectations are - what will and won't bother them?  I used to hate having long term house guests because I never knew if they were disturbed by what I wanted to do so I wouldn't do things (such as play music, bake, or vacuum).   I also hated the feeling that I might turn about and be startled by someone I didn't expect to see, or be watched while I tried doing something.  Knowing what sort of activities didn't bother anyone made me feel easier.  Knowing what others were doing and where they were made me more comfortable with having them in the house - no surprises.

 

Good luck to you

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#5 of 17 Old 07-31-2012, 08:26 AM
 
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I think I'd do both options at once. The idea of a senior cente daytime would be good for mom and give dd privacy. Look into once a month cooking or other preprep for meals to make life and meals easier with your schedule. Consider a digital antenna. We bought one for forty bucks at Walmart and get about twenty channels currently. No great channels but do get some pbs news and a few shows like big bang theory, two and a half men, etc. It works for us and after initial purchase its free TV and we supplement with DVDs. The kids are old enough to look into part time jobs if thry want more spending money. I may be biased here but I always worked to buy extras.when I had a phase of wanting name brand mom would give me the money for my school clothes and I provided the rest ... think $20 for Levis and I had to come up with the extra $20 for the brand or get less pairs of jeans. Living with mom would help you financially and lets face it at this point every minute with mom is getting closer to the last plus the kids at 16 and 17 aren't far from being adults either. Without a detailed budget layout idk what else to suggest but that would be my method to live with mom and cut back thus saving more money to get you on your feet or even help the kids with college drawing near.

Michelle mom to DD , DS , & lil DD plus and spending my days
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#6 of 17 Old 07-31-2012, 02:28 PM
 
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i vote move in with mom.  assuming dd wont be living with you much long, ds wont be independent anytime soon, and your mom doesn't have much longer to live.


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#7 of 17 Old 07-31-2012, 02:31 PM
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I think I'd do both options at once. The idea of a senior cente daytime would be good for mom and give dd privacy. Look into once a month cooking or other preprep for meals to make life and meals easier with your schedule. Consider a digital antenna. We bought one for forty bucks at Walmart and get about twenty channels currently. No great channels but do get some pbs news and a few shows like big bang theory, two and a half men, etc. It works for us and after initial purchase its free TV and we supplement with DVDs. The kids are old enough to look into part time jobs if thry want more spending money. I may be biased here but I always worked to buy extras.when I had a phase of wanting name brand mom would give me the money for my school clothes and I provided the rest ... think $20 for Levis and I had to come up with the extra $20 for the brand or get less pairs of jeans. Living with mom would help you financially and lets face it at this point every minute with mom is getting closer to the last plus the kids at 16 and 17 aren't far from being adults either. Without a detailed budget layout idk what else to suggest but that would be my method to live with mom and cut back thus saving more money to get you on your feet or even help the kids with college drawing near.

 

I'd do both options, as well. 


"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#8 of 17 Old 07-31-2012, 05:01 PM
 
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I just wanted to chime in as a grown up child to parents who faced some lean times when I was a teen. I had to earn my own money for pretty much everything...they just didn't have anything extra. I babysat, mowed lawns, watched pets for people on vacation, and painted lines on the fields for the local soccer club. At the time, I thought it sucked, but a few years later, when I was watching my peers get themselves into financial disasters in college with loan debt and credit cards and not knowing how to budget, I was grateful for the head start on that lesson. I also really know how to hustle for money when I need it, which has made for a real feeling of security as an adult. 

 

Also, we had a variety of elderly relatives live with us for economic reasons over the years and it was an overall good learning experience for me as a child. Just to be around somebody from another generation is eye-opening. 

 

At the time, however, I know that I shouted and ranted and was a nasty hormonal mess who said "I hate you". I sucked. My mom lost sleep over it, and felt terrible for years because she thought she let me down. Now that there's some distance between what was a difficult time for my family, we all have a different perspective on it.

 

I think it's awesome that you consider your children's feelings...you clearly know them and their needs and desires. It sounds like you got some good advice from other replies already, I just wanted to say that you sound like a good mom and even if it feels like there isn't a win-win right now, you aren't going to ruin your kids' lives or anything...even if they aren't happy with the situation you deem best for the family.

 

Good luck!

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#9 of 17 Old 08-01-2012, 05:01 AM
 
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How is your DD about a home with an attached room / suite but separate entrance for your mom?  Depending on your local regs, added benefit of that could be income from a future tenant if it's zoned multi-family.
 

I do think a combination of both would be best, too, by the way. 

 

And make sure you see to your own well-being in the midst of all this.


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#10 of 17 Old 08-01-2012, 05:47 AM
 
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First I'd suggest figuringout how to make where you are work temporarily, and let your son know it's temporary and you're working on a long-term solution.  Welcome his creative help with the short-term solution, because it will work out better for him if he can be part of the process.  Or let him have his tantrums on the side, and know that he's doing the growth he needs to do to get closer to being graceful about it eventually.

 

And I'd try to save for the long-term solution without having your mom in the small house with you.  It will take longer, but it will be better.

 

Can you wait on the long-term solution until your daughter is done with her final homeschool year?  Once schooling is done, can she become part of the care solution for your mom? (cooking, cleaning, respite care)

 

Does your son have friends who have the technology he enjoys, where he could visit them to get his fix?

 

Can you budget/limit/downsize your son's pleasures -- smallest cable package (or watch at a friends), borrow new video games from other people, He may have to "blame" it on you to keep face socially, but that's part of teenagerhood, right?  Limit junk food based on the budget, or have one day a week that is junk food day, or just weekends, or whatever.  Or give HIM a weekly junk food budget and see what he does with it.  As for designer clothes, again, give HIM a budget or an allowance that he can choose to apply to clothing or junk food or video games or whatever.  I know some parents who give their kids a reasonably frugal clothing budget, and if their kids blow it all on one pair of sneakers, the kid made the decision and owns the consequences.

 

These may or may not work for your particular kids, but it's good to try on many different ideas.  Good luck.
 


- single homeschooling mom to 16, 14, almost-12, and 10
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#11 of 17 Old 08-01-2012, 08:26 AM
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I'd also like to add that there's no way I'd even think about cable or designer clothes for my kids if I were that short each month.  Your job is to teach your kids how to be an adult someday.  Part of being an adult is making those hard financial choices.  


"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#12 of 17 Old 08-01-2012, 09:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the good material for thought.

 

I gave the wrong impression of my son and his expectations. He would like to have all those extras I mentioned, but he doesn't have them now. We are getting along just fine, living pretty frugally already, one used video a month, basic cable, no new clothes, rarely junk food, etc. Moving into a house with Mom would free up enough cash each month for him to get a regular allowance (actually pay for yardwork, etc) to blow on his silly habits. I would have enough for the occasional Kindle book, specialty yarn for knitting, or a lunch out. Equally silly, really. Maybe even a family vacation someday (we have never done that). DD would continue to save (she's pretty amazing). We have been living at a pretty basic level for so long, hand-to-mouth really, that we all feel sort of deprived. The difference would be that we would be able to budget a bit for splurging occasionally, rather than worrying where the money for groceries will come from at the end of the month, as it is now.

 

I love the idea of saving money for the move without having Mom move into this house for a month or 2, but I just don't see where it could come from. Realistically, it would take a year or more, and that isn't counting for anything unexpected like car repairs, etc. Mom isn't up to waiting that long - if we don't take this step pretty soon, she wants to look for another facility. She does go out once or twice a week; that would give DD some space. Also, if we got a place with good public transit, or perhaps a close business district, both kids would would love to get jobs.

 

The idea of a house with a separate room or apartment would be perfect. I am definitely leaning toward making this move. I totally lack the stamina to face the prospect of the move itself with grace, but the idea of living with Mom again really appeals.

 

Thanks again for all the input (and more is always welcome!)
 


Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)

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#13 of 17 Old 08-01-2012, 12:01 PM
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The bottom line problem is that income doesn't equal expenses. About $1000/month difference at the current lifestyle. Obviously, I can either add to income, or decrease expenses. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamarhu View Post

 

I gave the wrong impression of my son and his expectations. He would like to have all those extras I mentioned, but he doesn't have them now. We are getting along just fine

 

 

 

Your two quotes here seem contradict each other.  Either you have "about $1000/ month difference at the current lifestyle," or you are "getting along just fine."   I'm not sure how it could be both.


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#14 of 17 Old 08-01-2012, 12:43 PM
 
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There are situations where I feel really strongly that, as a parent, I have to be the person who makes the decision.  I'll take input from kids on where to live, and I'll consider what they want, but at the end of the day, I have to own the decision that I make in a way that my kids shouldn't have to.   I would not want to put a teenager in the place of maybe wondering later whether she (the teenager) could have made a difference by being more patient or generous or less adolescently twitchy.   I want to step in and say that MY values (which I hope the kids share, but I understand if, right now, they see things differently then I do) require me to behave in a certain way, that I know that this action will have an effect on the kids, but that having weighed the pros and cons and the needs of the people involved, I am doing what I need to do to live with myself.

 

If I were in your situation, I would move in with Mom.  Live frugally, save as much as possible, take the best care you can of everyone.  I'm really sympathetic to your DD's need for space and privacy, and I'd want to help her have that, but it may be a case where I suggest that perhaps this is a good time to hang out a lot at the library.

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#15 of 17 Old 08-04-2012, 03:52 AM
 
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Please be gentle with yourself. I don't see anything that indicates that another adult (father of your children) is helping in anyway.  That alone sets you at a disadvantage, and it must be very difficult.

 

Kids are going to complain about everything, especially teens--it's like it's their job or something. My parents paid for my auto insurance and $150/year towards clothing from 15.5 years up (age I could legally get to a job on my own). No allowance, no spending money, nothing else was given other than food/house/love.  I totally complained. Other kids got everything they wanted, yet I did have a few friends who were buying their own food so it's not like I didn't know that it could be worse, IYKWIM?

 

My parents really just DID NOT have the money for things, so they didn't pay for them. They got into credit card debt early in their marriage and my Dad still talks about how this debt drastically affected the choices he was able to make, and the financial status they are in now. He didn't make that clear at the time, so I didn't really understand what was happening, I just thought that my parents were always broke.

 

In my opinion, if I were in your shoes, the best gift you could give your children and yourself would be to make a clear budget of income/expenses where you are now. Make the budget on your own (or better yet show those kids how to make a budget!), and then show your children why the choice to live with your Mother makes sense--maybe also add in the emotional aspect as well, but really financially you are at a certain point already and you need to make decisions based on your reality and not the wishes of teenagers--even if they both do have valid points.

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#16 of 17 Old 08-04-2012, 09:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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There are situations where I feel really strongly that, as a parent, I have to be the person who makes the decision.  I'll take input from kids on where to live, and I'll consider what they want, but at the end of the day, I have to own the decision that I make in a way that my kids shouldn't have to.   I would not want to put a teenager in the place of maybe wondering later whether she (the teenager) could have made a difference by being more patient or generous or less adolescently twitchy.   I want to step in and say that MY values (which I hope the kids share, but I understand if, right now, they see things differently then I do) require me to behave in a certain way, that I know that this action will have an effect on the kids, but that having weighed the pros and cons and the needs of the people involved, I am doing what I need to do to live with myself.

 


This is such good advice, and some I need to listen to more often. Sometimes in my effort to meet everyone's needs, to make everyone happy, I think I go overboard, and give to kids a bit too much responsibility in the decision making process.

 

Mom and I have just about decided to go through with this move, and we are getting excited about the plan. Thanks for all the input and food for thought. MDC is an amazing phenomenon. And you ladies are wonderful!


Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)

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#17 of 17 Old 08-08-2012, 12:18 PM
 
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I'd choose the second option because, really, it sounds like your mom's needs are not well met and that you could meet them without a lot of difficulty. You could manage your daughter's need for privacy if you plan in advance (own room with lock or a backyard shed or discussions in advance etc). You've lived together in the past so you understand what you are getting in to. And financial benefits are clear.

 
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