I wasn't sure where to put this, so I hope this is in the right place. I lurk here a lot because I get such great tips. This is a long post, but please stick with me.
Dh is 53 years old and I'm 38, so we've had many years to learn lessons about money. From his youth, dh has been taught to be wise with money, I've always been frugal, so subsequently the only debt (which I don't really consider debt) is our mortgage. We live waaaaay below our means to keep ourselves financially fit. Dh despises debt and keeps tabs on our money so tightly he can tell you our net worth at any given moment. :LOL
The problem is my mother (divorced), who lives with us. She's retired and receives a small SS check each month (about $500). She pays for nothing here, except her cigarettes (she smokes outside) (she quit smoking 4 months ago!!!!
) and if she wants to go out and get a hamburger or something, gifts for friends and family on those occasions. Sometimes she pays for her own gasoline. If we go out to eat together, we always pay. We even bought her a brand new car 5 years ago (paid off), pay for insurance for that, as well as the yearly plates. (That car was totaled in a freak accident in which it was parked, of all things. We bought her a "new" used car with the insurance money. We were careful to buy something that wouldn't cost as much to own as far as insurance and title goes.)
Before moving in with us, over the course of years, she acquired a TON of CC debt and also had a surgery (no insurance). When she retired, we took on giving her $500/ month to help her pay for her credit cards. You can imagine how incredibly P.O.ed this makes my dh. Here he is without debt for 25 years and mom moves in and he's paying off credit cards that aren't even his. And in addition to that... somehow, she is still racking up charges on her credit cards and not getting them paid down. Trying to respect her privacy, I haven't asked about this, but it bothers both dh and me. But she also rents her home, so all told, she's bringing in close to $1400/month (the house is gone now in bankruptcy
Where am I going with this? Well, dh drives a 12 year old oil-leaking Toyota with 170K miles on it and we need to start thinking about getting a new car in the next couple of years (this has been totaled by my nephew now
). Dh wants to save the money and pay cash for a new Camry or Accord - he avoids even car loan debt (we got a Nissan
). When we told mom that she has to stop spending money (and I cannot for the LIFE of me see where it's going... unless she's giving the money we give her to my sister, which would REALLY tick me off) she got upset. Then we told her that we really need to use the money we give her to save for a car. She gets upset, mutters something about "but you'll keep dd in private school" (and she is still there
) but says, fine, I'll just file bankruptcy on my credit cards. She has no bills but cc bills and annual property taxes (and some hospital bills we didn't know about when I posted this
Of course I felt guilty, but then said to myself "Hey, I've two sisters who do nothing to help her, who has kids that drive better cars than we do, all because we help support mom. I'm tired of it." We live in a smaller older home when we could have a big new house because we have other priorities (dd's private education for one, helping mom as another). I mean we pay for EVERYTHING, including her car, and now she's laying a guilt trip on me. I figure that I've gone beyond my obligation to her and I'm gonna let her file bankruptcy because we WILL have to buy a car soon. But then I start feeling guilty again and wonder if there is something else I should do. (We did let her file bankruptcy and she lost the house in it to pay off cc.
But the big question is can she even file bankruptcy? She hasn't missed a single payment for years on any of her bills. She has decent credit. Also how will it affect dh and me? We have one credit card, which we never use (for emergencies, only) that has her name on it too and we currently have one joint bank account with her. Is this going to ruin our credit? Do I have an ethical obligation to try to help her pay off her debt? We have plenty of home equity and I'm afraid the courts will tell us to get a loan to help her. Can they even do that?
Anyway, if you read this far... thanks and if you have any advice... thanks. We'll be talking to a lawyer soon, but I thought if anyone has thought now, it might help me with my guilty feelings.
Edited to add: and all of this comes on the heels of dh using a small inheritance nest egg he'd been hoarding to build a two room addition onto our house so that my mother has her own area. Why do I feel guilty???
: I mean surely, we've done enough.New edit: I never talked to my sisters to help out. I got over feeling guilty. More info in another post at the end of the thread, although I'm not really sure why anyone would be interested in this *now*. It was a very specific and personal situation. I took a lot of the advice both from this thread and others that I had posted concerning this. You all helped out greatly. Thanks again! I tried to update some stuff in the post to apply to where we are today. I added a post, too.