Could really use some advice (TOTALLY OT) - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 11-16-2006, 01:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all,

I could really use your advice and suggestions about a dilemma I'm faced with...I apologize in advance that this is long and convoluted and somewhat self-pitying and totally off-topic, but I honestly don't have anyone IRL (especially DH!) that will give me an objective opinion. And I am so depressed about this right now that I can't think about anything else.

I can't figure out how far a child is supposed to go to support/help their parent, where the moral obligation begins and ends, etc. The situation is this: to make a very long story as short as possible, my dad left my mom 5 years ago (he literally disappeared) with mounds of debt...my mom declared bankruptcy, but was able to keep the house. She now has a good job (she makes more than I do!), but is more or less irresponsible with money and does not know how to budget or save. DH and I are comfortable, but not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. We have a bit in savings, and currently have a lot of cash in the bank that we took from a home equity line of credit because we're just about to start a renovation project to build a room for our lil' one (we have every dollar budgeted out). But, we don't have a lot of disposable income, investments, etc. and pretty much lead a modest life, are very budget-conscious, etc.

Over the last five years, DH and I have loaned my mom money many, many times (she currently owes us about $7,000 which she is not currently making any payments on). $2,500 of that we loaned her about two years ago to help her replace the engine in her car. Now, I've just found out that her car is dead and she needs to get a new one. She hasn't asked yet, but I just KNOW for a fact that she is going to call and ask to borrow money for a down payment. She lives paycheck to paycheck, and currently doesn't even have a refrigerator because her old one stopped working. Mind you, she makes over $80k per year.

I'm just sick about this. On the one hand, we do have money available (even though we also have a growing balance on our credit card), she is my mom, and I feel like if there is any possible way we can help, we should. On the other hand, she has been living with a boyfriend for a few years who does not contribute financially at all (she was supporting him until a couple of months ago when he moved out); she owes us a lot of money already, and doesn't show any signs of being able to pay it back anytime soon; and we are VERY conscious about money right now because of my impending maternity leave and the fact that I'm only going to be working part-time when I go back. DH is particularly scared and stressed about money because he'll be the primary breadwinner.

I just honestly don't know what to do. She needs a car to get to work to make money and live. And I know she would help me if the situation was reversed (even though I have been financially independent since high school graduation). But how long can we keep doing this? I'm afraid of what it will do to my and DH's relationship if I suggest that we loan her any more money, especially right now. Last time something like this happened, he said, "OK, but this is it. She needs to start saving for a rainy day." Obviously, that hasn't happened.

I'm just heartsick. Any advice or insight will be much appreciated. What would you do? TIA...
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#2 of 15 Old 11-16-2006, 01:47 AM
 
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Oh, sweetie.

What an awful situation to be in the middle of. That is so not fair to you.

Honestly, my opinion is that you are not actually doing her any favors by enabling her; to keep squandering the money the way she does. She needs to learn to stand on her own two feet for goodness sake...many ppl do making half of half that much $$...

The most loving thing for you to do is maybe find her some good resources? A budget counselor? Psychiatrist? (I am saying that in a loving spirit...)

I hope you find peace with this very soon, mamma.
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#3 of 15 Old 11-16-2006, 01:58 AM
 
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Bigs s to you! What a stressful spot to be put in. Objectively, I'd say that you need to sit down and have a talk with your mom about this (if she does come and ask you for more money). Can you tell her the things you outlined in your post? You've already loaned her A LOT of money and it doesn't seem like she understands that it was indeed a loan, since she hasn't paid anything back, let alone interest. Seeing that she makes more money than you do and the fact that you'll only be working part-time after the baby, it really doesn't make much sense from anyone's p.o.v. for you to lend her more money. Even though you and your dh have pooled resources, he shouldn't have to support your mom in addition to the stress of providing for a new family. It just isn't logical. I really feel like she's unconsciously taking advantage of you because you do have a budget and do try to save up for big projects like remodeling, etc. You shouldn't have to use the money you've set aside to help your mom out in a non-emergency situation. I'm sure you love your mom (don't we all?) and don't want to see her distressed, but she has been unfair to you. I can't imagine that she'd ask for money NOW, when you and your dh need it the most. It seems like she's in the habit of not saving or budgeting and then comes to you when she needs to be rescued. If she's making $80k a year, she can figure out a new car. Honestly. You have to put a stop to this. It's beyond helping her. At some point, you're just allowing her to continue to put you in an akward position.

Dh and I have a policy with regards to lending money to friends and family. We never give them more than we can afford to lose. Essentially, we don't lend money--if our loved ones need help, we give what we can afford without any intention of receiving it back. That means we usually can't offer more than $500-$1,000, but at least that way we don't let money get in the way of the relationship.

It sounds like your dh has been more than accomodating. Perhaps you both could sit down and explain things to your mom (and remind her of all the money you've lent her already). Good luck and please don't stress too much--everything will work itself out!

Happily parenting our snuggly wild child since 2007 and her little brother since 2011!

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#4 of 15 Old 11-16-2006, 02:33 AM
 
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I cannot see using home equity money/a loan on your house to cover your mother's shortcomings. You would be risking your financial future and your family's stability to bail her out yet again. Now if it were a life or death matter then of course, it would be worth it, but it sounds like she just needs some serious help with her personal finances. Offer to pay for a meeting with a sound financial advisor and leave it at that. We are about at that point with my MIL. We bailed her out of her tax debt even though money is tight and we had just found out we were pg with #2. Both hubby and I agreed this was the last time we would be handing out money--he felt obligated because she's his mom--and that in the future she would need to work out her finances without our monetary assistance.
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#5 of 15 Old 11-16-2006, 09:17 AM
 
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I agree that using your home equity loan to fund your mom is a bad idea. First of all, that money isn't truly yours to loan out. You are borrowing it yourself.

Your mom is making plenty of money for one person and frankly if she has that good of a job, then she needs to just go and get a loan in her own name, regardless of how high the interest is. Don't make your family suffer for your mom's mistakes.

Love her, encourage her to go and get some financial counseling, but do not give her money. You aren't really helping her, just hurting you.
You have tried to help her in the past with giving her money but the reality is, that she needs to take responsibility for herself.

Hugs to you, momma! Love her enough to say "no".

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#6 of 15 Old 11-16-2006, 02:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by *~Danielle~* View Post
Love her, encourage her to go and get some financial counseling, but do not give her money.
I feel so much for you!! Danielle and other posters are exactly right on!

At some point, you may be part of or solely responsible for her support (financial AND medical), and it is in all of your best interests to help her be as stable in the long term as she can get.

Things change! If you ~weren't~ able to help her no matter what her need, what would she do then? Helping her find long-term solutions to her money-management problems makes her life much better than the quick fix of a few dollars or a new car could.

This is all a little clinical and about $, not love, but it's CLEAR you love your mom. Keep loving her, but with strength and compassion, not short-term band-aids!

Good luck, Christina, and stay strong!!

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#7 of 15 Old 11-16-2006, 03:52 PM
 
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I am so sorry that you are dealing with this.
IMO, the fact that you have a baby coming just in a few weeks only reinforces that your and dh's primary obligation is to yourself and your own little family.
If mom is doing that well in terms of what she earns, she can go to a bank and get a loan or get credit.
I can understand the desire not to see her get herself in deeper (since you've said she's already awful with money)...but well, the way I see is that she's going to have to fend for herself. It really is her problem.
You have a REAL child now and she can't take that role anymore.
I say these things with love, Christina and I hope nothing I've said is offensive..I also speak from personal experience too....my dh is AWFUL with money and I've lent him money in the past too. I finally just told him that I cannot see myself staying in a partnership with someone who is not willing to financially strategize with me. It seems to be doing the trick.
I realize your situation is different....but I want you to know that I really do feel for you.
Love to you.
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#8 of 15 Old 11-16-2006, 05:34 PM
 
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I not only feel for you, I am in the same position, well, sort of. My parents divorced leaving my mom with no education, job or work experience in her mid-40's. She did recieve alimony and child support for about 7 years but chose to use that time to contine to be a SAHM (my sister was in her mid teens, the rest of us were out). So, fast forward 10 years, my mom is now in her mid-50's, with no job/degree/experience. She has bounced from job to job, been in school several times but not stable. Last year we bought her house from her to save her from foreclosure. We were buying anyway and she gifted us the down payment from the equity, so it was a win-win. She now lives in an apartment attached to our house. She doesn't so much borrow money as she lives with us without paying rent, food, bills, etc. She has recieved a large inheritence from my grandmother and has squandered it on nothing. We are stable middle-class, but not wealthy and sometimes tight. I was/am not prepared to be supporting my mother before I am thirty!

Although the pp's all have great advice, and advice I agree with, it is just simply very difficult to say no to your mom. I clearly haven't been able to say no to mine!

I definitly agree with saying no, it's just the challenge of figuring out how to do that. Danielle makes a good point that with her income, she should be able to get some kind of loan. With the baby coming, you are in a good position to have an "excuse" to give your mom- you just can't with the baby and all! I've said that to my mom more than once recently. I've had several "big" conversations with my mom about finances-- planning ahead, etc. We struggle to talk about it. But it's always better once I've put it on the table and she knows where I am coming from. Good luck! Supporting/helping parents is such a struggle.

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#9 of 15 Old 11-16-2006, 07:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ilovemyavery View Post
With the baby coming, you are in a good position to have an "excuse" to give your mom- you just can't with the baby and all!
Exactly what I was going to say!

I don't have any words of wisdom, at least none that haven't already been offered, but I wanted to send a hug your way at least. I can't imagine how frustrating/heart-wrenching this situation must be.
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#10 of 15 Old 11-16-2006, 07:52 PM
 
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Parasitic relatives should not be coddled and sacrificed for because they will never do anything to support you in return and more than likely will continue to hurt you repeatedly either by not paying back loans, being spiteful, or otherwise being abusive. Moreover, the only thing the gift will do will be to assuage your guilt. She won't use it wisely and she won't respect you or love you for your sacrifice. You gave your mom money before and she didn't change her behavior. If she makes 80K per year, but hasn't been making payments on her debts, more than likely she won't have much success financing a new car because of bad credit. If she whines that she can't get to work without a car, tell her about ride sharing programs, taxis, or public transportation. Think of the "Teach a man to fish" parable. Give her knowledge not handouts. It isn't your responsibility to solve her problems. Lastly, don't let the guilt eat you alive. It isn't worth it. You're about to be totally overwhelemed with loving your baby and you shouldn't let guilt compromise this joyous time.

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#11 of 15 Old 11-16-2006, 09:01 PM
 
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Your mother needs to learn how to manage her money better, and she's not going to learn that while you're "helping" her out by giving her money whenever she's short.

There has got to be some other way she could get transportation to her work besides borrowing money from you for a new car. I'd suggest helping her brainstorm possibilities.

Sonja , 40, married to DH (42) since 5-29-93, DD born 11-3-2004, DS born 1-18-2007.
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#12 of 15 Old 11-17-2006, 02:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all so, so much for your thoughtful and heartfelt replies...I can't tell you how much better it made me feel to read your responses. I've always kind of felt like an ogre for thinking this way (it's my MOM, afterall!!), but I know that this isn't a good situation for any of us and that something needs to change. I really appreciate all of your insight and concern.

P.S. DH (for the first time ever!) was really sweet and understanding about this whole thing...I told him what was going on, and rather than fly off the handle and start yelling about how irresponsible she is, when is she going to grow up, blah, blah, blah (which always makes me feel horrible, stressed and utterly embarassed, since his family is "normal"), he just held me and said "I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. If and when she does call and ask, just let her know that she should talk to me because I don't want you to go through this right now and have the extra added stress." I am eternally grateful!
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#13 of 15 Old 11-17-2006, 02:12 PM
 
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What a doll your husband sounds like (you too!).
I'm sure the two of you will find resolution to this that protects your growing little family.
I'm curious to hear updates too...I have to admit that it would be a bit of a shock if a family member would ask me to borrow a massive amount (thousands) from me if they already had borrowed thousands AND know I have a baby coming. Maybe she won't ask...
Keep us posted.

Mel.
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#14 of 15 Old 11-17-2006, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, she hasn't asked yet. But I didn't ask her about it at all when we talked yesterday...I believe she may be borrowing a friend's car right now. I'll probably find out what's going on this weekend.

I think what we'll probably do when she asks is to say that we will give her $500 (no more "loans" - thanks for the suggestion, Meggles) and then she can sell the car for scrap metal for $500, and with that $1,000 she can get something that will get her to and from work. Then she has time to save up, get a loan, or whatever in order to get a better car.

I feel good about this option because I do want to help to the extent we are able to, but I want it to be on our terms - I want to say, here's what we can do, rather than waiting for her to tell us how much she needs to borrow, which is what usually happens. And this way, I won't feel bad about not helping, but I won't feel like we're totally enabling her, either, because we'll just be doing the bare minimum and then leaving the rest up to her. We have offered several times before to pay for her to go see a financial planner, but she's always said she was too "embarrassed" to do so. Maybe now she'll rethink her position.

Thank you so much for your concern.
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#15 of 15 Old 11-17-2006, 05:40 PM
 
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I'm glad that you have a plan that you're comfortable with...when and if she asks.
She might not...maybe she's embarassed now that she knows her grandbaby is coming.
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