Thursday, November 25, 2010

Be Thankful That This Isn't Your Mom

Marie asks:

I loaned my daughter $10,000 four years ago with a repayment plan of $100-200 a month no interest. I came into a large inheritance and offered to loan her the money so she could pay for her tuition for college. She has paid back about half, but now I lost my job and need my money back. She is unable to pay more than our originally agreed amount but when we made the agreement I was gainfully employed. Sure, I made some frivolous purchases that ate up a large chunk of my savings but that never seemed like my daughter's business. She said that I should not have made certain purchases, and that if I were not able to taker her repayment deal I should not have agreed. Now I have only $6k left, no job, so now I need her to pay me back faster. How can I ask her to double her monthly payments? She claims she cannot take a personal loan to give it to me in one lump sum.

Your daughter. You have a contract, and she's honoring her end of the deal. Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on hers.

And honestly, if you have no job and only $6,000 to your name, you're focusing on the wrong thing. Even if your daughter could give you all the money back in one payment, how long would it last you? A month? Two weeks? You've already demonstrated that you're not good at handling money, and asking your daughter to go into further debt to bail you out is just plain selfish.

Go get a job. Plenty of retail stores are hiring for the holiday season. Use the money you earn to pay for necessities (food and shelter). Take whatever's left over and SAVE IT. Then, take the $1-200 per month that your daughter is paying you back and SAVE IT.

Then maybe, just maybe, the next time you find yourself in a similar situation you'll be able to take care of yourself.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Caring for Aging Parents

Angie R. writes:

You're going to think I am a horrible person. I love my mother in law, but her hygiene habits are nonexistant. It's not entirely her fault, because she's elderly and has a very incompetant bladder. I dread wen she comes over because of the smell that follows her. Her clothes do not seem to get regular washings, so something lingers in the air. I also cannot control how often she visits when I am not home, so often my home is not ready for her to visit. Because of her legitimate medical issues with her bladder, she constantly leaks, which means I either have to rewash my floors when she laves, or shampoo the livingroom carpet, or shampoo my dining chairs because they are fabric. I already keep a liner on my couch which gets people to mock me, but it's the only way my couch remains unstained. I cannot be insensitive, and I know my husband is embarrassed for his mother, but what can I do? She doesn't take our advice on wearing protection, and I cannot force her to sit in one spot when she visits without moving. She sees a doctor regularly, but she's and adult and I cannot force her to get more help. Is my only option to tell her to stay home???

I realize this is an unpleasant subject to bring up with someone, but you and your husband owe it to his poor mother to get her some more help. If you have to shampoo your carpets after she leaves, imagine the state her own home must be in. What happens when she goes to a store or a restaurant, or rides in someone's car?

If she can't manage to clean up after herself or wash her clothing on a regular basis, she's in no state to be living on her own. You need to start taking steps to provide for her care.

Aging is a difficult process for everyone involved. People who were once able-bodied and capable have a difficult time letting go of the things they used to be able to do. Adult children of aging parents can be reluctant to step into the role of caretaker. But if you love this woman as you say you do, you need to do what's best for her. And as we all know, what's best isn't always what's easiest.

Cutting her off by telling her she can no longer visit will make her feel bad and do nothing to improve the situation. Talking to her honestly and helping her get her problem under control will make her feel bad and then make her better. Which do you think is the better option?
Start with a frank conversation about what she can and can't do at this stage in her life. Accompany her to doctor's appointments to make sure she understands any diagnosis, treatment, or other instructions. Buy her a package of Depends and tell her she has to wear them in your house.

She's going to think you're treating her like a child. You and your husband are going to feel like you're dishonoring her or being ungrateful for the years of care she provided him. There will be ugly fights and lots of hard conversations. But the end goal is that you improve her quality of life.