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Financial Babysitter Service?
Old 08-03-2007, 02:57 PM   #1
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Financial Babysitter Service?

My mom is beside herself with the problems my brother is having. He (36 y/o) is in danger of losing his good state job where he is halfway to his pension (12 yrs in). Right now he has moved to mom's house while waiting for his hearings to transpire. He has no savings. Parents had to advance a shocking amount to his lawyer to represent him.

Background: He couldn't manage his money on the decent salary from that job, (probably about 25k/yr takehome after tax, ins and pension and union deds, and that is living with no car or housing expenses for the past 6 years!!!) so it is very frightening to all of us how he could possibly support himself on half or a quarter of that income.

He doesn't understand how to use money, I mean this is a serious learning disability he has. When he was first on his own he had an apartment and got a car loan and other debt, CCs?. He defaulted on everything and skipped town, this was about 7 years ago. He had transferred to another worksite, and was out of touch for 4 years. He kept the not-paid-for car, it broke down and he hasn't used it in years, I'm sure he owes 25k now with all the collection fees added. Who knows how much his other collections are? (They are constantly calling my mom's house) He is highly in denial and pretends he has no problems other than the looming job proceedings.

He can't get a bank account so pays some percent of every paycheck to cash his check. He pays someone to do his taxes even though he doesn't have any deductions. He can only get a prepaid cell phone so he buys 20c/min phone cards whenever he has enough money. He smokes and cigarettes cost almost $6/pack where he lives. He spends all his money buying new release dvd's and video games, liquor, and maybe more. The list goes on...

Obviously he needs to declare bankruptcy to get the collections to stop. But after that is done, how to keep him from getting in trouble again?!! He truly cannot handle it himself. And any advice from parents is 'yelling at him'. Even the bankruptcy idea won't work if he cannot admit what debts he owes to whom so it will all get wiped.

So my question is: Is there any sort of financial service that will take your paycheck, direct deposit, and have control of your necessary bill payments (rent, car, utils, ins, taxes) and will dole out a weekly allowance? How to keep him from signing up for predatory loans, since once his bk is cleared, the vultures will want to hook him.

Just basically asking for all ideas on how to protect him from himself...

Mom and Dad have already provided for these issues when they pass on their estate, (that will be down the road, as they are not yet 65) his share will be in a trust so he cannot blow the money and the house. But there is no such vehicle for someone to do with their own paycheck, is there?
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Old 08-03-2007, 04:10 PM   #2
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A wife

My sister's husband has a similar problem with one of his brothers. He is in his early 40s, drug problems, and refusal to pay debts. After their mom died he now is the executor of a trust, which helps in some ways, but...
They can already see the handwriting on the wall when the brother starts buggy his big brother for "his money" now.

The short answer I believe is this is America people have the right to be stupid with their money and lifestyle choices, family and friends are the only baby sitter short of court appointed guardian. Which I believe are very hard to get.
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Old 08-03-2007, 04:12 PM   #3
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I learned a long time ago, that you can't change someone who doesn't want to change. And it sounds like he certainly doesn't want to change.

IMHO, from what you wrote, it looks like your folks may actually be making the situation worse, rather than better. When a guy is 36 years old, he himself should be fully accountable and responsible for his own life.....for the better or for the worse.

I had a very close friend that had severe alcohol and drug addictions, and he finally ended up going into a rehab center. They taught him that HE had a problem, that HE brought on HIMSELF, and that only HE could change HIMSELF, and that it was NOT in any way his family's problem.

They also taught his family and close friends the exact same thing....that HE had to decide that HE wanted to change, and that HE was the only one who could make that change. That is was NOT the family (or friends) place to 'cover' for him, or to try to initiate change, and that it was NOT the family's (or friend's) responsibility.

It was VERY hard for us all to sit back and watch him spiral down, but there was NOTHING that we could do to stop it. When he finally hit bottom.....HE finally accepted the responsibility to change.

I'm not insinuating or implying that your brother has a alcohol/drug addiction, but he obviously has a money wasting addiction. Family "helping him out", (IMHO) is in reality hurting him...because as long as that "help" is there, HE doesn't have to accept the responsibility of changing.

I spent 5 years as an overseer in a 'faith-based' rehab home. I saw all sorts of addictions....but they all had the same solution! Each person had to learn that they were responsible for the own actions/inactions, that no one else was to blame, and that they were the only ones who could initiate change. We were there to encourage them on their journey, to help pick them up and brush them off when they fell, but we weren't there to carry them...not even one step of the way.

I guess it's what some call "tough love"....it ain't easy....but it's effective.

Personally, as much as it's affecting you and your family, I would not hesitate to seek some type of counseling. I have worked with, and personally know, some great mental health counselors, and they can be quite helpful in getting a clear perspective on the situation, and learning how to deal with it.
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Old 08-03-2007, 05:22 PM   #4
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I appreciate the personal anecdotes, seems it's the same all over, haha.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goonie View Post
IMHO, from what you wrote, it looks like your folks may actually be making the situation worse, rather than better. When a guy is 36 years old, he himself should be fully accountable and responsible for his own life.....for the better or for the worse.
That is food for thought. They have never helped him before, I think for my folks the attorney thing is the ONE important step to try to salvage his future. If he can keep the only good job he has ever had, and salvage his future pension, then at least he has a little future security. He will never be able to get another job this good. He couldn't make it through one remedial semester of community college, he really does have learning disabilities and is awful with math and planning/thinking things through to their logical conclusion.

I am sure they will make him move out once his work situation shakes out in a couple of months. He could have solved a lot of the collections problems years ago if he had done BK then, but he understands finances so little I don't think the thought of BK ever even entered his mind, he just ran away.

He has been living without being able to use credit for so long now that I think of him as financially equivalent to a typical teenager. He spends what he has in his hand and can only think as far ahead as what will he buy once he has his next paycheck.

I just figured since he is already living like that, then once he understands that BK can make things better and start a new chapter where he doesn't have to hide, that maybe he will see the value in living allowance-to-allowance and having someone be in charge of the details for him. I know nobody can force him to go for it, but he may see the value in it if it means he doesn't have to deal with bills and planning.

Of course all this hoping doesn't do any good if no such service exists. Does anyone know if there are any varieties of financial counselors who might provide these services?
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Old 08-03-2007, 05:51 PM   #5
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Just basically asking for all ideas on how to protect him from himself...
I assume by learning disability you were not being serious, else this may not apply.

In general, I would think family counseling would be a higher priority, than a financial enabler/babysitter. Seriously, seek family counseling if you're serious about solving this.

Right now my guess would be that your parents and you enable his behavior, and actually make it worse, and/or are part of the root cause. Kicking him out to face his own problems would give him both the incentive to correct them, and allow him to hit "rock bottom" which is often a trigger for waking up to take action to help yourself. Ultimately at...36!..he's responsible for his own choices, and by removing consequences, family cheats him of being an adult...with all the pain (and joy) that comes with it.

-Mach
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Old 08-03-2007, 05:55 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by igsoy View Post
He doesn't understand how to use money, I mean this is a serious learning disability he has.
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He couldn't make it through one remedial semester of community college, he really does have learning disabilities and is awful with math and planning/thinking things through to their logical conclusion.
My apologies. I assumed (wrongly) from your initial post that you were just speaking figuratively. But, now I see you weren't. So in light of that, I'll lighten up on my 'tough love' approach....at least a little! The attorney that your folks hired may have some knowledge of who in your area would be able to offer financial counseling for your brother. It would be worth asking anyway!

I hope all turns out well for all involved!
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Old 08-03-2007, 06:05 PM   #7
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You can probably find a 'financial rehab' outfit or a babysitter, but having known a lot of folks that sound this way, he'll just find a way to subvert the process.

He has to want to change. Only one person can create that interest in him.

And unfortunately, he probably has to hit rock bottom and sit there a while before he'll start getting interested.

I wish I had better advice.
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Old 08-03-2007, 06:06 PM   #8
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Igsoy, it would probably be easy enough to find someone to provide the services you want -- at a price. A bank handles most of that stuff for my father. Well, actually, for my sister, since she was appointed his guardian and conservator.

You're imagining your brother's willing compliance. With that you or your parents could manage his account, pay his bills and give him an allowance. It would only take a couple of hours a month. But he could end it at any instant, and you can't stop him from signing a contract, like a credit card application.

You're a good sister, and I admire your loyalty and support for your brother.

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Old 08-04-2007, 03:57 AM   #9
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igsoy, Forgive me if this isn't the case but his behavior sounds like someone who may have another issue, such as depression, going on.
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Old 08-04-2007, 05:46 AM   #10
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Sorry Igsoy, unless you are saying your brother is retarded... he is in full control and knows exactly what he is doing. The basic idea of: I do not spend what I do not have is not that complex. I will bet he understands if he loans someone some money and they do not repay the loan! What you have on your hands is a good old fashion $h!tb!rd. Even if he is not very bright, it is no excuse.

I suspect that most families that had a fair number of children are bound to have one maybe two that are weak in the area of basic financial discipline and possible completely irresponsible.

I have a couple of siblings that are not too far from what you described. Take it from me, throwing money at them just enables the behavior... not to mention that they will gladly use you.

My advice. Unless he is showing some (sincere) interest with a sense of urgency to correct things, let it go. Do not be fooled by words, rather let actions be your measure of sincere behavior. He is probably only going to learn through the school of hard knocks or maybe not at all.

I know it is difficult to do, but do not upset yourself over a siblings irresponsible behavior... It will only drive you crazy. The sibling often does not care until the actual pain occurs. And it is likely that they don't care even then.
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Old 08-04-2007, 08:39 AM   #11
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A wife
heh,heh, heh.....that's what I was thinking too, but edit to add A GOOD wife.

In the 80's when I worked in a union factory that distributed paychecks every Friday morning, there would be a line of wives standing outside the fence at lunchtime to intercept hubbies paycheck before he went to the local check cashing (liquor) store.
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Old 08-04-2007, 10:59 AM   #12
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And any advice from parents is 'yelling at him'
Gosh, how old is he? 16 The problem seems to be that your brother never grew up and he is behaving as if he never left high school (perhaps he had such great time in high school that he is trying to recreate the experience over and over?). He has no sense of personal responsibility and the way he spends his money and his time reveals much immaturity for a 36 y/o. I don't think there is much you can do to help unfortunately. Even though he is immature, he is not mentally incompetent, and therefore he has the right to dispose of his income as he pleases, without supervision. If there is any type of "financial babysitting service" out there, he would have to subscribe to it on his own (you can't force him to do so), which means he would have first to recognize there is a problem, which he does not at the moment as you said yourself.
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Old 08-04-2007, 09:16 PM   #13
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Just a thought - my son has LDs and has similar issues. I ran an ad on Craig's List for someone to babysite him in terms of creating a budget, wants vs needs, paying bills, etc. I wasn't looking for a professional necessarily, just someone patient, and I wanted monthly followup for a year minimum. I got 30 reponses about 10 of which were excellent. A lot were moms that were home with kids but could meet at nite. I hired someone for an hourly rate of $15 which I thought was reasonable.
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Old 08-05-2007, 10:02 AM   #14
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Wow, a lot of great responses. I want to thank everyone for their ideas. Hopefully things will turn out for the better... We'll see.
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Old 08-05-2007, 12:53 PM   #15
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You are not alone

I have a brother like this. Single, never married. Has a college degree ( but it took him 7 years to get it and I think they just finally gave it to him.) He is emotionally and intellectually odd. Not at all honest, probably as a means to avoid confronting his problems. Can't hold a job.

He seems to be a sucker for every "good deal" out there, and live in a fairyland. He bought a totally stupid status car and decided to spiff it up. Couldn't pay for the repairs and he finally just signed it over, unfixed to the shop. We found out he bought a boat, but can't pay for the marina fees. He has no credit or credit cards. When he has rented a house, it had to go through friends of a friends, as a favor, and he couldn't get the credit to get cable. When he gets a job, we have no idea where the money goes. It turns out he has probably not paid income tax for the last 5 years when he was being paid as an "independent contractor."

But the worst of it is that he tends to land at my mother's southern Cal come when it becomes convenient. She is a retired, recent widow and lives in her modest, but comfortable and very pleasant home. She could easily live there until she can't drive and has to go to a care facilility, but she isn't there yet. He lands there, makes full use of the frige and eats and drinks on her dime, but doesn't give her a penny. He takes of to see the boat, and never helps her with the home upkeep things like fixing sprinklers, painting, heavy gardening. She gets massively worked up over him, worrying that he is going to end up in the gutter if we don't do something. She tells me she has told him he cannot stay, but I don't think she could actually kick him out if he just landed in the driveway with his sutff. I think all the rest of us have just given up on him. We can talk to him all we want, and he wil just lie lie lie about his issues and make up one story after another. I know that if he ends up in the gutter, I can deal live with it. If he would ask for help and have a come-to-Jesus moment about his problems, we would help, but it ain't gonna happen.

Gosh, babblingly long post. Mostly venting, I suppose. The other posts above have confirmed my stand on this: He is an adult. He is responsible for his own behavior, life, and finances. I can suggest credit counseling services, but cannot fix his life for him.
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Old 08-05-2007, 10:55 PM   #16
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When my sister left her husband, got divorced and tried to make it on her own she had a very rough time handling money. She's not disabled or uneducated. She was just inexperienced in managing anything financial as her husband had handled (or rather, mishandled) all of it during their marriage and he kept a lot of things secret from her. She was feeling pretty low about herself due to the divorce, etc and felt that she deserved some happiness, usually in the form of "retail therapy" and inappropriate lifestyle choices.

She had no idea how to handle a checking account, how to balance a statement, how to work with a budget and how to LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS. She figured if the bank website said she had $500.00 then she could spend $500.00 even though she had outstanding checks and transactions that would deplete most of that. She didn't record items in her checkbook, she didn't subtract what she had spent.

She charged up credit card after credit card, because they kept sending her offers. She couldn't make any payments so she stopped opening the mail. Deep, deep denial.

She asked me for help and it was the proverbial laundry basket filled with unopened bills, late notices, penalties for late payments and overdrafts. She had no sense of what she earned or what she spent. She just knew that spending felt better than not spending. She felt she deserved to be able to spend what she wanted because she had lost so much and hurt so bad.

I could not help her get out of the huge financial hole that she was in. But the one thing I could do was teach her how to keep a checkbook. I took an extra blank check register and filled it with typical transactions that she would make. I wrote out a complete tutorial about the reason for each transaction, how it would be recorded, how it would appear on the bank website and how to reconcile her register with the website or the monthly statement. I made it simple and basic enough that with a little effort she could learn to handle a checkbook so that it meant something to her in her daily life.

She had to solve her debt crisis and life problems on her own. But being able to manage her money, or at least keep track of it gave her enough of a grip on reality to address her other issues.

Baby steps, one at a time.
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Old 08-06-2007, 04:10 AM   #17
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When my sister left her husband, got divorced and tried to make it on her own she had a very rough time handling money...
My comments are not targeted at your sister's situation... Obviously, I would have no way of knowing. But it reminds me of some conversations I have had with people.

I have heard tales where this was the reason one spouse took over the finances in the first place. The lack of financial sensibility and/or just different financial points of view are a high cause of disagreement in marriages. Sometimes, it is the underlying reason for the separation.
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:48 AM   #18
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Boy does every one have a brother like this? I will spare the gory details since mine are similar the the ones posted. However I agree. He has to hit rock bottom and the family should let this happen but it rarely does. Out of love they enable and try to salvage. It is happening in my own family with predictable results. My brother is still the irresponsible bum he always was and my mother is stressing over it. Dad has washed his hands of the situation, don't blame him either one of them has to keep the home fires burning. When Mom gets sick of my brother's foolishness she will wash her hands also. Not likely, Moms rarely give up on their chicks so the whole family gets sucked into the drama. This need not happen.

As a sister I know I cannot control the drama. Neither can you. Your parents are dancing this dance along with your brother. They are all adults, they have made their choice. Step back from the drama and take care of your self. Someone will have to stay intact when the crash occurs, and it will, taking your brother and your parents down. It is like a train wreck. Unhitch your car from the train. Be there for your parents when the time comes. They are getting older and will have less time to recover from your brother destructive behavior.

Your brother does not need you to find him a financial babysitter. He need to hit the rocks. He can find his own babysitter if and when he can limp off of those rocks. Keep yourself strong for your parents and stop worrying about your brother.
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