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Trying to Think of an Effective Way to Stick My Nose Into Someone Else's Business.
Old 10-16-2010, 06:02 PM   #1
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Trying to Think of an Effective Way to Stick My Nose Into Someone Else's Business.

This is a problem area that I have always avoided, OPP-other people's problems. But this involves my dance partner of 3 years, and I care about her and her wellbeing. I like her husband too. I only have partial knowledge- she shares whatever she knows with me, but her husband is quite secretive with her about financial matters, although he doesn't seem at all controlling or overbearing in other ways. Trying to help her understand personal finance would be like trying to teach accounting to someone who couldn't yet count.

My goal is to get some information to them that might help.

My constraint is that DH does not get pissed at me or at her, because she is an excellent dancer and a very pleasant person, and good partners who have the time and the wood floor space to dance 6-8 hours a week do not come along every day. If I found a single woman, I might run into trouble with my romantic relationship. If I found another married woman, the chances that her husband would be as non-possessive as this guy are remote I believe.

She is 64 going on 65, he 62. She is retired, with a small pension from her citizenship country. She doesn't know if it has COLA. In fact, she may not even understand what COLA is. She also is qualified for some unknown amount of government retirement payments from her home country, to begin in a year at most. She also has worked enough in the US to get SS, and he will get what has to be a pretty good SS but she has no idea what it might be as he has never told her. He recently retired, and has a pension that is enough for them to pay their mortgage and live fine, though they have never lived on this little since their marriage. So with all these pensions it seems to me that they actually have plenty of immediate monthly cash flow for him to put off taking his SS until age 70.

One day we were having coffee on the deck when I told them about my payback SS strategy, and I mentioned that there were also clever strategies especially for married people. I should add that his mother is still in good health in her late 90s, though she has gone into assisted living. So even if he were single it seems that it might make sense for him to delay taking SS until age 70. He spoke up to say that they could not afford to wait, that they would be cash flow constrained.

A week or so later my partner was tired and we quit dancing early and she and I were having coffee together. She told me that in addition to these non-SS pensions they had $several hundred in cash.

So I said to her that I should be so lucky to have their cash flow problems. Then she showed me a joint account checkbook showing a large monthly payment being paid on his mother's house, and another payment to her assisted living. My partner says that her MIL's investments other than this vacation house are all used up. DH has been trying to sell this place for over a year, in the $mm range. Understandably IMO, it has not sold, and it is in the north so the season for getting rid of vacation property is over.

None of this makes any sense to me. The last time I ran across something that smelled this bad the DH was siphoning funds to keep his Honey in comfort. The only other one I know about is the daughter of my brother's GF, and her husband managed to absolutely impoverish them, whereupon he died from a brain tumor. What money was left he conveyed directly to a daughter by beneficiary designation, thus leaving his wife high and dry and with bills to boot.

If my dance partner were my daughter I would ask her to demand that they take all the documents- the loan documents on his mother's house, the pension and SS documents, everything, and take them to an accountant and she should not leave until she absolutely understood everything. Then I would suggest contacting an eldercare attorney in MIL's state, and finding out if she would qualify for Medicaid. He already has information or suggestion that her assisted living place would not kick her out if she went on Medicaid. Then if they could not sell it immediately, give the house back to the bank. $60,000 annual payments on an interest only loan suggests one hell of a loan, so if this information is accurate there is negative equity. It appears that they took this loan or loans to pay her A.L. bills.

But my partner is intimidated, and afraid of making DH angry, so this course may be beyond her will to attempt. And anyway, I really do not want him to suspect that I gave her these uppity ideas.

This sounds hopeless, but I would really appreciate some outside the box ideas from the forum.

Ha
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Old 10-16-2010, 06:20 PM   #2
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Trying to Think of an Effective Way to Stick My Nose Into Someone Else's Business.
As you say, it's not your business, and my advice would be to stay out of it. But since you have decided to "stick my nose in", good luck.
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Old 10-16-2010, 06:27 PM   #3
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Touchy situation.... It seems you do care for her, but in my opinion when a financial discussion is brought up by her, your best bet is say her husband needs to be involved in the conversation as well...then change the subject.
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Old 10-16-2010, 06:27 PM   #4
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The only thing I can think of is to pay for a financial planner to review their financial situation. Hopefully, all the issues will come out through a financial review.
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Old 10-16-2010, 06:32 PM   #5
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Good luck--no good deed goes unpunished.
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Old 10-16-2010, 06:33 PM   #6
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My main goal is that he doesn't get pissed at me or at her, because she is an excellent dancer and a very pleasant person . . .
If you've thought it over and this is really your main goal, then I think you should drop this crusade. Other than their sex life, there's probably nothing more personal than this stuff, and I can't think of any way to tactfully offer assistance without breaking some china. He and she both know you're available to help, but he's apparently got reasons he doesn't want to take you up on the offer. I don't think working through her is going to be effective, it sounds like she doesn't have a sufficient foundation of knowledge to describe the situation and to learn more, and that her questions directed to him will undoubtedly cause friction (between the two of them, between him and you, etc). He's one with the reins, and it doesn't sound like he wants you involved. That could be because he doesn't know you well enough, doesn't trust your expertise, doesn't want anyone to know what he's up to, etc.

OTOH, if you feel strongly that they are adrift (or he's put them adrift), then you could be more direct with him, offer some ideas (e.g. Medicaid funding for Mom's care) and see if he confides in you. But just don't plan on keeping your dance partner if you go down this road.
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Old 10-16-2010, 06:35 PM   #7
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As you say, it's not your business, and my advice would be to stay out of it. But since you have decided to "stick my nose in", good luck.
No, I have not decided to do this. I will not go any further, unless there seems to be a way without hazard.

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If you've thought it over and this is really your main goal, then I think you should drop this crusade. Other than their sex life, there's probably nothing more personal than this stuff, and I can't think of any way to tactfully offer assistance without breaking some china. He and she both know you're available to help, but he's apparently got reasons he doesn't want to take you up on the offer. I don't think working through her is going to be effective, it sounds like she doesn't have a sufficient foundation of knowledge to describe the situation and to learn more, and that her questions directed to him will undoubtedly cause friction (between the two of them, between him and you, etc). He's one with the reins, and it doesn't sound like he wants you involved. That could be because he doesn't know you well enough, doesn't trust your expertise, doesn't want anyone to know what he's up to, etc.

OTOH, if you feel strongly that they are adrift (or he's put them adrift), then you could be more direct with him, offer some ideas (e.g. Medicaid funding for Mom's care) and see if he confides in you. But just don't plan on keeping your dance partner if you go down this road.
You guys are right, this is not anywhere I want to go. Crusade over.

Ha
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Old 10-16-2010, 06:57 PM   #8
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"None of this makes any sense to me."

Yeah. To me, it's a little ding-batty that she is willing to share such personal financial details ($$ in their bank account, monthly expenses) but can't understand her own pension, nor talk straight about money with her husband. It sounds like she sticks her head in the sand, and just pulls it up for a few minutes every now and then. Either she's scared of her husband, or this is a game she's playing to keep you intrigued! Surely she knows financial responsibility is one of your hot buttons.

In your shoes I would continue to be a kind, nonjudgmental listener who sometimes tells stories about people who came to a bad end through financial ignorance. She may get so scared that she asks for help, and then you can make recommendations. Otherwise, she is a grown-up living her life as she sees fit; you can't rescue her from her own actions.

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Old 10-16-2010, 07:21 PM   #9
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I'd just keep dancing Ha.
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Old 10-16-2010, 07:22 PM   #10
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It is hard to make financial suggestions to people. I have a very close dear friend at work who, along with her husband, makes huge whole life insurance policy payments every month. She also pays on some kind of life insurance policies for her two adult children which I don't quite understand. It really straps them. They do not do IRA's at all and she does not contribute to our 457b plan. And he could have fully paid health insurance under our benefits at work yet he continues to pay almost $500.00 a month to maintain his own insurance through his work. Her job is more secure than his, in my opinion. They could live so much better, take vacations, keep their house warmer in the winter, have a better retirement life if they managed their resources in a different fashion. I have gently mentioned to her several times about other options but she is very set on their present course. I have learned to bite my tongue. And I have to remind myself that I am no one to talk, as I have made loads of mistakes with my finances out of sheer ignorance. But I have put myself on a better course in recent years. And I am trying to educate myself and to change things.
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Old 10-16-2010, 07:27 PM   #11
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"None of this makes any sense to me."

Either she's scared of her husband, or this is a game she's playing to keep you intrigued! Surely she knows financial responsibility is one of your hot buttons.
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You may have hit it Amethyst. My feelings and reactions to your and others' posts tell me that to some degree I am hooked, always bad sign that my boundaries have been breached.

I have never tried to understand her relationship or her financial attitudes, but no woman is emotionally stupid. Therefore you have to be right that she accurately thinks that I consider financial probity to be ahead of cleanliness, perhaps only slightly under godliness which I well know is not attainable for me. So this is likely a draw play. It would not make sense that she is truly afraid of him; he just isn't that kind of man. But she does hate conflict.

If financial idiocy is her preferred path, at least it doesn't detract from her dancing. I actually hate to admit it, but I think I am busted.

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And I have to remind myself that I am no one to talk, as I have made loads of mistakes with my finances out of sheer ignorance. But I have put myself on a better course in recent years. And I am trying to educate myself and to change things.
This is me too. I think I have some of the fervor of a recent convert. I am still very aware of all the dumb moves I have made, and of how easy it is to continue making new, as yet untried dumb moves.

I am glad I posted this question, although it is embarrassing to look at.

Ha
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Old 10-16-2010, 07:52 PM   #12
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I am glad I posted this question, although it is embarrassing to look at.
It shouldn't disturb you. This is place is full of folks we know--but the "distance" offered by text-only comms, for some reason, permits a welcome bit of risk-taking and "what-do-you-think-about-this" discussion that I find really useful.
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Old 10-16-2010, 08:10 PM   #13
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Based upon your description, I see only downside for you and only marginal chance of success for your friend.

Her husband isn't going to change without a significant push, which the wife is reluctant to make. If you somehow convince her to do so, the odds are it will not go well and she will most likely blame you for any fallout. Best advice, if you feel the need to help, is to gingerly lead the horse to water and then get the hell out of the way. This has to come from her, and she has to feel it is her idea.

So I agree with just keep dancing till her music stops...
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Old 10-16-2010, 08:11 PM   #14
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Tell your friend what you'd do in a similar situation. Point out the decisions she can make and the risks associated with each course of action. Then stand back, let her and her family decide what's best, and be prepared to lend a sympathetic ear.
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Old 10-16-2010, 08:41 PM   #15
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Ha, I have friends who have made the most idiotic financial choices and continue to do so . I once tried to offer some advice but it was not received well so now I just sip my wine and listen. I figure they don't offer me advice on my life and they could so live & let live .
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Old 10-16-2010, 10:40 PM   #16
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I am glad I posted this question, although it is embarrassing to look at.

Ha
Don't be embarrassed - this is the equivalent of counting to 10 before taking an action you are not sure of.
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Old 10-16-2010, 11:08 PM   #17
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What if something happens to her husband? At a minimum she should know where to look, even if she doesn't fully grasp the financial picture. Is there a way for you to subtly hint at what you do (for example, do you share your financial situation with the executor of your will or your children)? If she is truly clueless, hopefully it will get her thinking that she needs to learn a bit about how to manage their money in a crisis.
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Old 10-17-2010, 02:33 AM   #18
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You may have hit it Amethyst. My feelings and reactions to your and others' posts tell me that to some degree I am hooked, always bad sign that my boundaries have been breached.

I have never tried to understand her relationship or her financial attitudes, but no woman is emotionally stupid. Therefore you have to be right that she accurately thinks that I consider financial probity to be ahead of cleanliness, perhaps only slightly under godliness which I well know is not attainable for me. So this is likely a draw play. It would not make sense that she is truly afraid of him; he just isn't that kind of man. But she does hate conflict.

If financial idiocy is her preferred path, at least it doesn't detract from her dancing. I actually hate to admit it, but I think I am busted.

This is me too. I think I have some of the fervor of a recent convert. I am still very aware of all the dumb moves I have made, and of how easy it is to continue making new, as yet untried dumb moves.

I am glad I posted this question, although it is embarrassing to look at.

Ha
If she brings up financial concerns with you again, maybe give her, or send her to the library for, a copy of Smart Couples Finish Rich, or another book that is oriented to helping couples get their finances in order. You might want to read it first to make sure it's in line with the advice you would give if asked. Since I'm single, I've only read Smart Women Finish Rich not the book for couples, and it has been a while since I read it, but as I remember the author gives pretty basic LBYM advice. I would guess he also advises that the person who ordinarily deals with finances make a list of accounts and important documents and where they are, for use by the other. Just the title of the book will convey the message that she and her husband need to deal with finances as a couple. Reading it may help her overcome her reluctance to talk with her husband about their financial situation, or he may be intrigued by the title and read it himself without being urged. As a bonus, if there is any good but unpalatable advice to be given, it's coming from author David Bach, not you.
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Old 10-17-2010, 03:54 AM   #19
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I'd just keep dancing Ha.
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Old 10-17-2010, 05:16 AM   #20
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IMO - You will likely wind up without a dance partner.

It is fine to offer advice in a stealthy manner (indirectly). Anything else will likely be considered an intrusion.

Figure out how to educate but not intrude!

Perhaps suggest a book that covers the topic! Or use an example: Hey I know a guy that.... That got me thinking about my situation. I found out I..

But regarding the MIL situation... tread carefully, anything other than "good ideas" should be off limits. The guy may just be making bad decisions under duress. You will be the target of all of his frustration if you do not watch it...
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