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when your parents make bad financial decisions
Old 09-20-2009, 04:52 PM   #1
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when your parents make bad financial decisions

My parents were doing fine financially until they split up a couple years ago. Around that time, they started making poor decisions (quitting their jobs, buying stuff they didn't need, etc) and are not doing so great financially.

While I'm not rich my any means, I've managed to build an emergency fund. I thought about helping them financially but I don't want to reward bad behavior as they are only in their 50s. If they get dependent on me now in any way then I get the feeling that they would feel entitled to it in the future as well.

My parents were always responsible with their finances until recently. I know there are a lot of knowledgeable people here. What would you do in my situation? I don't want my own financial future ruined due to their bad decisions.
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Old 09-20-2009, 05:05 PM   #2
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Give them space. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Don't ruin your relationship by nagging them.
Give them advice, if and when they ask for it.
Don't give them money!
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Old 09-20-2009, 05:12 PM   #3
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Divorce is an emotional and financial nightmare. Hopefully they will each recover both emotionally, and financially from it in time.

I wouldn't "rescue" them by giving them money. And I agree with kumquat - - don't nag them. Give them time and hopefully each will find themselves again.
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Old 09-20-2009, 05:19 PM   #4
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Giving them money won't solve the problem anyway. If they bring up the subject or ask for help, maybe you could help them budget or find some financial counseling for them, but you need to worry about your own finances right now, imo.

It must be hard to see them behave differently.
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Old 09-20-2009, 05:25 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Barry Darsow View Post

...What would you do in my situation?....
I don't understand your situation. Have they confided in you, asked for money or advice? How do you know they "are not doing so great financially."
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Old 09-20-2009, 05:44 PM   #6
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I don't understand your situation. Have they confided in you, asked for money or advice? How do you know they "are not doing so great financially."
I hear about it every time we talk.
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Old 09-20-2009, 05:51 PM   #7
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Giving them money won't solve the problem anyway. If they bring up the subject or ask for help, maybe you could help them budget or find some financial counseling for them, but you need to worry about your own finances right now, imo.

It must be hard to see them behave differently.
The worst part is listening to them blame each other for their problems.
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Old 09-20-2009, 06:02 PM   #8
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We are in a somewhat similar situation with DW's parents. We think that giving them money is not going to help them make better decisions for themselves. So our take on it has been that they are both adults and able-bodied, so they should support themselves. We have given our time and knowledge to help MIL move over this hurdle (she asked), but nothing more. In my experience, the blame game is often recurring during and after a divorce. Nothing you can do about it. My parents are still playing the game 20 years later...
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Old 09-20-2009, 06:04 PM   #9
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Give them space. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Don't ruin your relationship by nagging them.
Give them advice, if and when they ask for it.
Don't give them money!
My dad owes me money that I loaned him to help him with a down payment on a house. I needed to take out my own loan in order to pull this off. The plan was for him to sell the rental house that he owns and then pay me back. He put it up for sale and then the crash hit and it still hasn't sold.
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Old 09-20-2009, 06:15 PM   #10
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The worst part is listening to them blame each other for their problems.
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...What would you do in my situation?....
I might eventually set aside the fact that there is a financial problem and realize I have a relationship problem. This is very sad, Barry, it must be very painful to listen to them. I distance myself from unpleasant people, relatives get minimun attention, friendships end. But that's me, you have to do whatever is in your nature. It might be helpful to talk to someone like a counselor. Good luck.
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Old 09-20-2009, 06:17 PM   #11
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My dad owes me money that I loaned him to help him with a down payment on a house. I needed to take out my own loan in order to pull this off. The plan was for him to sell the rental house that he owns and then pay me back. He put it up for sale and then the crash hit and it still hasn't sold.
Well, then I'll change my third suggestion to:
Don't throw good money after bad.
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Old 09-20-2009, 07:47 PM   #12
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I agree with the advice already given by others on this forum. You are setting the stage for a lot of hard feelings if you become their personal bank. Why did your Dad have to buy a house if he has a rental house? Couldn't he move into that? Why on earth would they quit their jobs?
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Old 09-21-2009, 12:49 AM   #13
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I might eventually set aside the fact that there is a financial problem and realize I have a relationship problem. This is very sad, Barry, it must be very painful to listen to them. I distance myself from unpleasant people, relatives get minimun attention, friendships end. But that's me, you have to do whatever is in your nature. It might be helpful to talk to someone like a counselor. Good luck.
I would distance myself from them if they were not my parents.
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Old 09-21-2009, 12:55 AM   #14
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I agree with the advice already given by others on this forum. You are setting the stage for a lot of hard feelings if you become their personal bank. Why did your Dad have to buy a house if he has a rental house? Couldn't he move into that? Why on earth would they quit their jobs?
She quit because she said it was too stressful. As far my dad, they wanted to transfer him to another location and increase his hours and he couldn't deal with it. He liked the location of the new house (and he got a good deal) and didn't want to live in area that the rental is located.
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Old 09-21-2009, 05:25 AM   #15
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Giving them money would only "enable" their poor financial decision-making, postponing the pain associated with their decisions. Listening to their problems is also enabling them, especially if you give the impression that you agree with how they feel about their situation or their former spouse.

The best thing you can do is to distance yourself, if only for a few months. You are putting yourself in the middle of a fight that is not yours and which you cannot resolve.
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Old 09-21-2009, 06:48 AM   #16
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I would distance myself from them if they were not my parents.
My parents were divorced after 25+ years of marriage (my father had a girlfriend for over 10 years, whom he married as soon as the divorce was final).

My mother also remarried, but still talked about her first relationship (even in front of her new husband, who I must say was much better to her than her original).

When they divorced, I had to make a choice whom I would speak to the rest of my life (that's the way they were; take "sides" till death you part).

Didn't talk (nor wanted to) my father for over 20 years, till his death.

Don't talk to my mother (nor wish to). Even after the death of her first husband after many years, she still can't get over it (like the song says "you will lose tomorrow, looking back at yesterday).

My parents weren’t parents at all. The only people they were concerned about were themselves.

As far as the OP's direct question. Walk away. You have to live your own life. They made their choices in life; you must do the same...
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Old 09-21-2009, 06:52 AM   #17
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Giving them money would only "enable" their poor financial decision-making, postponing the pain associated with their decisions.
I agree. We are also dealing with a FIL who is not facing the gritty reality that he cannot afford the house he's lived in for the past 30 years. Last year I spent eight months and $6k on fixing the past 20 years of benign neglect, the idea being to sell the house and get him into a retirement community that he can afford. The numbers work, and he'd have about $80k left over when the dust settled on all the transactions.

Now he's decided that he "can't" sell the house. When the 17-year-old heat pump or the old car he's driving goes, he's on his own. I'm not paying for it.

You have your own welfare to consider as well. Bear in mind that no one is going to have as much interest in your retirement as you.
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Old 09-21-2009, 01:13 PM   #18
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She quit because she said it was too stressful. As far my dad, they wanted to transfer him to another location and increase his hours and he couldn't deal with it. He liked the location of the new house (and he got a good deal) and didn't want to live in area that the rental is located.
Sorry but they sound like a couple of whiny petulant spoilt brats. The reality of life is we all have to do things we don't like. If they want to make the choices that they have that is fine, however their actions should not impact upon you financially.

Don't believe for a minute that this is going to be the last time they are going to hit upon you. You need to have "the talk" with them both, let them know you are not going to be able to be their financial crutch no matter how much you love them, and if they are not able to manage financially they should perhaps seek outside counselling to get their issues under control now.
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Old 09-21-2009, 02:32 PM   #19
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I am in a similar situation to yourself. Fortunately for me, neither has ask for money, and hopefully they won't. I am uncertain what I will do if/when they do.

Good Luck
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Old 09-21-2009, 10:50 PM   #20
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Giving them money would only "enable" their poor financial decision-making, postponing the pain associated with their decisions. Listening to their problems is also enabling them, especially if you give the impression that you agree with how they feel about their situation or their former spouse.

The best thing you can do is to distance yourself, if only for a few months. You are putting yourself in the middle of a fight that is not yours and which you cannot resolve.
It's hard to distance yourself when they drop by unexpectedly and when they call your work cell phone knowing you carry it 24/7.

I've considered moving to another city as I've always lived in the same area, but still debating it. It's not an easy decision since I have a house that I don't want to sell. My dad has expressed an interest in renting but that could create new issues if he had trouble paying the rent.
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