Author Topic: Gifting Roadside Assistance (present for financial mess of a sister)?  (Read 3025 times)

Faith2014

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1st time poster here... not really at a mustache level, but more stubble...

I'm considering getting a roadside assistance for my flakey sister and wanted some feedback.

Her situation:  Recently divorced, somewhat scatterbrained, 3 young boys, so-so used car (but I've replaced about everything on it in the last couple of years).  She is a financial mess, no job, EBT, ex-husband is a lay-about so minimal child support.  I've been fully to partially supporting her for over a year.  (Please don't rip my stubble off - I do it for the 3 kids under the age of 5.)

The good news - she is in a program to become a pharm tech, so at least after summer my support will only be for the kids after she gets a job.  (I'll probably end up paying for psychiatrist visits, but it is what it is - my choice, I'm not complaining.)

Do I trust her car?  Probably not.  She is not mechanically minded (I take the car for oil changes), and doesn't notice things like tire pressure, etc. 

I think it would be in my best interest to gift her a roadside assistance for a year.  She is the anti-mustachian, so while I try to slip in some VERY BASIC financial advice, my breath is better served giving me extra oxygen.  I've read with interest the pros and mainly cons of roadside assistance and wouldn't purchase it for myself.  But is there really a downside to buying it as a gift for someone such as she?

Argyle

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Re: Gifting Roadside Assistance (present for financial mess of a sister)?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2014, 02:57:43 PM »
How many times has the car broken down in the past year, I mean in a way that roadside assistance would have been helpful?

If the car is breaking down a lot, note that AAA has a limit of four roadside calls a year.

If it's not breaking down at all, maybe it's not a helpful gift.

If it's likely to break down only once, I guess the question is whether the $79 or whatever is likely to be a bargain on her getting help.

I think what I might do is take the $79 or whatever, go to Goodwill, and buy the kids a ton of clothes in various sizes that they can use for the next few years.  That might be of more help than a hypothetical occurrence like a roadside breakdown -- unless you see the breakdown as genuinely likely.

I don't know what EBT is.  But if she's at all organized, a Costco or similar card might also be an option.

Dee18

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Re: Gifting Roadside Assistance (present for financial mess of a sister)?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2014, 03:21:38 PM »
Here's a middle road.  Give her the AAA number and tell her to call it if she needs it and join and you'll pay for it.  They will help even if you just joined.

 My father gave me AAA years ago (before I even had a cell phone) and I always liked the feeling he was watching out for me from hundreds of miles away. I think he really liked feeling he was taking care of me as well.

Greg

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Re: Gifting Roadside Assistance (present for financial mess of a sister)?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2014, 03:56:50 PM »
I recommend another option; offer to pay to have her car checked at a garage, and possibly affect needed repairs.  Might be difficult from a distance.

I have and use AAA since the newest of our cars is 26 years old.  I use AAA as opposed to other services since they will tow it to my home, rather than requiring it to go to a shop.  For your sister another option might be a better choice... have her check with her insurance for example.

AAA has a few tiers of service, look into the differences.  Considering this for her is very caring and responsible of you.

Mini-Mer

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Re: Gifting Roadside Assistance (present for financial mess of a sister)?
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2014, 05:32:23 PM »
That sounds like a good gift to me!  If she's not savvy with basic stuff like tires and battery, it'll give her some peace of mind to have someone to call (who is not you).  And it would give you some peace of mind to know she has help available even if you're not.

It sounds like you're doing a lot for her and the family - that's not a bad way to outsource one potential problem.  Maybe keep note of her account number in case she does call you?

It's probably not the most frugal thing to do with $50-80, but offhand I can't think of anything in the same price range that would have the same "extra oxygen" effect.

Dicey

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Re: Gifting Roadside Assistance (present for financial mess of a sister)?
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2014, 05:36:35 PM »
I've had AAA for over thirty five years (Gads! How could that be?). Some years it pays for itself, some years it doesn't, but the peace of mind has always been been worthwhile. During my poor years, it was worth its weight in gold. Yes, there are limits. Make sure your sister knows them before you give her the membership.

As to her training for a new career, if there's one nearby, suggest she apply at Costco once she graduates. Good pay, great hours, steady employment, great company. Could be just what she needs to get herself on track.

LynnM

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Re: Gifting Roadside Assistance (present for financial mess of a sister)?
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2014, 05:51:22 PM »
If you have AAA, can you add her to yours?  I believe it's cheaper than buying her a single one.  I have gifted AAA to my kids for the last decade as it doesn't cost much more to add 2 more to mine and my husband's.  They look forward to it in their stockings every Christmas, and one call needed by any one of us that year basically pays for the price for all 4 of us as tow trucks charge a fortune and we don't live close enough to them anymore to come out for dead batteries or other things.

Faith2014

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Re: Gifting Roadside Assistance (present for financial mess of a sister)?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2014, 06:30:16 PM »
How many times has the car broken down in the past year, I mean in a way that roadside assistance would have been helpful?

If the car is breaking down a lot, note that AAA has a limit of four roadside calls a year.

If it's not breaking down at all, maybe it's not a helpful gift.

I don't know what EBT is.  But if she's at all organized, a Costco or similar card might also be an option.

That's a good point - it probably isn't likely to break down all things considered.  In this area, I am trying to be pro-active ... an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  But at this point, it's like locking the barn door after the horse has bolted.  (I'm not always full of cliches, but they really fit.)

EBT - food stamps.  A way to illustrate her dire financial situation.

Faith2014

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Re: Gifting Roadside Assistance (present for financial mess of a sister)?
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2014, 06:38:00 PM »
@Dee18 - good idea.  I'll insist she put it in her contact list.

@Greg - the manager at reputable garage it has been going to has joked that she's driving a new car considering all the work that has been done.

@Mini-Mer - well, she'd call our step-dad, so I'm not too worried about getting bothered. 

@DianeC- thanks for the Costco recommendation - I will pass it on.

@LynnM - no I don't.  I have roadside assistance with Geico, but I've never needed any such assistance.

Thanks to everyone who replied - I think I will find another gift for her bday this month.  I have the beginning of a supplement to a first aid kit started for her.

Argyle

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Re: Gifting Roadside Assistance (present for financial mess of a sister)?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2014, 08:59:53 PM »
Also check her current car insurance.  I have State Farm, for example, and there's a roadside assistance provision that comes with the insurance at no extra cost.  It would be silly to pay for something she already has.