Author Topic: In-Laws  (Read 5921 times)

uppy

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In-Laws
« on: February 05, 2014, 04:14:47 PM »
I saw a similar topic here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/ask-a-mustachian/planning-for-future-in-laws-retirement/msg62044/#msg62044 but the thread was old, so here we go.

I'm looking for advice regarding in-laws who a) are not financially savvy, b) are already past retirement age, and c) don't have a plan. They are in great health thankfully, for the time being.

My partner and I are the only frugal-minded people in the family. The other siblings are as bad as their parents. In a strange way I really respect the parents because they have followed their passions throughout life and done amazing things, but they just never thought about or had opportunities for (however you want to look at it) preparing for old age. They also support a quasi-dead-beat son who can't get his act together and keeps moving back in with them (whole 'nuther discussion).

The problem is we are not wealthy. In fact we don't have very much money. We are struggling ourselves just to get out of debt and prepare for our OWN retirement. Has anyone had to deal with a similar situation? Would you put off ER, for example -- potentially until it is no longer ER at all -- to provide for them?

I love these guys but I secretly (selfishly) sometimes think we will end up paying for their bad decisions, rendering all of our efforts towards ER and FI moot...

Just looking for some ideas. Thanks!

HappierAtHome

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2014, 06:56:37 PM »
I'm in a fairly similar situation as neither of my parents will be able to support themselves in "retirement" (neither one of them really works now anyway so that term is a tad redundant).

My decision: I will contribute what I need to in order for my parents to have the necessities of life. If they go without food or shelter that will not be down to me. However, I will not provide them with money to buy luxuries that I don't buy for myself (i.e. support them in a fancier lifestyle than I deem necessary for my own life) or enable them to continue terrible habits.

On a practical level, I expect that either my eldest sister or I will eventually build a granny flat (I think you guys call them guest houses?) for my dad to live in, and ask him to chip in for food and utilities from his old age pension (social security). I'm estranged from my mother but have told my brother (the only sibling currently in contact with her) that if he feels it's necessary for him to support her financially, I'll chip in regardless of what the rest of our siblings are doing. He's reasonably frugal so he won't pass on any unreasonable costs, only the necessities as above.

What I should be doing and I'm not, is sitting down and talking to my dad now about how his spending is still out of control despite having a very very low income. If I do that it will upset him a lot and potentially cause us issues in our relationship, which is generally a pretty good one. However, given that he is going to be my dependent to some extent sooner or later, I feel that I do have an obligation to try and get him on the right track. This situation is pretty stressful.

Will your in laws be eligible for social security or a pension? What kind of money are we talking about, realistically, to support them?

DocCyane

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2014, 07:05:22 PM »
It is unfortunate that by following their passions and living a dream life it may now mean you don't get the life you'd like. It used to be that parents sacrificed for their children's betterment, not the other way around.

tooqk4u22

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2014, 07:47:43 PM »
I would expect that this is a dilema that many in the US face...as prosperous as the US is, we are inherently huge spenders and poor savers.

I have this issue wiht at least one parent, but maybe four.  I try to figure the right path but it is tough.  I once offered to buy a place and charge basically below market rent to ensure that this parent would be fine without being an undue burden on me or my family - with the backdrop of I was worried about about this parent actually giving us a check each month.  Unfortunately the response was "I don't think think it is fair to me to pay rent so you get the equity and the tax benefits (nevermind at that at this parent's income level taxes would't be a factor and nevermind that I was putting up the cash to buy the house).

Even that was expected, but the straw that broke the back was when this parent was ultimately worried about being able to paint and make decisions about the property.   For the record, I don't care and said do what you want.....all I asked was that you give us the below market rent check.

Needless to say we didn't do it.  I am all for help, but it shouldn't be at my full expense and aggrevation. The pervasiveness of the liberal view where those that have must pay for those that don't unconditionally is just offensive. 

Nords

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2014, 07:54:01 PM »
The problem is we are not wealthy. In fact we don't have very much money. We are struggling ourselves just to get out of debt and prepare for our OWN retirement. Has anyone had to deal with a similar situation? Would you put off ER, for example -- potentially until it is no longer ER at all -- to provide for them?
I love these guys but I secretly (selfishly) sometimes think we will end up paying for their bad decisions, rendering all of our efforts towards ER and FI moot...
Just looking for some ideas. Thanks!
The answer to your question is "No."  I wouldn't loan them money (or resources, or time) any more than I'd count on them to do the same for you.  If they want to form a hui and work together, then that's great.  But if they just want to play grasshopper to your ant then they're going to drag you down with them.

A personal-advice columnist used to write "People can only take advantage of you with your permission."

It's fine to listen empathetically, and to offer sympathy, and (if you're specifically asked for advice) to offer advice.  But when you're asked to donate to their cause, you can revert to "Hey, we're still struggling to get ourselves out of debt and save for our own retirement.  Sorry."

My daughter's graduating from college in three months, and that week I'm going to meet my parents-in-law again.  My spouse has reached out to them occasionally over the years, but it'll be the first time I've even spoken to them (let alone e-mail or letters) in over seven years.  Luckily our daughter has invited a bunch of other relatives & friends to her graduation, so we won't have to sit around to entertain Grandma & Grandpa unless they choose to actually join the group.  But my spouse and I have been discussing the possibilities and role-playing our responses so that we know from the start where we stand on who's going to do what with whom... and for how long.

In many families, the quasi-deadbeat-son turns into "caregiver".  At that point you might get asked to chip in to help support the caregiver fund.  It's worth discussing this situation with your spouse now so that you can sort out your feelings and decide what amount you care to give, if any.  Otherwise when the phone call or e-mail arrives, it's a nasty guilt crisis.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 07:55:39 PM by Nords »

uppy

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2014, 07:10:51 AM »

In many families, the quasi-deadbeat-son turns into "caregiver".  At that point you might get asked to chip in to help support the caregiver fund.  It's worth discussing this situation with your spouse now so that you can sort out your feelings and decide what amount you care to give, if any.  Otherwise when the phone call or e-mail arrives, it's a nasty guilt crisis.

Oh god I never considered that. Well I hope he turns into a caregiver in the real sense if he decides to live with them into their old age. It's funny because another sibling is currently living with them, ostensibly "working" with them but actually sort of mooching.

I should be clear that the in-laws have never EVER asked for help and I doubt they will unless they really need it. They know we aren't made of money -- maybe they will start asking when/if they see us retire. Actually, part of the reason they are not great with money in my opinion is that they keep shelling it out to the quasi-deadbeat son and partially supporting the other offspring as well (even when they don't need it). So it's not that they're selfish or anything -- I would say the opposite. They just can't say "no" and don't understand that this might be hurting US in the future.

Like I said, they are not financially savvy and don't seem to get how that works.

I like some of your ideas about guest houses etc. Although living with them sounds...interesting.

HappyHoya

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2014, 07:59:16 AM »
Although I am fortunate that my in-laws are prepared for their retirement, I've seen similar situations play out in own extended family, so I understand the stress it can cause. As difficult as it is to stop worrying, I wouldn't stress too much about it, yet. In my experience, your family may ask, but once they realize that any help from you would only cover what you think are necessities, they will be very motivated to find a source more in-line with what they think is necessary for them to live. My own parents are working far past when they need to in order to maintain a completely unnecessary lifestyle that is totally excessive to me, but essential to them. Although it's tough that our values clash so much, I've found it's best to withhold judgment, since they haven't asked for help, yet. Most people with those values will take pretty drastic measures to maintain their lifestyle, and I wouldn't be surprised if your in laws would go into significant debt before asking for help. I would avoid co-signing anything (of course), but there's not much else you can do. I suspect they would only ask for your help if they were really, truly, desperate, and exhausted all other possible sources. If this does happen, you'll have a tough decision to make, but you wouldn't be wrong to help them only for what's absolutely necessary. Since it sounds like that lifestyle would be very unpleasant for them, I doubt they would want to keep that arrangement going very long.

foobar

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2014, 08:37:55 AM »
It was the parents sacrificed when the kids where young to give them a better life AND the kids sacrificed when the parents were old to give them a better life. A lot of people seem to forgot that second part.

With limited info, I wouldn't be too worried about the parents. I would worry a heck of a lot more about the deadbeats.  The parents will get SS (yes you can live on it.) The deadbeat on the other hand has lost his gravy train.

It is unfortunate that by following their passions and living a dream life it may now mean you don't get the life you'd like. It used to be that parents sacrificed for their children's betterment, not the other way around.

rockstache

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2014, 12:06:03 PM »

With limited info, I wouldn't be too worried about the parents. I would worry a heck of a lot more about the deadbeats.  The parents will get SS (yes you can live on it.) The deadbeat on the other hand has lost his gravy train.


I agree with this 100%. I am watching it play out in my extended family right now. The 'caregiver' who lives at home with his mom, doesn't work, takes her money, eats her food, and doesn't even change a lightbulb unless he knows someone is coming over to check on her. She is aware though, and not senile, so there is really nothing that anyone can do. He's her 'baby'.

MayDay

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2014, 12:39:43 PM »
We had the deadbeat son "caregiver" situation with my grandma.  On the one hand, in the early stage of her dementia, he made it possible for her to stay in her home.  On the other hand, as she got more ill, things quickly went from bad to worse, and legally speaking it took a long time and a lot of money to lawyers to untangle that mess, evict my uncle, and get grandma into a nursing home. 

None of the siblings would have anything to do with crazy uncle by the end of it (and the sad thing is that he is probably truly mentally ill) and we believe he lives in some kind of subsidized housing and is using his ~10K inheritance to live off of.  Once that runs out I can only imagine he will be in a homeless shelter. 

Albert

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2014, 01:29:47 PM »
It was the parents sacrificed when the kids where young to give them a better life AND the kids sacrificed when the parents were old to give them a better life. A lot of people seem to forgot that second part.

With limited info, I wouldn't be too worried about the parents. I would worry a heck of a lot more about the deadbeats.  The parents will get SS (yes you can live on it.) The deadbeat on the other hand has lost his gravy train.

It is unfortunate that by following their passions and living a dream life it may now mean you don't get the life you'd like. It used to be that parents sacrificed for their children's betterment, not the other way around.

I would have written the exact same thing. Helping our parents (within reason) in their old age is our duty, particularly if they did all they could for us when we were young.

My own parents retired few years ago. So far they are doing well, but the worrying part (for me) is that they are almost entirely dependant on state pensions (relatively high).

Milspecstache

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2014, 06:24:38 PM »
Great discussion!

My wife and I have discussed this at length.  Thankfully her relationship with her parents has been consistent in that I think the choice of who will take care of them is very clear.  That said I do worry about their finances but am not willing to sacrifice myself for their 'wants'.

fantabulous

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2014, 06:56:07 PM »
This came up in my family with my grandmother recently, in regards to the deadbeat child situation. My grandmother is not at the point where she needs a caregiver, and after my she had a talk with my father and his siblings it lead to eviction papers being presented. My father was the one who was willing to take the estrangement step with his sister and serve the papers. A family mess, but what was needed for that situation. My evicted aunt/uncle ended up moving in with his parents for now, and are apparently both working. Hopefully they correct course.

The deadbeat son here sounds younger (my aunt/uncle who were evicted are I believe in their early 50s), probably more around my age (31). To jrez specifically, are your partner's siblings on board with her brother needing to shape up? Maybe a few love jabs from everyone might be the nudge he needs. Could depression be an issue for him?

I myself am an only child and recovering* deadbeat. I honestly don't remember what got me to turn my life around, although some lowered expectations in what I'd do for work (and changed expectations from my parents) certainly helped. I was also suffering from some major depression which my parents seemed to be mostly unaware of, or didn't know how to help me with. The depression probably contributed to my sense of entitlement in terms of what I'd do for work, and certainly didn't help with me wanting to do anything about my situation. There was the occasional "when are you going to make something of yourself?" from my parents, but there were never any serious threats of kicking me out because I am in fact "their baby".

* Recovering as I still live with them. My career allows me to move out and make it on my own relatively comfortably now, but my parents are fine with me staying in order to claw out of student loan debt way faster in order to be able to provide for them in their old age. They probably won't need me for their needs in retirement, but that's not a given.

soccerluvof4

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2014, 05:23:38 AM »
I had a similar situation for years but since my parent has passed. This was my own parent and to a certain degree it made me look bad at times with my wife as if i had no compassion UNTIL i showed to her how good some people are at playing this game. My mother had a heart of Gold but she was great at playing the "poor me card" and my older brother would be the dead-beat sibling. He moved to Alaska and I haven't seen him in 30 years.  Anyhow , i could not go to her house without her talking about how she had from A-Z and or didnt have money to fix A-Z. Though i knew how to handle it , to get my wife to understand i gave her 1600$ to put carpet in her house. The money ended up going to the deadbeat brother. So remember you owe them nothing. Give sound advice, point out your own situations if need be but if your going to do anything do it only under your control and because you can and want to . Dont be guilted into it.

uppy

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2014, 06:04:50 AM »
This came up in my family with my grandmother recently, in regards to the deadbeat child situation. My grandmother is not at the point where she needs a caregiver, and after my she had a talk with my father and his siblings it lead to eviction papers being presented. My father was the one who was willing to take the estrangement step with his sister and serve the papers. A family mess, but what was needed for that situation. My evicted aunt/uncle ended up moving in with his parents for now, and are apparently both working. Hopefully they correct course.

The deadbeat son here sounds younger (my aunt/uncle who were evicted are I believe in their early 50s), probably more around my age (31). To jrez specifically, are your partner's siblings on board with her brother needing to shape up? Maybe a few love jabs from everyone might be the nudge he needs. Could depression be an issue for him?

I myself am an only child and recovering* deadbeat. I honestly don't remember what got me to turn my life around, although some lowered expectations in what I'd do for work (and changed expectations from my parents) certainly helped. I was also suffering from some major depression which my parents seemed to be mostly unaware of, or didn't know how to help me with. The depression probably contributed to my sense of entitlement in terms of what I'd do for work, and certainly didn't help with me wanting to do anything about my situation. There was the occasional "when are you going to make something of yourself?" from my parents, but there were never any serious threats of kicking me out because I am in fact "their baby".

* Recovering as I still live with them. My career allows me to move out and make it on my own relatively comfortably now, but my parents are fine with me staying in order to claw out of student loan debt way faster in order to be able to provide for them in their old age. They probably won't need me for their needs in retirement, but that's not a given.

Almost exactly what's going on, fantabulous. I think he may be depressed and he definitely has the too-high standards thing going. He had/has dreams of being a self-employed musician/artist but it hasn't worked out that way. The parents of course encourage him to follow that course -- pushing him deeper into deadbeatedness. In some ways I can understand, being an unpublished writer myself. But you gotta take care of business financially.

Yes, the other sibling is aware of the situation, but they are a family who HATES confrontation. Both siblings have given him very gentle jabs but I think it needs to come from the parents.

I have thought at times, "wouldn't it be great to win the lottery and just give it all to the in-laws!" so we wouldn't have to worry and we could just go on achieving FI on our own. But you're right, soccerluvof4, it would probably go to the son!

fantabulous

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Re: In-Laws
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2014, 04:54:19 PM »
My depression was a lot more than simply not being able to get my dream job immediately after dropping out of college, not to discount however your brother may be feeling. Just mentioning that there were deeper personal issues (gender identity in my case) with my own deadbeatedness, and this could be the case with your brother (something deeper in general). I didn't feel safe talking to my parents about it and they also didn't know how to talk to me about it so didn't.

The only other thing I can maybe suggest is a talk with your parents about your brother, minus the money issues.