I'm not sure if this has been mentioned before, but I am starting to be more cautious in how I try to help others with respect to financial advice. It's not that I can't see the look of fear and confusion on the faces of family members when I try to suggest *maybe you shouldn't drive to the mall 45 minutes away twice in the same week just so you can look around* or *why do you eat out every night but complain you need a new credit card because your old one is maxed out?*
In all seriousness, I am just looking for advice on how you discuss issues that are serious but that the other person is uncomfortable with.
Two simple examples (that are just symptoms of much bigger problems - but I don't know how to advance).
A) My father is in his mid 50's. I have reviewed his financial statements. He has more than enough to fully retire [as in today] IF he would just cut back on the family spending. They are the type that raised their lifestyle with every raise. (Have 3 cars for two people... have DirecTV AND Cable ... get the newspaper delivered daily but don't read it, just like it for the ads, the list goes on and it all adds up quickly). HOWEVER, because of his skill set and the location we are in, he took a job that requires him to commute approximately 1hr20mins EACH WAY, 5 days per week. Besides the fact that he could take a job for tens of thousands of dollars less and get $ back for gas and the wear and tear, there's the whole aspect of losing hours per week just to a commute.
The problem is, my own mother says she spends as much as she does (goes shopping literally every day) - not for high ticket items, but it is in no exaggeration a daily ritual that she calls *therapy* because that's how she passes the day while he is at work and she just needs to get out of the house, then proceeds to complain about the fact that he is always at work (from 5-6 AM until 6 PM or later, including the commute). Every time I try to point out the glaring issues, she wants no part of it, and he is just waiting a few more years to retire ... but that is a phrase he has been saying for a decade.
B) Just occurred yesterday. My Sister in Law is a young (26 or 27) and educated individual. Hasn't gotten too far into her career yet, and only makes about 35-40k in the field she is in. On the ONE hand, she has a great trajectory in her job field because she has already been promoted and could easily continue to do so in the next few years. On the other hand, she is being crushed by debt, and that's primarily the reason she hasn't moved to a bigger city to take a job that would pay more (up until recently was still living in my In-Law's home).
In order to celebrate her boyfriend getting a new job (or perhaps it was just a "treat-yourself" moment), the two of them booked a trip to Disney World. She was clearly excited that she got a great deal, so I didn't want to crush her. However, it is also hard to hear her getting excited about *only* spending 1,000 on a trip that winds up being 2 days in the parks and 3 nights in a hotel for multiple reasons.
1) I don't like the people around her enabling her. It's great that the family is saying "Yay! Go spend all that money to have fun when you have to work multiple weeks in your job just to pay for the 2 day trip!"
2) This is a capable individual, but one who is ABSOLUTELY in trouble and behind on her student loans, has credit card debt, and in the last few weeks has stated she wants to buy a house because she can't stand the apartment life (she has nothing saved by the way for a down payment).
3) Curious as I was, I tried to point out she should consider what the real cost was. She *conveniently* left out all of the non-sticker-price costs (like parking the car, taking shuttles/taxis, cost for meals, snacks, alcohol in the parks, and even money for the souvenirs / photos ...) and the price for the three-day vacation and only two days in the park actually came to 1,600 as an estimate.
My problem here is as I am pointing this out to her, telling her she should maybe put that money towards her debts she is behind on, or at least save it towards a downpayment if she is really serious ... the few members of the family started to get mad at me and say to let her "live a little" and "she deserves to have fun." This conversation was actually right before the one where we all need to head to the wedding of their cousin out of town about 2 hours away. I suggested driving in for the day (wedding isn't until 4PM) and then coming back that night. My sister in law (along with the same *encouraging* members who told her to take the vacation were all thinking we should turn it into a 3 day weekend for fun and maybe go down the night before on Thursday, effectively making it a Thursday afternoon until Sunday PM trip (and I would be the only one who needs to work Monday by the way).
Keep in mind, my wife comes from a family of very nice people (no real complaints about in laws). However, her father cashed in his pension when he retired early to take a different position in the private sector at 55, and used the money to buy a Brand-Spanking-New Jeep, a nice (but gently used) Truck, and take a trip themselves to Disneyworld for over a week. They still have a mortgage + a home equity loan on the house, and now don't know how to pay for their youngest child going to college.
How am I supposed to continue on the path where not only my family, but my entire wife's family is comfortable with these terrible financial habits. With a young daughter I am literally starting to worry just a bit about raising our daughter with a non-materialistic view, but every time I turn around both sides of the family are starting to go against that, and I worry that influence could rub off on both her and my wife.
Just looking for how all of your deal with your family while holding firm on your positions and possibly teaching them, but at worst not giving in to terrible habits.
Thanks in advance!