Author Topic: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room  (Read 14708 times)

gecko10x

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Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« on: January 02, 2014, 09:00:58 AM »
Survey results from a recent (August 2013) Merrill Lynch survey. Haven't read the whole thing yet, but I thought it may be of some interest here.

From the intro:

Quote
Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room reveals pitfalls
and safer passages as pre-retirees and retirees navigate
today’s modern family dynamics, including:
• Finding oneself in the role of the “Family Bank”
• The impact providing family support can have on
retirement
• Why ground rules and boundaries are important when
providing support for family members
• The financial challenges of blended families and divorce
• What it means to be a burden on one’s family
• What steps people are taking—or not taking—to avoid
becoming a burden on family
• The impact family challenges and crises can have on
retirement preparedness
• How discussing, planning and coordinating with family
members around important financial topics can increase
everyone’s peace of mind

Mods: if you feel another category would be better, feel free to move.

Capsu78

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2014, 02:36:15 PM »
Decent read as I of the age group most addressed.  I like the second 2/3 better than the first...until they tied it together in the end.
I feel "more prepared" than my average peer but still in the process of refreshing my estate plans.  Not sure why so many folks are going through life without a will.

AccidentalMiser

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2014, 07:30:25 PM »
Thank you for this.  It's good to think and talk through this stuff.  Please consider posting it in another forum topic as well.

mbk

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2014, 10:58:26 PM »
I am a millenial just starting my career. I am very discplined with money and I foresee
the need to help out my brother and mother in future. I already helped them before.
After 4 years of marriage, my in-laws are also seeking help.
While its good to help them out, its stressfull sometimes thinking about oppurtunity loss.
I could have shaved atleast couple of working years with the money spent on relatives.

Zamboni

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2014, 11:17:41 PM »
^What type of help do they need?

This report is interesting.  So many older adults giving money to family members compared to the number who feel they will have enough money for retirement.

ritchie70

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2014, 09:11:00 PM »
I am a millenial just starting my career. I am very discplined with money and I foresee
the need to help out my brother and mother in future. I already helped them before.
After 4 years of marriage, my in-laws are also seeking help.
While its good to help them out, its stressfull sometimes thinking about oppurtunity loss.
I could have shaved atleast couple of working years with the money spent on relatives.

Just remember there's no law that says you have to help them. We (wife and I) decided to significantly help her mom out back when we were both working (DINKs) and now that she isn't working and we have a little one it's kind of a squeeze, but it isn't something we can get out of. Probably will cost us $150,000 or more before she dies.

I hate to think of it like that, because I really am a kind person, but financially speaking I'm really looking forward to her death or sufficient incapacitation that she requires institutionalization.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2014, 10:45:00 PM »
Some of these replies...I mean, whether to think that is normal or not, you may not want to put out there on the web.

Anyways, I told my wife that if she decided to help out her parents, to think about doing so anonymously. If she were to give, for example, $100/mo, it's accepted graciously at first...after a few months it becomes expected. Stop giving the $100/mo and you're suddenly evil for taking something away from them. But if you gave anonymously, you can stop at any time.

Zaga

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2014, 08:19:43 AM »
My brother and I both help support our mother, she is scraping by barely even with the help, and we know this will be for life.  It's totally okay with us, so long as she doesn't have to live with either of us!  We split her utilities, which gives her enough room in her budget to eat and have a bit of a life - driving to church etc.  Also, she's living in my brother's spare house.  Once that house is paid off in a few years we probably won't have to support her as much, but that's a ways away.

mbk

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2014, 01:41:33 PM »
Just remember there's no law that says you have to help them.
I agree with this, but can't think of not helping the family. I am from South Asia where family ties are very strong.

Another downside of helping one's relatives while being young is it limits the upward mobility to certain extent. In my case, in the three years I worked, I made around 160k and saved atleast $80k+. But there is only $20k in actual savings. In addition to loss of oppurtunity there is loss of compounding as well.


nyxst

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2014, 08:20:57 PM »
I know some day soon I will have to help my parents. It makes me really angry, so I try not to think about it often. They've borrowed to cover bills already, so I have had talks with them and asked them to downsize their house, but instead, the took a heloc and keep adding to their debt month after month. I'm an only child, so the pressure is on... And I'm a single mom with 3 kids to support :( I have to hide money from myself and make it really difficult to get out just so telling them "no" is a bit easier.

Zamboni

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2014, 08:25:03 PM »
^You have my sympathy. 

Can you lock it away in accounts like retirement accounts and college savings accounts so you can't withdraw it without penalty?  That will really make it justifiable to say that you have no available money you can give them (not that you need to justify it . . . sounds like you did your best already and they are making their own bed.)

nyxst

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2014, 08:34:01 PM »
They are making their own bed, but i can see the writing on the walls...  in the end I'll be holding the bag. I am locking it all away like you said.  Really, if I can just avoid giving it to them now, at least it will earn interest before I have to pay it later.  Its a shame, really. They help me out in other ways, so I really try not to have a grudge.

nyxst

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2014, 07:19:01 AM »
After reading through that article, I think I will set up a sperate account for helping my parents, like the college fund accounts I have for my kids. Then, if they need it, I will already have a specific amount allocated to them. That should save me some guilt and make it feel like less of a burden on my finances later

golden1

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2014, 12:58:46 PM »
I was the family bank for my mother and stepfather for years, and since I was young and didn't know any better, I just kept giving to them.  Now I am my mother's bank (since they got divorced) but on a very, very limited basis. 

ritchie70

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2014, 12:24:47 PM »
Some of these replies...I mean, whether to think that is normal or not, you may not want to put out there on the web.

Hahah, feels like that's aimed at me. I totally hope my MIL has a long and healthy life but strictly from a financial perspective I sure could use the $700 a month that I'll have freed up once we're no longer paying for her housing (loan payments and HOA, which includes gas, water and heat.)

Bigote

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2014, 11:56:18 AM »
Quote
Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room reveals pitfalls
and safer passages as pre-retirees and retirees navigate
today’s modern family dynamics, including:
• Finding oneself in the role of the “Family Bank”

That at least implies you'll get paid back....   Not true in my case. 

NeverWasACornflakeGirl

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2014, 05:58:32 AM »
Is it evil to think that if you let them run up credit card debt instead of giving them money, at least the debt can be discharged in bankruptcy, so you won't be on the hook for that?

Rural

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2014, 06:17:33 AM »
Is it evil to think that if you let them run up credit card debt instead of giving them money, at least the debt can be discharged in bankruptcy, so you won't be on the hook for that?

It's not evil on your part; they don't have to run up the credit cards, after all. We could debate whether it is evil of them to choose to run up the credit cards or not, but that's an entirely different question.

Rachelocity

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2014, 08:22:06 AM »
Quote
I hate to think of it like that, because I really am a kind person, but financially speaking I'm really looking forward to her death or sufficient incapacitation that she requires institutionalization.

Having watched my mom deteriorate from a Superwoman to bedridden and hospitalized before she died, I'd rather be financially drained than have her go through this.  Institutionalization takes away a person's dignity, whereas living at home allows them to maintain at least the facade of being able to cope.  For people who have been achievers all their lives, this is very significant. 

I hope you are never in a position of vulnerability, because you will have the hardest time in the world asking for help.  (Trust me on this one!)

RootofGood

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2014, 09:26:43 AM »
One side of our family would bleed us dry if we were into handing out money to relatives.  My wife and I could continue working indefinitely and probably fund their lifestyles just fine.  But that's not the kind of life we are interested in living. 

They spend almost everything they make, and then some.  Why would we encourage that kind of behavior by subsidizing their high spending ways?  It's not our responsibility to manage their spending or step in when they hit difficulties. 

iris lily

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2014, 07:52:18 PM »
... Institutionalization takes away a person's dignity, whereas living at home allows them to maintain at least the facade of being able to cope.

I would argue that a disease ridden body is the main thief of adult independence and "dignity" while a well run nursing home is down on that list.

It is a silly expense (both in money and time resources) for many ill people to remain their own homes, especially when those homes are 4 BR 3 bath mega houses, or 100 year old ghetto houses with leaky roofs and marginal furnaces, or out-in-the-sticks acreages with a dozen dogs and grounds requiring hours of upkeep. Those the are "homes" of elderly acquaintances I know whose children were beyond stressed at caring for it all.

If every elderly person in ill health had a neat and tidy 1 BR/1 Bath condo with no stairs, wouldn't hat be a sweet deal? But life isn't so easy.

Heart of Tin

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2014, 08:34:05 PM »
I am a millenial just starting my career. I am very discplined with money and I foresee
the need to help out my brother and mother in future. I already helped them before.
After 4 years of marriage, my in-laws are also seeking help.
While its good to help them out, its stressfull sometimes thinking about oppurtunity loss.
I could have shaved atleast couple of working years with the money spent on relatives.

Just remember there's no law that says you have to help them.

Actually, to an extent, there are such laws in 29 states. Look up filial responsibility laws. They vary by state, but generally they require adult children who were not abused or abandoned by their parents in childhood and have the means to support their indigent parents to provide basic support including medical treatment. From my google-fu I've gathered that parents can sue for sort of "parent support" (my phrase, meant to evoke "spousal support" or "child support"); however the laws are usually invoked by nursing homes to hold adult children responsible for an indigent parent's debt, sometimes (rarely) to the tune of about $100,000. Pennsylvania nursing homes seem to be especially litigious.

Miamoo

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2014, 10:52:15 AM »

Quote from: Rachelocity on January 14, 2014, 08:22:06 am

    ... Institutionalization takes away a person's dignity, whereas living at home allows them to maintain at least the facade of being able to cope.


I would argue that a disease ridden body is the main thief of adult independence and "dignity" while a well run nursing home is down on that list.

It is a silly expense (both in money and time resources) for many ill people to remain their own homes, especially when those homes are 4 BR 3 bath mega houses, or 100 year old ghetto houses with leaky roofs and marginal furnaces, or out-in-the-sticks acreages with a dozen dogs and grounds requiring hours of upkeep. Those the are "homes" of elderly acquaintances I know whose children were beyond stressed at caring for it all.

If every elderly person in ill health had a neat and tidy 1 BR/1 Bath condo with no stairs, wouldn't hat be a sweet deal? But life isn't so easy.

No, life isn't that easy.  One never knows what life is going to throw their way.  How ever well planned out your financial situation is one can never plan for the totally unexpected curve balls life throws your way.  "Silly" and unwise for ill people to remain in their own homes . . . ?  Yes, but if one is that ill their thinking is not what it might be.  Their home may be a source of comfort in their last days and they'll cling to it.   I'm with Rachelocity. 

As far as your acquaintances and their "stress" there is plenty of support out there and their "stress" is most likely only a temporary situation if their loved one is in a terminal situation.

Could go on and on based upon circumstances you've vaguely described and my own experiences.  I'm still with Rachelocity on this one.



Miamoo

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2014, 10:56:39 AM »
Should have put "Quote" from IrisLily

It is a silly expense (both in money and time resources) for many ill people to remain their own homes, especially when those homes are 4 BR 3 bath mega houses, or 100 year old ghetto houses with leaky roofs and marginal furnaces, or out-in-the-sticks acreages with a dozen dogs and grounds requiring hours of upkeep. Those the are "homes" of elderly acquaintances I know whose children were beyond stressed at caring for it all.

If every elderly person in ill health had a neat and tidy 1 BR/1 Bath condo with no stairs, wouldn't hat be a sweet deal? But life isn't so easy.

And then my opinion.

Capsu78

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2014, 01:30:05 PM »
As my Dad's health deteriorated, he fought long and hard to stay in his home, even though he couldn't get down the stairs.  He spent a lot of time alone and we had some very unsafe situations.  When we finally moved him to assisted living, he through his fit but warmed up to it over a couple of months...started making friends, and sadly losing them. 
If I had it to do all over again, we would have moved him over a year earlier, while his health was better so he could make friends.  In hindsight, his push back would have been just about the same.

"Orphaned" since 2008. 

PS spent a chunk of the inheritance on a home improvement that we use nearly everyday, and reminds me of him.   Put the rest toward the "last dollars I would ever spend" fund in hopes that the money, which traces back to my grandfathers retirement fund, and can hopefully work forward to my own kids retirement.

jfer_rose

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #25 on: January 15, 2014, 03:27:32 PM »
I wasn't expecting this thread to go into the pros and cons of "institutionalizing" people in old age. But since it did...

It seems that this is so very personal and depends so much on the individual situation and the people involved. My aunt moved into a nursing home after her husband died and she seems happier than ever before. She loves all the social opportunities that the home offers (including frequent bus trips).

I've seen loved ones struggle with how to take care of elderly family members who insist on staying in their homes alone when their only family  live hours away. This can create such a huge burden, particularly a burden of worry that something bad will happen and nobody will find out for days or weeks.

I want my early retirement plans to account for any such care that I may need when I age.


ritchie70

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2014, 12:49:11 PM »
Having watched my mom deteriorate from a Superwoman to bedridden and hospitalized before she died, I'd rather be financially drained than have her go through this.  Institutionalization takes away a person's dignity, whereas living at home allows them to maintain at least the facade of being able to cope.  For people who have been achievers all their lives, this is very significant. 

I hope you are never in a position of vulnerability, because you will have the hardest time in the world asking for help.  (Trust me on this one!)

First, I hope my MIL has a long and healthy life and a quick and dignified death (because that's what I think is the best way to go.) What I said is that from a FINANCIAL perspective I sure look forward to the end of supporting her, and the only way that's going to happen is the end of her.

So far as being an achiever or any of the rest, in this particular case she's never been an achiever. My wife has been the adult in their relationship since she was 14 or 15.

annann

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #27 on: March 15, 2014, 05:43:46 PM »
My mother was a spender and made terrible money decisions her entire adult life.  She moved from town, close to everything, to a more suburban area with very few houses in her late 70s.  She lost a lot of money doing this.  Then she made no plans for the future, had a limited income and relied on a part time job to finance her spending right into her early 80s.  She finally lost the job because she just could not focus at work any longer.  She gave up driving because she refused to have her cateracts removed.  She was stubborn and made bad decision after bad decision.  My middle sister washed her hands of her and they were not even in contact with one another the last 20 years of Mom's life.  My older sister and I did what we could but early on we made a couple of decisions:

1.  We tried many times to get her to discuss planning for the future.  She got very angry and we finally stopped.
2.  We agreed that due to abusive treatment of us all our lives, that we could never have her life with us for longer than a few weeks (if necessary) while other living arrangement were made.
3.  We sent her cash gifts for birthday, mother's day, and Christmas and we were as generous as we could be.
4.  We never gave her money for anything else.
5.  When reasonable requests were made for assistance involving time and effort, we did what was asked of us.

Things worked out well for us.  She died 3 years ago.  Our relationship with her until the end was a good as it could be.

Elyse

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2014, 08:37:56 AM »
My great uncle went into a nursing home after he and his wife could no longer support his deteriorating mental condition.  They were both much happier.  She stayed living in the house (she was much younger and active than he was) but she visited him from lunch to dinner every day.

Before he went, he kept calling me by my mother's name.  I look a lot like my mother.  After being in the assisted living center for 2 months, he already knew my real name and could remember my mother as his neice.  He did much better having a regular routine.  And the people there had the right equipment and training to take care of him.  My great aunt could finally sleep and looked much healthier.

Everyone wants to bash on assisted living homes when I talk to them in person.  But I have seen the years it added to my great uncle.  He could do things again.  He died a year later, but that was the first year in 5 years that I could hold a conversation with him without him asking what my name was.  He left remembering at least part of who he was, and he was acting like himself.  I hadn't seen that vibrant outspoken man in 4 years, as he was replaced by a quiet and confused shell. 

Assisted care centers have a use.  A damn good one.  As long as you don't dump people there never to be visited or seen again, it can be a great positive to the lives of those that need assistance.

Thus, I have plans to save for it if the worst comes and I have a similar condition.  I will not put my family in the state where they have to judge between finding money to pay for it or caring for me themselves.  They can visit.  They have their own lives to lead that don't involve caring for me.  I'm perfectly content to see people when they come for a random lunch or a holiday.

MrsPete

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #29 on: March 26, 2014, 02:54:25 PM »
I wonder what they mean when they say 6 out of 10 people 50+ are providing financial help to family members.  I'm paying for my children's college education.  Does that make me one of the six?  What about if they move back home after graduation?  Would that make me one of the six? 

Speaking only for myself, I am willing to help my children through college . . . but they're very clear on the fact that once they're finished with school, I expect them to pay their own way in the world!  They're welcome to live at home (especially if it means they are able to save money at a young age), but they must contribute financially. 

kite

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #30 on: March 28, 2014, 05:12:29 PM »
I wonder what they mean when they say 6 out of 10 people 50+ are providing financial help to family members.  I'm paying for my children's college education.  Does that make me one of the six?  What about if they move back home after graduation?  Would that make me one of the six? 

Speaking only for myself, I am willing to help my children through college . . . but they're very clear on the fact that once they're finished with school, I expect them to pay their own way in the world!  They're welcome to live at home (especially if it means they are able to save money at a young age), but they must contribute financially.

I'm aware of plenty of sibling help in my extended family.   A well off uncle with no children helped his even older sister after she left an abusive marriage.   To my knowledge,  that lasted all of her life, as she really got a bum deal in the divorce.   He probably considered it a privilege to be able to help her.  I'm aware of some others who helped neices and nephews with college tuition,  helped siblings with home purchase or helped uninsured relatives with medical bills.  My family is quite large,  and there is significant financial disparity between the most and least successful.   It's very difficult to be one of the lucky ones and not share.  Obviously,  you've got to be sure that you aren't enabling bad choices or stunting a young person's growth by bailing them out. 

BlueHouse

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #31 on: March 31, 2014, 12:01:07 PM »
I help my mom, as does my sister.  Sister does more than I do financially because she can afford more.  I do more of the chores and driving around, but in the past few years as my income has grown, I've been stepping up financially too.  What drives me crazy is that we'll provide money or pick up one or two of her monthly expenses (I pay her cell phone bill and I pay to have a house cleaner clean her house once per month), then she'll visit my brothers who do nothing for her financial health and they let her pick up the tab for fancy dinners out (after THEY invite HER to dinner).  Of course she WANTs to do it, she wants to do it for me too.  The difference is that I don't let her because I know she can't afford that lifestyle on her fixed income.  She buys things for my brothers - like a refrigerator and new kitchen cabinets when one moved into a house he couldn't really afford, or a plane ticket for the other brother for a vacation.  She WANTS to do this stuff because she wants to show her love in some way, but my brothers won't say no and would keep accepting her "gifts" forever if my sister and I didn't threaten them with bodily injury.  Now they just hide it when they "suggest" a gift that they want because they know we'll nix it.  But my brothers are basically co-conspirators with my mom.  She doesn't have dementia or anything else (yet) that would make it improper for them to take advantage, but they're playing on her guilt and her heartstrings and doing what I think no upstanding son should do.  It's a tough situation because I still love my brothers, but I think they are selfish jerks sometimes too.     My sister and I feel as if we are subsidizing our brothers' spendy lifestyles. 

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #32 on: March 31, 2014, 12:05:08 PM »
I couldn't put up with that.  You're a way better person than I am.  That's exactly what is happening.  You're subsidizing your brothers. 

BlueHouse

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Re: Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room
« Reply #33 on: March 31, 2014, 12:36:05 PM »
I couldn't put up with that.  You're a way better person than I am.  That's exactly what is happening.  You're subsidizing your brothers.
It's amazing what you can put up with when you have an elderly parent who would gladly give you the shirt off her back.  She would (and does) do anything for any of her children.  Now as much as it bothers me, I try to think of it as a gift to her because it makes her happy to give to my brothers.  Brothers, by the way, both earn much higher than average incomes and both live in very nice houses with pools and other "rich person trappings".  Their kids have toys and gadgets that I won't even buy for myself.  They blame their wives for over-spending, but I know enough about it to know they are absolutely complicit in their spendy ways.  Not a better person, but I'm just trying to do something nice for my mom as she nears the end of her life.  It eats away at the lining of my stomach, but I'm willing to put up with it for her sake.  I can get quite worked up over the whole thing if I allow myself to dwell on it too long.