Author Topic: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help  (Read 43034 times)

ReadySetMillionaire

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TL;DR

Older brother and his girlfriend are living paycheck to paycheck due to very high fixed costs. His girlfriend made the post below about food stamps, totally shifting blame from herself to the government. My mom is very upset about it, as are my brother and I. We tried helping them with their budget around Christmas and they have made very little changes. Any advice on how we can help them without being too overbearing or critical?

Introduction

My older brother's girlfriend is a great girl. She fits into our family very well, she is well educated (getting her masters in psychology), she treats my older brother better than he's ever been treated, etc. She has also befriended my mom and, because my mom lives on her own, I greatly appreciate the friendship they've established.

There's one big problem: both she and my brother just don't have any concept of a budget, let alone being frugal. I'll get to that in a minute. But first, I give you this post she wrote last Friday (she is in red, her mom's is middle comment in red):



Like I said, she is still getting her degree and will likely make a high income some time in the future.  But for now, she is working full time at a local hospital making something like $12-13 an hour. My older brother didn't go to college, but has always been an insanely hard worker and worked tons of hours. He is a guard at a prison making a similar hourly wage as his GF (maybe a little more), but he works crazy overtime and probably makes decent income.

I'm guessing they make somewhere around $60,000 gross combined (top estimate) and about $42,000 net. That leaves them with a gross income of about $3,500 per month. Not great, but certainly livable in our low COL area (Youngstown).

And now to their expenses.

Monthly Income: $3,500

Vehicle Expenses
  • Brother's Car: $410 (2014 Chevy Silverado)
  • Girlfriend's Car: $275 (2014 Nissan)
  • Brother's Car Insurance: $90
  • Girlfriend's Car Insurance: $90
  • Brother's Motorcycle: $200 (Harley)
  • Girlfriend's Motorcycle Payment: $150 (Harley)
  • Both Insurance: $40
  • Combined Gas:going to conservatively guess $275

Cost of Living Expenses
  • Rent: $550
  • Groceries: $400
  • Utilities: $100
  • Cable: $60
  • Cell Phones: $150
  • Her Crossfit Membership: $100
  • They Own Three Dogs: $100 per month
  • Washer/Dryer Payment (They Financed): $20

Other Things to Mention
  • My older brother is in debt to my mom for about $10,000. She's been doing this for 10 years and ultimately has it set up so she gets $700 per month ACH to her.
  • I'm excluding the small, random purchases that always seem to pop up (Panera, Dunkin Donuts, etc.)
  • She has to begin paying on her student loans eventually. She already has $60,000 debt
  • They have a few delinquent accounts (i.e., old healthcare bills) that I know they are paying on as well

Totals: $3,500 monthly income and $3,715 just in a conservative guess of their fixed expenses.

You might say by now, "Hey, that's their problem." But in the past couple months, my brother's girlfriend has texted my twin brother asking for butter and pasta. This is no exaggeration: come Tuesday (four days after one of them get a paycheck), they literally don't have a couple bucks to buy food.

I can't even tell you how hard it is to get those texts. My older brother filed bankruptcy four years or so ago and works incredibly hard, and it makes me sick that he struggles so much. Just this past Saturday he worked a 12 hour shift, then picked up 10 more hours of overtime because he needed to pay the bills. He worked 22 hours in a day and probably has nothing to show for it.

Which all brings me to his girlfriend's Facebook post. She's not kidding when she says she could only afford a can of soup. Her parents have (from what I understand) cut her off, as have mine (for the most part). My mom still gives them money every once in a while to keep them afloat.

But the Facebook post really upset my mom, my brother and I. Here they are will all these toys (and in debt to my mom to the tune of $10,000) and she is posting about people on food stamps.

The rest of our family knows the real issue--their situation has nothing to do with a lack of income or a government system that screws them over.  They are where they are because of a series of irresponsible decisions in which they knowingly prioritized wants and luxuries (cars, dogs, gym memberships, etc.) over financial responsibility.

How Can We Move Forward?

Bottom line is that my brother and his GF's financial situation is really taking a toll on our family. We hate seeing my older brother and his girlfriend work this hard and have nothing to show for it.

Sitting them down at Christmas didn't seem to change much. My brother is in the process of selling his Chevy and was able to get a $5,000 Ford Fusion; but that's literally been the only progress made.

My Big Questions
  • How would you approach them again without being too confrontational or overbearing?
  • What specific steps would you recommend to them? I assume the basics (cut cable, etc.), but I think a diverse set of step-by-step replies would really help them.

Important Edit: While the Facebook post was solely by my brother's girlfriend, the financial problem is a mutual one. I'm looking for steps to help and approach both of them, not just my brother's GF. My OP was slanted towards being critical of her, but my older brother is equally (if not more) culpable with his bad financial decisions.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2015, 02:27:17 PM by ReadySetMillionaire »

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2015, 12:18:08 PM »
They have no kids, right? Nobody blameless is going without formula or diapers or food because of parental stupidity? Nobody has a debilitating addiction or medical issue that impairs their ability to make decisions responsibly? Because if that's the case, I would just let them sink. They are going to have to learn some time, and it sounds like the girlfriend's family is of that mindset, which would explain why they cut her off.
Good question. Nope, no kids or mental illnesses or disabilities. Brother is 28 and his girlfriend is 24, although I think she's always been in school and never had a full time job.

Like I said, they're huge issue is not being able to budget at all within their means.

It's easy to say "let them sink," but we've tried that for about a year now. It's hard getting texts from your brother's GF when they literally can't afford food. It's even harder to watch how upset my mom gets about it, so I'm hoping there's something we can do...
« Last Edit: July 21, 2015, 12:21:46 PM by ReadySetMillionaire »

screwit

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2015, 12:23:24 PM »
I needed You Need A Budget (and its forums - which eventually led me here) in order to REALLY understand what my money,  and my decisions with it, were doing. I don't know how you could get them to use it,  but this is a software and budgeting mindset which I think could really help them.

Lis

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2015, 12:24:32 PM »
Definitely hard and definitely sucks.

How about taking a roundabout approach? Something to the tune of... aren't they so lucky they can afford two motorcycles AND two cars AND crossfit AND three dogs? (Yes I realize they can't really afford it). From there, based on her response, I'd pick one to focus on. "Jeez, those motorcycles are awesome! But how much riding do you really get to do with all of your other responsibilities?" Again, based on her response, maybe she'd be open to discussing getting rid of the bikes for now (or crossfit or cable... I wouldn't try it with the dogs though). There's PLENTY of time to have all that when they're making the big money (try not to visibly cringe when you say this!), but right now, wouldn't it be better to have some money left over at the end of the month? Approach as a friend, as someone who wants to talk, not lecture.

If that doesn't work, I'm kinda with serpentstooth. Sometimes you need to fall down to learn how to get back up. In the meantime, everyone needs to stop 'helping' by giving them money or food because it isn't helping at this point, it's enabling. But be around to help with advice and budget setting if they ever request it.

Rufus.T.Firefly

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2015, 12:27:32 PM »
My recommendation for these types of situations is to write it out on paper for someone. Also, you may not personally be the right messenger for them. Have you considered pointing them towards Dave Ramsey?

Dave Ramsey is pretty much just the basic meat & potatoes advice of the financial industry, boiled down to short memorable phrases. His advice mostly focuses on people in serious debt trouble. His advice would roughly be as follows:

1) Sell all vehicles and get a beater replacements
2) Cut lifestyle expenses down to nothing
3) Cut groceries down to "beans and rice"
4) No restaurant spending or fun shopping. PERIOD.
5) Track every dollar of expense (either through a spreadsheet, envelope system or Mint)

There new expenses should look something like this:

Vehicle Expenses
Brother's Car: $410 (2014 Chevy Silverado)
Girlfriend's Car: $275 (2014 Nissan)
Brother's Car Insurance: $90 older cars should reduce the insurance cost
Girlfriend's Car Insurance: $90
Brother's Motorcycle: $200 (Harley)
Girlfriend's Motorcycle Payment: $150 (Harley)
Both Insurance: $40
Combined Gas:going to conservatively guess $275

Cost of Living Expenses
Rent: $550
Groceries: $400 $300, rice and beans
Utilities: $100
Cable: $60
Cell Phones: $150 $50/month
Her Crossfit Membership: $100 running and push-ups are free
They Own Three Dogs: $100 per month    I wouldn't touch this one - it's bad financially, but too emotional
Washer/Dryer Payment (They Financed): $20      that's the close enough to the cost of doing laundry at a laundromat that I would just pay it off

New Monthly Total: $1,525

Then attack the debt in the following order:
1) Save $1,000 in the bank so you can pay for an immediate emergency and don't go further in debt
2) List debts from smallest to largest. Use ALL savings to pay off the smallest ones first (the reason for this is psychological, they will feel immediate progress, further motivating them).
3) With each debt paid off, take that monthly payment (e.g. $20/month for washer/dryer) and put it towards the next largest debt

If you do decide to take in this task personally of guiding them, I recommend doing so in a letter/email format. It will allow you to carefully craft your words and tone. Also, it will give them time to digest the recommendations and hopefully leave them not feeling offended. I do interpret her post as a cry for help - so definitely it is the right thing to try to help. Good luck! It's not going to be easy.

mm1970

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2015, 12:29:30 PM »
They have no kids, right? Nobody blameless is going without formula or diapers or food because of parental stupidity? Nobody has a debilitating addiction or medical issue that impairs their ability to make decisions responsibly? Because if that's the case, I would just let them sink. They are going to have to learn some time, and it sounds like the girlfriend's family is of that mindset, which would explain why they cut her off.
Good question. Nope, no kids or mental illnesses or disabilities. Brother is 28 and his girlfriend is 24, although I think she's always been in school and never had a full time job.

Like I said, they're huge issue is not being able to budget at all within their means.

It's easy to say "let them sink," but we've tried that for about a year now. It's hard getting texts from your brother's GF when they literally can't afford food. It's even harder to watch how upset my mom gets about it, so I'm hoping there's something we can do...
But it's not that they "literally cannot afford food", it's that they prioritize $150 a month on phones (WTF) before food.

But if it were my brother (and it's not), I would drop off a bag food every week.  A bag of beans ($1), a 5 lb bag of rice ($3).  Maybe a large can of tomatoes, some onions, and a veggie if you want to go crazy.  For $5 a week you can make sure they don't starve.

TrMama

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2015, 12:31:40 PM »
I'd send them the Dave Ramsey book about getting out of debt. Especially if the GF is at all religious (I hear the book has some religious undertones). I might also send them a listing of all the local food banks.

Since I'm the snarky relative I might post something on that Facebook thread about how they could sell one of their 4 vehicles to buy food for themselves. However, that may also cause them to cut you off.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2015, 12:32:08 PM »
They have no kids, right? Nobody blameless is going without formula or diapers or food because of parental stupidity? Nobody has a debilitating addiction or medical issue that impairs their ability to make decisions responsibly? Because if that's the case, I would just let them sink. They are going to have to learn some time, and it sounds like the girlfriend's family is of that mindset, which would explain why they cut her off.
Good question. Nope, no kids or mental illnesses or disabilities. Brother is 28 and his girlfriend is 24, although I think she's always been in school and never had a full time job.

Like I said, they're huge issue is not being able to budget at all within their means.

It's easy to say "let them sink," but we've tried that for about a year now. It's hard getting texts from your brother's GF when they literally can't afford food. It's even harder to watch how upset my mom gets about it, so I'm hoping there's something we can do...

It's hard on everyone, but it may be the only way she'll learn. A healthy adult in a developed country is not going to starve if they have to cut rations for a little while.

If you do help, I would tie it to serious conditions. If you ditch one motorcycle, we will give you $200 upon completion of the sale. If you ditch both, $500, etc. If you're going to help them, it needs to be help that pushes them toward a functional financial life.

Bolding this for emphasis to make sure everyone sees this. My OP was about my GF's Facebook post, but the financial problem isn't just with her. It's both of them. They are mutually financially unhealthy and both have bad financial habits. So this should be about approaching both of them, not just my brother's girlfriend.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2015, 12:32:24 PM »
IMO- I'd stay out of it.

You've tried helping once.  If they get to the point where they are ACTUALLY going to be homeless and/or starve, welcome them into your house and feed them.  Otherwise, let them deal with it unless they ask your for advice.  Then give them a Dave Ramsey book and back away.  (Not a fan of DR really- but he's good for the truly clueless.)

rugorak

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2015, 12:34:11 PM »
I'd suggest starting with the cell phone bill. $150 is insane. Look at the superguide on the forums here and find the best prepaid alternative. Even not going super badass they could potentially go with Cricket and get 2.5GB of data a month with unlimited talk and text for $35 (if they autopay). I think if they combined it they could potentially even pay less than $70 that it is if they each get their own. But even without autopay and each getting their own they cut the bill almost in half with no pain.

If they won't even do that then I don't think you have any choice but to let them sink. As the saying goes you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

gReed Smith

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2015, 12:34:23 PM »
I have a rule that I won't help people financially if their difficulty is solely the result of bad decision making.  Getting rid of the two motorcycles is such a brain-dead obvious way to fix their problem that I wouldn't lift a finger for them until they did that.

Also, is $1000/yr normal to insure one car in Ohio?  I live in a neighboring state, and I pay about $700/year for two cars.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2015, 12:34:31 PM »
But it's not that they "literally cannot afford food", it's that they prioritize $150 a month on phones (WTF) before food.

But if it were my brother (and it's not), I would drop off a bag food every week.  A bag of beans ($1), a 5 lb bag of rice ($3).  Maybe a large can of tomatoes, some onions, and a veggie if you want to go crazy.  For $5 a week you can make sure they don't starve.


Most people who complain about "literally cannot afford food" are not going to be willing to eat rice and beans either.  Even when you add tomatoes, onions, veggie, and maybe even chicken.

Unless of course it was purchased at Chipotle.

dandarc

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2015, 12:35:51 PM »
If you do help, I would tie it to serious conditions. If you ditch one motorcycle, we will give you $200 upon completion of the sale. If you ditch both, $500, etc. If you're going to help them, it needs to be help that pushes them toward a functional financial life.

This.  And simply saying "No" falls into this "pushing them towards a functional financial life" category too.

lhamo

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2015, 12:44:28 PM »
OMG I want to face punch that girl sooooooo bad....

I bet she buys lunch.  Nevermind that you can buy the ingredients to make a whole POT of soup for what it costs to get a pre-made can.

Basically the cars and/or the motorcycles need to go.  Is it feasible for him to ride the motorcycle to work?  If so, then finish selling his truck, sell her car and let her drive the cheap car he found while he rides the motorcycle.  They then can still go on weekend rides etc if they are into that but just with her riding behind him instead of on her own bike.  That might be less painful than getting rid of both the bikes.

Would she be open to suggestions of recipes from budgetbytes?  I'd also suggest that great "here's what you can cook cheaply and healthily when you are on food stamps" book but that might be rubbing salt in the wounds.  Try making sample dishes yourself and having them over for dinner.  Then you can give them the recipes and tell them the best place to shop for cheap ingredients for them (assuming you have worked this out yourself).

Good luck.  I hope they are receptive to useful advice that will help them get out of this mess rather than digging deeper. 

And seriously if they are starving there is always the foodbank.  Though some places have income limits that they probably wouldn't meet.


Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2015, 12:58:59 PM »
Not your circus, not your monkeys, man. Sorry about the situation though - it definitely puts you and your mom in an awkward situation. Best of luck.

mbl

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2015, 12:59:28 PM »
You're reacting emotionally to a situation that is really NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

These are 2 adults.   You're not their mother.   If this GF is smart enough to get a college degree she's smart enough to do simple math.
They need to ditch the motorcycles and a few other things that have been noted already.
But, you've admitted that you've already talked to them about all of this and it had NO EFFECT.
That's it.  Let it go.   Don't listen to the complaints.   Don't read the texts.  Disengage it.

You're suffering from the delusion that your alleged fiscal wisdom is so compelling and obvious that they'll see the light and resolve their situation.   It didn't work the first time you tried that.
Game over.

Stay out of it.   If your mother wants to help that's her business. 


starbuck

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2015, 01:17:45 PM »
You're suffering from the delusion that your alleged fiscal wisdom is so compelling and obvious that they'll see the light and resolve their situation.   It didn't work the first time you tried that. Game over.

Stay out of it.   If your mother wants to help that's her business.

Amen. Been there, done that, nothing changed so I let it go (which is really really really hard.) They are two able bodied AND EMPLOYED adults, without kids. Unfollow the GF on facebook, and if your brother comes crying to you for money - "I'm sorry, that won't be possible." Recommend that your mother and other sibling do the same.

I'm not saying to cut off your entire relationship with them, but don't engage on the topic of their financial 'hardship'. I have an older sibling that will FOREVER live paycheck to paycheck by the skin of her teeth. It sucks to witness, and I tried to help in the past (repeatedly!), and now I don't even broach the topic of money with her. When we spend time together, we do frugal things (by my choosing) and I leave it at leading by example and mentally wish her luck. I have also decided to never loan/give her money again. At all. Boundaries, man, boundaries!

stlbrah

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2015, 01:20:31 PM »
I cringed when I saw "Chevrolet Silverado."

I have recommended to many friends to sell their stupid lifted up trucks, but in Missouri it can be viewed as blasphemy because men are 'supposed' to drive trucks.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2015, 01:22:21 PM by stlbrah »

jeromedawg

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2015, 01:24:00 PM »
I agree with those who recommended staying out of it. As hard as it is, they are still their own family unit, not yours and not your responsibility. Now, if they come asking and begging you for help or advice, you give it to them but clearly on *your* terms and not theirs. Otherwise, confronting them about something they don't consider to be a "problem" (e.g. everything else unrelated to being able to 'afford' food) isn't going to change their perspective. If they come to you though saying "we were wrong, we know we screwed our budget up and that's why we can't afford any food...what should we do?" then you should give your 2cents and then some. Otherwise, it sounds like nothing good will come out of trying to give advice to someone who's just going to make excuses and blame shift every single thing you tell them... not worth the time.

I know it's hard because its your family but ultimately they are still responsible for their own choices.

Terrestrial

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2015, 01:29:23 PM »
They have over 1k/mo going into vehicle payments including 2 that are totally recreation/discretionary, and are complaining about being broke.  Yeah...next time i got a whiny message about food i'd probably send back a 1 line 'sell your harleys' and be done with it. 

If they're too dumb to see they have easily 600/mo of pure luxuries that can be clipped almost instantly then there's not much helping them.  600 a month buys a lot of food.  They are two healthy and educated adults,  it's not your job to take care of them...sometimes the only way people change is when they hit rock bottom.  You and your mom constantly helping them just enables them. 

Look at it this way.  They are complaining about even being able to feed themselves and asking you for a handout.  They would rather HAVE THEIR MOTHER/BROTHER BUY THEM FOOD than sell a motorcycle.  This is implicitly saying that they care more about a recreational device than about family.  Give them all the emotional support you want and be willing to help change their ways but dont drop another penny in that bucket.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2015, 01:41:00 PM by Terrestrial »

jeromedawg

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #20 on: July 21, 2015, 01:32:09 PM »
They have over 1k/mo going into vehicle payments including 2 that are totally recreation/discretionary, and are complaining about being broke.  Yeah...next time i got a whiny message about food i'd probably send back a 1 line 'sell your harleys' and be done with it.

What's most striking to me is the fact that they have 3 dogs. Obviously the dogs are getting fed.

AZDude

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #21 on: July 21, 2015, 01:34:45 PM »
If they are willing, write up a budget for them, so they can see on paper that they are losing money everything month and why. Then show an alternate budget with simple fixes that lets them have more money(ie: cut the motorcycles, cable, expensive cell phone plans and they save big $$ without really touching their lifestyle). Seeing it written down might make it more "real".

Overall, they obviously need big picture stuff first before you can really start picking at their grocery spending, etc...

AZDude

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2015, 01:36:07 PM »
Also, suggesting alternatives instead of nothing might help. Like netflix/library instead of cable. Cricket(as someone else said) instead of the $150 cell phone plan. Etc...

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #23 on: July 21, 2015, 02:12:12 PM »
I'm sorry to say this, but you cannot help them right now. Just like you can't help an alcoholic who won't admit he has a drinking problem. They don't (won't) recognize they have a spending problem. Any advice will go in one ear and out the other; any money or food will be consumed with nothing to show for it. You can't do anything except disengage from their financial life--and help your mother to disengage as much as she can.

Your brother's already been through bankruptcy once; the GF's parents have cut her off; and they still haven't honestly acknowledged the real problem. An hour of advice or a sample budget from you is not going to make them change, any more than a gift of $100 will solve their problems. 

sol

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #24 on: July 21, 2015, 02:27:45 PM »
Does she ever post pictures of her hog or her two new vehicles? 

I would respond to that post about not being able to buy soup with a comment about how you wish you could one day afford an awesome motorcycle/truck like she has, and then respond to the motorcycle/truck post with a comment about how happy you are too keep buying groceries for her since she obviously can't afford to feed herself.  Make it obvious the comments are switched, maybe she'll get the hint.

Still too confrontational?  Tell her to ride that Harley over to the food bank, they give out free food to people in need.  Let those folks deliver the bad news.

pbkmaine

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #25 on: July 21, 2015, 02:38:45 PM »
I am seeing a very similar situation with a relative and his wife. She's always liking Nordstrom's on Facebook. His mother bails them out when they are short of money. I keep my mouth shut. If they ever come to me, I will tell them I will pay for them to go to Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University

slugline

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #26 on: July 21, 2015, 02:39:34 PM »
I'm seeing lots of good suggestions so far. Here's a question for the OP: Are you familiar with the friends they hang out with the most? Could these friends possibly be bigger earners with spending habits to match? If so, then maybe your brother and his GF are caught in a keeping-up-with-the-Jones game they cannot win and need to quit.

I can't relate with anyone who rants about food stamp recipients. The benefit for a household of 2 tops out at $357/month maximum and that's only if there is zero income, so you're pretty much living through a personal economic disaster to get it. Meanwhile your brother and GF are at or just above U.S. median household income. They desperately need to see the math.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #27 on: July 21, 2015, 02:42:17 PM »
Thanks all for the advice thus far. The "disengage" advice is easy practically (my brother and I don't give them anything) but very hard emotionally. My mom gets so upset about it...like she failed or something...I just don't know how to get her to disengage I guess, which is why I was looking for practical advice.

Does she ever post pictures of her hog or her two new vehicles? 

I would respond to that post about not being able to buy soup with a comment about how you wish you could one day afford an awesome motorcycle/truck like she has, and then respond to the motorcycle/truck post with a comment about how happy you are too keep buying groceries for her since she obviously can't afford to feed herself.  Make it obvious the comments are switched, maybe she'll get the hint.

Still too confrontational?  Tell her to ride that Harley over to the food bank, they give out free food to people in need.  Let those folks deliver the bad news.

This "food stamps" post was the first time my mom or I almost posted anything. I rarely use Facebook--literally 1-2 times per month--but my mom pointed it out to me. She almost posted, "You could afford food if you sold your bikes" (quoting that from a text she sent me). I almost posted something as well. In the end, my mom said it would be too confrontational.

Like I've been saying, it's easy to say "disengage," but it's very hard to watch.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2015, 02:51:34 PM by ReadySetMillionaire »

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #28 on: July 21, 2015, 02:45:04 PM »
I'm seeing lots of good suggestions so far. Here's a question for the OP: Are you familiar with the friends they hang out with the most? Could these friends possibly be bigger earners with spending habits to match? If so, then maybe your brother and his GF are caught in a keeping-up-with-the-Jones game they cannot win and need to quit.

I can't relate with anyone who rants about food stamp recipients. The benefit for a household of 2 tops out at $357/month maximum and that's only if there is zero income, so you're pretty much living through a personal economic disaster to get it. Meanwhile your brother and GF are at or just above U.S. median household income. They desperately need to see the math.

I'm not sure about their friends as much as they've entered the real world and thought they could live the same standard of living as their parents. My dad is an attorney that easily makes six figures, has a nice truck, and has a Harley. I haven't met GF's dad, but he seems like a good guy/blue collar kind of dad, and he owns a bike as well. So throw those in and boom, each of them have motorcycles.

Thanks for the info about food stamps.

jeromedawg

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #29 on: July 21, 2015, 02:50:34 PM »
Thanks all for the advice thus far. The "disengage" advice is easy practically (my brother and I don't give them anything) but very hard emotionally. My mom gets so upset about it...like she failed or something...I just don't know how to get her to disengage I guess, which is why I was looking for practical advice.

Does she ever post pictures of her hog or her two new vehicles? 

I would respond to that post about not being able to buy soup with a comment about how you wish you could one day afford an awesome motorcycle/truck like she has, and then respond to the motorcycle/truck post with a comment about how happy you are too keep buying groceries for her since she obviously can't afford to feed herself.  Make it obvious the comments are switched, maybe she'll get the hint.

Still too confrontational?  Tell her to ride that Harley over to the food bank, they give out free food to people in need.  Let those folks deliver the bad news.

This "food stamps" post was the first time my mom or I posted anything. I rarely use Facebook--literally 1-2 times per month--but my mom pointed it out to me. She almost posted, "You could afford food if you sold your bikes" (quoting that from a text she sent me). I almost posted something as well. In the end, my mom said it would be too confrontational.

Like I've been saying, it's easy to say "disengage," but it's very hard to watch.

I know what you mean. It's like watching something so dear to you crumble right in front of your eyes. My wife feels this way about her parents, but at some point boundaries need to be set. As far as figuring out what those boundaries are, I think there's been lots of good advice on all sides of the spectrum here. Hopefully enough for you to make an informed decision about what you want to do. Maybe it is too extreme to "cut them off" and "have nothing to do with them" but I think that can still happen to a certain extent and maybe in different contexts. e.g. if they ask for money, scrutinize why and what they're going to use it for. Tell them you're not going to let them borrow anything unless they do XYZ, and make them stick to their word. But if there is a repeated pattern of dumb-a behavior and resulting endless complaints revolving around blame-shifting, you're going to have to draw the line somewhere. Like what a couple others have said, this is likely what caused the GF's family to cut her off... like, you can't help someone who has intentionally buried their head in the sand, really likes it, and isn't going to listen to you. I guess you could forcibly remove them, but I would liken that to confronting them dead-on (and even then, confronting them may not actually do anything and could even make them go into further denial). Offering alternatives, as AZDude suggested, might be a good way to start out... I don't know if you've already done this but maybe start in one area (mobile phone should be easy...
« Last Edit: July 21, 2015, 02:55:36 PM by jplee3 »

GardenFun

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #30 on: July 21, 2015, 02:50:55 PM »
But it's not that they "literally cannot afford food", it's that they prioritize $150 a month on phones (WTF) before food.

But if it were my brother (and it's not), I would drop off a bag food every week.  A bag of beans ($1), a 5 lb bag of rice ($3).  Maybe a large can of tomatoes, some onions, and a veggie if you want to go crazy.  For $5 a week you can make sure they don't starve.


Most people who complain about "literally cannot afford food" are not going to be willing to eat rice and beans either.  Even when you add tomatoes, onions, veggie, and maybe even chicken.

Unless of course it was purchased at Chipotle.

That made me laugh hard enough to scare the kids. 

Are you significantly older or just slightly older than them?  What does your outward lifestyle (and of your brother/mother/her in-laws) look like to them?  What are their friends lifestyles like? 

My husband is the oldest in his family.  His youngest brother would constantly try to "keep up appearance" with us, even though we were in completely different phases of life.  It isn't like our life was glamorous, but when you do not have money for an item, that item becomes glamorous.  It caused the younger brother to get into financial trouble, which affected his parents (both financially and emotionally). 

If you want to help them, be ready for a long journey.  Currently they don't want a budget, they don't want to sell their bikes, they will grudgingly sell their pricey vehicles.  You need to find out why they want these items, what problems they're trying to mask (insecurity, personal expectations of themselves), and offer advice to guide them towards what makes them truly happy - while knowing that the ultimate decisions still belong to them.     
« Last Edit: July 21, 2015, 02:59:16 PM by GardenFun »

AZDude

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #31 on: July 21, 2015, 02:52:25 PM »
Confrontation is a good thing sometimes. Rather than let this simmer for years until it finally blows up, might be better to attack it now, accept the short term pain, and then everyone can move on.

mm1970

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #32 on: July 21, 2015, 02:57:34 PM »
But it's not that they "literally cannot afford food", it's that they prioritize $150 a month on phones (WTF) before food.

But if it were my brother (and it's not), I would drop off a bag food every week.  A bag of beans ($1), a 5 lb bag of rice ($3).  Maybe a large can of tomatoes, some onions, and a veggie if you want to go crazy.  For $5 a week you can make sure they don't starve.


Most people who complain about "literally cannot afford food" are not going to be willing to eat rice and beans either.  Even when you add tomatoes, onions, veggie, and maybe even chicken.

Unless of course it was purchased at Chipotle.

And you paid $20 for it (for two)

CommonCents

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #33 on: July 21, 2015, 03:00:00 PM »
This "food stamps" post was the first time my mom or I almost posted anything. I rarely use Facebook--literally 1-2 times per month--but my mom pointed it out to me. She almost posted, "You could afford food if you sold your bikes" (quoting that from a text she sent me). I almost posted something as well. In the end, my mom said it would be too confrontational.

Like I've been saying, it's easy to say "disengage," but it's very hard to watch.

Ah, you just need to use their language when posting to make it less confrontational!  "Think positively - you are blessed to have motorcycles!  If it ever truly got bad, you could sell them to free up your monthly budget.  God always has a plan for you."  (add other blessed/God language)

dodojojo

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #34 on: July 21, 2015, 03:03:04 PM »
I have a sibling who lives exactly like this.  The problem is she is 40 years old and still financially dependent on my father.  You cannot reason with some people.  I told my father to give her the boot many years ago and let her learn to live a financially responsible life.  But he wouldn't and now he is stuck working himself to death to support her.  This is someone who owes tens of thousands of dollars to family members and she's never ever made good on any "loan"--not to family nor to banks/credit lines.  Who knows how many friends have been stung.

And yet, to this day, there is always a ready excuse as to why she still needs to buy a newer car rather than using public transportation or riding a bike or even driving an older car.  There's every excuse as why she has the full cable package rather than an antenna.  I gave up a long time ago trying to reason with her.  As she's family, I haven't cut her out of my life--but I've made it clear that the ATM here is closed for business.

So...let your brother and his GF learn their lesson.  It may or may not work, but helping them constantly will almost guarantee they will never learn to fend for themselves.  Put it in black and white--data in an spreadsheet of how much they can save by deleting/decreasing the bikes, gym memberships, etc.  If the hundreds of dollars difference each month doesn't wake them up--then it's their fucking problem.  Sorry, if that's harsh, but let's just say I've had an adult lifetime enough of financial idiotic siblings.

The_path_less_taken

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #35 on: July 21, 2015, 03:06:46 PM »
Not your circus, not your monkeys, man. Sorry about the situation though - it definitely puts you and your mom in an awkward situation. Best of luck.




+1

Although...I'd probably give it one more try, if only to save your mom and brother the grief.

"I see you are both struggling. Would you like me to sit down with you and help you with a budget?"

"You're both smart people. Odds are there are some things that you don't "need" as much as you need food, right? Like crossfit, cable, fancy cell phones, a truck. Everyone gets to choose their path. Yours is heading for a cliff. I can tell you how I'd fix it. But ultimately....it is your path."



Bottom line, there are doggie welfare places that will help them with food vet bills. Google it for them since they'll never do it on their own.

Zamboni

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #36 on: July 21, 2015, 03:08:03 PM »
My vote is with what CommonCents said. Make all comments about God and how God has led the way and carried them along the beach by giving them their (insert frivolous crap) so that they have alternative budget items to cut when they really need groceries.

Or ask them what Jesus would do? Suggest that Jesus would sell the motorcycles to buy a gigantic bag of rice to eat and also share with the poor folks on food stamps.

Otherwise, boundaries is all you can do. Don't give them any money, ever, or you reward their bad behavior. Reassure your mom over and over that they are not really going to starve and that she needs to quit worrying about it.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #37 on: July 21, 2015, 03:14:25 PM »
One more thing before I head home: I do worry a little about whether this will affect my mom's retirement. She and my dad had one of those divorces where both didn't come out well financially. My mom is 58, still carries a significant mortgage and has only $130,000 in retirement assets.

I can't help but think that she will continue to bail my brother and his GF out, and that will hurt her retirement. And then she might need senior care, which my brother and I might have to foot the bill for.

So, I guess what I'm saying with this tangent is that I think this is going to negatively affect my mom and maybe eventually me.

I don't want that to happen so I'm trying really hard to make something...anything...work. It's just exhausting.

Jeremy E.

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #38 on: July 21, 2015, 03:19:11 PM »
Respond to the facebook post, don't be sensitive, say this:
Between you and my(your) brother, you have a 1 year old $45,000(estimate) truck, a 1 year old car, 2 harleys, and 3 dogs. At least sell the truck(I know he's already selling it, but might as well mention it) and the harleys and get a reasonable car and you'll have plenty of money for other expenses, or wait a year and instead have them get repoed. Food stamps go to people that make less than half what you make, mainly to single parents. If you aren't smart enough to manage your own finances, how can you complain about a MUCH more complex system of finances?

MidWestLove

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #39 on: July 21, 2015, 03:21:49 PM »
.... really depend on your family culture and your culture in general.

if it is more 'American'  - stay out of it, they are adults and I find very little to be upset about. actually it is pretty funny - not able to put food in the fridge but own two cards and two motorcycles? only in America!

of your culture, upbringing, religion, mindset, whatever is more like where I came from - we would consider it part of our business and  have that conversation, publish shaming, head smacking event(s). good and bad from both perspectives - could be very supportive (massive safety net as there is nothing more important than family) or suffocating (if your standards want different degree of freedom).

MidWestLove

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #40 on: July 21, 2015, 03:23:16 PM »
"Respond to the facebook post, don't be sensitive, say this:"

no.. why have that conversation on facebook of all places? you do not know their phone number? email? never see each over since you are posted in Antarctica and they work on North Pole? Stay away from Facebook (which I think is a great advice in general)

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #41 on: July 21, 2015, 03:40:08 PM »
It's always very hard emotionally to set boundaries. I don't have specific practical advice about it, but there are books on the subject.

Just a thought which may not be applicable to your particular family dynamics: Is there a chance your mother would like you to be the bad cop--to say the blunt things that she doesn't allow herself to say? If so, would you be willing to play this role?

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #42 on: July 21, 2015, 04:17:39 PM »
"Respond to the facebook post, don't be sensitive, say this:"

no.. why have that conversation on facebook of all places? you do not know their phone number? email? never see each over since you are posted in Antarctica and they work on North Pole? Stay away from Facebook (which I think is a great advice in general)
100% agree that Facebook is the wrong way to be "confrontational." If anything, the public humiliation would trigger defense mechanisms that would only make this worse.

cats

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #43 on: July 21, 2015, 04:20:21 PM »
I might be inclined to talk to your brother...say something like "look, this is really upsetting Mom, would you like me to sit down and help you with setting up a budget?".  Or pass on a Dave Ramsey book or something similar, as others have suggested (maybe with the line of "this really helped me"...even if you haven't actually used DR, or whoever).  Honestly, it is not really your place to be "bad cop".  If you are worried about having to bail your Mom out later, how about telling her that?  Like, "hey, I don't agree with how my brother is living right now, I'm not going to bail him out, and I'm not going to bail YOU out later for having bailed him out".  Or maybe just be a bit gentler and say "hey mom, I know you are worried but I think right now the best thing you can be doing is looking out for yourself."

As an ex-grad student, I am pretty shocked at what people who are students seem to think they can afford.  A car AND a motorbike?  AND a fancy gym membership?  All of those would seem like obvious no-no's to me.  An old beater car is really the most luxurious transport option I think a graduate student can justify (and even that's a stretch in many cases). 

Jeremy E.

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #44 on: July 21, 2015, 04:26:50 PM »
I might be inclined to talk to your brother...say something like "look, this is really upsetting Mom, would you like me to sit down and help you with setting up a budget?".  Or pass on a Dave Ramsey book or something similar, as others have suggested (maybe with the line of "this really helped me"...even if you haven't actually used DR, or whoever).  Honestly, it is not really your place to be "bad cop".  If you are worried about having to bail your Mom out later, how about telling her that?  Like, "hey, I don't agree with how my brother is living right now, I'm not going to bail him out, and I'm not going to bail YOU out later for having bailed him out".  Or maybe just be a bit gentler and say "hey mom, I know you are worried but I think right now the best thing you can be doing is looking out for yourself."

As an ex-grad student, I am pretty shocked at what people who are students seem to think they can afford.  A car AND a motorbike?  AND a fancy gym membership?  All of those would seem like obvious no-no's to me.  An old beater car is really the most luxurious transport option I think a graduate student can justify (and even that's a stretch in many cases).
I wouldn't say anything about his moms finances or worrying about having to bail her out. The best way to get her to stop is by telling her he needs to learn to be fiscally responsible for himself

Zamboni

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #45 on: July 21, 2015, 05:05:10 PM »
I am more worried about your Mom than the people of your generation.

Keep reassuring your Mom. Listen to what she says patiently so she can express her concerns to you but be very firm that she needs to save as much as she can for her own retirement and not enable these two. Tell her the truth: that they will never ever learn to manage their money if she ever gives them any. No matter how pathetic their story, she needs to tell them "I'm proud of you and I know you are smart, and so I'm sure you will figure it out." That's what she should say whenever they say they can't pay a bill, have no food, or need money for this or that.

Really I have absolutely no sympathy for you SIL. What an imbecile. I would be totally shamed and embarrassed to have what she has and asking for money from anyone for food. And then she turns around and blast people who are so poor and in such dire straits that they need food stamps, like somehow it's their fault that she is a whiny, entitled moron.

Some people are not really into reading, and for them Dave Ramsey's books won't help. But, he's made lots of youtube videos and has a radio show and lots of podcasts with case studies on people calling in. Those might be helpful here. He's not for everyone, but I think his model could help these two.

iris lily

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #46 on: July 21, 2015, 05:34:18 PM »
I cringed when I saw "Chevrolet Silverado."

I have recommended to many friends to sell their stupid lifted up trucks, but in Missouri it can be viewed as blasphemy because men are 'supposed' to drive trucks.

Are you kidding? *I* cringed when I saw Masters degree in psychology.U"

There are lotsa wannabe counselers out there. Lotsa them. Perhaps the OP has insider knowledge of the track this woman is on toward a professional salary that will allow her to knock the likely students loans into oblivion. I hope so.

mozar

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #47 on: July 21, 2015, 05:43:05 PM »
+1 what Zamboni said. The issue is the mom. As long as she bails them out they'll never learn. "Codependent no more" would be a good book for her. It will be a long process to get through to her, but it will be worth it.

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #48 on: July 21, 2015, 05:48:13 PM »
Like I said, they're huge issue is not being able to budget at all within their means.

To me, it sounds like their huge issue is ignorance (about who contributes to society, what contribution is, etc). I'm not sure how you can help them with that. When they sink, though, some of their prejudices will be healed, as they become beneficiaries of those who "don't contribute". At that point, they'll learn to budget, too!

ender

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Re: Brother's GF Just Facebook-Ranted About Food-Stamps...Need Help
« Reply #49 on: July 21, 2015, 06:10:56 PM »
Something missing from all of this, make sure you acknowledge their frustrations if you do approach them.

Understand, that even though they might be completely financially retarded, they still feel the feelings they have. Those are very real to them RIGHT NOW. If you approach them and dismiss these as being whiney or stupid or lame or even just don't acknowledge them you are going to immediately put them in a defensive mode which will make meaningful advice impossible.

You don't have to condone the feelings, but you can acknowledge them as being real.

"That must feel hopeless" or "you must be so frustrated" can cause a lot of relational empathy in a situation like this.