Author Topic: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE  (Read 26909 times)

Guava

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Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« on: March 10, 2016, 11:59:17 AM »
Has anyone here factored financially caring for aging parents into their FI number?

I have become quite concerned that SO and I will need to financially support his parents as they get older because they have almost no assets, no savings, and no retirement accounts or pension.  I expect social security to cover minimal expenses for them but there will definitely be a gap.  I also suspect we will subsidize my parents, at least when they go into assisted living/nursing homes by around $150 each month, depending on how active they are in those places (I got this number based on how much my parents subsidize my grandma currently for things like haircuts, crafts, snacks, decorations, and pay to play activities).

I have no way of knowing how much these expenses will be, especially for SO's parents, so I am trying to figure out how much I should budget each month to calculate my FI number. Any suggestions/personal experiences?

CheapskateWife

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2016, 12:52:17 PM »
We have established a monthly allowance for my MIL that remains a part of our ongoing plan.  For us its $300 a month which is not based on anything scientific at all.  We figure $300 buys groceries for one little old lady who doesn't eat very much, and what she does with it is her business.  Even if we fire, she will still get her allowance.

For us, the biggest challenge was getting over the idea that we had any sort of say in how she used it (like using it to help bail out other family members).  It took some time for us to get over ourselves and our control freak natures, but once we did, it changed the dynamic to something much healthier.

Cassie

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2016, 01:22:26 PM »
When the time comes they should look at senior housing which only takes a third of their income for rent.  This will help their SS go further.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2016, 02:08:51 PM »
I made a line item in my budget for family contributions. I count it as part my monthly charitable contribution, and it equals about $200/month. Right now I just chuck it into a savings account, ready for distribution if necessary. My parents do have some assets; if they never need help, I'll parcel the money out to my nieces and nephews equally when they reach their majority.

I'm also fairly certain my mom will end up living with me and my wife, should anything happen to my dad.

Felicity

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2016, 02:17:22 PM »
You can help your parents and your husband's parents figure out what SS will pay out. If they sign up for a myssa.gov account (https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/), the calculator will give results based on actual work history and earned credits. Definitely also look around at the different housing options like Cassie suggested. If there's not enough information online, calling or visiting the organizations would likely be very helpful. They have to deal with the financials every day.

This is something that has definitely changed our FIRE plans. Over 20% of our yearly spending right now goes towards paying for a relative's care. This will continue when FIRE'd, and there might be more spending down the line. My husband and I are naturally very cautious people, and thankfully also fairly high income (two engineers). Our plan is forecast our current spending into retirement, but to also delay FIRE by some time as a bit of a buffer...

Once we reach our 4% withdrawal rate number, we plan on working part time or have some other type of arrangement set up (real estate, maybe a side gig becomes profitable, etc) until we're closer to something like a 3% withdrawal rate. Best case scenario, it's more than enough and we die giving millions to charity. This plan is a lot more conservative than really needed, of course.

Villanelle

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2016, 02:34:54 PM »
We have established a monthly allowance for my MIL that remains a part of our ongoing plan.  For us its $300 a month which is not based on anything scientific at all.  We figure $300 buys groceries for one little old lady who doesn't eat very much, and what she does with it is her business.  Even if we fire, she will still get her allowance.

For us, the biggest challenge was getting over the idea that we had any sort of say in how she used it (like using it to help bail out other family members).  It took some time for us to get over ourselves and our control freak natures, but once we did, it changed the dynamic to something much healthier.

Have you ever had an issue of her spending the money frivolously and the not having (or claiming she doesn't have) enough money for the basics (rent, groceries, utilities)?  I have a dear friend who has been through financial hell with her MIL, and that was part of the cycle. Obviously this is going to depend a great deal on the personality and choices of the person receiving the money, but I'm wondering if it has come up for you.

Thankfully, my parents have well more than enough, along with amazing medical insurance.  I don't know my MIL's exact situation, but I know it isn't good.  I wouldn't mind something like a few hundred bucks a month, but I worry that the same habits that put someone in a position of needing the help in the first place will cause them to fritter away however much money they are given, meaning that however much they are given, it won't be enough. 

CheapskateWife

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2016, 03:00:59 PM »
Have you ever had an issue of her spending the money frivolously and the not having (or claiming she doesn't have) enough money for the basics (rent, groceries, utilities)?  I have a dear friend who has been through financial hell with her MIL, and that was part of the cycle. Obviously this is going to depend a great deal on the personality and choices of the person receiving the money, but I'm wondering if it has come up for you.

Thankfully, my parents have well more than enough, along with amazing medical insurance.  I don't know my MIL's exact situation, but I know it isn't good.  I wouldn't mind something like a few hundred bucks a month, but I worry that the same habits that put someone in a position of needing the help in the first place will cause them to fritter away however much money they are given, meaning that however much they are given, it won't be enough.

Yes of course, there is always something more.  She lives on her own in a dilapidated trailer, and we were contributing financially to repairs, furnace replacements etc.  This year was the year we put our foot down and said no more.  It was hard...she took it really hard but we are all back to being friends again.

For us it was a matter of explaining that her insistence on living in "her" house was creating a horrible burden for the rest of the family, and that we were willing to move her into a more appropriate space (elder apartments, in our town, cheaper than the rent on her mobile home spot) etc.  She demanded to stay in place, so she needed to figure out how to make that work.  And you know what...she did.  She brought in a room-mate for a few months and the extra cash paid for some much needed repairs.    Yes I felt guilty about taking the hard line with her, but really, she made her decision and I shouldn't have to pay for that.

Whether they do it to manipulate or just circumstances happen, caring for your elder parents is going to be hard.  I always wonder if we are getting it right.

o2bfree

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2016, 03:32:52 PM »
I know I need to think about this, but it makes me a little angry. My parents never listened to advice I offered when they asked, nor gave my potential much thought. Instead, they focused on my brother, who ended up costing them a couple hundred thousand bucks in unwise investments in recent years. Not to mention the money they spent on legal and other fees getting his butt out of trouble time and time again in his younger years. Though I did well in school and avoided trouble, they never talked to me about college nor gave me guidance towards building my life/career. They did pretty well with their business, but I ended up paying for my own college, and never asked for financial help as an adult.

My brother eventually split and cut ties with us, leaving me to help mom as dad deteriorated, and now it's up to me to look after mom. Thanks bro.

Mom is in ok shape financially now, but she could run out of money if she lives a long time. So maybe I should work longer than planned, but the thought grinds me.

Cassie

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2016, 04:11:49 PM »
When I  see these types of threads I can not believe the number of people that allow their kids to support them partially. My Mom and Dad lived on their small savings, SS and pension that was not big. After my DAd died my Mom lived on SS and the much reduced pension.  Both were frugal and would never accept $ from any of us kids. My Mom even made sure she had enough $ to pay for her own funeral.  There are many programs to help seniors. AARP also has p.t. jobs in the community. They pay the wage and the senior works for someone else.  There also are food stamps, meals on wheels, etc.

wenchsenior

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2016, 04:31:00 PM »
Currently,  10-15% of our take home is spent on helping support parents (mostly one parent). It is one of the reasons we won't be retiring early. I anticipate that will stay more or less the same until said parents pass away, which could be another 20 odd years...so could definitely overlap with our regular retirement ages. So I do anticipate ~15% of our income going to that more or less forever. We can't really afford more without seriously disadvantaging our own long term security, particularly since we will not have children on whom we can rely to help us out as we age.  ETA: for numerical clarity, this works out to 500-800$ worth of support per month, but most of that is not just cash handed out...it is actual payment of bills that we handle and control. A small amount is more or less emergency cash infusions. We know that isn't ideal because we have no control at all over what happens to it, but the hassle of trying to manage the situation with that particular parent is not worth it.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2016, 04:35:31 PM by wenchsenior »

coolistdude

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2016, 04:36:05 PM »
I know I need to think about this, but it makes me a little angry. My parents never listened to advice I offered when they asked, nor gave my potential much thought. Instead, they focused on my brother, who ended up costing them a couple hundred thousand bucks in unwise investments in recent years. Not to mention the money they spent on legal and other fees getting his butt out of trouble time and time again in his younger years. Though I did well in school and avoided trouble, they never talked to me about college nor gave me guidance towards building my life/career. They did pretty well with their business, but I ended up paying for my own college, and never asked for financial help as an adult.

My brother eventually split and cut ties with us, leaving me to help mom as dad deteriorated, and now it's up to me to look after mom. Thanks bro.

Mom is in ok shape financially now, but she could run out of money if she lives a long time. So maybe I should work longer than planned, but the thought grinds me.

It never felt so good to be so right...not. My parents/in law parents also have virtually no assets. It comes down the butt-wiping. My parents wiped my butt as a kid, so if they need it, I'll try to make some preparations to help them out. It's a shame for the frugal to see a lifetime of waste catch up to someone who was warned. 

Cassie

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2016, 04:40:18 PM »
WS: have you looked into other options for that parent. That is a ton of $ to be supporting another adult. Senior housing is usually quite nice and very affordable since it is based on income.  I don't expect my kids to  help us. It is my responsibility to take care of myself.  There are lots of programs that help low income seniors. I would look into this.

wenchsenior

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2016, 05:13:04 PM »
WS: have you looked into other options for that parent. That is a ton of $ to be supporting another adult. Senior housing is usually quite nice and very affordable since it is based on income.  I don't expect my kids to  help us. It is my responsibility to take care of myself.  There are lots of programs that help low income seniors. I would look into this.

Yes, the options for senior support are not good here. Essentially, in order for her to qualify for ANY support (get her below the threshold to qualify), we would have to pull enough support so that her standard of living would take a major dive. We could do this, and then try to game the system by passing her under the table cash, but that is risky and morally questionable. As it is, we can support her in an entirely separate house (so at least not losing money to rent) because we are in a really low cost of living area. However, there is a possibility we'll be moving at some point, and we would have to entirely rethink how we do things at that point. It's slightly possible we would end up in a state with better safety nets for the poor. Or she might need to go back to her original state of residence, where support for poor seniors is better, or we'd have to adjust her standard of living down and get her into senior housing. Or she'll be living with us, which will require a much larger and more specifically designed (and therefore presumably more expensive) living space so we could all stand each other long term, but at least then her small SS income would be pooled in with ours. We try to play it one year at a time and plan accordingly.

Guava

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2016, 06:01:45 PM »
Thanks everyone for your replies and ideas.

CheapskateWife- I think I would really struggle with letting go of the spending at first but I can see how this would create a healthier relationship than dictating where monies can be spent. I never even thought about that aspect of giving money before.

Cassie- Both sets of parents should have paid for houses by the time they retire in 6-8 years so I am not sure that senior housing would be the best idea if they have decent funds. When the time comes I will keep this in mind and run some numbers. As for parents letting their kids financially support them, I always knew I would help me parents and so would my brother. My parents kindly paid for the majority of college for both of us in return for us helping as needed when they age. My brother will likely provide them the majority of their support needed and I will handle the care, doctor visits, home maintenance, etc. My SO's parents...they just don't believe in investing and have always been low income. My family was raised with the younger generation supporting the older generation at least somewhat financially and I would prefer to help them as long as it doesn't jeopardize my own financial security than send them to assistance programs that are already overburdened in this area.

SS- good idea. If I start that line item soon I should have a good buffer built up for when it is needed.

Felicity- as a fellow engineer, I understand the caution. That's why I am thinking about this! Thanks for the social security link. I will go over it with my parents at least.

V- I also have the fear that whatever they will be given won't be enough even though none of them are super spendy...yet.

o2b- sounds like a rough situation. Hopefully it improves!

WS- how has paying individual bills worked out? Has it created any strain in your relationship?

Cool- yes, it comes down to butt-wiping for me too. One of the biggest issues within my family is that instead of saving heavily for retirement, my parents are paying for their parents, and some of them don't really care about this financial burden it places on them. It seems my family is just sort of built this way.

Cassie

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2016, 06:14:26 PM »
Senior housing can be really nice. I have 2 friends that live in 2 bedroom really nice apartments that are not very old. I had one grandma that needed some help because when my grandpa died his pension died with him. It was not an option way back then for her to get a part of it.  They got her into a new senior apartment but did have to help with meds, etc because she only had a small SS. One other sibling helped too. But they did not have to help to the point that it affected their retirement or to the level that some of you are talking about.   

bogart

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2016, 08:00:13 PM »
When I  see these types of threads I can not believe the number of people that allow their kids to support them partially.

When I see these kinds of questions, I'll admit that able parents who accept financial assistance aren't what springs to my mind either.  But what does spring to mind is the other extreme -- not kids providing parents $300 or even $800/month, but rather parents who can't live independently because of cognitive or physical decline and who require expensive assistance, long term. 

Cassie

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2016, 11:53:04 PM »
However, there are programs that will help with these type of issues. I was a social worker for awhile and have helped many people connect with services.  I think that often people are not aware of what is available to help.

Shane

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2016, 01:13:04 AM »
Cassie's right, depending on where you live, senior housing can be really nice. It is where we live. I once went inside an acquaintance's apartment in a public senior housing complex, and it was small but really clean and the complex seemed well maintained. The woman we knew who lived there was in her late 70's/early 80's and widowed. She explained to us that she only paid, I think, $175/month rent for her apartment in a really convenient location, because that was X% of her monthly SS benefits. She said there was a little van that came around a few times/week to pick seniors up to take them shopping and drop them off for medical appointments. It looked to me like the woman had a pretty nice life and she didn't need to take any money from her family to live.

Sometimes emergency infusions of cash can help relatives who need it, but it seems to me that our time can often be more important to our family members than money. For those of us who are retired already, we can offer our time to help care for our elderly parents. I would think that that would be even more valuable to many of them than a few hundred bucks a month.

chasesfish

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2016, 05:59:15 AM »
Yep - I can relate to this.  We're not supporting parents yet, but I already see the writing on the wall.  I'm fortunate to make more money than I ever expected and will work a bit longer because of the issue above.  There will be some limits depending on the parent.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2016, 07:08:20 AM »
I am also concerned about this. My parents are in their mid 60s, and while they do have significant assets to support themselves, I do worry about what they will do once they decide to sell their oversized family home. I really like the idea of family compounds where aging, but still very physically capable and competent, parents live as neighbors next to their adult kids. Sometimes this works by having the parents chip in and help pay for the construction of their own cottage on a larger property owned by the kids, and other times families just buy 2 houses in adjacent lots.
This type of situation would work best for a family like ours: we get along with our parents, I'm a stay at home mom, and the grandparents are eager to help watch the grandkids and be an integral part of family life. That said, I do not want to be living in the same home as my parents or supporting them financially. I guess my ideal scenario would have them living as my neighbors so we could get away from eachother but still help each other out, and where they could save alot of money they would otherwise spend on expensive facilities to use to pay for in home care until they absolutely had to move to a nursing facility.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2016, 07:12:37 AM by little_brown_dog »

wenchsenior

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2016, 08:04:26 AM »
Thanks everyone for your replies and ideas.

CheapskateWife- I think I would really struggle with letting go of the spending at first but I can see how this would create a healthier relationship than dictating where monies can be spent. I never even thought about that aspect of giving money before.

Cassie- Both sets of parents should have paid for houses by the time they retire in 6-8 years so I am not sure that senior housing would be the best idea if they have decent funds. When the time comes I will keep this in mind and run some numbers. As for parents letting their kids financially support them, I always knew I would help me parents and so would my brother. My parents kindly paid for the majority of college for both of us in return for us helping as needed when they age. My brother will likely provide them the majority of their support needed and I will handle the care, doctor visits, home maintenance, etc. My SO's parents...they just don't believe in investing and have always been low income. My family was raised with the younger generation supporting the older generation at least somewhat financially and I would prefer to help them as long as it doesn't jeopardize my own financial security than send them to assistance programs that are already overburdened in this area.

SS- good idea. If I start that line item soon I should have a good buffer built up for when it is needed.

Felicity- as a fellow engineer, I understand the caution. That's why I am thinking about this! Thanks for the social security link. I will go over it with my parents at least.

V- I also have the fear that whatever they will be given won't be enough even though none of them are super spendy...yet.

o2b- sounds like a rough situation. Hopefully it improves!

WS- how has paying individual bills worked out? Has it created any strain in your relationship?

Cool- yes, it comes down to butt-wiping for me too. One of the biggest issues within my family is that instead of saving heavily for retirement, my parents are paying for their parents, and some of them don't really care about this financial burden it places on them. It seems my family is just sort of built this way.

I feel that, overall, it has been less psychologically stressful for bills to be in our names and come directly us. That way I don't find myself stewing over how she might spend cash that we directly give her. Also, it means the expenses are more predictable.  As it is, we cover almost all fixed monthly expenses (mortgage, phone, utilities, insurance for house and car) and she covers food, entertainment, gas, and incidental expenses such as medical bills and car repairs. She isn't particularly wasteful apart from a smoking habit...she'd rather go low on food than skip cigs...and the few things she 'blows' money on are her main pleasures in life, such as gardening. She's very open about her spending and generally responsible about it in exchange for the stability we provide.

Occasionally, we get into some back and forthing that creates some minor psychological stress. Recently, for example, I asked her to take over her paltry monthly Netflix bill, because she was sitting on the disks for months at a time and not watching them. I told her if she wanted to waste 13$/month that way, she could do it on her dime. She also gets occasionally moan-y about lacking internet and cable, and feeling 'cut off' from the world that all the rest of the family takes for granted.  However, she doesn't expect us to pay for that kind of stuff...so far she hasn't gotten to the point of prioritizing them in terms of her own spending. 

Overall, I much prefer the predictability and control of paying a lot of her bills directly as opposed to how things went for the 10 years previous to this arrangement, during which she was always living right on a ragged edge, subject to bill collectors and sudden crises, and we never knew when/how/how much help the situation would require. The other parent we're occasionally helping out functions more like my mom used to, and that creates much more stress for us, even though the overall $ that we spend on that parent is  smaller.

CheapskateWife

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2016, 08:12:30 AM »
Sometimes emergency infusions of cash can help relatives who need it, but it seems to me that our time can often be more important to our family members than money. For those of us who are retired already, we can offer our time to help care for our elderly parents. I would think that that would be even more valuable to many of them than a few hundred bucks a month.

This is part of my struggle with my MIL...because of our work and children, we are in TX for at least another 3 years....MIL insists on staying in Boulder, thus ensuring that the only help we can offer in an emergency is our $.  I would love to give her our time...really. 

goatmom

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2016, 03:15:06 PM »
My siblings and I chip in a certain amount each month to have  round the clock caretaker for my mother with dementia.  She has no assets. Wouldn't put her in a nursing home unless there was no choice.  I feel it is the right thing to do.  My mother did not make good financial decisions either - but that is water under the bridge at this point.

Cassie

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2016, 03:23:38 PM »
When my Dad needed care and my Mom or I could not do it medicare paid for someone to come in with a small co-pay for her to pay.  Have you looked to see if anything like this is still available?  It may help cut your costs.

tonysemail

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #24 on: March 11, 2016, 03:58:11 PM »
thanks OP, I'm glad to see that I'm not alone when it comes to struggling with a budget.
I'm planning to budget $500/mo for parental assistance.
My current situation spans 3 generations.
My grandpa depends on my dad for spending money.
My dad is nearing retirement age and depends on my siblings and I to make ends meet.
Sometimes, I find the whole situation depressing.
OTOH, I've found their example to provide great motivation to scrimp and save and it's probably why I got so interested in frugal living in the first place.


Guava

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #25 on: March 11, 2016, 03:59:41 PM »
I hope to not have to support my parents much financially while they are physically able. My dad loves staying busy and I suspect his retirement will only be a downshift to more fun work. But I want to prepare for worst case scenario such as a disability. I had a short discussion with my brother today and he is also preparing for this. I would much rather spend my time with them cleaning, helping with laundry, or whatever else they need than give money since I am a mile away.

SO's parents...well I am just going to budget to help them because I don't see them being able to make ends meet. Good, bad, or otherwise, that's just the reality.  I will keep senior housing in mind for both parents and make sure I look into all of the social programs to help when the time comes. SO and I also need to have a conversation with his brother. I am hoping that if we prepare for worst case scenario now we will be able to handle whatever comes our way.

I appreciate everyone's input on this. You have had some ideas I never considered and I need to find out more about our parents' long term health care and living desires.

Guava

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #26 on: March 11, 2016, 04:06:35 PM »
Tony- I am also in a 3 generation situation with my parents having started providing $200-300 each month to their parents (while their siblings do next to nothing) and I expect the costs to get higher. It is difficult for them to save for their own needs in this situation. My parents will never ask for money, but they may need it so I am budgeting  $400 a month to cover both sets of parents. How many people are you planning to support with $500 a month?

tonysemail

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #27 on: March 11, 2016, 04:45:44 PM »
$500/mo is just for my mom and dad.  there are too many complicating factors for me to budget beyond that. 
Plus, my wallet would break if I tried to stretch it across 4 generations, covering my grandparents through my kids!

Cassie

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #28 on: March 11, 2016, 05:29:43 PM »
I think in some circumstances kids may have to help but with so many on this thread saying they help and on other threads I wonder how much is just enabling the parents to keep living the lifestyle they want but can't afford.  If people can't afford to live in their homes then they need to realize that and sell to free up some of the $ or maybe doing a reverse mortgage depending on how old they are.  It does not seem fair to me to burden your kids with your problems.  There are always solutions that don't involve other people giving you $.   

wenchsenior

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #29 on: March 11, 2016, 06:50:45 PM »
I think in some circumstances kids may have to help but with so many on this thread saying they help and on other threads I wonder how much is just enabling the parents to keep living the lifestyle they want but can't afford.  If people can't afford to live in their homes then they need to realize that and sell to free up some of the $ or maybe doing a reverse mortgage depending on how old they are.  It does not seem fair to me to burden your kids with your problems.  There are always solutions that don't involve other people giving you $.

There is definitely some truth to this in our situation.  I guess it is a trade off between enabling a life that will still allow some pleasures, or allowing the person to sink into a situation that you know will make them even LESS functional. It can be hard to relate if you are wired differently, but there are in fact people who are NOT motivated to change by bad consequences, but instead react with even more denial, passivity, shame, and helplessness. My mother got into her situation due to multiple factors, some in her control and some not. By the time we stepped in, she had been in a slow spiral for about 15 years, during which I was constantly worried about her situation. Her misery and anxiety, her lack of money, her lack of health care, etc.,  created stress for me regardless of whether she was responsible (which she partly was) and regardless of how private about it she tried to be. She was in her early 60s with no house, no assets, some debt, a barely functional car, and a low paying job with no benefits or health insurance.  We could have just let her go on government assistance, and at some point in the future, we very well might have to do so. However, at the time,  I just wanted to get her into a stable, low-stress environment where I could maintain some control without completely taking over her day to day life.   

Despite my resentment about this difficult and undesirable situation, I still love her and want her to have a little joy in life.  I  would prefer not to make her live in a situation that I know will make her more depressed, if I can reasonably avoid it.  So we made the choice we did with the financial options we had at the time. If we were facing the same situation now, a number of years on, we might try to do it differently.  I guess that although she might karmic-ally deserve to suffer the true consequences of a lot of her mistakes, it would just be a little too hard for me to stand by and watch it.

There is a lot  of psychological complexity to these situations (which also tend to have huge ripple effects across entire networks of family/friends), and those complexities play large roles in decision making. It's not a matter of just $ to consider in all cases, IMO.

ShortInSeattle

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #30 on: March 11, 2016, 07:01:59 PM »
We aren't planning to financially support our parents. I don't believe they'd ask and I don't feel obligated to offer.

No doubt if there were an emergency (such as an illness) we'd help out to the best of our ability. We love our parents and we're part of their support system. But I'm not going to work extra years to pay for someone else's retirement or poor planning, so we aren't building parental support into our ER budget.

Thankfully our parents have been responsible as far as I can tell. They have modest means but paid off homes and a fairly self-sufficient mindset. The big worry is something like a stroke or dementia. That's hard to plan for and could have a big financial impact.

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #31 on: March 11, 2016, 07:14:39 PM »
We will likely end up having to support my husband's parents, to some extent.  We decided that if the time comes, we will give them our church tithe.  The frustrating aspect will be that my husband's siblings will likely be unwilling to help, even though they are in a position to do so.  My in-laws aren't super spendy, but they could do much better. 

My main concern is that I don't think I could have them live with us.  I'm just not cut out for it.  I feel uncomfortable when they are in my house just for a visit. 

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #32 on: March 11, 2016, 07:18:32 PM »
Tony- I wasn't sure if that number was for two sets of parents or just one set. Once upon a time I thought I might support other family members as well but have since decided that I financially cannot do that and those people have to figure it out on their own.

As far as enabling our parents go, yes. Maybe I will be enabling them. But it's this:
Quote
There is a lot  of psychological complexity to these situations (which also tend to have huge ripple effects across entire networks of family/friends), and those complexities play large roles in decision making. It's not a matter of just $ to consider in all cases, IMO.

My parents have done a lot for me and sacrificed a lot for me (and my brother). They have made plenty of mistakes and they do have spendy habits, but they have been there for me through an autoimmune disease, cancer, home disasters and remodels, paid for our college, and sacrificed a lot to give us a decent childhood in spite of their lack of education and being teenage parents. Yes, a lot of that is just being a good parent. I just feel that giving them maybe a few hundred dollars in retirement to make them a little more comfortable would be a good payback and worth it to me. Now if they can afford to take lavish vacations all the time and way overspend, I might rethink this. So far, they don't exhibit those qualities. They have just been so busy taking care of everyone else that they got a very late start in taking care of themselves. I am hoping that some planning will help me avoid that same fate.

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #33 on: March 11, 2016, 08:06:17 PM »
I think in some circumstances kids may have to help but with so many on this thread saying they help and on other threads I wonder how much is just enabling the parents to keep living the lifestyle they want but can't afford.  If people can't afford to live in their homes then they need to realize that and sell to free up some of the $ or maybe doing a reverse mortgage depending on how old they are.  It does not seem fair to me to burden your kids with your problems.  There are always solutions that don't involve other people giving you $.

I don't disagree with this, but I see DH have a terrible time telling his mom that she can't stay in her home, that if she spent the $300 we gave her and has no money for food that's not our problem, etc. 

My solution to "I have no money" would be, "Oh no!  Of course we will help.  We will loo at everything and help you set up a budget.  We'll find you a good realtor and help prepare the house for sale (if we live nearby).  We'll research cheap apartments for you, and help you discover what programs you qualify for.  We'll find food banks for you, so if it comes to that you have alternatives.  We can help you sell stuff on ebay, and help you downgrade your car and find bus routes, and help you apply for jobs if you are physically able."  All of that would happen before we even considered giving a penny, and if someone isn't interested in those things, then it seems they really don't need or want our help. I expect someone to exhaust their own resources before using mine.    But I know that's not necessarily the way it will play out, and I also know that it's easy for me to say that when it's not my parents in question. 

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #34 on: March 11, 2016, 09:04:10 PM »
My solution to "I have no money" would be, "Oh no!  Of course we will help.  We will loo at everything and help you set up a budget.  We'll find you a good realtor and help prepare the house for sale (if we live nearby).  We'll research cheap apartments for you, and help you discover what programs you qualify for.  We'll find food banks for you, so if it comes to that you have alternatives.  We can help you sell stuff on ebay, and help you downgrade your car and find bus routes, and help you apply for jobs if you are physically able."  All of that would happen before we even considered giving a penny, and if someone isn't interested in those things, then it seems they really don't need or want our help. I expect someone to exhaust their own resources before using mine.    But I know that's not necessarily the way it will play out, and I also know that it's easy for me to say that when it's not my parents in question.

^This.

In an emergency, my wife and I would gladly help our parents out with money temporarily, but budgeting money to give them every month, forever, is not going to happen. Everyone needs to live within his means, and that goes for our parents as well.

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #35 on: March 11, 2016, 10:05:58 PM »
I will not need to support my parents as they age. DH's parents may want help at some point because they are terrible with money. I will not give them money, but I will always offer them a safe place to live and food. In other words, if they honestly can't do it on their own anymore, they can move into my house and eat the food that I buy. They live well beyond their means and wouldn't like this idea, but that's precisely why I would not offer them money. I don't want them to starve, but I'm not going to contribute to their overspending either!

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #36 on: March 11, 2016, 11:27:45 PM »
My solution to "I have no money" would be, "Oh no!  Of course we will help.  We will loo at everything and help you set up a budget.  We'll find you a good realtor and help prepare the house for sale (if we live nearby).  We'll research cheap apartments for you, and help you discover what programs you qualify for.  We'll find food banks for you, so if it comes to that you have alternatives.  We can help you sell stuff on ebay, and help you downgrade your car and find bus routes, and help you apply for jobs if you are physically able."  All of that would happen before we even considered giving a penny, and if someone isn't interested in those things, then it seems they really don't need or want our help. I expect someone to exhaust their own resources before using mine.    But I know that's not necessarily the way it will play out, and I also know that it's easy for me to say that when it's not my parents in question.

^This.

In an emergency, my wife and I would gladly help our parents out with money temporarily, but budgeting money to give them every month, forever, is not going to happen. Everyone needs to live within his means, and that goes for our parents as well.


I actually wouldn't be opposed to a small monthly stipend, if, when all those other things were exhausted, there was still a small shortfall.  The problem with that would be trusting that the money would be spent as it was supposed to, rather than blown on spendypants stuff, triggering another request for money.  That's how it has gone for several friends.  "I need money for milk as I have literally no food!" And then a month later, it's a Home Shopping Network spree or a home remodel or a weekend away. And then-- surprise!--next mont no money for rent.  If a parent was truly living frugally (allowing a few small luxuries, within reason as I wouldn't want my or DH's parents to have to live completely without a few small joys, even at my expense), and the money still didn't work out, that's fine.  (Also, I'd frankly rather spend some of my money to help them with rent than to have any of them live with me is they were capable of living alone.  I actually have great parents/ILs, but I value my privacy muchly and would be willing to pay for it, if that was the only way to get it.)  It's situations where someone lived the high life on their own money, rather than saving for retirement, and then wants to continue living the high life on my money, that are the issue. 

ender

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #37 on: March 12, 2016, 06:19:38 AM »
Threads like this make me so thankful to have parents and in-laws who are financially responsible.

Well, I know my in-laws are, and I assume my parents are.

goatmom

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #38 on: March 12, 2016, 06:35:51 AM »
When my Dad needed care and my Mom or I could not do it medicare paid for someone to come in with a small co-pay for her to pay.  Have you looked to see if anything like this is still available?  It may help cut your costs.

In our state, medicare will not pay for in home care unless there is a need for skilled nursing care. The dementia diagnosis doesn't cut it.  After she had surgery last year, they did pay for a short time for a nurse to stop by to check on her wound - for about 10 minutes.   I think it varies by state. She does live with a family member and other than the aid ($20 an hour - yikes) and depends and ensure - she spends no money.  We use her small ss check to go towards those costs.  I think medicaid looks at household income and the family member she lives with does not want the government involved in their business.  If we put her in a nursing home, medicaid would pay the cost.  Family is opposed to that.  It can be tough.  I think in the old days, grandma just sat in the corner in her rocking chair.  I think that is how many other cultures handle these kind of situations too.  If she was mentally with it and just spending her money willy nilly, I would not be so inclined to help her.

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #39 on: March 12, 2016, 07:48:56 AM »
When my Dad needed care and my Mom or I could not do it medicare paid for someone to come in with a small co-pay for her to pay.  Have you looked to see if anything like this is still available?  It may help cut your costs.

In our state, medicare will not pay for in home care unless there is a need for skilled nursing care. The dementia diagnosis doesn't cut it.  After she had surgery last year, they did pay for a short time for a nurse to stop by to check on her wound - for about 10 minutes.   I think it varies by state. She does live with a family member and other than the aid ($20 an hour - yikes) and depends and ensure - she spends no money.  We use her small ss check to go towards those costs.  I think medicaid looks at household income and the family member she lives with does not want the government involved in their business.  If we put her in a nursing home, medicaid would pay the cost.  Family is opposed to that.  It can be tough.  I think in the old days, grandma just sat in the corner in her rocking chair.  I think that is how many other cultures handle these kind of situations too.  If she was mentally with it and just spending her money willy nilly, I would not be so inclined to help her.

I don't think Medicare benefits depend on your state--it's a federal program administered by the feds--but Medicaid benefits do.

Also, look up Medicaid definitions of household. Just having grandma (or mom, or whoever) living with you doesn't automatically make her part of your household. Here's a good overview, but definitely confirm this with an elder law/Medicaid lawyer in your state before making decisions based on it:

http://www.healthreformbeyondthebasics.org/key-facts-determining-household-size-for-medicaid-and-chip/

Dee18

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #40 on: March 12, 2016, 12:57:39 PM »
I am fortunate to not have to financially support my mother, but I am increasingly trying to manage matters long distance while she tries to stay in her home as she ages (now in her 90s).  When she wanted to update her will, we went to an Elder Law attorney in her city.  He did that for a very reasonable rate (especially reasonable given that he discovered the previous attorneys had messed up my deceased Dad's trust documents but he could achieve the same distribution by altering my mother's), but also demonstrated tremendous knowledge about Medicare, Medicaid, available housing for the elderly, and some veterans benefits we knew nothing about.  I just mention this because it might assist some people trying to care for their parents.

iris lily

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #41 on: March 12, 2016, 01:46:55 PM »
Thanks everyone for your replies and ideas.

CheapskateWife- I think I would really struggle with letting go of the spending at first but I can see how this would create a healthier relationship than dictating where monies can be spent. I never even thought about that aspect of giving money before.

Cassie- Both sets of parents should have paid for houses by the time they retire in 6-8 years so I am not sure that senior housing would be the best idea if they have decent funds. When the time comes I will keep this in mind and run some numbers. As for parents letting their kids financially support them, I always knew I would help me parents and so would my brother. My parents kindly paid for the majority of college for both of us in return for us helping as needed when they age. My brother will likely provide them the majority of their support needed and I will handle the care, doctor visits, home maintenance, etc. My SO's parents...they just don't believe in investing and have always been low income. My family was raised with the younger generation supporting the older generation at least somewhat financially and I would prefer to help them as long as it doesn't jeopardize my own financial security than send them to assistance programs that are already overburdened in this area.

SS- good idea. If I start that line item soon I should have a good buffer built up for when it is needed.

Felicity- as a fellow engineer, I understand the caution. That's why I am thinking about this! Thanks for the social security link. I will go over it with my parents at least.

V- I also have the fear that whatever they will be given won't be enough even though none of them are super spendy...yet.

o2b- sounds like a rough situation. Hopefully it improves!

WS- how has paying individual bills worked out? Has it created any strain in your relationship?

Cool- yes, it comes down to butt-wiping for me too. One of the biggest issues within my family is that instead of saving heavily for retirement, my parents are paying for their parents, and some of them don't really care about this financial burden it places on them. It seems my family is just sort of built this way.

I feel that, overall, it has been less psychologically stressful for bills to be in our names and come directly us. That way I don't find myself stewing over how she might spend cash that we directly give her. Also, it means the expenses are more predictable.  As it is, we cover almost all fixed monthly expenses (mortgage, phone, utilities, insurance for house and car) and she covers food, entertainment, gas, and incidental expenses such as medical bills and car repairs. She isn't particularly wasteful apart from a smoking habit...she'd rather go low on food than skip cigs...and the few things she 'blows' money on are her main pleasures in life, such as gardening. She's very open about her spending and generally responsible about it in exchange for the stability we provide.

Occasionally, we get into some back and forthing that creates some minor psychological stress. Recently, for example, I asked her to take over her paltry monthly Netflix bill, because she was sitting on the disks for months at a time and not watching them. I told her if she wanted to waste 13$/month that way, she could do it on her dime. She also gets occasionally moan-y about lacking internet and cable, and feeling 'cut off' from the world that all the rest of the family takes for granted.  However, she doesn't expect us to pay for that kind of stuff...so far she hasn't gotten to the point of prioritizing them in terms of her own spending. 

Overall, I much prefer the predictability and control of paying a lot of her bills directly as opposed to how things went for the 10 years previous to this arrangement, during which she was always living right on a ragged edge, subject to bill collectors and sudden crises, and we never knew when/how/how much help the situation would require. The other parent we're occasionally helping out functions more like my mom used to, and that creates much more stress for us, even though the overall $ that we spend on that parent is  smaller.

What is your local library system like? Mine has 15,000 dvd titles. No
Netflx needed if money is  tight.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2016, 01:56:12 PM by iris lily »

iris lily

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #42 on: March 12, 2016, 01:53:09 PM »
I think in some circumstances kids may have to help but with so many on this thread saying they help and on other threads I wonder how much is just enabling the parents to keep living the lifestyle they want but can't afford.  If people can't afford to live in their homes then they need to realize that and sell to free up some of the $ or maybe doing a reverse mortgage depending on how old they are.  It does not seem fair to me to burden your kids with your problems.  There are always solutions that don't involve other people giving you $.
I agree with this,exactly.

But there is such a strong sentiment that keeping old folks in their homes is important..

And I see the old folks here in my neighborhood of 2,000 - 4,000 sq ft Victorian homes that need far more upkeep than can be done on modest incomes, and think "bullshit." But its hard to stem the tide of the "stay in their own homes" mindset.


« Last Edit: March 12, 2016, 01:57:18 PM by iris lily »

Villanelle

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #43 on: March 12, 2016, 02:08:20 PM »
I think in some circumstances kids may have to help but with so many on this thread saying they help and on other threads I wonder how much is just enabling the parents to keep living the lifestyle they want but can't afford.  If people can't afford to live in their homes then they need to realize that and sell to free up some of the $ or maybe doing a reverse mortgage depending on how old they are.  It does not seem fair to me to burden your kids with your problems.  There are always solutions that don't involve other people giving you $.
I agree with this,exactly.

But there is such a strong sentiment that keeping old folks in their homes is important..

And I see the old folks here in my neighborhood of 2,000 - 4,000 sq ft Victorian homes that need far more upkeep than can be done on modest incomes, and think "bullshit." But its hard to stem the tide of the "stay in their own homes" mindset.

It's not always about keeping them in their homes.  I have friends who have enabled (read: forced) parents out of a home they couldn't afford.  That didn't stop the bad financial decisions.  In fact, if they had access to the proceeds from the sale of the house, it often increased the waste. 

Some people will spend every penny they can get their hands on.  It's compulsive.  How do you deal with that?  Especially if you are trying to allow them so dignity and quality of life?  It's tough.  Hardball is great, until you actually have to play it against someone you love and respect.

sjc0816

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #44 on: March 12, 2016, 02:22:24 PM »
We are in a situation currently with MIL that concerns us. FIL just passed away and they were big time spenders. They have several cars, motorcycle and traveled a lot. He left her with nothing....and she makes about $15 per hour. She refuses to discuss this with us (which is fine, she is a grown woman)....but is continually spending like crazy and it's hard to watch - especially wondering if she is going to expect us to help?  She is 63 and talks about retiring in 2 years....just can't see how it's even possible.

DH just found out that she owes 9k to a contractor friend who remodeled their bathrooms 2 YEARS ago. No idea why this debt hasn't been settled yet (she said "i'm not going to beg for the bill.....just less money I have to pay right now" -- family friend so not sure if they are feeling guilty sending her the bill after her husband died?....but DH is embarrassed as it's a family friend) - but when DH asked her if she has the money to pay it she said "it's my money so you don't worry about it."

Not knowing her situation is brutal. :(

Villanelle

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #45 on: March 12, 2016, 02:46:44 PM »
The, "it's fine for her not to discuss it because she's a grown woman" has always contrasted for me with, "but she's going to request/expect/demand" assistance in the future". 

I hate that we don't know the extent of MIL's situation.  Maybe it's not nearly as bad as I think.  But we can't discuss it because she's a grown woman and it's none of our business.  Except the fact that it becomes our business if and when she can't afford her life in the future seems to negate that.  If I knew it was never going to be my problem, then "not my problem" would be a fine approach.  But know that, if there is a problem, it becomes mine, it does seem to be my business.  She is getting old, and getting tired, and has a 4 hour (yup!) commute time, but she can't afford to retire and as far as we can tell, can't afford to sell her house and move closer, which likely means she's taken equity out of it. 

I am so, so grateful that my parents were always very conservative.  Our house always had the crappiest cars on the block, and I was raised discussing the importance of great gas mileage.  The lack of worry about their finances is such a gift--far more so than the significant inheritance I stand to receive some day. 

Cassie

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #46 on: March 12, 2016, 03:01:44 PM »
I would not feel bad not helping parents when they are making bad choices. I can't even imagine  being willing to accept $ from your kids.  There are other options and people need to use them or suffer the consequences.  Parents are not entitled to stay in their homes if they can't afford it.

Potterquilter

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #47 on: March 12, 2016, 03:08:56 PM »
My mil is 87 and insists  on living in her own house and bailing out her daughter and her kids for things like speeding tickets  or new shoes  they cannot afford.   Then she says how poor she is.    I told DH I only would agree to paying specific bills.   He agreed.  Phew.

wenchsenior

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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #48 on: March 12, 2016, 04:02:49 PM »
Thanks everyone for your replies and ideas.

CheapskateWife- I think I would really struggle with letting go of the spending at first but I can see how this would create a healthier relationship than dictating where monies can be spent. I never even thought about that aspect of giving money before.

Cassie- Both sets of parents should have paid for houses by the time they retire in 6-8 years so I am not sure that senior housing would be the best idea if they have decent funds. When the time comes I will keep this in mind and run some numbers. As for parents letting their kids financially support them, I always knew I would help me parents and so would my brother. My parents kindly paid for the majority of college for both of us in return for us helping as needed when they age. My brother will likely provide them the majority of their support needed and I will handle the care, doctor visits, home maintenance, etc. My SO's parents...they just don't believe in investing and have always been low income. My family was raised with the younger generation supporting the older generation at least somewhat financially and I would prefer to help them as long as it doesn't jeopardize my own financial security than send them to assistance programs that are already overburdened in this area.

SS- good idea. If I start that line item soon I should have a good buffer built up for when it is needed.

Felicity- as a fellow engineer, I understand the caution. That's why I am thinking about this! Thanks for the social security link. I will go over it with my parents at least.

V- I also have the fear that whatever they will be given won't be enough even though none of them are super spendy...yet.

o2b- sounds like a rough situation. Hopefully it improves!

WS- how has paying individual bills worked out? Has it created any strain in your relationship?

Cool- yes, it comes down to butt-wiping for me too. One of the biggest issues within my family is that instead of saving heavily for retirement, my parents are paying for their parents, and some of them don't really care about this financial burden it places on them. It seems my family is just sort of built this way.

I feel that, overall, it has been less psychologically stressful for bills to be in our names and come directly us. That way I don't find myself stewing over how she might spend cash that we directly give her. Also, it means the expenses are more predictable.  As it is, we cover almost all fixed monthly expenses (mortgage, phone, utilities, insurance for house and car) and she covers food, entertainment, gas, and incidental expenses such as medical bills and car repairs. She isn't particularly wasteful apart from a smoking habit...she'd rather go low on food than skip cigs...and the few things she 'blows' money on are her main pleasures in life, such as gardening. She's very open about her spending and generally responsible about it in exchange for the stability we provide.

Occasionally, we get into some back and forthing that creates some minor psychological stress. Recently, for example, I asked her to take over her paltry monthly Netflix bill, because she was sitting on the disks for months at a time and not watching them. I told her if she wanted to waste 13$/month that way, she could do it on her dime. She also gets occasionally moan-y about lacking internet and cable, and feeling 'cut off' from the world that all the rest of the family takes for granted.  However, she doesn't expect us to pay for that kind of stuff...so far she hasn't gotten to the point of prioritizing them in terms of her own spending. 

Overall, I much prefer the predictability and control of paying a lot of her bills directly as opposed to how things went for the 10 years previous to this arrangement, during which she was always living right on a ragged edge, subject to bill collectors and sudden crises, and we never knew when/how/how much help the situation would require. The other parent we're occasionally helping out functions more like my mom used to, and that creates much more stress for us, even though the overall $ that we spend on that parent is  smaller.

What is your local library system like? Mine has 15,000 dvd titles. No
Netflx needed if money is  tight.

Now here's a great example of why you can't always plan based on how people 'should' theoretically act. Because people are friggin weird and don't always do what they 'should'.  Your plan sounds logical, but it would actually backfire on me because she would likely NEVER go to the library. She has never used the library during my entire life, no matter how tight money was. I tried to get her interested in joining when we first moved her here, but 6 years later and she's never set foot in any of the city branches. What she'd instead be more likely to do, is to feel deprived of movie watching, and then start impulsively buying dvds that she's interested in but hasn't seen, whenever she happened to enter a store that carries them. Or I could take the time out of my own schedule to set up regular trips to the library and take her along. In that case, she might go ahead and get a library card and rent. BUT, I would have to be sure to schedule the returns to avoid late fees, because she would almost certainly not return the movies on time if left to her own devices. When I was a kid, she used to frequently run late fees in the double and occasionally triple digits on rented vhs tapes, just because she found it too challenging to remember to put the tapes in her purse on the way out the door to run errands, or to drive somewhat out of her way to drop them off.  It's really weird, but she's always been that way. Netflix's 'keep as long as you want for a flat rate and no late fees'? That's a godsend for people like her!

Stupendous

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Financially supporting aging parents during FIRE
« Reply #49 on: March 12, 2016, 05:53:36 PM »
Threads like this make me so thankful to have parents and in-laws who are financially responsible.

Well, I know my in-laws are, and I assume my parents are.

Threads like this make me wonder if my dating criteria should include not only a financially responsible partner but their parents as well. I know mine are. I was always concerned about an ex-gf's parent, long-term, who was buying a house in their mid-50's after foreclosing on their last.