Author Topic: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?  (Read 8257 times)

HopetoFIRE

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I am at a loss with how to help my sister understand that she has complete control of her financial life.  I was talking to her the other day about saving for retirement.  She is in her early 30s and has not really started.  I think she has come to believe that the only way she will be able to save for retirement would be to marry someone with money.  So, with our parents reaching retirement age and not having the money to do so, I thought it would be good to bring up her plans for retirement savings.

To give you a little background... when my sister and I talk about finances, I think I end up taking the parental role and her the child (although I am only a couple years older).  So, this time around, I tried to be nonjudgmental and just asked her what her plans are.  She said she does want to save.  She was thinking about putting aside $100 a month, but she said she can't even do that since she can barely make ends meet.  She said her main expenses were her mortgage, gas, and cable.  I asked about cable and suggested canceling and switching to Hulu Plus or netflix.  She said she can't do that since they may not have her show.  Her phone bill is $100, so I suggested another plan.  I was met with silence.  I suggested getting a roommate.  She doesn't want to live with anyone and does not want to move home.  She then started crying saying that she does not know where she can cut since she is already limiting what she buys and hardly goes out.  She started saying how her life sucks because she can't afford to eat out and how she can't get a raise at her current company (but does not want to look for a new job since this one is stable).

A part of me, being her big sister, felt really bad for her.  I felt guilty about our situation and that she is stressed out financially.  On the other hand, she is unwilling to cut what is unnecessary and does buy luxury items instead of putting it into savings.  This is a girl who was telling me she wants to buy a Lexus hybrid so that she can save on gas since gas is so expensive (she already owns a Lexus) and buys tires that are $700 more expensive since the cheaper ones don't give her a smooth ride.  She can only use Shiseido products, MAC makeup, Louis Viutton purses (since Coach is inferior quality), etc.  She pretty much lives like she makes a 6-figure salary when she only make about 40-50k.

It's completely frustrating for me to talk to her because she does not see how nonessential these things are.  However, I feel like someone needs to point out to her how important it is to start saving.  I have given her a couple books saying that they were motivating for me, but they went unread.  I am just afraid that not only will I have to take care of my parents, I may have to help her out at times as well.  I know DH will be dead set against it and most of the times, I am too.  However, I can see her maybe having to live with us if she truly cannot afford her own place.  I also feel that if she can get her financial house in order, she will feel empowered and good enough about herself that she will meet someone who is right for her.  I do feel her choices in relationships in the past is partially due to her lack of self confidence. 

If anyone has experience talking to family members and making them see the light, I would love to hear your suggestions.  I know for some, they need to come to realize the error of their ways on their own, but I would hate for her to realize too late like my parents.  Thanks for listening.  All suggestions are welcome. 

N

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2014, 11:06:09 PM »
nope. you cant make anybody do anything. family included.
you cant make them change their religion, raise their kids a certain way, eat organic or not, or anything else.
you can live your life, offer her advice if she wants it, and have boundaries for yourself in terms of what kind of financial help you want to offer any family member who "needs" it.

you only get to control yourself. it may sound harsh, but no one gets to control you, either.

Happy Little Chipmunk

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2014, 11:25:43 PM »
HopetoFIRE, I'm also a big sis and I feel your pain. But N is right. People make their own choices. What you can do is offer your love without supplying answers. She isn't ready to take concrete steps because she just isn't ready and anyone pushing her - especially her big sis who seemingly has it all together even though she doesn't drive a new Lexus - will just make her defensive. (I have a teenager...it's the same deal there.)

So you tell her you love her, that you care for her, that you want her to find joy and happiness her whole life long, and that if she ever does want to talk about planning for retirement you'd be happy to help her. Because you love her and because you think she has what it takes to be financially independent...if she wants to. And then you hug her and drop it.

And if you live a life free of financial worry, she will notice and might ask you about it if you don't push.


chasesfish

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2014, 06:03:20 AM »
I'm going to be the third person to say the same thing:  You can't force someone to do something they won't.  The next time she confides in you about wanting to save you just have to remind her that her actions conflict with her goal.   

 She's choosing every day TO be stressed out about money, but isn't yet willing to admit that to herself.





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starbuck

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2014, 06:54:52 AM »
You've basically described my older sister, and as hard it is, you can't force her to change her approach to spending. And it's really really REALLY frustrating since you can easily see the shitty and unnecessary path she's on. I've accepted that my sister is an autonomous adult and her decisions are hers, and her life is hers, and well... I bite my tongue A LOT. And it's really hard, and it's taken a few years for me to get to this point of acceptance. If she asks for advice I give it, but that's it. (I also have parents that have less than $20k in retirement savings at age 65 right now, so yeah I totally could have written your post.)

Since the status spending and stress seem to be an issue, maybe direct her towards Leo Babauta's ZenHabits? http://zenhabits.net

And actually, his current post is titled, "The lies your mind tells you to prevent life changes." Seems appropriate!
http://zenhabits.net/bs/

I would toss out 'simple living' bread crumbs, not frugal living bread crumbs.

LadyStache

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2014, 08:52:25 AM »
I think you have to step out of the parental role and back into the friend/sibling role. Once you do that, you can have more casual/low pressure conversations with her about money. Instead of telling her you think she should be doing, maybe you should work into the conversation things that you've been doing to save money.

For example, you find a way to decrease your cell phone bill and then call her to tell her how excited you are to save $X per month on your cell phone (without telling her that she should do the same, unless she expresses interest in doing so). That way it's just you sharing your good news with her rather than criticism of her finances.

I did something similar with my boyfriend. I told him I figured out I could save $45/month by walking instead of taking the subway after work, and then he figured out on his own that he could save $2/day by leaving for work a few minutes later (off-peak tolls cost less). I told him I thought I could save around $150/month by bringing my lunch to work, and then he realized he could save by bringing his coffee/breakfast instead of picking it up along the way.

The changes he made did not come into play immediately after I informed him of my changes. It was probably a few weeks later in both instances, so don't be discouraged if your sister does not emulate your mustachian ways immediately, she may come around in her own time and in slightly different ways. Also, it might have helped that I also mentioned what I planned to do with the money I was saving (ex: "I'm so excited to be saving 45/month by not taking the subway. That's over $500 more per year that I can use to repay student loans!").

RichMoose

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2014, 10:03:25 AM »
All I can say is: good luck with that.

More importantly, don't feel bad or guilty about your own good decisions. Chances are you don't drive an import luxury, even own a brand name purse, or use expensive makeup brands. Obviously your sister has a serious case of consumerism and believes she can live a TV fantasy life on a moderate salary, you on the other hand are more grounded in the real world.

Calvawt

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2014, 10:27:27 AM »
Keep being available as a resource and as others have said, bring things up in a way that talks about changes you have made.  She might catch on to a few of them and ask some questions.  It only takes one time to make a change and then things could snowball!

Breaker

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2014, 11:36:29 AM »
+1 to all of the answers so far.

I just want to add that you need to set boundaries on any money you give her the VERY FIRST TIME she asks. 

Also, don't lend her any money.  If necessary any money you give her should be a gift with no expectation of being paid back.

nereo

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2014, 12:02:54 PM »
HopeToFire
I agree with the other posters that you can't make anyone do what they're not willing to do. 

But based on what you've said, your sister already feels poor and sees any changes to her lifestyle as further deprivation. I believe she won't change until she can see how she will benefit from lifestyle changes. The best thing you can do is try to get her to see those links. At first she probably won't be able to see decades down the road to RE, but showing her how NOT buying that lexus hybrid means she could take an extra few days of unpaid vacation might help her to see those links.

g'luck.

surfhb

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2014, 12:22:09 PM »
I think if you took some time and set up a budget in an easy to understand visual way she might see some light.    I think someone on here did a small power point presentation to convince their SO.   Something like that is genius. 

I know it works for me when I have a visual representation of a situation it all makes much more sense

C. K.

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2014, 03:22:48 PM »
I think you have to step out of the parental role and back into the friend/sibling role. Once you do that, you can have more casual/low pressure conversations with her about money. Instead of telling her you think she should be doing, maybe you should work into the conversation things that you've been doing to save money.

For example, you find a way to decrease your cell phone bill and then call her to tell her how excited you are to save $X per month on your cell phone (without telling her that she should do the same, unless she expresses interest in doing so). That way it's just you sharing your good news with her rather than criticism of her finances.


I second this. Be the sibling again who is open to talking about finances when she's ready. Otherwise, all she sees in you is a sibling who is disappointed in her, which is depressing.

A second thing -Unsolicited advice often falls on deaf ears.

One more thing - some people must come to a crisis point before they change their lives. What's a horrible crisis for you might not be bad enough for someone else to enact change. The other person might have to go pretty low before he/she becomes uncomfortable enough to move in another direction. That's difficult to watch and difficult to determine when to jump in and soothe their wounds.

Dicey

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2014, 05:47:19 PM »
I think this has been discussed more than once here. A forum search might give you more helpful information.

Her life is hers to lead just as yours is your own. Sounds harsh, but not meant so. She has to be the one to seek her own answers. Any advice from you is likely to come off as sanctimonious. Ask me how I know.

Best of luck to you, but seriously consider directing your efforts away from her if you want to keep the peace. And don't loan her money, no matter what. Yes, I am speaking from sad experience. I console myself with the standard airplane warning: In the event of an emergency, put your own mask on first...

C. K.

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2014, 06:36:22 PM »
And another thing - My relative is just like your sister. Eventually I realized my advice wasn't helping. If someone who's doing better than I am financially gave me financial advice I'd sit enraptured. But that's not how my relative operates.  I wasn't speaking her "love language."

First she wants to know that you care about her. In the case of my relative, sending inspirational, non-financial texts and images boost her morale. I had found her love language.

Showing that you care about her in a way that she understands gets her out of the doldrums a little bit enough to think clearly. And maybe one day she'll get her finances straight.

HopetoFIRE

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2014, 11:46:40 PM »
Thanks for all you responses, everyone.  I know that I need to take a step back and let her figure some things out on her own before I can help her.  I guess after talking to her and her really not respond to my advice, makes me wonder if I am not really in tune with how most people live?  Maybe I truly don't understand how it's like to not have money?  We have been blessed with good paying jobs.  That coupled with careful spending allow us to be in the situation we are in.  Maybe most people are not that lucky and just don't make enough?  Just makes me feel guilty that we are ok financially, but my siblings and parents are not.  Makes me wonder if we should be more willing to help and be more generous with our money.

N: I guess I should rephrase that I would like to "help" her rather than "make" her.  I know the idea is the same though.

Happy Little Chipmunk: Thanks.  It is definitely hard to be a big sis.  It's a good approach to just show her love and support and not bring anything up until she is ready.

chasesfish: I agree with what you said.  However, even when she brings up the idea of wanting to save, how do I help her see that her actions conflict with her goals when she feels she is already bare boning it?

starbuck: It's really difficult to bite my tongue, but I know that's what I should do.  I tried that approach with my parents, not saying anything in the last few years.  Well, now it has led to my dad owing $50-60k on a CC and only $80k in his 401k.  I have already given them close to $10k this past year so that they can pay off some debts in hope that they can retire soon. 

LadyStache: You're right.  I need to take more of a sister role.  I do feel that by talking to her like a parent, it has damaged our relationship somewhat.  I guess I feel like I have done what you suggested in the past, by sharing things that I am doing that helps save us money.  I don't think she is at the point though where she sees what she can gain from it.  Also, she knows that we make a lot more than she does.  She probably contributes our ability to pay for things in cash to that rather than the fact that we save for things before we buy them.  Hopefully in the near future she can understand that she can turn her financial life around by herself.

TuxedoEagle: DH said the same that I should not feel guilty since she has had the same opportunity I've had.  I have made good money choices in my life but at the same time, I can't help but feel extremely lucky to be where we are.  I feel a little selfish having all that we do when my family members are struggling.

vawt: Hopefully my sister will realize she needs that change soon.

Breaker5@sbcglobal.net: We have not yet lent her any money, not recently anyway.  I learned my lesson when I was a student and lent her a few hundred dollars.  I waited a year before saying anything, after seeing her buy a ton of stuff.  Well, she got really mad at me when I asked.  Since then, I knew not to lend her money.  She did owe me some money from Christmas.  I had bought gifts for my kids in her name and was told I would be paid back.  Well, I have not seen it yet.  At this point, I am just going to let it go.  My DH and I have discussed lending money to her and it would always be a "no".  However, we are pretty generous to family... paying for dinner, outings and the likes.  I am trying to be cautious in that aspect since I don't want it to become an expectation when we go out that we will always foot the bill (it's not often since we are in different states).  A few days ago, I told I had just enough miles to pay for her trip out here to visit us since she's been wanting to come, but not the return trip.  I was willing to pay for her bus ride home (difference in travel time of 3 hours when you consider time to airport, waiting for plane, etc), but not the flight back since there is $100 difference.  She was already asking questions to see how far she can push to have that return flight partially paid for by us.

nereo: How do I get her to see those links?

surfhb: I did offer to help her with her budget, but she said "No.  that's ok."  I can only estimate what she makes since I roughly know how much she makes per hour and no clue what all her expenses are.

C. K.: I will definitely try hard to take more of a sibling role.  It's difficult to not step into the problem-solving role when I feel like I can see what changes she can make to make things better.  I guess a part of me wants to prevent the crisis mode for her, but maybe that is what it will take for her to make changes.

Diane C: Thanks for the advice.  I know that she has to help herself first before I can help her.  Sometimes it's difficult to sit in the sidelines and just watch.







« Last Edit: August 24, 2014, 11:48:40 PM by HopetoFIRE »

Dicey

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2014, 12:16:27 AM »
Diane C: Thanks for the advice.  I know that she has to help herself first before I can help her.  Sometimes it's difficult to sit in the sidelines and just watch.

We just discovered that my sister has used my dad's debit card to burn through $3500 since April. She did it by pulling cash out of ATM's at casinos, which she proceeded to gamble away. Yeah, I feel your pain.

Gmullz

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2014, 07:20:36 AM »
Diane C: Thanks for the advice.  I know that she has to help herself first before I can help her.  Sometimes it's difficult to sit in the sidelines and just watch.

We just discovered that my sister has used my dad's debit card to burn through $3500 since April. She did it by pulling cash out of ATM's at casinos, which she proceeded to gamble away. Yeah, I feel your pain.

Ouch, that's rough. I was thinking yesterday about how bad gambling is, at least financially, compared to the other bad habits out there like smoking, excessive drug use, and excessive alcohol use.

Someone can only do so much drugs. They can only drink or smoke so much. My roommate smokes an absolute insane amount of marijuana, but there's a limit to how much he can smoke. He couldn't possibly spend more than say 50% of his paycheque on marijuana because he just couldn't smoke that much - though he's probably at around 20%.

Gambling on the other hand - there's no limit! You can drop your entire paycheque in 30 minutes at the casino. Or in the case of my uncle, my dad's entire inheritance (several hundred grand).

olivia

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2014, 09:37:09 AM »
Thanks for all you responses, everyone.  I know that I need to take a step back and let her figure some things out on her own before I can help her.  I guess after talking to her and her really not respond to my advice, makes me wonder if I am not really in tune with how most people live?  Maybe I truly don't understand how it's like to not have money?  We have been blessed with good paying jobs.  That coupled with careful spending allow us to be in the situation we are in.  Maybe most people are not that lucky and just don't make enough?  Just makes me feel guilty that we are ok financially, but my siblings and parents are not.  Makes me wonder if we should be more willing to help and be more generous with our money.

You haven't been lucky or blessed-you've presumably worked hard to get where you are, and have consciously made choices to increase your earning potential and decrease your spending.  Your sister can do the same things if she wants.  Otherwise I have to echo everyone else-let her live her life.

crispy

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2014, 10:04:33 AM »
I have learned that you can't care more about someone's situation than they do.  You just can't.  Your sister is an adult who has made choices and you are not responsible for those choices.  I encourage you to stop helping her because the only way she will ever see or change is to take responsibility for her own actions.  If she sees you as a safety net, that will never happen.

I have an older sibling who mooched off my parents for years because every time she got into trouble, they were there to save the day.  She has never learned to be responsible for her actions because she always left others to deal with the consequences.  Sometimes tough love is the best kind to give.

Dicey

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2014, 11:04:58 PM »
We just discovered that my sister has used my dad's debit card to burn through $3500 since April. She did it by pulling cash out of ATM's at casinos, which she proceeded to gamble away. Yeah, I feel your pain.

Ouch, that's rough. I was thinking yesterday about how bad gambling is, at least financially, compared to the other bad habits out there like smoking, excessive drug use, and excessive alcohol use.

Someone can only do so much drugs. They can only drink or smoke so much. My roommate smokes an absolute insane amount of marijuana, but there's a limit to how much he can smoke. He couldn't possibly spend more than say 50% of his paycheque on marijuana because he just couldn't smoke that much - though he's probably at around 20%.

Gambling on the other hand - there's no limit! You can drop your entire paycheque in 30 minutes at the casino. Or in the case of my uncle, my dad's entire inheritance (several hundred grand).
Thanks for this Gmultz. Today's news is that the amount she's stolen is at least twice that, and we've just started digging. Your words strike fear in my heart because you are absolutely right. Oy vey.

rujancified

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2014, 10:28:29 AM »
I love my brother. I would take a bullet for him. I would cut out my own kidney if he needed one.

But if he were utterly irresponsible with money and wanted cash from me? HELL no. I would offer education and resources, but giving money to someone with no money skills is a waste of time. Luckily my brother happens to be incredibly intelligent, highly employable, and at least better than average with money.

Your sister isn't picking up on your suggestions, even after asking for help. Be radio silent on money talk for awhile and see if she asks any questions. If she asks for money, give her a firm no unless she's willing to make life style changes. I understand that it's very difficult to do that with a family member, but you wouldn't be helping her long term if you took care of her short term concerns. Very best of luck.

Kaspian

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2014, 10:39:00 AM »
I've faced situations like this before.  The person doesn't actually want help or advice, they just want sympathy.  Just give them the lip-service sympathy (even if it's tough) and they'll usually go on their merry way doing what they always did.  You can't fix them anyway and it's not your job to.

BooksAreNerdy

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2014, 10:44:15 AM »
My brother is 5 years older than me and he lives, with his family, in a house our dad owns and purchased specifically for this purpose. Painfully, this is the second house in a second location in less than 3 years that our dad has purchased because 'brother can't afford rent on his salary'. He is a pilot with a college degree and makes around $30-40k/yr.

My brother is an entitled person and my dad has a bit of a codependency problem. Dad isn't helping brother grow up and brother doesn't want to.

Dad makes 300k/yr but only has 600k in retirement savings. He is 61.

The whole situation is upsetting, but what can I do? These people are outside of my sphere of control.

matchewed

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2014, 10:49:04 AM »
May be echo chamber-ish but there is that ol' saying about horses and water.

Left

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Re: How to help an unmustachian sister become more financially responsible?
« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2014, 11:19:51 AM »
Quote
She pretty much lives like she makes a 6-figure salary when she only make about 40-50k.
no she isn't... she's living like she doesn't know how to manage money, the actual dollar amount doesn't matter. If it did, why are so many people making $100+ living in debt as well?

Anyways, why push her? living MMM style and saving for ER/FI isn't for everyone. What makes MMM better than working until "retirement" age? We want to retire early to do other things, that's fine, but so what if other people don't?

That said, since she doesn't manage money well, I'd see if you can't introduce her to budgeting and not MMM style savings... She might "not" want to save for retirement, but if she had a budget to follow, she could be less stressed out since it's easier to follow a hard budget than it is to keep cutting away "fat"