Author Topic: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family  (Read 13549 times)

AJ

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 906
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Oregon
Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« on: April 03, 2012, 01:18:36 PM »
Hey All,

I have a problem DH and I are really struggling with.

My father in law has always been terrible with money. He can’t hold a job, and when he does work he consistently spends more than he makes and runs into trouble with creditors. He has been this way his whole life, claiming bankruptcy as soon as he is able. DH dropped out of college to support him financially. We have tried numerous times to sit down and help him work out a budget. While he is initially on board, he never sticks to them. He always has an excuse for why he needs something extra (a daily Mt. Dew from 711, a new dining room table, a Roku box, etc.)  He will blow his earned money on toys, then ask us for money for “food and gas”.

He has been on disability for the last year (hurt ankle), before which he was a CNA for a year, before which he was unemployed for 2 years. He only got the CNA job because he had exhausted every possible unemployment extension.

This month, his disability was denied and he no longer has an income. He was supposed to get re-certified at his doctor, but he didn’t. We have been giving him money here and there while he was on disability because he didn’t bring in much ( “food and gas money”, he also uses our truck for his transportation, we pay the insurance). He asked us to pay his space rent this month, which we did ($305), and gave him more gas money.

My dilemma is this: he needs to either get a job or apply for Social Security disability, but I know he views us as a safety net. I don’t think he feels particularly motivated to do what he needs to do to get an income and keep expenses down while we are subsidizing him (he could donate plasma, he could take the bus, he could stop eating fast food every day, etc.)

The last time he asked for money, it wasn’t like he was asking – he was telling. It felt like a teenager asking his dad for mall money. There was an expectation that we owed him money because he doesn’t have an income (we ended up giving him $10 and a month bus pass. hint hint.) I really resent the position we’re in, being asked for money by someone who refuses to drink plain water because he “has to have flavor” (as one example).  At the same time, though, it’s hard to cut off family in their time of greatest need. We do well financially. I wish we did well enough I could just bankroll him, but we don’t make that much. We could help him out with $200-$300 a month, but that isn’t enough for him to live on, and he would just blow through it and ask for more. He’s not *trying* to mooch, he just doesn’t like working.

We have been tossing around the idea of paying 3 more months of his rent, and then cutting him off so that he would have ample time to find work or get re-certified for disability. DH wants to just cut him off now, but I don't think it would "stick". I think he would cave if his dad came back and asked for more, hence the three month rent send off.

Any thoughts or advice? My head says "stop enabling his laziness, he is reaping what he sowed" but my heart says "he's family and shouldn't have to live at the mission." Living with us is 100% out of the question (he would never leave, among other reasons.) I don't know what the right thing to do is.

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8492
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2012, 01:24:41 PM »
I'd go cold turkey on him, but I'm more heartless than most when it comes to deadbeats.

Add up everything you've spent so far, give him the total, and tell him not a penny more until all of that is repaid.  You can even be generous by charging him zero percent interest.

tannybrown

  • Guest
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2012, 01:42:53 PM »
I'd try to clarify your goals with your significant other.  Is the goal to get his father to support himself financially within five months?  Help him through an extended rough patch of one year?  Two months and then stop cold turkey?  Perhaps you're ultimately fine with some small ongoing financial assistance to a family member in need, under a set of circumstances (e.g. - he continues to apply for jobs, financial assistance via disability, works with you on adhering to a monthly budget, etc.)

If I were in your shoes, I'd align with my significant other and make sure we were 100% agreed on what we're comfortable with, and what the plan of action is. 

onehappypanda

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 238
  • Location: Columbus, Ohio
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2012, 04:35:15 PM »
I doubt the 3 month send-off would help him, he'd just see it as a 3 month extension and then come back in 3 months asking for more because he blew through it all.

If you're worried about things "sticking" with your SO, it's time to sit down and chat about what the goals are. What will you do with the money you aren't giving his dad? What personal goal are you holding back on in order to fund his dad's lifestyle?

I'm normally a generous person, but this guy sounds like he has no intention to change his ways and probably never will. He'll mooch as long as you let him, 3 month send off or no 3 month send off. I think eventually you'll have to tell him that he's cut off, no more, ever- and that might be ugly and uncomfortable for your DH, as I'm sure his dad will make himself out to be the victim. It might be a good idea to rehearse with your SO ahead of time exactly what you'll say if/when that happens. Having that worked out ahead of time (and having gone over the reasons why you're doing it) might help it stick.

Of course, you could try to work out some ongoing financial help, like a certain amount of money each money. But it sounds like your DH's dad is the type to burn through whatever you give him, then come up with an excuse to ask for more. Still, it's an option that might make you feel ethically better than just letting him dig his own grave.

I get what you mean about family ties- I have family members who are in bad situations, some of whom would have better situations if they managed their money better, and I do feel a responsibility to help them. But it sounds like you've already done a lot for your DH's dad, everything you possibly could to get him back on track. He's taken advantage of all that and come to rely on it. I don't think there's much more you can do short of completely supporting him, but like you said that isn't really possible unless you're loaded with money.

Brett

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 95
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2012, 05:33:50 PM »
I'm sorry to hear you're in such a tough spot, and I can empathise to an extent because I've experienced something similar with my brother. The only thing I can really suggest is to give no more assistance in the form of cash. If he needs food, fine you will buy groceries, he can eat them or starve, no fast food. Same goes for gas. You bought him a bus pass, no gas money, no use of your car unless there's actually a really good reason.

No luxuries. Luxuries need to be earned.

It's not as cold as cutting him off completely, but it sounds like he wouldn't be happy in that situation so maybe it'll provide some stimulus to get off his lazy ass while you two decide what you want to do about him long term.

Good luck.

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 28051
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2012, 05:55:34 PM »
I have no advice for your situation, because every family has different dynamics.

I do want to say that I feel for you, and I wish you the best of luck in making your decision and sticking to it.  I hope everything is able to work out wonderfully for you and your family.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Adventine

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1266
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Manila, Philippines
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2012, 06:49:14 PM »
It's even harder when you are culturally expected to support parents, in-laws, cousins, second cousins, etc. in financial trouble.

I agree with Brett about giving goods in kind instead of cash. That way you know that the money is being spent on actual necessities and not luxuries.

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8492
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2012, 09:39:31 PM »
I agree with Brett about giving goods in kind instead of cash. That way you know that the money is being spent on actual necessities and not luxuries.

If I was this particular deadbeat, I'd spend all my money on hookers and blow and then go begging for you to buy me some groceries and pay my rent.

Just controlling what you buy for him doesn't mean you're only supporting things he actually needs.  He should be spending his own money on groceries and rent, and foregoing the hookers and blow altogether.  At least until he gets his act together.

Adventine

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1266
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Manila, Philippines
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2012, 03:25:02 AM »
Oh sol, you really are heartless. Haha :D

Brett

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 95
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2012, 03:29:47 AM »
Oh sol, you really are heartless. Haha :D

Haha. Maybe it's just tough love. Though he may have a point. I guess it's hard to say exactly what someone needs beyond biological requirements. Sorry AJ that I can't be more helpful.

Parizade

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1037
  • Location: Variable
  • Happily FIREd
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2012, 05:21:16 AM »
I'd try to clarify your goals with your significant other.  Is the goal to get his father to support himself financially within five months?  Help him through an extended rough patch of one year?  Two months and then stop cold turkey?  Perhaps you're ultimately fine with some small ongoing financial assistance to a family member in need, under a set of circumstances (e.g. - he continues to apply for jobs, financial assistance via disability, works with you on adhering to a monthly budget, etc.)

If I were in your shoes, I'd align with my significant other and make sure we were 100% agreed on what we're comfortable with, and what the plan of action is.

+1 on tanny's response. You and SO need to form a united front or the FIL will leech you dry.

It sounds like he might have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, have you thought about getting him evaluated by a psychiatrist? The suggestion alone might be enough to make FIL drop you, which would be the perfect solution IMHO.

MEJG

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 276
  • Location: Northeast US
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2012, 07:26:50 AM »
+1 to Tanny's response.  You and your DH need to be on the exact same page.

Options I see are:
1) cut him off completely and just tell him you have given him money for years and cannot afford to do so any more
2) rent a place for him and leave the help at that.  Dad, we pay your rent, that's all we can do.
3) If he needs things buy the things- buy stapes at costco for example 10lb bag or rice, 10lb bag of beans, lots of frozen veggies.  And stick to the bus pass!!! and that's it.  We will buy you the staple calories you need to live but we cannot do more.

I'd lean toward cutting him off all together- a 3 or 5 month help out till he "gets on his feet" per-say sounds like he'll just blow through it and figure you'll help at the end.  Put your foot down now- but only put it down where you know you and your DH can stick to it.

AJ

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 906
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2012, 10:40:58 AM »
Thanks for all the responses! DH and I are definitely on the same page - problem is that page is just a big question mark for us. We talk about it every day, vent our frustrations to each other, and try to come up with that elusive perfect solution. None has been forthcoming. Whatever we decide, though, we'll definitely agree on it together.

I think the suggestion we can most easily implement is "no cash assistance", at least as a baby step to full cut off. FIL wouldn't be happy with it, but he probably wouldn't push for cash. He knows he has asked for a lot, and maybe it would force him to at least bark up another tree. Sol is right, though, that he will spend any cash he does get on everything else first, then ask us for food/rent/gas money. But maybe the embarrassment of receiving a bag of rice rather than grocery money would incentivise him to earn his grocery money rather than beg for it. He was clearly disappointed when we gave him a bus pass rather than gas money, but he thanked us before sulking away. I think he got the hint.

It sounds like he might have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, have you thought about getting him evaluated by a psychiatrist? The suggestion alone might be enough to make FIL drop you, which would be the perfect solution IMHO.

Ha ha! I'll look into that ;) Getting him to drop us would be ideal, for sure.

Jason G.

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 15
  • Location: Oklahoma City
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2012, 11:47:35 AM »
Every family is different so I don't know how well this would work for you, but here is what my wife and I would do in this situation.

We would offer to give him as much money as he needs to meet his needs each month, but with one major condition. He would have to sit down with us and write out a budget and agree to stick to it from then on (This budget would include only necessities. If he wants to buy luxuries then he has to earn his own money for them). How much we gave him would depend on how much this budget says that he needs to live on each month. He would also have to agree to keep all receipts for the things he buys. From then on, we would sit down with them at least monthly and go over all the receipts to make sure they're at least close to the budget we agreed on. Sure, he might get more money somewhere else and spend it on frivolous stuff without showing us the receipts, but you have to start somewhere. If he's consistently spending extra money on frivolous stuff, you'll likely notice signs of it that you can ask him about (like "Where did that Roku box come from?").

We might give him one or two probation months for overspending the budget at the beginning, if we are convinced that he is genuinely trying to change his spending habits. If he stays compliant to the budget, we'd keep helping him. We might also make a condition that he had to be working toward an income for himself (eg, signing up for disability payments, applying for jobs, etc.). If he failed to meet the conditions (or even convince us that he was really trying), we would cut off the money. At that point, he has proven that he doesn't want to improve his financial life. He just wants to keep doing what he has been doing without any consequences.

This may seem overly controlling, but if he is in financial trouble because he's irresponsible with money (as opposed to just getting hit with an expensive disaster like huge medical bills or something) then you're not doing him any favors by enabling his unsustainable lifestyle. The most important goal here is to get him to learn how to act like a responsible adult. If he doesn't agree to work toward that goal with you, including measurable milestones like keeping on budget and looking for jobs, then he has shown that he doesn't care enough to try to make his life better. The only thing to do then is cut him off and pray that hitting rock bottom will convince him that change is necessary.

AJ

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 906
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2012, 11:56:19 AM »
Thanks Jason. He actually *hid* the Roku box from us! He knew that what he was doing (asking for food money from us, then buying unnecessary entertainment items) was wrong, and that if we found out we might stop giving him money. We found out about it because he told DH's brother, who mentioned it to DH in passing.

Brett

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 95
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2012, 01:45:09 PM »
Thanks Jason. He actually *hid* the Roku box from us! He knew that what he was doing (asking for food money from us, then buying unnecessary entertainment items) was wrong, and that if we found out we might stop giving him money. We found out about it because he told DH's brother, who mentioned it to DH in passing.

Aw man. That would push me over the edge. He knows exactly what he's doing. I can be compassionate if I think people have just got their heads screwed on wrong, but to me that behaviour suggests that he is just playing you. Were it me that would be all spending on him cut to the absolute bone, zero luxuries, only rice, beans etc for food. The shortest possible leeway period for him to get himself sorted.  And if he wants support in that time, he can work for it as though he were at a job. Several hours a day, looking for a job or doing whatever he needs to do to get sorted showing complete proof of his activities, including an internet history, proof of any resume's he's emailed, or letting you watch him put them in envelopes and mailing them. He may be your DH's father, but he's being a mooch who has demonstrated a lack of respect for you. You wouldn't accept treatment like that from an employee, friend or stranger on the street, coming from a Father it is completely unacceptable.

Forgive me if this sounds too harsh. It really grinds my gears when people treat others in this way.

Jason G.

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 15
  • Location: Oklahoma City
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2012, 03:01:52 PM »
Thanks Jason. He actually *hid* the Roku box from us! He knew that what he was doing (asking for food money from us, then buying unnecessary entertainment items) was wrong, and that if we found out we might stop giving him money. We found out about it because he told DH's brother, who mentioned it to DH in passing.

Aw man. That would push me over the edge. He knows exactly what he's doing. I can be compassionate if I think people have just got their heads screwed on wrong, but to me that behaviour suggests that he is just playing you. Were it me that would be all spending on him cut to the absolute bone, zero luxuries, only rice, beans etc for food. The shortest possible leeway period for him to get himself sorted.  And if he wants support in that time, he can work for it as though he were at a job. Several hours a day, looking for a job or doing whatever he needs to do to get sorted showing complete proof of his activities, including an internet history, proof of any resume's he's emailed, or letting you watch him put them in envelopes and mailing them. He may be your DH's father, but he's being a mooch who has demonstrated a lack of respect for you. You wouldn't accept treatment like that from an employee, friend or stranger on the street, coming from a Father it is completely unacceptable.

Forgive me if this sounds too harsh. It really grinds my gears when people treat others in this way.

Sadly, I have to agree. It sounds like he is knowingly and consciously taking advantage of you and your husband. I'd say give him one last chance, stating clearly that the only way you'll continue to give him money is if he is measurably working toward responsible finances. If he doesn't agree to it or you find out about any further Roku-like deceptions, cut him off immediately. He has to be willing to truly change before your help can do him any good.

I wish you good luck with however you eventually decide to handle it. Dealing with these kinds of family conflicts can be exhausting and heartbreaking.

mercurymustache

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2012, 09:51:55 PM »
I don't know if this is necessarily the case for you, or if this would even be possible, but I would suggest maybe taking them in to see a doctor about potential depression.   To me, it just doesn't sound normal for someone to want to sit around the house all day and do nothing.
In my family, we recently had a situation with someone who might be considered "deadbeat", who through a combination of medication and therapy is now a completely different person who takes care of themselves and has finally been supporting themselves financially for the first time. 
I think it's good to keep in mind that if that is the case, that people can also do some really messed up stuff when they're struggling with depression, and it makes it really easy to just write them off as an asshole. 

AJ

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 906
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2012, 10:56:41 AM »
I don't know if this is necessarily the case for you, or if this would even be possible, but I would suggest maybe taking them in to see a doctor about potential depression.   To me, it just doesn't sound normal for someone to want to sit around the house all day and do nothing.
In my family, we recently had a situation with someone who might be considered "deadbeat", who through a combination of medication and therapy is now a completely different person who takes care of themselves and has finally been supporting themselves financially for the first time. 
I think it's good to keep in mind that if that is the case, that people can also do some really messed up stuff when they're struggling with depression, and it makes it really easy to just write them off as an asshole. 

That's a really good point. I know he is on anti-anxiety meds, but I don't know if that is for depression. I'll bring it up. Thanks!

Parizade

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1037
  • Location: Variable
  • Happily FIREd
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2012, 07:48:28 PM »
I don't know if this is necessarily the case for you, or if this would even be possible, but I would suggest maybe taking them in to see a doctor about potential depression.   To me, it just doesn't sound normal for someone to want to sit around the house all day and do nothing.
In my family, we recently had a situation with someone who might be considered "deadbeat", who through a combination of medication and therapy is now a completely different person who takes care of themselves and has finally been supporting themselves financially for the first time. 
I think it's good to keep in mind that if that is the case, that people can also do some really messed up stuff when they're struggling with depression, and it makes it really easy to just write them off as an asshole. 

That's a really good point. I know he is on anti-anxiety meds, but I don't know if that is for depression. I'll bring it up. Thanks!

Another good reason to make a full psychiatric evaluation one of your conditions for continued support.

AJ

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 906
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #20 on: April 06, 2012, 10:51:42 AM »
Small update, if anyone is interested: FIL went to Volunteers in Medicine to try to get re-certified for disability. They can't do it without a letter from OHP (our state's low income medical insurance program) stating he isn't eligible. However, while he was there he must have mentioned his lack of gas money, because they issued him a voucher for $50 of gas. Small victory: at least he is seeking out other resources. He also brought over documents for us to sign as witnesses to apply for SS disability (which means he is making progress there). He is also trying to get re-hired at his old employer (hospital) in a position that doesn't require as much walking. I'm not optimistic (he was a terrible employee), but at least he is willing to work.

AND (best of all) he told us he hang-dried his laundry for the first time. He seemed genuinely proud of it. That is the first real attempt I've seen by him to reduce his expenses at the cost of convenience. I think he is even drinking water sometimes. :) I loaned him Tightwad Gazette, so maybe he'll get some ideas there. Who knows, maybe in a years time he'll be gainfully employed and an MMM convert. A girl can dream...

TheDude

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 467
Re: Need advice on dealing with deadbeat family
« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2012, 11:22:52 AM »
A girl can dream...

Its good to optimistic!