Family Matters

MIL and money...

Hi all, this is my first time posting on the nest- came over from the knot just over a year ago now.

In short, my mother-in-law has financial issues, and asks us for money. At Christmastime last year she asked us for rent money, and we said no. Since then, this year, she's asked for smaller amounts than that, but it's becoming more and more frequent. She needs a few hundred to keep her electric on, or needs help to keep from racking up overdraft charges when the credit from returned items doesn't kick in until 24-48 hours after return.

I keep saying no to "lending" her money but then I give in when my husband feels bad for her. The thing is, this can't go on forever and at this point, there's no end in sight (she's had financial issues for over a decade). And my husband and I bought a house in July, so we have less dispensable income and more expenses. I think she thinks we're "rich" (we're not) just because we don't live paycheck to paycheck, but the truth is that after buying the house we just don't have tons of money just lying around waiting to be given to her.

Plus, I don't like giving money to her because I know that she could make better decisions to not be in those positions. We have tried to help with money-saving suggestions, and encouraging selling her art work at shows, but she hasn't changed any of her ways so we are fed up. I feel that if she's not going to make an effort to improve her situation...then I don't want to help. We know for facts that there are many ways she could reduce expenses- but she's unwilling to do so.

Sorry this is long....this is kind of a vent. But my question really is....would it be out of place to suggest to her not to get us Christmas gifts this year? We know she has no money for them, and the best gift for us would be for her to not ask us for money any more. The funds just aren't there, and I find it ironic that in 2014 we may end up being asked for money due to spending it on Christmas gifts. IMO, desperate times call for desperate measures. I understand that she would probably feel bad, cuz she's his mom and all that, but honestly, at this point I'm over how she feels- it's about numbers...and the number is 0.

Does anyone else who's been in a tough situation like this have any insight? Thank you...
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Re: MIL and money...

  • Ugh! This is not the first time someone has posted about this issue here but bottom line - do not give this woman money anymore. And when she turns up the guilt, still, tell her no. Plain and simple. This is her fault that she's in this situation. And sorry, this may be your H's mother, but you are his wife, so he needs to not cave to his mother. Her financial problems are not your problem.

    I'm pretty sure any 'suggestions' you do give her to help her get out of this situation, she is not going to listen, so I don't really have any suggestions for you there. Basically, she has a problem, she needs to hit rock bottom, and you guys giving her money is only enabling her to keep doing what she's doing.

    I deal with this with my own parents, but the only difference is they never ask me for money. Even if they did, I wouldn't give it because it wouldn't help. It's painful to watch them on the downward spiral, but no matter what advice I've offered to help them, they won't listen. It's mentally exhausting, so I actually stopped giving advice and figure let them figure it out.

    Sorry you have to deal with this.
  • ps - don't feel bad either. This is your MIL's fault and she is using your guilty feelings to manipulate you.
  • bridejl said:
    Hi all, this is my first time posting on the nest- came over from the knot just over a year ago now.

    In short, my mother-in-law has financial issues, and asks us for money. At Christmastime last year she asked us for rent money, and we said no. Since then, this year, she's asked for smaller amounts than that, but it's becoming more and more frequent. She needs a few hundred to keep her electric on, or needs help to keep from racking up overdraft charges when the credit from returned items doesn't kick in until 24-48 hours after return.

    I keep saying no to "lending" her money but then I give in when my husband feels bad for her. The thing is, this can't go on forever and at this point, there's no end in sight (she's had financial issues for over a decade). And my husband and I bought a house in July, so we have less dispensable income and more expenses. I think she thinks we're "rich" (we're not) just because we don't live paycheck to paycheck, but the truth is that after buying the house we just don't have tons of money just lying around waiting to be given to her.

    Plus, I don't like giving money to her because I know that she could make better decisions to not be in those positions. We have tried to help with money-saving suggestions, and encouraging selling her art work at shows, but she hasn't changed any of her ways so we are fed up. I feel that if she's not going to make an effort to improve her situation...then I don't want to help. We know for facts that there are many ways she could reduce expenses- but she's unwilling to do so.

    Sorry this is long....this is kind of a vent. But my question really is....would it be out of place to suggest to her not to get us Christmas gifts this year? We know she has no money for them, and the best gift for us would be for her to not ask us for money any more. The funds just aren't there, and I find it ironic that in 2014 we may end up being asked for money due to spending it on Christmas gifts. IMO, desperate times call for desperate measures. I understand that she would probably feel bad, cuz she's his mom and all that, but honestly, at this point I'm over how she feels- it's about numbers...and the number is 0.

    Does anyone else who's been in a tough situation like this have any insight? Thank you...
    Does she work? Is she fully employed?

    Is she on a very fixed income, like Social Security or a small pension?

    Would she qualify for fixed income housing? Nearly every town has one; usually the housing is for 55 and up -- but those on a fixed income are qualfied.

    You and your H cannot keep bailing her out. You also cannot havie him handing out money to his mother without the both of you deciding yes on doing so; your real problem here an H problem.

    If this is a cultural issue, it's all the worse. A son is expected to financially support a parent.

    If she is gainfully employed and she is having cash flow problems, something else is going on here -- at any rate, he cannot keep saying yes and you and he cannot endlessly support her financially.

    She also has the option of moving into a 2 bedroom apartment and getting a roommate to help foot expenses.
  • Well, to her credit it works right ?  I mean whenever she is having problems, you guys help her out, so there is no reason for her to stop.  Heck, if I had a rich relative that could give us money whenever we needed it instead of budgeting, saving and sacrificing; I would probably ask them to.  It's easier. Well, not really but you get what I am trying to say here. 

    Honestly, if I were you, I would sit your husband down and lay it out.  Be completely honest and blunt.  Don't sugarcoat.  Tell him this isn't working and he has a choice here.  He can choose to upset his mommy or he can choose to upset you, ya know that woman he made vows to put above all others and let no one come between.  So who is he gonna choose ? 

    FWIW, we went through something a little similar with MIL.  MIL admitted she has nothing saved for retirement and my husband just came out and said "Well, I hope you weren't hoping that I would help you out there, because I can't." She then went on to say that he was going to let her live on the street.  He  said he would help pay for a Dave Ramsey Financial peace seminar or help pay for a financial counselor / advisor, but he wasn't going to just give her money every month.  We simply can afford it especially considering she could save money she just doesn't wanna.  Besides, neither of our parents  have anything saved for retirement.   It wouldn't be fair to help her and not the others.  It would bankrupt us and we would have nothing saved for our own retirement and would have to rely on our children.  No, the cycle ends here.   My husband figures that retirement is a luxury, not a right.  Some people simply won't be able to retire and both our dads plan on working for as long as they possibly can. 

    TarponMonoxideR.WilsonnyPrincessVeganKimbus22
  • Thanks for the responses everyone- it's good to feel not alone on this. My MIL is employed full-time and lives in a two-bedroom apartment. There are many ways she can save money, my husband and I made those tough lifestyle choices when we were first married and I was unemployed. But like DisneyGeek said, it's easier to ask us for money.

    We've considered paying for a Dave Ramsey-type financial course, but somehow I doubt she'd actually implement any changes...maybe we'll have to try that route, though.
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  • Oh, I'll also mention that now that we have a 3-bedroom house my MIL and SIL always mention moving in with us...they say it kind of jokingly, but I know they aren't completely joking. My SIL is newly 18, graduating with her HSED in December (hopefully) and expects that we'll just let her move in...that's an issue for a different post, though...for now there's no impending move-in. But you bet I'm trying to squelch those thoughts...
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  • My BIL is like this, except the handouts come from his parents whom he still lives with. They are fed up with him, but at the same time they just can't pull the trigger on cutting him off. DH and I have already had the discussion that we will not give him any money if/when he asks; and if they kick him out of the house again (that lasted a couple weeks until BIL told them he was coming home and they didn't stop him) that he will not be staying with us even for one night.

    BIL doesn't change his habits because he has no reason to. He's living off the family teet and it's not drying up, so why go somewhere else? He hasn't worked in months, he doesn't pay for anything himself (rent, cell phone, vehicle payment, gas, cigarettes, you name it) without the money coming from the IL's in some form. The more they enable him, the longer the situation will persist and there will be no change.
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  • edited November 2013
    bridejl said:
    Oh, I'll also mention that now that we have a 3-bedroom house my MIL and SIL always mention moving in with us...they say it kind of jokingly, but I know they aren't completely joking. My SIL is newly 18, graduating with her HSED in December (hopefully) and expects that we'll just let her move in...that's an issue for a different post, though...for now there's no impending move-in. But you bet I'm trying to squelch those thoughts...
    I will jump the gun on this one:

    You say no.

    Just say no to anybody who wishes to move in.

    "Sorry but we cannot accommodate you."

    That's all you need to say.

    I still am curious if you've got a cultural problem going on.  That would explain a lot of your problem...then again, maybe the family thinks you and your H are running a free for nothin' guest house for them, complete with all ammenities and add-ons.

    Getting back to your H:

    He's got to get on the same page with you. That's a must.

    I suggest you 2 get counseling; he needs to get it that you and he are now a team..and that you and he are THE FAMILY now.

    Lay it on the line, as a PP said: he is to get with the program and team with you. And tell him that if he doesn't do that, he can get packing and go live with his mother.

    Make the counseling a MUST. He is to go whether he likes it or not and he is to comply 100% with the counselor's edicts.
  • My DH and I helped his brother financially and it was horrible. It ended in resentment on both sides, and he didn't change his ridiculous spending ways. (He's currently even more in debt than when we helped him, and yet having a $400K house built after "borrowing" the downpayment from his parents and his wife's parents.) Anyway, just to say do NOT give her more money, and don't feel bad about it. She needs to learn to support herself. I also think not giving Christmas gifts is a good idea. There's no point in borrowing money just to buy someone something. My DH and I are on a tight budget, so we told everyone that this year we can't afford gifts, and therefore don't want anyone to buy for us. Instead, I just want to spend time with people and do something nice for them, like bake cookies and host a dinner. You and your MIL could do the same. It's supposed to be about spending time together and doing something nice, anyway. If the gift-giving is stressful, I don't think it's worth it. Plan something fun to do with her, instead. It might also help to build some good feelings.
  • bridejl said:

    Oh, I'll also mention that now that we have a 3-bedroom house my MIL and SIL always mention moving in with us...they say it kind of jokingly, but I know they aren't completely joking. My SIL is newly 18, graduating with her HSED in December (hopefully) and expects that we'll just let her move in...that's an issue for a different post, though...for now there's no impending move-in. But you bet I'm trying to squelch those thoughts...

    Hell no to this. You and your H put your foot down and tell them that under no circumstances are they moving in with you ever. I'd seriously consider cutting your MIL and SIL off so they get the message....
  • bridejl said:
    Thanks for the responses everyone- it's good to feel not alone on this. My MIL is employed full-time and lives in a two-bedroom apartment. There are many ways she can save money, my husband and I made those tough lifestyle choices when we were first married and I was unemployed. But like DisneyGeek said, it's easier to ask us for money.

    We've considered paying for a Dave Ramsey-type financial course, but somehow I doubt she'd actually implement any changes...maybe we'll have to try that route, though.


    My MIL didn't take the offer for the classes either.  She doesn't think she is the problem.  However, we at least can rest knowing we tried.  In 10/15 years when she or SIL call us asking for money, my husband can say " Mom, remember 10 years ago when I wanted to talk to you about this and you didn't want to listen ?  Well this is why I wanted to talk to you.  We can't help you."

    I mean, we might end up giving her some money here and there; but it won't be nearly as much as she wants.

  • Leftie22 said:
    My DH and I helped his brother financially and it was horrible. It ended in resentment on both sides, and he didn't change his ridiculous spending ways. (He's currently even more in debt than when we helped him, and yet having a $400K house built after "borrowing" the downpayment from his parents and his wife's parents.) Anyway, just to say do NOT give her more money, and don't feel bad about it. She needs to learn to support herself. I also think not giving Christmas gifts is a good idea. There's no point in borrowing money just to buy someone something. My DH and I are on a tight budget, so we told everyone that this year we can't afford gifts, and therefore don't want anyone to buy for us. Instead, I just want to spend time with people and do something nice for them, like bake cookies and host a dinner. You and your MIL could do the same. It's supposed to be about spending time together and doing something nice, anyway. If the gift-giving is stressful, I don't think it's worth it. Plan something fun to do with her, instead. It might also help to build some good feelings.
    Never ever mix family and money deals or family and "can we live with you."

    Bad blood can result and if not that, the deal can go sour. One never knows. Plus it is not a good idea,whether or not the relative is horrific or shady with money.

    The only exception I'd make: your relative has a bona fide money issue not his or her own -- maybe had to leave the H due to some horrible problem and can't live on her own due to that issue.  Only take that person in if there is an agreement that she will pay X in room and board and will be out by X date.

  • Leftie22 said:

    My DH and I helped his brother financially and it was horrible. It ended in resentment on both sides, and he didn't change his ridiculous spending ways. (He's currently even more in debt than when we helped him, and yet having a $400K house built after "borrowing" the downpayment from his parents and his wife's parents.) Anyway, just to say do NOT give her more money, and don't feel bad about it. She needs to learn to support herself. I also think not giving Christmas gifts is a good idea. There's no point in borrowing money just to buy someone something. My DH and I are on a tight budget, so we told everyone that this year we can't afford gifts, and therefore don't want anyone to buy for us. Instead, I just want to spend time with people and do something nice for them, like bake cookies and host a dinner. You and your MIL could do the same. It's supposed to be about spending time together and doing something nice, anyway. If the gift-giving is stressful, I don't think it's worth it. Plan something fun to do with her, instead. It might also help to build some good feelings.

    Never ever mix family and money deals or family and "can we live with you."

    Bad blood can result and if not that, the deal can go sour. One never knows. Plus it is not a good idea,whether or not the relative is horrific or shady with money.

    The only exception I'd make: your relative has a bona fide money issue not his or her own -- maybe had to leave the H due to some horrible problem and can't live on her own due to that issue.  Only take that person in if there is an agreement that she will pay X in room and board and will be out by X date.


    I agree. There are some extreme situations that might be acceptable to have family come stay - temporarily. Situations that might not be within their control or their fault. But in a situation like this one - where the MIL is having financial troubles that are of her own making that could have been prevented, I have a hard time feeling sorry for someone like this.
  • While we're on the subject, does anyone know how much the Dave Ramsey course would cost? Just curious because I might consider this for my own parents ;)
  • We took the class a few years ago, but I want to say it was less than $100.
  • We took the class a few years ago, but I want to say it was less than $100.

    That's not bad at all....
  • R.Wilsonny- that is exactly why I don't want to lend her money! If she had hardship due to leaving an abusive husband, or she was laid off, or there was some other situation beyond her control, I probably wouldn't hesitate to help out. But since it's an issue of her own making and she's not willing to make the changes needed to fix it...I'm not willing to help.

    As far as Christmas, she's not going to like not getting us anything but I just can't accept anything. We'll see how this goes.
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  • bridejl said:
    R.Wilsonny- that is exactly why I don't want to lend her money! If she had hardship due to leaving an abusive husband, or she was laid off, or there was some other situation beyond her control, I probably wouldn't hesitate to help out. But since it's an issue of her own making and she's not willing to make the changes needed to fix it...I'm not willing to help.

    As far as Christmas, she's not going to like not getting us anything but I just can't accept anything. We'll see how this goes.
    Stop enabling her. THat's the bottom line.

    Let her crash and burn and figure it out for herself.
    R.Wilsonny

  • bridejl said:

    R.Wilsonny- that is exactly why I don't want to lend her money! If she had hardship due to leaving an abusive husband, or she was laid off, or there was some other situation beyond her control, I probably wouldn't hesitate to help out. But since it's an issue of her own making and she's not willing to make the changes needed to fix it...I'm not willing to help.

    As far as Christmas, she's not going to like not getting us anything but I just can't accept anything. We'll see how this goes.

    Stop enabling her. THat's the bottom line.

    Let her crash and burn and figure it out for herself.


    This is pretty much where I'm at.
  • I agree with PP's.  But I want to add that this goes with "setting boundaries".  If you and your H stick to the rules on this and continuously tell her no she will eventually get the hint and stop asking for money and find a way to do it on her own.  I know this is easier said than done but I would just say "Sorry MIL we have no extra money with the house".  
    TarponMonoxide
  • You'd be wise to make it clear as of right now that the Hotel Bridejl is closed.

    Make it doubly clear that you will not be accepting any new roommies. And say it in such a way that it's driven home that it's Subject Closed.
    R.Wilsonny
  • bridejl said:
    Thanks for the responses everyone- it's good to feel not alone on this. My MIL is employed full-time and lives in a two-bedroom apartment. There are many ways she can save money, my husband and I made those tough lifestyle choices when we were first married and I was unemployed. But like DisneyGeek said, it's easier to ask us for money.

    We've considered paying for a Dave Ramsey-type financial course, but somehow I doubt she'd actually implement any changes...maybe we'll have to try that route, though.
    You've completely glossed over the "getting on the same page with H" and jumped right to trying to come up with a quick-fix to a problem that you've admitted she doesn't think is a problem.

    Your first order of business needs to be getting your H to understand that Mommy's Money Tree needs to be chopped down right now. Maybe after a year or two of not getting any money at all from her son, she'll realize she needs to make changes. But an alcoholic isn't going to miraculously see the light at the first AA meeting they're forced to go to and hop on the wagon for good. A Dave Ramsey course that she doesn't think she needs and is being forced to take isn't going to make her see the light either, as long as her son is slipping her money whenever she asks for it.
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    R.Wilsonny
  • We took the class a few years ago, but I want to say it was less than $100.
    That's not bad at all....
    Try taking out one of his books from the Library first.  
    image
  • I'm torn on this. In a lot of ways I agree with Tarpon in that she needs to make some changes and sacrifices in order to better support herself.

    However, I also don't think it is okay to let a parent struggle, nor any family member.

    For the sister wanting to move in I would play it a bit strategically. She jokes about it: "I can't wait to just move in with you guys in your huge house!", laugh it off like it was just a joke and then jump in with "oh, don't worry! I'm sure you will find a great place with some fun roommates like we did when we were younger! Have you checked craigslist lately? They always have some great places on there." then change the subject.  She says that she is worried that she won't be able to support herself? "All part of the experience of being in your early 20's! Oh, the stories I have from being young and on my own - my first jobs and my first roommates, I wouldn't give up that experience for the world - you are going to have such a great time! I'm so excited for you!" an so on.

    With your mother in law - it is not easy, but instead of being heavy handed and saying "no" to her (which your husband doesn't seem to agree with, fair enough), how can you change her behaviour? What part of her behaviour can you change? How can you make her not want to ask you for money? How can you make her asking you for money an uncomfortable enough situation that she does whatever she can to avoid it in the future? You don't need to be aggressive or rude.

    Just a thought - but if I asked someone for money and they huffed and puffed a little and then eventually gave it to me, my ego would take a small hit but I would probably ask them again. And again.

    Now if I asked someone for money for my heating bill, they huffed and puffed a bit about it, asked to see my heating bills for the year because something must be seriously wrong with my electric company if the bills are so out of control and outrageous that I'm not able to pay them each month, went through them with a fine toothed comb with passive aggressive remarks about how I should probably keep the heat down low and wear warmer clothes - would you like some of our old sweaters? Do you have enough? - and gave me the gears about my electricity usage in the summer, spring and fall, lecturing me on how I should plan for the year better to avoid this type of fiasco, then gave me the money, then checked to see if I paid the bill with it, then called a few times a week to make sure that my heating was being kept under control and that I was warm enough - did I need any more sweaters and asking me if I had called the electricity company yet about the bill and any debt recovery assistance, then praising me like a stupid puppy when my next heating bill is lower - I would hesitate to ask that person for money again for my heating bill. Especially if they then insisted on barging into other areas of my financial life - like wanting to come food shopping with me and swapping out all of the name brand items in my cart with cheap store brands and making me sit down to cut cupons like it's fun - because "you are obviously struggling right now and we just want to help, we are struggling too and have to do this all just to make ends meet".

    You could say no and feel like a jerk. Or you could make her not want to ask you. Nicely, and out of true caring and support like a good daughter, of course.

    Just a thought.
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  • Ilumine said:



    We took the class a few years ago, but I want to say it was less than $100.

    That's not bad at all....

    Try taking out one of his books from the Library first.  

    Oh, I wasn't asking about the course for me, but for my own parents ;)

    (although I would be curious to read one of his books as well)
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