My Mother lives beyond her means how can I help her? Should I

(7 Posts)
Arohaitis Tue 05-Nov-13 21:17:58

so no crisis or anything just reading another thread about someone being tight and it got me thinking....
My Mother who is on a small widows pension lives beyond her means and I am not sure what I can do to help (or whether I should be doing anything)

She can not budget, takes holidays she can not afford, eats M and S ready meals all the time, takes people out for lunch, buys gifts she can not afford the whole thing.

She appears to be able to get loans from the bank (despite being on a negligible income) and has maxd out credit cards.

Twice I have paid her credit card bill, (she is supposed to be paying me back I am not really expecting to see it until her house is sold! Although she has switched one of the direct debits i saved her to go into my name When she gets a lot older, this is despite me loosing my job and having to take the money from savings) I sat down with all her household expenses and saved her about 400 pounds a year on gas, insurance, phone etc.

Should I do anything? If so what? What will happen when I don't clear her credit card bill?

[two missing bits of information she - like lots of people her age - has always been quite dependent on the man to budget, pay bills etc, she likes the best, and spent freely when she was younger, but seems to have a backwards attitude to money so when she had 3k debt on her card views it has having 1k to spend plus she has a 'friend' who lives in her house most of the time yet makes seemingly no financial contribution eg she was paying for sky sports I told her to get him to pay if he wanted it she recently told me she had changed her sky contract since when she asked him to pay he told her to cancel it!!)

I should just but out and do nothing more shouldn't I

elportodelgato Tue 05-Nov-13 21:30:04

My mother is similar, not as bad as yours but always spending more than she earns, racking up credit card bills she can't pay, buying things on hire purchase rather than saving and buying them outright. She has a terrible eBay habit and a penchant for treating herself.

This is all well and good now while she is still earning but she retires soon and I am dreading what will happen when her disposable income shrinks SIGNIFICANTLY

Anyway. Similar to you, I have helped her by going through her monthly outgoings with her, switching providers, cancelling PPI which she didn't need etc. and saved her quite a lot of money, plus showed her that with determination she could clear her debts which at that stage were about 7k. She did stick to it for a bit and fortunately had an unexpected windfall which helped her out of the mess she was in.

However, DH and I have discussed what we will do if / when she finds herself in deep shit again, and we have agreed that we absolutely would not bail her out with a loan or gift of any kind. Having read a lot on MN about people loaning money and never seeing it again, I think it can ruin relationships within families. IMO you should help her with practical advice, try to get her 'lodger' chap to pay some rent, try to minimise what she spends on gifts for you and your family. But I would not be bailing her out. She may never have had to budget before but now she does have to and she is a grown woman

AtticusMcPlatypus Tue 05-Nov-13 21:33:30

No, don't butt out. My own DM got herself into terrible debt in a very similar way. A combination of having a precarious mental health situation, losing my DF and having credit cards literally thrown at her by many unscrupulous banks meant she got herself into debt to the tune of over £40K. It was horrendous, she buried her head in the sand about it for ages before I accidently deliberately went looking for found some of the credit card statements. In the end both me and my DB had to sit her down and make her confront it which was horrible and nearly tipped her over the edge mentally again. I wish I'd done something sooner when. I'd first been suspicious of all the shit she was buying from QVC.

You are not doing her any favours by clearing her credit card every time she can't pay it. Can you sit down with her and work out a sensible budget with her income? My DM had to take out an IVA in the end which has meant she has had to keep working into her 70s just to pay it off. Fortunately it finishes in a couple of months and she has learnt a very tough lesson and had to live very frugally for the last five years. If the debts are really becoming unmanageable perhaps ask her to contact a debt charity - StepChange are very good - who will be able to work out a realistic budget to repay the debts and still be able to live. I know what you mean about coming from a generation where the man made most of the financial decisions. It does make it hard for the woman left behind to suddenly make sensible autonomous financial choices if they ahve always been used to someone doing it on their behalf. Good luck and hope you can help your DM.

Arohaitis Tue 05-Nov-13 21:37:31

Thanks I have told her for the last three years not to send expensive gifts for my kids, last year the low was out of 8 gifts (her and my sister are the only ones who give anything to my kids) 6 exact duplicates and I mean the same box of Lego lol and she had spent ££££ posting hers

(I was just planning to get my kids something from her locally and in the sales!!!! We have veery different approaches to money)

I do think if she asked her 'friend' for money he would disappear so I don't think she will do that - however IMHO she should.

I am not in a position to bale her out agin and have told her that.

Arohaitis Tue 05-Nov-13 21:46:37

The first time I cleared her debt I had a full time public sector job and believed I would for as long as I wanted,(unemployed for 3.5 Yrs and no prospect of working again in my career!) my father had just died (2/3 weeks, she told me she had got a loan to pay for Christmas and I expected to see it back once she had sorted out the financial side of things)

The second time we were in the bank together when they offered her another credit card/extended loan since her low interest rate was finishing in front of me (she is mid 70s not worked for 10 years) I was horrified, at home we discussed things, she let me work on her outgoings I cleared the debt, we reduced the limit on the card I told her she had still not paid me 2/3 of the last debt and so she switched one of the direct debits to pay it off, I had temp work for 3 months.

I am financially in no position to clear it again especially considering how much she still owes me.

Thanks can I ask how your Mother got from being in debt to the IVA was it via escalating demands for money she owed? Did you take her along to get it sorted?

AtticusMcPlatypus Tue 05-Nov-13 21:57:49

To start with she had a debt management plan with a debt counselling charity but managed to rack up an overrdraft whilst on it. Apparently this is not on when you are on one of these plans and they ended the arrangement. She then had to look somewhere else for help and in all fairness to her, she sorted out this IVA. Its a serious step though - she pays a shit load in management fees for the privilege of having it and they need to know everything you earn, and I mean everything. Basically, if I understand it right, all her income goes to them and they take off a payment for the creditors each month and leave her with the rest. It has meant that she cannot be a spendthrift anymore and literally has to watch every penny. I have lent and given her the odd £20 here and there when she has had nothing left at all. It has certainly been a very sobering experience for her. If I was you, I would encourage the debt charity way first as often seeing the figures in black and white is enough to hit home for some people. Why not give them a ring yourself and explain the situation? Obviously they will need to speak to her, but they should be able to give you some idea of how it all works.

Arohaitis Tue 05-Nov-13 22:01:50

Thanks both of you

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