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To think meanness is a mental illness

(156 Posts)
jenny69xx Sat 19-Jul-14 12:50:42

I am very worried about my 20 year old DD. She is very careful with money to the point were I think it may be a mental illness. She works full time and takes home around £300 a week. I take a small sum of £20 a week in board. She has been working for about 18 months after finishing A Levels. She is responsible for her own travel, clothes toiletries, social life. She does not spend a penny if she does not have to. Her clothes are often worn and she will not buy anything if it is not on sale. She steals my make up, deodorant etc. She looks a mess as she refuses to “waste” money on haircuts. She would rather walk the 2 hours to work than pay for public transport or run a car. She has no social life and has gradually lost all friends as she refuses to pay for drinks, meals out, taxis etc, even a bottle of wine to take to a party. Christmas gifts from her are very mean and often she does not even buy so much as a card for mother’s day etc.

She has thousands in the bank, which is great, but I am very worried about her. My father is incredibly mean, to the point of embarrassment and I am seeing the same pattern emerging. We have always been very generous with her and she has never seen us struggle for money so I have no idea where this comes from. It makes me very sad to see friends children on holiday, in nightclubs, driving cars. She should be living life!

It started at school with her saving her lunch money rather than eating and it has snowballed from there. After the upbringing I had I feel meanness is absolutely the worst trait to have and I am at my wits end. I have no idea what to do or how to handle her.

Tortoiseturtle Sat 19-Jul-14 12:58:31

Just a question - have you tried talking to her about this? Asking her why she chooses not to spend money on things that most people her age do spend money on? Talking to her about the effect this is having on her enjoyment of life? I can see why she wants to save money (probably worried about being able to afford her own home, etc), but things have obviously gone way beyond just being sensible.
If she acknowledges that there is a problem, maybe some counselling would help.
Or if she won't talk to you, is there someone else she is more comfortable talking with?

Smilesandpiles Sat 19-Jul-14 13:00:23

Try to look at it this way:

She will never have money problems, be in debt or be financially abused or used. That's a massive plus in favour of her mindset.

The biggest issue is that she won't spend money on other people for brithdays and Christmas etc...that really isn't a huge deal. Ask her to make something for her and some thought has gone in it for you.

She's 20 so old enough to deal with her mates and if she doesn't want a social life, then that's fair enough. I know someone will say that being social doesn't mean you have to pay anything out and yadda yadda yadda, but if that's what she's happy with then who's to argue?

As long as she is happy with what she is doing, then the issue may lie with you thinking she she isn't doing anything the way you would. As you said, "mean to the point of embarrassment". It's not her embarrassment that you're talking about, it's yours.

Tortoiseturtle Sat 19-Jul-14 13:03:55

Is she happy though? Losing friends doesn't sound very happiness inducing. Walking for 2 hours to work in order to save a small sum (no doubt she's nice and slim though) is unlikely to make her happy if done on a regular basis. I would agree that being this extreme suggests a mental health problem.

Walkacrossthesand Sat 19-Jul-14 13:03:56

My eye landed on 'she steals my makeup/deodorant etc' - what do you mean? Does she use it but put it back after use, or appropriate the entire container so you end up buying another one? Also, is she happy to 'freeload' if others will pay for her, or does she decline the activity because she doesn't want to spend the money but recognises that it's wrong to expect others to pay for her?

jenny69xx Sat 19-Jul-14 13:06:35

I have talked lots. She is always very defensive and cannot see anything wrong with how she lives. She says that no one "needs" a social life or haircuts, public transport is a rip off etc. I asked her she will cope when living alone as bills and food have to be paid for, but she doesnt respond. She is very much a closed book, always has been, and its hard to get two words out of her if I am honest.

She does have a boyfriend, but he goes to parties, clubs without her as she refuses to pay. The only time they go out socially, for a meal, cinema, is when we pay. He wants to go on holiday with her, but she refuses to pay half and he cant afford the full amount as he is a student.

Tryharder Sat 19-Jul-14 13:07:40


Whilst it is great to be careful with money and/or have an eye for a bargain, I agree with you that extreme frugality to the point where she has lost friends, never goes out etc is unhealthy.

As to whether it is a mental illness or not I have no idea. Possibly an inherited trait if your own father was similar.

Other than talking to her about it I don't know what you could do. hmm

I hope someone else has better advice.

Birdsgottafly Sat 19-Jul-14 13:07:53

Meanness isn't a MH.

However, the need to intensely control and micro manage one aspect (or several) of your life, can be a symptom of a MH issue.

How is the communication between you? How do you react when she steals your stuff?

Would you say that she is happy?

Frogisatwat Sat 19-Jul-14 13:08:06

I agree sort of with smiles but taking your make up and deodorant is not on. Yes its good to be careful with money but no one likes a tightwad.
An ex colleague would never put into a birthday envelope which is fair enough. ..but was always first to the birthday cake. A bit like pinching your stuff really. .

PedlarsSpanner Sat 19-Jul-14 13:08:11

One concern would be her stealing your toiletries. You might need to consider locking them up if she persists. Anything else ever go missing or "misplaced" by you?

Has she alluded to plans to move out? I think she is getting on your nerves a tad, time for her to fledge, yes?

AgentZigzag Sat 19-Jul-14 13:08:24

I'm no expert, but I'm not sure it's a MH problem in itself, but what you describe could flag up that other things going on? Like skipping meals pointing to an eating disorder or her lack of interest in herself being part of depression.

I'm not fussed about money and don't have any problems shelling out for things and my parents were similar, but my mums dad was as tight as a gnats arse shock it really was shocking how penny pinching he was, he'd rather have been uncomfortable (and everyone else who lived there) than pay out a few more pence in heating/leccy/clothes etc.

I can see how stacking up a wad of cash might become a bit of a 'game' though, that you can get a measure of power and control over your environment doing it, and how much is too much? It's not something you can put a cap on is it?

The question is does it make her happy? She might not be doing things you think she should be enjoying, but she's her own person at 20 (and £20 is a ridiculously low amount to be asking her for for rent etc!) and can do as she pleases within reason.

Has she had any contact with anyone about MH problems in the past?

Smilesandpiles Sat 19-Jul-14 13:09:59

She's right. No one "Needs" that stuff, it's just what most people feel like they have to do to fit in. She doesn't feel that way, so what?

If someone was watching every penny I didn't spend I wouldn't be telling you anything either. Leave her alone. If you are offering to pay for her to go out, you are actually forcing her out to do something she's really not that bothered about. Stop doing it.

Her boyfriend issues are hers to deal with, not yours.

Birdsgottafly Sat 19-Jul-14 13:10:26

X post.

She's going to lose her BF, eventually.

Perhaps starting to be more and more alone will prompt a change, or her to ask for help.

jenny69xx Sat 19-Jul-14 13:11:08

@Walkacrossthesand She is very much a freeloader yes. Will happily go to events if someone else pays, family, boyfriend. Always drinks a lot if we are paying etc. Happy to have expensive items of clothes if I pay.

As per the make up thing, I have to hide it as she will take without asking, rather than buy her own, and then deny it. Use it all up in a few days or even trash it. She has done similar with my shoes.

FabULouse Sat 19-Jul-14 13:12:14

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Tortoiseturtle Sat 19-Jul-14 13:13:56

How will she cope if you ask her to move out? She will have way less money to save then. Perhaps this will force a different attitude?
I agree that she will lose the boyfriend soon, and not get another one.

AgentZigzag Sat 19-Jul-14 13:16:41

It's one thing to not be bothered about clothes/hair/possessions/going out, but your DD isn't relaxed about it, she feels entitled to take things that aren't hers and gets off on getting something for free. Everyone likes to get stuff for free, but not to the extent that it seems to be their only aim and pleasure in life.

Just out of interest (and without any hoiking) do you put a lot of emphasis on your appearance? Hair, clothes and things? It's just that if she's nicking your make up and toiletries then she can't be that much of a mess surely?

AgentZigzag Sat 19-Jul-14 13:17:48

Is she saving up for anything in particular?

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 13:18:07

If the entire journey to work is one hour there and one hour back that's ok. I wouldn't and it's more extreme than anyone I know does but not unimaginable, although more reasonable might be to walk one way and use transport the other.

The other things in your post would worry me (apart from "*and often she does not even buy so much as a card for mother’s day"* which is sane and rational as far as I'm concerned. I've never bought nor received a Mother's day card).

I'd find it difficult to relate to anyone who behaved like that whether it was a friend or a relative.

Walkacrossthesand Sat 19-Jul-14 13:18:44

I have a daughter who has always found other peoples' money much easier to spend than her own, but she does at least buy things!
Given that your daughter is quite clear that her scruples about stuff being 'unnecessary' don't extend to refusing to accept gifts, I'm afraid I would withdraw my generosity, lock my toiletries behind my bedroom door, etc - it's totally not on to be so selfish and inconsiderate. You can't change her, but you can change the way you react to her....

itiswhatitiswhatitis Sat 19-Jul-14 13:20:30

Hmm my biggest concern would be her happiness to steal from you and let others pay for her. Obviously she doesn't truely believe no one needs these things she just doesn't want to pay for it herself.

Personally I think I would up her "rent" and would stop paying for drinks and meals out too.

My DB is very very much the same. Interestingly he does have aspergers but I wouldn't say that it is a symptom of aspergers more a personality trait that is difficult to address because of his aspergers. If that makes sense. Either way it's a very unattractive trait and I don't let my DB off the hook for paying anymore.

jenny69xx Sat 19-Jul-14 13:20:56

My husband is at the point of where he wants her to move out. I am not sure how she would cope as I do everything for her. This also causes rows as my husband feels I baby her and she should be helpling around the house (hes right I know) I did want her to move away to uni to help her fly the nest, but she refused to apply due to the fees!

Aspergers has crossed my mind, but socially she is very outgoing, when she does go out etc. If I was paying she would be out every night! There is something not quite right though, I am sure of it.

thornrose Sat 19-Jul-14 13:22:07

My first thoughts are that it could be becoming obsessional. She may have started off enjoying saving her money but it may have gone too far.

I have seen my dd's OCD behaviours and this rings a bell with me.

If you google OCD it is mentioned as one of many possible criteria
7.adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes.

I am NOT saying your dd has OCD but I would be concerned if her saving habits have a negative effect on her happiness.

thornrose Sat 19-Jul-14 13:24:31

My dd also has Aspergers!

itiswhatitiswhatitis Sat 19-Jul-14 13:24:49

There is obviously a much bigger picture here and I think it's time to be honest with yourself about how much you are feeding this issue if you are babying her and doing everything for her.

Sorry but she is 20 years old you will do her no favours if this continues.

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