to not know how to help my sister?(71 Posts)
I have a sister who is in her mid twenties. She has two young children - one in school and one entitled to the 15 hours free nursery. She has a partner as well.
My sister doesn't work and hasn't since she had her eldest child - prior to this she worked in a shop so childcare would have been far more than she earned and so it wouldn't have been possible for her to go back.
Her partner is a nice enough guy but unfortunately, he doesn't seem very motivated. He does a bit of ad hoc work for a friend but this isn't regular or reliable. A few people including our dad and a another relative have tried to help him find something more reliable by putting in a good word etc. But he never turns up for interviews
So, this brings me to the issue I am concerned about. They are always, and I mean always, desperately short of money for even the basics - food, nappies, gas/electric (they have card meters). As a result my sister is constantly asking various friends and relatives, myself included, for money to cover these things. The money is never returned to whoever it has come from.
I love my sister to bits and over the last few years I have helped as much as possible as have many other relatives and friends. The problem is that it is getting draining I can't contact her without her asking for money and it is the same for other people who are also getting frustrated. People also help in others ways e.g. buying a good shop, buying coats for the children etc.
They get benefits and part of me thinks that as adults they need to organise the budget better but I don't know whether it is genuinely that she can't budget or just doesn't think beyond a few days
They don't have a car and have a council house so can't cut that back any further.
I have my own bills to cover and have to budget accordingly so can't always help.
I don't want to upset her but I think she needs to seek help with budgeting if such a thing exsists?
Does anyone have any suggestions of things I could suggest to help her? Do sure start centres offer help with these things?
If you've read this far thank you!
I would suggest to her that her other half make more of an effort to find - and turn up- for jobs, as he has a family to support. Why should you all be supporting them.
I have. Friend like this - hubby hasn't worked for 17 years following a minor accident, which he is still milking now - God knows how ! But they have produced 4 more kids since the accident and claim every benefits going. Neither work, and all kids in full time school. People like this and your sister and her partner think everyone owes them a favour. It's not on - tell her he needs to get out there and find a job as you will not be subsidising them any more.
If her partner isn't working then he can do the childcare and she can get a FT job surely?
This is such a difficult one, because as frustrated you are with the adults in this situation (mismanaging money? Not being motivated to work etc.) it is not the children's fault, so any help you give would help the children which is obviously everybody's main priority.
If her DH is not working why isn't he looking after the children so she can go back to work?
You need to explain to her that constantly asking people for money will eventually drive them away.
If they have stable housing (council house) and are claiming all the benefits they can then they should have enough to live on and not be lacking the very basics. Budgeting help would be good- there are lots of spreadsheets and help on money saving expert etc.
Just say you no longer have any spare cash. They need to get off their lazy arses & support themselves if they want more money. It doesn't sound as if there's any reason for either of them not to work now. I understand than finding jobs around school/free nursery hours is very difficult but it doesn't sound as if he's working enough for childcare to be an issue
He sounds like a waste of space. He doesn't work because he knows that everyone else will bail him out.
I can understand why you want to help your sister though. It isn't fair that she and the children should go without because she is stuck with a lazy good for nothing.
And if you want to help still then bring in clothes for the children (hand me downs?) & maybe feed the children - but I'd let the adults sort themselves out & don't give money.
Childrens Centres do offer budgeting help, but any member of the family could do it.
If they're always short of food/nappies, then that's a level of neglect. Whilst benefits aren't great, you can cover the basics, or is he taking jobs and that's affecting their benefits and then he's giving up work?
Or is there other stuff going on?
Personally, I'd be having straight talking conversations with her. Neither of them are putting the children's needs, first.
Tell her to go to her local children's centre where they will have a family support officer, they will be able to help her get on to money free management courses, support her and him to apply for jobs.
The more you and the family bail them out the more you all enable this feckless existence unfortunately.
Poverty is horrible - benefits may not be enough to enable them to make ends meet, esp if they live in an expensive city. So good for you for helping. I can also see how that might be unsustainable for you.
Trying to get out of long term unemployment is also really, really difficult. It may be that your sister's partner is depressed or has low self esteem by now, so is self sabotaging by not turning up to interviews. There has also been a big study done which shows that struggling to get by financially takes so much mental energy it seriously saps your will power in ways which we are only just beginning yo understand (impacting on poor health and well being choices as well as a weaker ability to plan and defer gratification)./Not sure what the answer it is but probably more than fecklessness. I can appreciate that its probably driving you bonkers though!
To be fair she is as bad as him, if childcare is two expensive either one could work full-time or both part-time. I would tell her straight out you are getting sick of not being able to speak to get without her asking for money so your new years resolution is to just not give it, people are doing her no favours continuously giving her money, they need to manage themselves, it's different if someone falls in hard times and its a short term thing but she is using friends/family as a source of income. Sit her down and tell her the money stops and she will end up with people avoiding her if she's not careful. And tell one of the lazy feckers to get a job
Can you direct your sister towards contacting these people?
They don't charge for their advice and I've heard they're quite helpful and realistic on ways to budget. If your sister and her DP really have no idea how to manage their money, these people should help.
In the meantime, you could offer to feed the kids when they're short of money.
Thanks for all of the replies so far. Our parents stopped giving cash but still help by buying food/kids clothes etc.
They stopped giving cash as they couldn't fathom where it was going.
Think I may do the same as at least the kids will have things then.
I am going to have a frank conversation with her and explain that they need to get organised - either, as suggested, she could go back to work or he needs to take the plunge and accept the help offered in finding a job. I will also tell her to go to sure start for budgeting help to sort out the money.
They claim what they are entitled to and while I appreciate that this may still be right it shouldn't leave them without basics.
Here is a link to a discussion of the study I mentioned, just in case it helps newrepublic.com/article/89377/poverty-escape-psychology-self-control
I'd recommend contacting CAP (Christians against poverty). Their main thing is helping people to become debt-free but they also run budgeting workshops etc. All free of charge.
I think the other posted are right. Keep providing food and clothes for the kids (if you are able) and don't give any more money.
Is your sister getting a job realistic? Sounds like she really needs to, or he does, or they both do.
The best thing for them to do would be for one of them to find a steady job- even if it is part-time or NMW. Our benefit system isn't set up to work around people who do a bit of work here and there- and it won't be helping them budget if they're stopping and starting JSA claims every other month or whatevs.
If your sister's partner, father of the children, isn't working, tell your sister to turn over the childcare to him and to go find a paying job herself.
I actually imagine he'll freak out at the idea and fight it. And yet he can't be bothered to show up for job interviews where people went out of their way for him...
Maybe that will be the wake up call she needs that she's had children with a waste of space and that she hasn't been very responsible about any of it either.
Stop helping her with money. Don't give her any more money. Help with planning, budgeting, finding work, etc yes. Money, no. You're just helping them stay how they are.
Get them both to fill one of these in, at least they should see where they are wasting money and it should inspire at least one of them to manage their finances in a more adult way.
They won't ever change whilst you and the wider family and friends are making it easy for them, giving them money whenever they ask, which is all the time.
How come the jobcentre aren't on his back about applying for jobs, accepting interviews etc? I only know 2 people who are unemployed, hundreds of miles from each other so different areas, but both have to visit certain offices almost daily and be seen to be applying for any and every job that could be remotely suitable for them.
Everyone that is giving your sister money is enabling her and her partner to continue just as they are.
Buying things for them or giving money might help in the short-term but isn't as 'kind' as it seems as it has perpetuated this situation.
They need to earn their lifestyle and you certainly shouldn't feel that you ought to give them anything.
You don't want the kids to be without essentials, but equally this is doing them no favours in the long run. They are learning that you can get by without working which will probably affect their aspirations.
I suggest she goes back to work and children's father cares for children. In time she may get the opportunity to get promoted to a better paid management role.
Get them to do an entitledto calculation to show how much working tax credit they'd receive if one or both of them worked.
They might be worried about losing benefit if they work but the calculator will show any inwork housing benefit/Chb/CTC/WTC/ctb they're entitled to.
Do the calculation for yourself to show them. It auto fills the benefit rates so you don't need to know them.
I too would recommend CAP (Christians Against Poverty) who do an excellent budgeting course - ideally they should both go.
This is probably time for tough love though I am sure it's hard when it's family.
What do you think the money is actually being spent on?
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