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So worried about my mum - pls help, v long, sorry...(2 Posts)
I have also posted this in mental health as I think there's a link to that as well...
Basically, my mum is 49, lives with my step-sister (who is 17). Mum has had a pretty difficult time of things - she married my dad at 19 (had me and my brother, now 29 and 27). Dad died of cancer when we were 7 and 4, leaving her on her own at 26yo. She then remarried my stepdad 4 yrs later (and had my step-sister) and they divorced after about 12 years. She is engaged now but her fiancé doesn't live with her - mum is v reluctant to let him do this as she doesn't want him to have any claim on her house if things go wrong.
Anyway, the reason I'm worried about her is money. When she was young, my grandparents were very well-off but also very frugal which made her quite frustrated as she knew they had money and lived comfortably but there were no luxuries at home for her. My dad was about 10 yrs older than her and in a very well paid job and owned his own house. She therefore never worked and always had lots of money while we were young. Then when he died she got a big payout (and bought a new bigger house with it) plus a very generous annuity which she receives monthly despite the fact she's remarried etc.
When she was married to my step-dad she had this capital in the house plus her annuity plus his wage so again they were well off but unfortunately at this stage she started to spend... a lot. New cars, expensive holidays etc. As I was a child I had no idea what was going on but by the time they split up, she had used up all of the equity in the house via re-mortgaging to pay the mounting debts and was in dire straits.
My brother and I took her to a financial adviser who suggested down-sizing the house and sorted out a loan to pay off credit cards etc but she just took the loan and spent that money too. Over the years she's got worse and worse with the house falling into disrepair and her now being scared to pick up her home phone or answer the door to strangers as it's often people chasing money for late payments etc. She has no heating/hot water etc as the companies will not let her have a direct debit and she hasn't got the money to top the gas up at the moment. The house is getting more and more cluttered and dirty - the shower and one toilet doesn't work and there are holes in floorboards and mice in the garage and loft.
The reason I've put this in mental health is that despite this, she still goes on cruise holidays regularly, hair appointments every week, meals out, new clothes etc. She's quite good-looking for her age and has started trying to get involved in modelling (so is paying agencies hundreds of pounds for them to photograph her and put her on their probably non-existent books). My nanny died recently and this has caused grandad to change the habit of a lifetime and spend a LOT of money, and I think this isn't helping mum as she sees him doing it and wants to be the same - I think she doesn't realise that grandad actually has the money rather than using loans etc. However, he's changed his will as he feels that she's spending loads of money with the intention of paying it back from his estate when he passes away (she's an only child). In the meantime, Mum is having to withdraw all her wages on the day they go into her bank as otherwise they get taken to cover late fees and bounced direct debits etc. Basically she thinks that everyone sees her as this posh, well-off woman and wants to keep it that way.
My step-sister is very lazy and doesn't help around the house and only pays a tiny amount to my mum even though she works full-time. I've spoken to her and managed to get her to pay more each month but I'm so worried about mum. We have tried to speak to her about it before but she got really upset about the fact that we'd worked out she had money issues, not about the money itself. She wouldn't tell us anything and just kept going on and on about the fact that she felt that we'd been spying on her - she wouldn't accept the arguments that we could see what was happening to the house and that we'd been chased for money etc when we'd been there as debt collectors etc had assumed that we lived there and were responsible for her money too.
Last year she admitted to owing £11k but it then emerged that this 11k was what she owed immediately, i.e. how much over her credit limit she was on all her cards and loans etc plus mortgage arrears. She works 2 jobs (plus gets the annuity) so cannot physically earn any more but it just seems that she's burying her head in the sand and cannot/will not face up to what's happening. Goodness knows what she earns now. Her fiancé earns an absolute pittance and also expects her to fund the same lavish lifestyle for him and got really angry when we tried to help her cut back as it meant he'd lose out on meals/holidays etc. She had to borrow money to get to my brother's wedding even though she'd been on 3 holidays already that year. It's just unbelievable what's happening - she won't let anyone help and it's stressing me out big-time.
To sum things up, I think that the thing that's worrying me the most is the fact that while it's getting worse she's not only ignoring it more and more but she's convinced she's somehow entitled to this lavish lifestyle and is spending more and more money on it, whilst the house is literally falling down under her feet. I just don't get how she can focus so much on her looks and lifestyle whilst she has no hot water and heating or food in the house?!
She always said that she was convinced that her mum (my nanny who has recently died) had some kind of narcissistic disorder where she thought the world revolved around her and her looks etc (nanny was also v pretty). But this is totally wrong, my nanny was the kindest woman ever and was so house-proud, she just happened to be pretty but didn't really have to put much effort into it whereas mum spends so much time trying to look as good as possible that it's damaging everything else around her and she just won't stop!!
I think that mum has been v damaged by things like the death of my dad and it seems to me that she was only put into the position of having to be 100% responsible for earning and managing money when splitting up with my stepdad (when she was late 30s) so maybe she's just used to being looked after or just entitled to spend money that happens to be there rather than having to cut back when the money genuinely isn't there. Or maybe she feels that she is entitled to live a more lavish lifestyle after the hardships she's experienced, even though she cannot afford it. I don't know...
Is there ANYTHING I can do?!
If your Mum doesn't want to think about the problem, you're going to struggle to get her any help. If she accepted there was a problem and simply struggling with debt and overspending there's a lot you could do and agencies you could point her towards like CAB or one of the other debt advisory services.
It is highly likely that, if she's never had to think about budgets or bank statements in her life, she doesn't know how to exercise self-restraint. If her ideas of self-worth are wrapped up in keeping up appearances then she'll struggle to cut her cloth and see offers of help as a personal attack.
If you genuinely think that she has mental health issues and that the spending is indicative of some kind of manic epsiode triggered by depression or grief then I would suggest you work as a team with the fiance and see if you can get her GP to visit her at home and make a mental health assessment.
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