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Financially irresponsible teen

(6 Posts)
BottleOfRum Wed 15-Dec-10 13:20:14

Bit of background... My mum died of cancer three years back when my little sister was just 15, and was the only sibling left living at home. After mum's death, it became apparent that mum had been drinking very heavily for a long time, and my little sister had never told us older siblings this, as she didn't want us to worry. She bore the brunt of mum's anger towards a lot of things, and it must have been horrible for her to live in that environment for a long time. Whilst I think my mother was a wonderful parent to me, I can only describe some of the things she said to my sister as emotionally abuseive, and something no child should have had to face alone.

My sister moved in with my dad after mum's death (parents separated but local and amicable), and her attitude to money since then has been beyond awful. After passing her driving test and being bought an old car by dad, she run up unpaid parking fines of over £1,000 in a year. Dad couldn't pay them, so myself and DH did.

Sister went to uni in september and dropped out after a month, but decided to stay living in that city (200miles from home), and has done a number of temping jobs. I have had to pay her rent twice (£300 each time - I am her guarantor) and have also bailed her out financially a number of other times.

If written down, the money I have handed to her over the last year is almost £3,000. Whilst myself and DH can (just) afford this, it is at a cost to us (we did not holiday this year). DH wants us to stop bailing her out, and wants her to experience 'tough love'. I can't help but feel she had a long time of 'tough love' when she was living at home with mum and dealing with mum's alcoholism on her own, and I suppose my financial attitude to her since then has been an attempt to apologise for the fact that us older siblings were so unaware of everything she had to deal with on her own.

Can I ask how parents of teenagers would themselves deal with this situation please? Any advice is much appreciated.

mumblechum Wed 15-Dec-10 14:35:11

TBH I don't think you're doing her any favours long term by allowing her to avoid learning how to manage her money.

I'd be inclined to sit down with her and work out a spreadsheet of her income, essential outgoings, "nice to have" outgoings and an element of savings. In other words, teach her how to budget. For a few months, review how it's going (esp. the savings part) and if she gets the hang of it, leave her to it.

How long are you guaranteeing her rent for? I don't blame your dh for being concerned about that aspect.

Her experience with your mum does not, imo, excuse her from learning how to manage her own money. She's an adult now and has to learn before she gets into a really big mess.

mathanxiety Wed 15-Dec-10 14:47:18

The kind and smart thing to do might be to take her home with you. She has effectively been parentless for a good while, ever since your mum got sick with cancer and for however long the drinking had been going on.

I think your sis sounds a little lost, tbh, certainly floundering and in need of a year or two of being looked after, and maybe counselling to help to get over her experience of living with your mum under what must have been very difficult circumstances. Maybe Al-Anon or Alateen could help her? Someone's drinking has had a bad effect on her so she fits the bill for them.

She may be depressed or stressed out -- she doesn't sound as if she is coping well at all with independence and didn't cope well with living with her mum either (not telling anyone about her drinking for fear of worrying you all is very, very sad -- she was just a young teen at the time.)

BottleOfRum Wed 15-Dec-10 15:01:41

Math - she has a bedroom in my home, and one in my dad's too. She is adament she wants to stay where she is - she wants to keep the 'university' lifestyle that she has, and has made a number of friends there. All her friends from here have also gone to univeristy, and I think that at her age, good friendships are so important, and whilst she is always welcome in our home, she chooses to stay where she is because, I imagine, it is more 'fun'.

Mumble I have tried to mention, gently, about how to manage money. She continues to blow her entire pay on handbags, shoes and socialising, and never have any money left for food or travel, so I constantly bail her out. I am guaranteeing her rent until July. If she wants to continue to live where she is next year, I cannot see any way apart from to guarantee her rent for the year again - I do not wish to take her away from somewhere she is so happy.

I genuinely can't bring myself to stop bailing her out, but DH is, understandably, concerned about for how long/how much we can keep on doing this.

mathanxiety Wed 15-Dec-10 15:32:10

It probably is more fun, but she is still very young and seems a bit depressed, adrift and immature -- being adamant about wanting to stay where she is while still being unable to pay the rent may well demand a showdown. Has she had any counselling about her life with your mum?

booyhohoho Wed 15-Dec-10 15:37:38

well if she is adamant she wants to live independantly then she must actually live independantly. she is 18 now? she must now take teh responsibility that comes with her choice to live away from her home. make it clear that tehre is always a place at your home for her but that you will no longer be financially responsible for her and she will have to manage her money better in order to avoid rental arrears. can you take your name off as guarantor?

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