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« Money Commandment #8 | Main | Help a Reader: Invest or Pay Off Debt »

May 04, 2011


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I got cut off when I was younger also, and it brought us as a family a lot closer eventually!

Increasingly, adult children are being called on to help their parents financially.

We have been called on to assist my in-laws, and it has been very challenging to our family. We have not given anything of yet, and we are still trying to determine what the expectations are for assistance (I should point out that they are currently leaving with another child, so it's not like they are on the streeets). The communication has been lacking, and that is very frustrating. My questions are - How should we priortize assistance to them within our goals? We are still working on a short term safety net (3-6 months liquidity) and still do not fully fund our retirement plans, let alone funding any education plans for our children. I have been looking at the Ramsey's 7 baby steps as a frame work. At what point in those steps, if any, do you think I have an obligation to assist?

Tato --

That's a tough question -- and will need some more details to give you a good answer. If you want a lot of feedback, I suggest you write up the situation with more details, then send to me as a "help a reader" question. You can find specifics here:

FMF - I hadn't considered submitting this as a help a reader question. I believe parts of this issue has come up in some previous posts, but I would like to hear peoples views.


Thanks for this post, FMF. It really shows how money issues are usually emotional ones at their core.

For my mom, giving gifts definitely equals love. We repeatedly ask her not to give us (my husband, myself, my children) expensive gifts and she says, "Why do you always tell me not to give you gifts when it brings me JOY?" Unfortunately, too often they are things we don't want or need. We insist she return gifts as often as possible, but sometimes we just have to accept them because her feelings get so hurt. I have siblings with children, and she does the same with them though I don't think they refuse gifts the way we do.

The worst part is that in recent years, she has had to borrow several thousand dollars from us at tax time. She pays it back eventually, but if she weren't spending so much on gifts, I think she would have the money to pay her taxes. (I finally got smart last year and talked her into letting me do the paperwork to adjust her withholding. She was mad at me when she initially saw the decrease in her net income each month, but I think she was glad at tax time when she saw that she was getting a refund this year.)

When my dad died, income from a small trust passed from him to me and my sister. (The terms of the trust set up 60 years ago governed the inheritance). Mom had an old, slow internet connection that kept her from doing many of the things she liked to do online, and she couldn't see a way to swing the increased charges for a better connection. I talked it over with my husband and we decided to use money from the trust to pay for a better internet connection for her. She protested, but we explained that this was money from Dad to start with, and we felt that he would approve of us using it to provide something she enjoys. In this case, this was a positive way to use money to show love - both from Dad, and from us.

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