My daughter and her boyfriend are draining my pension
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Sometimes, all you need is a different perspective. So this week, our columnists exchanged areas of expertise. In this edition, care and nutrition columnist Doyin Richards addresses your personal financial questions.
dear push dirt,
My daughter has been dating the same guy for three years and now has a two year old in two months. All that time he’s been living here and he’s only had a job twice with the same company, which he got fired from. He has not worked since October but told me he is looking for work. You go to work two days a week and don’t pay any rent. They pay for their own food and car insurance. My daughter doesn’t make much money. She is a hostess in a restaurant, but I am tired of supporting two adults and a child next to me. I forgot to mention that I am on my pension. How do I get out of this?
– Tired of everything
Dear tired of everything,
The best way out of this situation is to take a strong dose of tough love. I’m not saying you need to cut off your daughter and her partner immediately, but they should be notified immediately.
You must give them three months’ notice to find stable work and a place to live (or start paying you rent) or they will need to move. Yes, I know this is hard – but they are adults, not children, and you shouldn’t enable them to be free-porters. The other alternative is for them to drain your pension while you deal with a boatload of resentment, which I know you don’t want.
You may feel guilty for being cruel, but I promise you’re doing them a favor in the long run. Don’t give up on this decision, no matter how bad you feel. Three months is a generous amount of time to start getting the ball rolling.
Pay Dirt is Slate’s financial advice column. I have a question? Send it to Lillian, Athena and Elizabeth here. (It’s anonymous!)
dear push dirt,
My 80-year-old mother met a man five years ago who immediately moved in with her. He has no money and few assets. His adult children despise him and stick to him only because he showers them with favors and gifts. Last week, he gave his car to his son, and burdened my mother by making her drive around. Her love for him is clearly eroding, but she doesn’t want to be alone. How can I convince her to demand that he consider her actual needs, rather than continue his futile quest to “buy” the love of his children?
Love can’t be bought
Dear can’t buy love,
This is confusing to me. You said this man has no money or assets, yet he showers his adult children with gifts? Where does the money come from? credit cards? loans? Honestly, it doesn’t really matter because the end result is the same: your mom is unhappy.
I totally understand why the older woman doesn’t want to live alone, but does that mean she should choose to live in bad company? If his adult children hate him, there must be a good reason for that – not to mention, you can see that you can tell how upset she is about the situation. The common denominator in this equation is he, and I wonder if he has irremediable personality flaws.
In terms of defending her needs, it’s pretty simple. You should tell the guy what you want, and if he doesn’t go along with it, then the relationship has to end. Your role in this is to make sure that you are there to help her if she decides to end things with him. Can she live with you? Would you consider placing her in an assisted living community where she will be around other peers? These are the things you need to think about. And you have to make it clear to her, that even without him around she will be with you – so she will never really be alone.
Regardless, don’t allow your mother to live out the remaining years of her life in an obviously unhappy situation simply because she fears the alternative.
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dear push dirt,
How do you set up a loose framework for budgeting when the whole thing can be confusing? Every time I try to start I just get stuck and so many things don’t fit into the categories correctly or fit into more than one I give up. Or I panic seeing the amount of money going towards something (which is technically a good amount, I have no debt and I have a well-paying job). I feel like I should do more but I can’t without freaking myself out. How does one budget?
Panic in the bank application
The first thing to do is to resist this panic. Balancing can be difficult, but this is not a life or death ordeal. You will get through this with some deep breaths and logical thinking.
The next step is to define your “key stuff”. That could be rent/mortgage, healthcare, vacations, etc. I have no idea what you are, but I know you have, because we all do. These are the parts of your life where you will put a large portion of your money and resources into no matter what happens. Budgeting for your main things first is essential because you know that you will have the required amount of money each month to handle them.
From there, list all of your expenses, activities, etc., and put them into specific categories that you can insert in a spreadsheet or in a notebook by your bedside table. I know that’s easier said than done but don’t worry about something that doesn’t quite fit into a certain category, because like I said earlier – nothing terrible will really happen if you put your Netflix subscription in the entertainment category rather than the cable/utilities category.
If you notice that you are spending too much money in one area, or have too little money in another, it will help you reconsider what is really important. You may decide to cut back on some luxuries each month or eliminate them altogether. All in all, budgeting can be a really rewarding and rewarding experience if you remove dread from the equation.
dear push dirt,
My son and his fiancee recently announced they were eloping. It surprised everyone in the family as they had been planning the wedding for a while. They said they just wanted to get it done over and over again. The problem is, they still expect to get the wedding gifts! They’ve created a website for people to “donate” a down payment on their new home.
My daughters think it’s tacky and tasteless. They just want to give a nominal amount and send them a card. My father set aside several thousand dollars to cover the rehearsal dinner and other wedding costs. They did this for all of their descendants. They were very hurt by my son’s actions and told me he was not getting money.
I wish I could convince my son to remove the site and have his grandparents make a nice dinner for him and his wife. It will go a long way in calming down the fuss. I don’t know how to handle the situation though. It pains me that I haven’t been able to see my son get married, but I’m happy for him and his wife. If they had a virtual wedding, the pandemic has made that familiar enough for most of our family. Someone will say something to my son. Should I and what?
– No wedding
dear no wedding,
I don’t know all the reasons behind the decision made by your son and fiancée, but I am also inclined to agree that it is very difficult to ask for gifts under the circumstances. Obviously, there are some deeply distressing feelings that your family needs to address quickly.
You have to do everything you can to get the family into a room (or Zoom call) and hash this out like adults instead of playing the ‘phone game’ where words can be misunderstood. Maybe there is something missing from this equation that I’m not aware of that contributed to the escape. If you decide at the meeting that your son’s reasons for doing so are weak and selfish (or if your son refuses the meeting outright), then you and your parents have every right not to give them a dime. However, if you are able to talk about it, I feel like many of the difficult feelings you are experiencing right now will dissipate. Your son and his wife were within their rights to escape. All you can do is express how you feel about it and ask if there is a different way for family members to celebrate – I think your idea of an intimate family dinner can go a long way.
However, I wouldn’t spend a lot of mental energy worrying about the location of the gifts. As tasteless as it sounds, they have the right to go along with it and promote it if they want to. The most important thing here is to put all of your feelings on the table, because they may have no idea how hurt everyone is by their actions. Hopefully they will show some remorse and everyone will be able to move on accordingly.
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My father turned away from me when I was ten years old, because I did not treat his mistress the way he wanted. I wanted my mom and dad together, and she was clearly the reason I didn’t have that anymore. My mom had to go to court for child support. My father and his new wife immediately started having children and my father didn’t think he owed what the state had told him to do because of it. I’m now 22 and hadn’t heard from him until this year – and his request was ridiculous.