No. of Recommendations: 3
Hi,
I'm a regular on the consumer debt board because I'm currently revitalizing my finances through debt repayment.
This may not be the appropriate board for this question but it seemed to be the best place.
I need help and advice on a serious matter. I'm 26 years old and have been financially independent of parents since age 18. I'm extremely worried about my mother's retirement situation. She will be 57 this year and I am afraid she has very little savings for retirement. Here is a brief synopsis of her financial history:

1. Until about 1990, she was married to my father and was a stay-at-home mom. She never attended college.
2. Parents divorce, mom quickly finds a minimum-wage job to support me and sister.
3. Mom works at same company for about 12 years, getting several promotions and raises. She has $XXXX saved in a 401K. At some point during this time, she gets into trouble with credit cards and writing hot checks. She is under constant financial pressure due to overspending and poor understanding of credit and savings.
4. In 2002, she suddenly quits her job for bogus reason (she was passed over for promotion and was angry one day and just resigned). She is not eligible for unemployment. She cashes out 401K and refuses to find employment for about six months. She waits until her cash runs out to find a new job.
5. In 2003, she gets low-wage job without benefits at a famous big-box store. She refuses to try to find a job using her previous experience, because she is just too bitter about the previous debacle at old job.
6. She gets a promotion and raise or two at current job, attains health and dental benefits, and has some type of retirement savings plan. At some point in the last couple of years, her car, with less than a year of payments left, is repossessed, making it difficult to get to work.

One extremely difficult aspect of my problem is that she adamantly refuses to discuss her situation with me. She takes it as a personal insult that I would dare to try and help her. So, I don't have all the facts on the situation.
However, I am pretty sure her credit is very damaged due to defaulting on credit cards, being arrested for hot checks, having a car repossessed, and cashing out the 401K. She has only five year's worth of retirement savings at a low income level (AT BEST, I don't even know if she is actually saving). No stocks, no CDs, no Roth, or any other savings. She still lives paycheck to paycheck and frequently runs out of money even to pay for the most basic needs. For example, last summer I discovered that she had been living without electricity for several MONTHS because she couldn't pay the bill (we live in central Texas where high temperatures become life-threatening). She didn't ask for help paying it; I went round her house one day and found her in the dark. She is likely in poor health, but she doesn't avail herself of her medical benefits to get even regular medical or dental checkups. She says she can't afford even the co-pay and doesn't have a car to get to the appointments (she lives in a suburban area with no public transit). She has rented the same house for 15 years.

My biggest concern is that when she becomes unable to work, I will have to support her. Since she is so behind in saving, I suspect that she will only stop working when she is not healthy enough to continue, resulting in higher healthcare costs as well. I know she will probably get a small amount from Social Security, but not enough to pay her way. I have one sister who has practically disowned my mom because she's so irresponsible and she has refused to help. So I feel that I'm on my own with this problem.

My left brain tells me that this is HER PROBLEM. A lifetime of irresponsible choices has resulted in her predicament. I'm not responsible for her bad planning any more than she is responsible for my credit card debt. However, she is my mother, who gave me life and raised me up. I feel that I shouldn't just abandon her to the wolves.

I have considered saving some money specifically for her retirement but I fear that it wouldn't be enough to make a difference at this point in the game. Also, any funds I direct towards her will detract from my personal financial goals (including saving for my own retirement and getting myself ready for marriage and kids of my own).

Any advice you can provide would be well received. I especially need advice on how to frankly discuss the matter with her. I'm giving myself gray hairs over this predicament every day. It's just so frustrating to see someone you love giving up on life.

Again, I apologize if this is the wrong place to ask this question and please redirect me if that is the case.

Thanks so much,

Evelyn
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Evelyn your mom is headed for Social Security and or welfare.

There is very little you can do about it. People who do not want to be helped cannot be protected from themselves--unless you are willing to have her declared incompetent. And that sounds unlikely.

So try not to worry about it. Try to throw her a lifeline once in a while, but she is an adult free to live her own life. There is little you can do about it.

Frankly we hear this all the time. But it still comes down to if you can't get your children to do what they should do, you don't have much hope of getting your parents to do what they should.

All you can do is standby and try to help when the situation presents itself. Otherwise, try not to worry. It is not your problem to worry about.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
If she was married to her husband for more than 10 years, she will qualify for benefits as his ex spouse..which likely will be more than those she has earned herself. (if she does not remarry).

That may help a bit.

You might look into whether she qualifies for food stamps or for Section 8 housing subsidies.

It sounds like a tough nut to crack.

She sounds fiercely independent and not willing to accept help from others, or not in any mental state to do the same. That is not a good situation.

At this point, she is likely to keep on working as long as she can, then wind up on SS disability when she really can't work any more. That will eventually get her on Medicare (after 2 years or something).

t.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
I ask the following question not to be condescending, cute, or curt. I ask it because her behavior pattern reminds me of my experience.

Could your mother be drinking?

If she is, you need to educate yourself on the ways that your efforts to help will only hurt, by prolonging the time and depth it takes for her to reach her bottom, and then be receptive to recovery.

Doug
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
Thanks Paul, Telegraph, and Doug, for your kind responses.

I will certainly look into the ex-spouse benefit, as I'm fairly sure Mom will not get remarried and she was married to my Dad for about 12 years I think.
I hadn't thought of food stamps or Section 8 but she will probably qualify for both and those will help when things get rough.

To Doug: Mom's drinking is another aspect of her life she refuses to discuss and finds insulting if anyone is concerned. However, I've always considered her an alcoholic. She also suffers from depression but has never sought treatment. In her eyes, she's sad and she drinks because her life sucks, not the other way around. And of course, her life sucks because people are mean to her and she has bad luck (not because she makes poor choices).

Posting this was very hard for me because I'm ashamed that I have such negative feelings toward my own mother. We all ought to respect and revere our parents, not be disgusted by them. I feel sad when I think about her life. She is a very intelligent and lovable woman when she chooses to be. I sometimes feel she has just given up on life.

I will try my best not to worry about her future and just keep planning for my own so I don't end up in her place.

Thanks so much for the responses and I hope you all have nice children who don't badmouth you on online bulletin boards ;)
Now, I'm back to work paying off debts!

Sincerely,
Evelyn
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Did your father covered under a retirement/pension plan while they were married? If so, she'd be entitled to a portion of the benefits on his retirement. This assumes she did not sign away her rights to the benefits as part of the divorce decree.

Calvin
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 4
To Doug: Mom's drinking is another aspect of her life she refuses to discuss and finds insulting if anyone is concerned. However, I've always considered her an alcoholic. She also suffers from depression but has never sought treatment. In her eyes, she's sad and she drinks because her life sucks, not the other way around. And of course, her life sucks because people are mean to her and she has bad luck (not because she makes poor choices).

I should have picked up on the drinking -- it didn't occur to me until I read (and rec'd) dougdoogle's post. My father was an alcoholic. He did get sober, but an alcoholic leaves a lot of damage in his/her wake. Some of the best advice in how to deal with your mother while preserving your own sanity might come from an Al-Anon group. There is absolutely nothing you can do while she's still drinking, but removing the alcohol is not going to make her, by magic, into a sensible and sane person.

My heart aches for you but I wish you all the best. Don't try to do everything alone. The boards will help a lot and a congenial Al-Anon group will help a lot too but in a different way.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I will certainly look into the ex-spouse benefit, as I'm fairly sure Mom will not get remarried and she was married to my Dad for about 12 years I think.
I hadn't thought of food stamps or Section 8 but she will probably qualify for both and those will help when things get rough.


Section 8 can have a very long waiting list. She should apply now.

Debra
Print the post Back To Top
Advertisement