Well, in a perfect world it would have been - wouldn't it?
A little background:
A lot has happened in the last couple of years. My mother got a live in boyfriend. My brother went through a NASTY divorce and landed on my mom's couch. These both are important points to know.
(Fast forward to now and my brother signed the lease on an apartment LAST WEEK! My mom doesn't know this yet. YAY for him!)
Before the BF moved in, I had things under control for my mother. All bills were paid, she had $1400 in savings for emergencies, plus a little extra to spend. That's what she seems to do best - SPEND. It's all gluttonous spending too. Clearance deals where she works. Gifts for everyone under the sun because "it was a good deal!"
One thing I learned a long time ago is that the concept of money completely escapes my mother. She will spend money on whatever she wants and ignore everything else. If it's not FUN, she's not interested. That's why this struck a nerve for me last week:
Yup. I can relate. I'm certainly no fun when it comes to finances.
So the BF moved in and that didn't work out financially as expected - does it ever? Then my mom had someone to dote on and buy things for! He didn't ask for anything - not mooching at all - she just WANTED to buy him things. That's how she is. Wasn't it nice she got approved for a store card (after sending the first one to charge off years ago) and could now buy whatever she wanted? I mean... credit is just free money, right??
BF responded by telling my mother she "earned" this, "DESERVED" that, etc. My mom's car (perfectly fine, paid for) developed an exhaust leak. She was quoted $1000 to fix it. We asked her to crawl under the car and take a picture of the exhaust. My DH was going to order the parts for her to get installed by a small repair shop. BF convinced her she DESERVED a "new" car instead - an overpriced, V6 (why??) Ford Taurus. Oh, but it has leather seats and a sunroof! Side note: it's a piece of junk and falling apart - but it should be paid off in March!
I lost it. I had told my mom to run this decision by me before doing anything. She promised she was just going to LOOK. She signed papers instead. I basically told her that her finances were her own problem now if she didn't care about my input.
This worked until my grandfather needed heart surgery and my mom had to go to Tennessee to be with him. With things up in the air, I volunteered to step back in. That's when I learned all her bills were two months behind...
I decided I just couldn't "save" my mom anymore. I've done that before - more than once. Thousands of dollars I'll never see again. Learned my lesson? You bet! My mother feels "entitled" for some reason. Entitled to what, I have no idea. She just can't be bothered by anything financial - or important. Well, things *I* think are important at least. She wants to do what she wants and just have FUN! After all... she *deserves* it.
So if I can't give her money - where does that leave me? With knowledge. That's something I have plenty of to share. So I stepped back in to "fix" the situation - with knowledge only.
Nearly impossible!! It's just a constant battle between what needs to be paid and what my mother would rather spend money on. I can't physically stop her from doing so. So I sat back and did the best I could to get bills paid, watching things spiral rapidly downward. I knew as we approached winter, things were going to get UGLY. I just couldn't convince her of this. My pleas fell on deaf ears.
Then Hurricane Irene hit.
This picture was taken the following morning. See the water line on J.C.Penney? It's about 5 feet up the building. It had subsided quite a bit by the time this picture was taken. It's still hard for me to look at pictures - hubby and I were shopping in this plaza the WEEK prior to Irene.
My mom works in this plaza and has for many many years. While most stores are (THANKFULLY) open again, two remain closed. Yes, she works at one of those. She was fortunate enough to receive emergency pay for a few weeks, then get placed on a Leave of Absence. Unfortunately, the store is scheduled to reopen a month after the LOA expires.
So this is life as we know it now - or rather, as SHE knows it now. I am a bit displaced from things, but it still affects me greatly. I'm the one that gets the phone calls nearly every day. I'm the one that has to deal with the requests to pay for this, buy that...
Just getting my mother to file her unemployment claim in a timely manner has proved to be a nightmare. She can't be bothered!! I was SHOCKED that she filed it this past Sunday - and I hadn't said a word to her. She can't comprehend that the sooner you file - the sooner you get the money.
I've also had to deal with "Oh, I'm going on a retreat in a month and I'll need money for that. But don't worry, it's in a month so there's time!" Uh... No money now means no money in a month means NO MONEY for things like this. Yet somehow she makes it happen. She got a check from her FSA and she used that money for the trip. I only offended her and got a sigh of disgust when I asked how the hospital bill was going to get paid - you know, the one the money was FOR? That doesn't fit in her plan.
And the guilt I have over all this? Oh boy... let's not go there. I just can't set myself back any further financially - with nearly $20K in student loans and under water in a mortgage on a place we want to sell. I just can't.
Besides, there are currently two guys in her house that could step up to the plate a little more than they have. I did get my brother to cough up the cash for the property taxes that are due. The BF has been paying more toward things - not happily though. Great team player.
Ah but don't worry about my mother. She's going to retire in a few years! All her friends have convinced her she DESERVES this. It's going to be GREAT! My brother got mad at her one night and said, "Don't you even CARE about your future?!?" She replied, "My future is fine. It's just getting there that's a problem."
An emergency fund is great to have
Well, in a perfect world it would have been - wouldn't it?