General Question

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

Parents are having money issues, how do I keep things calm around the house?

Asked by nailpolishfanatic (6607points) December 7th, 2012

My mum just walked in and announced to my step father and I that the bank had asked for her credit card. They will keep it till she finishes paying the rest of the bill, unfortunately this past year my step father’s been out of the labour business because he couldn’t find a job so we’ve been living on my mother’s income. I on the other hand have a part time job where I get a decent amount of payment every month compared to if I only sat at home and did nothing. Sometimes I help my mum with the bills like insurance and gas.

Now a few minutes ago she just announced to me that she now has no visa card and all her salary’s gone into paying the bill and there’s still a little bit more remaining. I’m very concerned of how we will survive till January and how we will purchase Christmas presents and stuff (having no presents doesn’t bother me though because I’m not much of a fan of Christmas anyway). I have some money right now in my savings account and I’m planning on keeping it sparingly till around Christmas so we can at least be able to buy Christmas foods and such. I’m guessing my mum could get a overdraft at her bank but if not then I will definitely help her out. There goes Christmas shopping for me!

I’m not desperate of anything, it’s just a matter of living in such a difficult world whereby everyone’s revolved around money and when I feel like I have no money, I always end up feeling insecure. What are some great tips you could share with me to make me calm my nerves a bit more down and a great way of saving money if you have any, advice is always greatly appreciated :)

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27 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Can your step-father find something, even part-time,to bring in a little cash? There are always jobs, even though they may not be very desirable. You’re willing to work part-time; why can’t he?

Where I live, an able-bodied and willing man can do all kinds of things…I have a dozen projects at my house if such a guy were available. Washing windows, some heavy cleaning behind furniture and on top of large pieces of furniture, cutting limbs in the woods, clearing trails, cleaning my garage.

There is also the issue of helping the elderly…purchasing food, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, driving people to doctor’s appointments, paying bills, writing checks.. Lots of opportunities,

I would continue to be frugal and not dip into your savings if possible. Christmas gifts are overrated, anyway and only feed into the unnecessary consumerism that rages around us.

How old are you? Still at school?

Chin up.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I tend to worry about money more than my husband, but it always seems to work out.

Firstly, I don’t believe in credit card debt, so I’d pay that off or more than minimum even if I had to sacrifice Christmas presents.

Secondly, could she take from her 401k or savings to pay some things? The bank may consider some kind of consolidation loan to help out.

Lastly, there is no point to savings if you can’t be happy or eat, so maybe instead of presents, pay a few more bills and you’ll all feel better.

Try to remind mom that Christmas is supposed to be about love and joy and family, so try to make things good enough that she can relax. I’m sure she feels very responsible since your father is unable to work, it’s probably very stressful for her, bless her heart.

Lastly, is there a family member who would help with money instead of presents? Just an idea.

KNOWITALL's avatar

There’s also ebay if you have some nicer things to sell, a lot of people are liquidating collectibles and jewelry, even selling extra cars.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

@gailcalled Sorry, stupid me forgot to mention that I was in College, I’m 18 years old. Been working at this job of mine for a year as a cashier, it can get a little boring at times but it’s better than nothing and fits quite well with my school schedule.
I just talked to mum she says that she has just a smaller amount to pay off otherwise she will be getting her January salary on the 20th.
I was talking to her about me helping out with the bills like her insurance bills she denied and told me to just keep my money and she will talk to me if she necessary needs it. I will try and keep her relaxed and happy :D I’m the only child so it’s part of my job hahah

Judi's avatar

It sounds like the bank did your mom a favor if she was living off the credit card. There are a lot of ways to cut back and she should never ask for that credit card back.
If you are living in their house then it looks like you have a responsibility to step up and share some of the expenses. What country are you in? Are you in school? Can YOU find a full time job?
Your story sounds like the beginnings of a potential disaster, but it doesn’t have to be. Many people in this situation find less expensive living arrangements and make drastic changes to their lifestyle. They learn the difference between wants and needs and learn to eliminate wants for a while.
The ones who go over the disaster cliff are the ones who are to proud to adjust their lifestyle or wait until it’s to late. You still have two people in the family with income. You are miles ahead of many who have been foreclosed on and are homeless. Making the adjustments now can save a lot of heart ache in the future.

JLeslie's avatar

How old are you?

Definitely do not spend money on Christmas. Christmas food does not have to cost more than any other night. Going into debt for Christmas is ridiculous in my mind. If you are religious go to mass, partcipate in church activites, if your community has events like parades go out and see it. Busy yourself with free Christmas activities if you are concerned about not feeling and being a part of the season. Another idea is to volunteer. Volunteer make Christmas better for those in hospitals or helping serve food to the poor or giving gifts to children.

Worrying about money is one of the worst worries, your family should do their best to put themselves deeper in a financial hole. Overdrafting an account is a horrible idea, because likely you incure fees and this is how the poor get poorer.

Can you talk to your parents about your worries? Maybe they have a plan and can make you feel better. I think it is great if you can help out temporarily. Come together as a family to get through this hard time.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

@KNOWITALL I will definitely be checking out the Ebay thing. Though I don’t own many clothes but I’m pretty sure there is something in my closet that could be gotten rid of.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

@Judi No we weren’t living on the credit card, it was just there in case. It’s mostly used when we travel like when we traveled to Africa and Germany over the summer. She rarely uses it and we live on mum’s income. My step-father though does receive unemployment fees, they aren’t too high but they help with paying rent. Also I do help around the house, I do help her out with gas and groceries, oh and I’m 18 :D still in college doing my business/economics studies.
Oh and I’m in Iceland.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

@JLeslie I’m 18, and I just talked to mum, she says she has everything under control. I told her that if she needed gas money or help with anything she could easily talk to me because I’m willing to help as I’ve always done. And thanks for the tips about volunteering and such, I will definitely look into it.

Judi's avatar

The travel is one off those, “wants” that need to be eliminated. If your step father wasn’t working then the travel should have been put off until you could afford it, not charged.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

@Judi At the time (beginning of the year) his rates were high than today so that’s the reason we decided to go for it.

JLeslie's avatar

Traveled to Africa and Germany and now the family is broke? I don’t want to assume anything, but that is sounding like your parents are not saving for a “rainy” day. Don’t make that mistake yourself as you are becoming an adult. Have savings for difficult times.

Shippy's avatar

I’m not sure how it works in your country, but logically she could go to small claims court, specifying her income. Then an amount that is viable will be decided as a pay back amount.

Far more realistic, as I am sure the government does not want to encourage people relying on grants? or hand outs.

Are you out of school? If so offering to pay a regular amount, each month I am sure will alleviate some of the stress. Plus take some stress of you too in the long run.

More and more people are relying on home incomes as well as or in place of jobs. Although stressful in the beginning, it can in fact bring a whole new dimension to ones life. I started doing massage for example. I have fallen in love with it. I also do graphic design and web page design. I am starting a new business of photo restoration, whereby I restore old family photo’s. Just giving you some ideas.

Christmas is about food and family. The other stuff is all crap. I think, true values are love, and knowing we have people who care about us. That is better than Christmas presents.

I would strongly avoid any loans, or more debt. I know some people who live day by day. Meaning they have jars on the shelf, one for water and lights, one for rent so on. And place money into each, each day.

If your mom refuses help , just go ahead anyway. Parents are proud that way, and don’t want to burden their kids.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

@JLeslie it really isn’t a matter of being ‘broke’ it’s just a sudden bump I guess. The African trip had been planned the past 5 years. We had all been saving up and since we’re from there it’s been too long since we were last home so the ‘being broke’ incidence isn’t really because of our trip…

gailcalled's avatar

Your language sounds as though you are not from the US. Maybe the trip to Africa (exactly where?) is not such a major production if you are, say, flying from London to Algiers or Egypt.

Judi's avatar

@nailpolishfanatic , You just said that the credit card debt was from the travel. This is the kind of denial that gets people in trouble. The debt is there because you were living beyond your means. I’m not saying it to be mean. I have been there too, and I got in a world of hurt by putting blinders on. It wasn’t until I got realistic, gave myself a mental spanking for being irresponsible and vowed to change my ways that I was able to overcome my problems and thrive. (I am really talking to your mom here. It’s her debt and I know that you just found out about it.)

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled She said she lives in Iceland.

@nailpolishfanatic I understand wanting to see family and go home. I am assuming Germany was just a pleasure trip. My point is I don’t spend money if I am going to be left with less than 6 months worth of money that I can live on if I lose my job. I didn’t have that much when I was very very young of course, but your parents should have a cushion for bad times, for bumps. They are living check to check, or not even check to check, sounds like maybe they allow themselves to get into debt.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

@Judi Yeah I’m totally getting that feeling from mum, you know it really isn’t a burden for me because I’ve grown as an only child, I used to live in the typical ‘African’ village – Zambian to be exact. I’ve grown into a mature independent young lady and I can definitely take care of myself. Growing up alone has made me mature early compared to my age mates and that’s particularly one of the reasons why I know how everything’s processing around me. I always think of other around me… which again could be the reason to my always being worried.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

@JLeslie German was actually our way down there because we had to connect flights and the flight we flew with didn’t fly to the exact same airport that we were flying from to Zambia. I wouldn’t call it a pleasure trip… but it was in some way wasn’t it.

JLeslie's avatar

@nailpolishfanatic I see. I don’t want to put you on the defensive, obviously I don’t know your family’s full financial situation. I am only suggesting learn from this time. Be analytical about how you want your finances to be as you grow into adulthood. Do nt just handle money as your parents do. If your family doesn’t have much money to begin with, I can understand saving for many years to go back and see your home country and family, and still being very tight on money, but choosing to do it anyway. But, if your family is basically middle class and spends money on unnecessary things often, then it is time to rethink that. I don’t know which is your case, I am not assuming anything. People I know who tend to save for a particular expenditure seem to rarely have money in the bank. It’s a generalization though that is not always true.

burntbonez's avatar

Was this a visit to the ancestral home? Or at least where you were born?

Are you saying that your step father’s unemployment was higher in the summer when you traveled, but got cut back?

Honestly, I don’t know what you can do to help your parents, beside chipping in with your money. They need to learn money management on their own. The mistakes of the past are unrecoverable now. You have to look forward. They have to cut spending to the minimum. Or less. Maybe move into a cheaper apartment. Get rid of the car, if you have one. Cut back on TV. Save on energy.

You are at college? Or do you live at home?

Cut expenses.
Raise income.

Your step-father needs to get an income if possible. Is there anything he can do without jeopardizng his unemployment benefits? Or does he have to find a job making more than the benefits in order to make it worth having the job?

Cutting expenses is your best bet. Not just Christmas. But find a cheaper apartment. Cut, cut cut to the absolute minimum.

Shippy's avatar

@nailpolishfanatic I thought I would just add that, your question did ask how to keep things calm. I think a good positive attitude and a focus on a nice Christmas spent with the most important things. The people you love.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

@burntbonez Yes, I was born there. I was talking about his unemployment wages not the unemployment itself confused. I’m at college buy live at home.

@Shippy Thank you, will definitely keep that in mind.

burntbonez's avatar

@nailpolishfanatic In the US, we have unemployment insurance, which pays people a benefit (not a wage) when they are out of work, if they are out of work for an acceptable reason. I don’t know how it works in Iceland. But here, if you take a job, no matter what the wage, you lose your unemployment benefits. So you would never want to go to work for less than your unemployment benefits. You’d be working more for less. Is it like that in Iceland?

Also, didn’t Iceland just undergo a big bank crisis? Didn’t you decide to pay back all you owed? If that’s the case, they probably cut all the social programs, including unemployment wages. So that probably affected you, but I’m not sure I have the right country.

Also, if there is a financial crisis in Iceland, that may make it a bad time to looking for work.

So if you can’t raise income, all you can do is cut spending. You have to find a way to do that.

CWOTUS's avatar

You may need to start thinking radically different.

It may not be a question of “will we be able to exchange Christmas presents?” as much as “will we have a home by this time next month, and can we afford to pay for electricity, heat and food?”

These questions have to be faced, if a primary earner has been out of work for a year and if the other primary earner’s salary has been mandated into paying past debt – and it isn’t enough.

Hopefully things are not that dire (I haven’t read all of the other responses, and there may have been details added that I have not seen), but it’s worth talking to your parents and finding out exactly how bad things are. Usually by the time the bank or other creditor requests temporary or permanent closure of a revolving charge account, things are pretty bad. They may have just been shielding you from the truth.

I would want to know the truth, even if it’s bad. At least then you can start to deal with the things that really are problems, and discover that some things (Christmas presents? special foods?) are not issues at all.

But I wouldn’t worry, either. That never resolved a thing.

YARNLADY's avatar

Find out what public benefits and assistance is available for you. Give handmade gifts for christmas, such as cookies.

Highbrow's avatar

If you ask me, I strongly believe that when marriage and money are combined, this can prove to be a stressful combination, as many couples fight about money. During stressful economic times, marriages can be strained when money troubles arise : it’s a open secret. Here’s how to find harmony with your marriage and money.

Here’s how to fix it :

1)Remain calm and your parents must know how to control their impulses

When tempers flare, people can say things that they wish they could take back – but can’t. It’s best for their marriage and money stress levels to remain calm when discussing finances. This means using stress management techniques like breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, exchanging massages, or simply putting on some soothing music. Keeping each of your parents calm can help you, and can help you find solutions.

2)Get a clear view from each of your parents :

It may not be fun,and it is, but it’s important that both of your parents have a clear view of their money situation. They both need to know what they have, what they owe, what they make, and where it goes. Sometimes one person does the bulk of the budgeting, but when coming up with solutions for money problems, it’s important for both of your parents to know where they stand. Make them get everything on the table, and look at it together.

3)Focus on solutions :

When faced with the sometimes stark reality of money problems, it’s sometimes easy to slip into patterns of anger and blame. Don’t. This can cause more stress, and can actually lead them away from solutions! Make them focus on accepting the situation they are in now, and working on a clear plan with them to get to a better financial future together.

4)Work together :

Two heads are better than one, and in their union, it’s important for the two of your parents to be on the same page when it comes to money. You must work together to come up with a budget that will work for both of your parents, and stick to it. Encourage your parent’s ideas, and remember that their marriage and their money situation will do better if both of them are managing money as a team.

5)Get help if they really need it :

If their money situation is quickly deteriorating and they don’t know how to make a plan that can save their finances, it may be a good idea to invite them talk to a financial advisor together. This can provide fresh ideas and an educated perspective, and give them both a neutral third party to trust in. If their marriage is quickly deteriorating from money fights, it may likewise be a good idea to invite them to talk to a marriage counselor. Money problems can take a toll on a relationship, and a counselor can help them examine their patterns and come up with a healthier way to relate to one another.

As far as I’m concerned, in my family, money isn’t much of a problem. Suffice to say that my parents always strive to make the least expenditure as possible. It’s all about attention toward money.

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