Penny foolish and Pound foolish
November 6, 2007 7:24 AM Subscribe
How to tell inlaws to buck up and be frugal?
posted by ian1977 to human relations (41 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Recently at dinner my father inlaw told my wife and I that they would like to sit down with us at some point and discuss what might happen in the future re: their retirement, if one of them dies what happens to the other one, etc. He assured us that nothing is out of the ordinary and they just want to be prudent, etc, etc. I thought, well good! I like when people are pragmatic about stuff like that. But then the kicker....he said something about how it would be nice to know that whoever is the widower has support. Then he went on to say that how when he was sick (approx. 8 years ago, he was out of work for 1 year) he wiped out his half of the retirement equation so they really just have hers. So I am guessing that this conversation will be about money, and namely, how much they can count on us for. FYI - they are 55ish, don't make too much but live in a very small town and living expenses are pretty low.
This annoys me for several reasons.
1. He was sick 8 years ago. More or less a full recovery. A guy could save a lot of money in 8 years if they had the gumption. Even $50/month would be ~$5000.
2. They go on like 3-4 mini-vacations every year. Stupid little weekend trips here and there. Nothing extravagant, but still kinda stupid when you supposedly have no money.
3. We've just finally come into a time of relative stability and financial security. We scratched and clawed our way there. I finally finished school and we both have good jobs but we are in no way rich. I am insulted that they all of the sudden want to have this discussion. I feel like they are seeing dollar signs on us.
4. My wife tells me that when she was growing up her parents would be borrowing money from her grandfather for downpayments on houses and stuff like that. That is fine and I think its great that they were able to have that sort of help. Now they are more than likely going to be seeing what they can get out of us. That angers me in a way I can't really understand. Like they are a double drain in the generational chain. They have never helped us and we never asked, except for once. Our child was just born and my wife was on leave and money was tight. A few hundred dollars would have been a lifesaver. They couldn't help. There was just no way. But sure enough, in practically the same breath m-inlaw talked about some upcoming trip to some weekend lame-fest.
I get that it is noble to help your elders. I would certainly hope that our child would help us out of a jam if we really needed it in our golden age. But is it too much to ask that they help themselves first?
So how do we tell them that of course we will help them if need be, but that I need them to do what they can now? IRS allows catch up contributions of up to like $12k or so. THey have 10 years or so to get this sorted out. How do I tell them, stop taking stupid vacations and start saving money fools! - without getting 2 very angry and indignant inlaws.
They are going to have 2 main excuses as to why they can't control this situation at all. One is that FIL was sick as mentioned above. The other is that they don't make much money. So, there is kind of a pity party factor there. And somehow the republicans figure into this, republicans are keeping them down.
I kinda want to be a jerk and say....hey, you had your help, you got downpayments and stuff when you were starting out. Now you want help on the tail end too? Nope. Sorry. We want to be sure that we save money and make reasonable decisions so that we can help our child out the same way that your father helped you.
I guess I don't have a specific practical question other than -
How do I present my viewpoint without it turning into a huge blowout? Am I being a jerkhole for thinking like this? Anyone go through something similar? How did you handle it? How do you ask inlaws about their personal finances and what they are doing about it?