How to Anonymously Send Grandmother Money?
February 23, 2013 12:46 AM   Subscribe

How to anonymously send my Grandmother money? I love my Grandmother to pieces. She's one of my favorite people. She's the most charismatic woman I've ever known.. she just has a way with people. I watch her engage others in awe; she can disarm an utterly rigid stranger in a few seconds by simply bestowing her beautiful aura upon them. Pathetically, people have taken advantage of her throughout her entire life. I won't go into details because it's irrelevant, but her story is a sad one. Anyway I'm an adult now and I'm making a good living. I want to help her out without her knowing it's me, and for the rest of her life. She would never accept financial assistance from me so I have to be stealthy.

I'm thinking about sending her money orders every month, but I'd honestly rather just give her cash. She lives in a fixed income complex for seniors and I don't want any issues having to do with her depositing money into an account, etc. I know gifts aren't taxable, at least on her end, so I'm not worried about that. I just don't want them reviewing her finances and seeing that she's out of the income range to stay where she is. She really likes her community and has made quite a few friends. Obviously I can't write her checks. What's the best method, in your opinion? Also, where to mail from? She knows where I am, anything within an hour's drive is out. We have family all over the state. I don't want her harassing everyone for answers, and she will, she makes a fuss about anything that's given to her. Please help me brainstorm!
posted by OneHermit to Human Relations (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Could you maybe talk to her complex and see if they'd tell her she qualified for a discount... But really, you're paying $200 (or whatever amount) a month of rent?
posted by yb2006shasta at 12:50 AM on February 23, 2013 [14 favorites]

Easiest thing to do is to send her gift cards, but you'd want them to be something she'd use.
posted by dhartung at 1:22 AM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Can you make up some song and dance story about dividends from an investment she must have accidentally made some time ago? You remember, Grandma, when you sold that house they put part of the proceeds into shares that are now paying out $200 a month as an annuity? Do you want me to send you that in cashiers checks or gift cards?
posted by hazyjane at 1:55 AM on February 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

This is possibly the most heart-warming dilemma I've seen here on AskMe. What a lovely pickle to find oneself in.

I would just tell her what you wrote here: how much you love and appreciate her and that nothing would make you happier than the ability to pay for her to have some luxury in her life.

I think if you frame it like you're lucky enough to be financially blessed, you have all you want and you would have genuine joy if you could share this with her (money for beautiful books, expensive yarns, day trips, restaurants, shows...all the fine things in life that money requires), she would be hard pressed to say no to your generous offer.

What seems critical is to frame the gift in terms of treats; of luxuries she deserves in her life and that it really isn't a present from you; she'd be giving you a present by allowing you to pamper her.
posted by kinetic at 3:45 AM on February 23, 2013 [10 favorites]

Is there a bill or bills that you could begin paying? (Maybe telephone, power, etc.?) You could ask her if you can manage her account to get her a discount, and then just start paying -- that way the money frees up in her budget without it showing up as income.

If you know any specifics about what luxuries she might be missing, you could also present her with the items in question. (Subscriptions to magazines you know she likes. If she enjoys reading trashy romance novels, start collecting bags at library book sales and showing up with them.)

Have you asked your family members for their help? They might already be trying to figure this out themselves.
posted by pie ninja at 4:08 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Perhaps you could think about what she might spend the extra money on and have that delivered to her? You could have, say, fresh flowers delivered on a regular basis, or a grocery hamper with some of her favourite treats, or some pre-prepared gourmet dinners. Subscribing her to a something-of-the-month club could be another option. By using delivery services, you add a layer of abstraction between you and her that will make it harder to trace back.

(Though I suspect she may suspect you anyway!)

Whatever you decide, it's a lovely gesture.
posted by Georgina at 4:13 AM on February 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

Please don't let her think she's forgotten something important that she invested in. Memory is an important and potentially scary thing for elderly folk.

Get her gift cards to her local chemist or take her out/visit regularly.

Unless she's under enormous financial strain, receiving your money is going to cause her stress. Unless you are upfront.

What about paying her phone (net- ? Skype) bill and calling her a lot? Tell her it's her gift to you, access to your beloved grandma.
posted by taff at 4:15 AM on February 23, 2013 [11 favorites]

I had similar problems over giving to my own grandmother. What worked for me was offering to pay for services I - ever - used, and buying groceries. If you talk to her on the phone, offer to pay the phone bill. If you visit her and use so much as more lights, offer to pay electricity. Does she live somewhere FreshDirect delivers, or some similar service? Tell her that it makes you feel guilty that you don't live close enough to drop off groceries, /like a grandchild should/, and so you've found this cool thing that lets you do your family duty!

Basically, if you frame it as something which will make you sad if you can't do it, she may be more willing to give.
posted by corb at 4:49 AM on February 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

Maybe you could tell her that you are getting a great deal, a discount really! if you add her to your cell phone service? Then you could get her a nice new phone, pay the bill each month and no one would be the wiser.
posted by aetg at 5:38 AM on February 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

I know all about proud family elders.

Everytime you visit, leave some money in a card somewhere she will find it after you've left. Just say something simple in the card like, "for being the best grandmother ever, love xxx".

Don't ever mention it, and hopefully she won't too. If she does, just stop her anxiety by saying, "grandmother, it's a gift. Please accept my gifts given with love!"
posted by shazzam! at 5:48 AM on February 23, 2013 [8 favorites]

While I agree with lots of these answers, I can answer the question of how to anonymously send her cash. There are remail services that will remail a stamped letter that you send them. I've used this one many times. You can vary the location of the remail by using different cities.
posted by raisingsand at 7:06 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree that sending her money in a "support" kind of way would mess up her income when it comes to the apartment. (I used to audit/manage complexes like these.) What you could do would be to anonymously pay some of her utilities. The office at the apartments should be able to tell you what company they use, although not the account number or anything like that.

Don't mail cash anonymously. It could get stolen and you'd never know, or she could get it and think it wasn't meant to go to her and start freaking out. An account at the local pharmacy or mom-and-pop grocery would be really nice too.
posted by checkitnice at 10:08 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree that gift cards might be the best move. Her needs are beyond small luxuries; her medical bills are piling up and she just doesn't have any extra cash. Basically her quality of life has slowly declined over the past decade. Sending her gift cards to the local super store (food, necessities, all the accoutrements of life) might be the best move. Gas cards as well. But with her left over money, will she be penalized if she develops a savings? Or are fixed income complexes more concerned with monthly income and not cash reserves?
posted by OneHermit at 3:02 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can likely arrange with her medical providers to pay down some of those bills anonymously, if you can find out who the providers are. If she asks them how her balance went down, they can tell her that they're not at liberty to say. This seems to happen a lot in the medical administrative world, that things are just not explained to people.

This is wonderful of you to do.
posted by Capri at 5:20 PM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you are thinking of giving in amounts significant enough to add up to savings I think it's worth< a consultation with an elder law attorney in your jurisdiction. You may be able to set up a small trust for her that could pay certain expenses without interfering with her benefits.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:42 AM on February 24, 2013

I love the idea of setting something up to pay medical expenses. In addition to concerns about her income technically going up, she may find people trying to take advantage of her all over again if word of money gifts gets around. People who want to take advantage have ways of finding out these things.

Are there a couple of other family members you can rope in-- even if they can't commit to as much financially as you-- so you can say it's a group thing from some of her children and grandchildren? That might make it a little easier for her to take.
posted by BibiRose at 2:17 PM on February 24, 2013

Sorry, I didn't think about the worry she might have about memory problems if you pretend the money is from an investment that came good - please disregard my answer!
posted by hazyjane at 10:32 PM on February 25, 2013

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