How do I deal with this?
April 9, 2015 5:32 PM   Subscribe

I’m 24 (but I feel like I am 65) years old and I live with my 56 (but emotionally 16) year old mother. We’re facing financial ruin over something that seems insignificant.

A year ago my mom found her dream truck, a Chevrolet Avalanche, at a local dealership. We were both employed as truck drivers – she drove a pick-up truck for a major newspaper and I drove highway tractor-trailers with pneumatic tankers or 53 foot trailers – and life seemed like it was truly becoming better. Unfortunately, despite making more money than me, my mom was unable to finance a vehicle because of her ruined credit following my dad’s suicide and because she worked for cash, which, for the sake of loans, is income that doesn’t exist. We financed the truck in my name after setting up a joint bank account so she could make payments on it legally in my name.

In December it all changed.

On December 10th I was hospitalized when I rolled a tractor trailer unit with a pneumatic tanker off a highway due to icy conditions. Notwithstanding the relatively minor long-term injuries I have sustained from the accident it was devastating for me. The paramedics thought I had broken my back in the accident, and at the hospital I was held in the acute trauma and sickness ward under 24 hour observation as doctors decided if surgery was needed. No surgery was needed on my back, but the surgeons still had to freeze my eyes and remove glass from under my eyelids, I nearly broke my ribs, I was unable to walk, and I broke my left hand. The hospital kept me incapacitated in a neck-brace for two days before discharging me. Even today I struggle with hearing the sound of crushing metal and seeing out my right eye (the left eye had most of the glass in it when the driver’s window and windshield exploded) all the blood spraying out of me.

Mom was laid-off from her work when I was off work from the accident, forcing me to return to work sooner than I felt ready to support us.

Eventually I decided that trucking isn’t for me anymore, that I would like to return to college and work in a new field. A college in the city offers a one year program that seems like a fit for me – software development and design – that I signed up for and which I was approved for a student loan for.

A month and a half later I was semi laid-off, i.e., there is still some work, but not full-time and about half the income I used to have. There is still enough work for me to support myself while I am in school if I am living at home and budget my money. The work I will be doing (and am currently doing) doesn’t require me to drive on the road, it is more like a shunt driving position, and it offers me the flexibility I need to attend college.

This is where mom’s truck is the problem.

Mom is no longer working, and I will be attending college in two weeks and am making half of what I used to make, therefore I can’t keep supporting us financially with the expenses that we have.

The single largest expense that we have is that truck. Her truck costs more each month than our electricity bill, our telephone bill, my car payment and the gas I used to get to work combined, or close to it. We can’t even drive it right now because we can’t afford to insure it.

Furthermore we have TWO other reliable vehicles that cost less than her truck combined! In October I bought a used 2003 Audi A4 3.0L Cabriolet, which the payments for are like 1/3 the cost of her truck, and a couple years before we bought her truck, she paid cash for an all-wheel-drive 2004 Audi A4 1.8L.

We have no need for her truck. We have only ever used it a handful of times to transport larger items, or when one of our Audis was in for service, and because we can’t insure it, it sits in the driveway never being used.

Today I talked to a financial advisor about what I can do, and she told me what I thought she would, that it is unlikely we can afford to keep the truck. Whenever I have tried to talk about this with my mom in the past, she has refused to listen to me (or even acknowledge me), refused to talk about the issue, and basically turns herself off to me. Knowing this, I tried to encourage her to visit the financial advisor woman with me next week, but she refused until she knew more details. She acted as I expected her to when I reiterated what the financial woman said – she blocked me out, refused to talk to me or the advisor, and short of disowning me wants nothing to do with me right now as she ‘processes’ her ‘hurt’.

I’m facing the total destruction of my almost perfect credit rating right now for a truck we can’t drive, and instead of helping me improve my life, is far more concerned with her truck.

How do I cope with this? What can I do? How do I protect myself without losing my mother?
posted by 8LeggedFriend to Work & Money (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sell the truck. You have been through enough. Your mom needs you more than she needs the truck, she will get over it. What she is doing now is emotional blackmail. If you don't stand up to her, she is going to keep using that trick on you until she dies. Do you really want your mom to make all the decisions for you for the rest of her life? Any profit from the truck, after you take out whatever payments you have made on it, should be given to her.

Would being disowned by someone as selfish as your mother really be the worse thing in the world?
posted by myselfasme at 5:38 PM on April 9, 2015 [43 favorites]

Truck financed in your name? That's a truck you can get rid of in your name.
posted by scruss at 5:44 PM on April 9, 2015 [130 favorites]

We financed the truck in my name

Financial responsibility for the truck is a two-way street. Sell it.

wants nothing to do with me right now as she ‘processes’ her ‘hurt’.

Therapy is kind of a no-brainer here. The truck is a proxy for something else.
posted by supercres at 5:45 PM on April 9, 2015 [19 favorites]

sell the truck. figure out how to remove yourself from the joint account. prepare for her to kick you out, which might be for the best for both of you - the codependent issues between you can't be solved while you live together.
posted by nadawi at 5:47 PM on April 9, 2015 [9 favorites]

Sell the truck ASAP. Is the title in your name? If so, sell it. She is acting like a petulant child and is damaging your security because she feels 'hurt'? I understand that you've both been through a lot of trauma with your Father's suicide and your near-death experience with the accident. But, you've found a way forward and she can't be allowed to keep a truck she likes but can't afford if it means destroying both of your chances to recover financially and otherwise. When she's cleaned up her credit and can support herself and has enough discretionary money of her own, she can buy herself the prettiest truck on the lot.
posted by quince at 5:50 PM on April 9, 2015 [10 favorites]

Nthing: it's your truck. Sell it.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:11 PM on April 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Either your mother will get over this and support you doing the only smart thing you can do with the truck, or she won't, in which case you've already lost her through no fault of your own. So stop worrying about that and sell the truck as soon as you possibly can.
posted by prize bull octorok at 6:11 PM on April 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

I was going to say sell it, but I held back because I wasnt sure about the legal/ownership issues involved. But if they're peachy? I would sell it.

Sometimes the people we love do things to hurt us which are out of our control. This one thing (financial ruin) is in your control; there's nothing honorable about going under and shooting yourself in the foot for a truck.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:14 PM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is a sucky situation, but your mum is deep in denial and I agree, there is something else at work here. You may not have the luxury of time to tease it out, though; in the short term, yes, you need to sell the truck - even without your mum's consent.

Medium/longer-term, it sounds like therapy or some kind of psychological support for both of you. Suicide of a spouse/father is hard enough; having to deal with a traumatic accident, major changes with career and life as well is a lot to work through. If individual therapy seems too confronting or financially unfeasible, there's plenty of support groups available for families of those who have committed suicide - assuming you are in the US, here's a listing. It sounds like your mum is more obviously in need than you are, but you may also find it helpful.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:26 PM on April 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

It's a fucking truck, oh my god. It is a non-necessary, extravagant material possession. It is also your truck. Sell the truck.

If your mother turns this into A Thing, then she's making a decision to put a fucking truck ahead of her own child in terms of importance, and that's a really shitty thing to do.

I am so sorry you're in this position. Please take the steps necessary to protect yourself and your future so that 30 years from now you're not the one relying on your own child to make truck payments for you.
posted by phunniemee at 6:28 PM on April 9, 2015 [40 favorites]

First, yes, get out from under the truck, despite your mother's attachment to it.

But, it sounds like your question is more related to the "how" than the "what" of the solution. I.e. How do I deal with my mother while getting out from under this truck?

It sounds like you possibly have a little time before this becomes a Big Problem. It's a problem you can foresee but your mother has blinded herself to.

Give her a (reasonable) deadline to deal with the truck and get it out of your name/responsibility with the alternative that you sell it. Give yourself enough time to get it detailed/listed/sold with some cushion in case things take longer than expected.

Sounds like she's still unemployed, so it could be hard for her. But, giving her a concrete option may give her clarity and focus that motivates her to get some sort of new job so she can purchase the truck from you (for example, by getting her own loan that pays off your loan).
posted by bookdragoness at 6:49 PM on April 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

Sell the truck. You're not going to be able to keep it anyway, because if you don't sell it and pay off the note, it will be repossessed, and you don't want that. If you sell it yourself and pay off the note, you might end up with some money left over. If the bank repossesses it, they'll sell it at auction, for less than you can get on your own. If the auction proceeds aren't enough to pay off the loan, you may be on the hook for the residual balance, depending on your state law (this is the case here in California).
posted by ogooglebar at 6:50 PM on April 9, 2015

Sell the truck but tell your mum if she can hold a solid job for a year (or whatever length of time you deem appropriate) you will happily allow her to finance another in your name.

And may I just say how great it was to read how you've managed to pull yourself out of a life with few prospects after your horrific accident. You're clearly articulate and capable and I'm proud of you for recognizing that.
posted by Dragonness at 7:05 PM on April 9, 2015 [16 favorites]

never cosign on something for your mother again, especially not another unnecessary vehicle. you need to be finding ways to sever your entanglements, not reintroduce them. also, if you give her a concrete plan to get the truck in her name, prepare for her to steal it and hide it.
posted by nadawi at 7:18 PM on April 9, 2015 [19 favorites]

Are you paying the truck payments? I'll assume so, but if she's making the payments, then this is a different story.

You need to come up with effective one way communications to her.

She has a bunch of feelings tied up in this truck. I don't know what it represents to her -- being as good as everyone else? having what she used to have when your father was alive? finally establishing some credit in her own name via some joint account? -- and so this could potentially damage your relationship. If the truck represents "her last shred of dignity," and you're the one who takes it away? You need to mitigate that damage.

"Mom, I need to tell you something. I know the truck means a lot to you. I don't know why it's so important to you, exactly, since we already have the Ford and Subaru, but I can tell it means a lot. So I'm really sorry about this, but I can't keep paying for it. I just can't; it's too expensive and things are too tight right now. At the end of May, I'm going to put it up for sale unless you can [take over the payments again] / [find a way to get me off the account]."

Then repeat that same message every other week. I think it will help if your can remain apologetic, because for her this is not about the truck but about something more personal. "Hey mom. I just wanted to bring up again that, I'm really sorry about this, but I just can't keep making these truck payments. It's just too much for me. I'm going to have to sell it at the end of May unless you can come up with a solution where it's not in my name anymore. I know how much you like the truck, so I'm sorry."
posted by salvia at 7:27 PM on April 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Put the keys someplace secure until the truck sale situation is resolved. Forgive yourself for the sin of being a reasonable, responsible person whose approach to life is so alien to your mother. Her reality is valid just so long as it doesn't impede yours.
posted by Scram at 7:35 PM on April 9, 2015 [8 favorites]

If she sold her car would that give enough to make payments and cover insurance on the truck for a while? Might be another option that shows you're working with her and on her side.
posted by willnot at 7:58 PM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

All of the "sell the truck" responses of course assume that the truck is registered in your name. Is that the case? If not, to regain control over what is largely out of control, you may end up having to sell the vehicles you do own and drive the pickup for daily use.
posted by megatherium at 7:59 PM on April 9, 2015

Sell, and move out. Move decisively, quickly, firmly, finally. It is not a crime to leave home. It is time. Cut those apron strings, baby boy. If you think she won't survive it, think again. This is a clever trap where you get to feel like the stremgth in the relationship, but you are serving as a surrogate spouse to someone, in the case of the truck, doesn't fight fair.
posted by Oyéah at 8:03 PM on April 9, 2015

I'm sorry at 24 that you are more responsible than your mom - but many people realize this in adulthood. Be the adult, sell the truck, and start looking at your mom with a little more skepticism, because she does not seem to have your best interests in mind.
posted by Toddles at 8:24 PM on April 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

The temptation is huge, but at your age, please, stop considering yourself financially responsible for your mother. She's got a car. It sounds like she's capable of working. On top of selling the truck, you need to start seriously considering moving out and getting a roommate closer to your own age, and letting her figure herself out without you, because otherwise there is a very good chance that you will be putting yourself in a position where you are never going to be financially independent as long as she's alive. She's not 16, she's an adult who can take care of herself, and so are you. If she wants to make decisions that lead to living in poverty, you can't let her take you with her. It's awful to have to make that choice--I've been there, and I can't say that my dad ended up okay, because he didn't. But I've ended up okay, and that is the one thing I can be responsible for.

Remember that she put you in this position because her income was completely unreported--which is to say, she didn't just risk your credit to get a truck, she risked your credit to get a truck and continue committing tax evasion. You don't owe her anything over this. If she wants a truck, she can go back to work, pay her taxes, and buy a truck at an interest rate that matches her actual risk of default.
posted by Sequence at 8:34 PM on April 9, 2015 [15 favorites]

You may not be fully able to wrap you head around this right now because you've got your mother's completely unreasonable, and you might just be too close to the situation, but as an outsider, the idea that you would jeopardize your financial stability for a truck that is completely unnecessary is just crazy. I'm not faulting you at all, because it sounds like your heart is in the right place, but I'm horrified that your mother would try to emotionally blackmail you into continuing to keep the truck.

Assuming the truck is in your name, absolutely sell it. Like, immediately. Even if it was being used as the primary vehicle for one of you, the payments sound like they are so high that it wouldn't be worth keeping anyway, but the fact that this truck is hardly being used... I don't know, I'm finding it hard to put into words how I feel about the fact that your mother's immature wish for this dream car is putting you in such a terrible position.

As you've already noted, your mother is basically like a child, so you may just have to treat her like one. Don't consult her about this, unless the truck is completely in her name, but based on your concern about your credit, I'm assuming it's completely in yours.

It is possible that this might lead to some estrangement between you and your mother, but if that does happen, please know that this entirely on her. You have done nothing wrong. I really think the healthiest thing for you will be to find a different living situation, and to sever financial ties with her as cleanly as you can.

I'm sorry that you're in such a tough spot, especially after the trauma of your accident. It may be a metafilter cliche, but I do think you will really benefit from seeing a therapist. If you could get your mother to go with you to a couple joint sessions, that would be great, but I'm guessing that's unlikely to happen.

I'm sorry to hear about everything you've been going through lately, but I think it's great that you're moving toward a new career path. I truly wish you all the best.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:23 PM on April 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

Good lord.

Everyone has been giving the right advice, but I just wanted to say hang in there and that you are doing fantastic. You have way more responsibility than most young women and doing a great job.

A college degree seems like a great idea and I commend you also going for a financial planner.

Again this is not a comment in response to your question - I just wanted to drop in and say that once in while, give yourself some credit and that objectively speaking you are doing a great job navigating these hard questions. Give yourself a break, and remember once in a while to take care of yourself and your own needs.

In this case, you need to sell your truck. And don't feel guilty about it.
posted by pando11 at 9:31 PM on April 9, 2015 [15 favorites]

You have to sell it, clearly. It sounds like your mom's in deep trouble - who knows what it is, depression, maybe some kind of stress reaction - it sounds like she needs professional help, for sure. I think Athanassiel, bookdragonness, and salvia have offered good advice in terms of how to address the truck issue - set up a deadline (giving her an out before then), and deliver it with compassion, repeatedly. Then, act, when it's time. It is probably going to be ugly, so ready yourself for that.

But you have no choice. Remember that, if you start feeling guilty- you have no other choice here that is not going to make things worse for both of you. If you start feeling angry, remember that although your mom is your mom, she's also a flawed human being. And then set her up with some help. (This suggestion is more for you than for her. If you've been thisclose up until now, taking a super hard line might actually be harder on you.)

Regardless - leave as soon as it makes sense for you to do that (get roommates, or rent a single room, for sure).

Shot in the dark: she is obviously extremely self-focused right now. She'll likely only hear things that highlight her needs. If she gets some of that out and heard - if you're capable of hearing it at the moment, which I can understand might be very hard to do - she might start to open up a bit, and may (longshot, I know) loosen up enough to start to see your point of view. So, even though it's topsy-turvy (and this is, I recognize, unfair to suggest to you), maybe try this: have one conversation that's completely about her and her needs, forgetting about the truck and school and all of the hugely urgent decisions that are coming up. Just listen to her vent for a while. Tell her, "I hear what you're saying". Then respond to what she says honestly, tell her your worries. Tell her also (as salvia wisely suggested) that you care about her. Then do what you have to do.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:42 PM on April 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I think it absolutely makes financial sense to sell the truck, and your mom should be prepared to do that. But if there is any way to sell the truck without it being against her will, I think you should pursue that. There may be something really deep going on here, and if you do this without her approval it may cause a rift that never heals.

I don't think she's coming from a rational place. And if you're going to resolve this, you may have to get into some psychological murk and have some painful discussions.

When you argue with her about it, what explanation does she offer, if any, for why she wants to keep it? I understand that she shuts down and won't talk about it, but has she ever given any reason?

Her talking about her "hurt" makes me wonder if there's something major going on with this truck. There could be a million potential explanations, but I'm wondering if the truck doesn't represent some goal, or some better time in the past, and she's panicking about letting it go the way a hoarder panics about letting go of the many, many things that represent some memory or some project they are determined to do one day. If she is at a very low point and that truck feels like the only thing that's keeping her sane, selling it against her wishes is going to be devastating.

I do think you should sell the truck. But this is your mom, and I really think you should do anything you can to resolve it peacefully. Even if you have to be the adult here, even if she's not being fair, do anything you can to work through this without hurting her more than you have to. If you can get her talking and bring her around to see reason, no matter how much it hurts, you will be both be much happier in the long run.

Good luck, you poor, tough kid.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:01 PM on April 9, 2015

When I had PTSD, I got very attached to really minor things (such as being absolutely fixated on finding replacement identical clothes to the ones destroyed, scouring all of the UK for them). In hindsight it was absolutely displacement - if I replaced the clothes, everything would go back to how it was before.

Your farher's suicide and your accident must have been very traumatic for your mum, and I wonder if keeping the truck is something she's fixed on. I'd still sell it if I were you, I don't think you have a huge amount of choice there, but that might explain where all of her strong emotion and "unreasonableness" is coming from. I would have given up practically anything at the time to get my clothes, probably she feels the same. Unfortunately I don't think I would have recognised that I was being unreasonable at the time, it took a few years and a bit of hindsight to look back and say "that was crazy".
posted by tinkletown at 12:58 AM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Others have good advice, but at 24 you should really not be as financially co-mingled with your mom as you are. I know that you both underwent an extremely difficult and devastating situation and really need to support each other. But it sounds like your mom's pain over recent events is clouding her judgement.

She is really not looking out for your best interests right now. I am no saying this to blame her, she is probably not capable of doing so due to the pain she is in due to dad's suicide. But, you need to look after yourself. Other people, even those who love you, are not going to do that. I mean, come on, prioritizing holding on to a costly truck that is not driveable over college?? That is insane.
posted by seesom at 6:20 AM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Though it is not particularly relevant to the question, I would like to point out that several answers are misgendering the asker. Based on their previous questions, the asker is male.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:54 AM on April 10, 2015

Everyone else has said this but you have to sell the truck. This is your life and your credit history if it gets screwed up you're the one who's going to have to make it better, so don't ruin it now. Your ability to get a home and even get decent interest rates on school loans are in jeopardy. You're not going to be 24 and living at home foreverand when u do leave you want to be in a stable position. I'm sorry that your mother can't see this at this time and I would suggest therapy however I have a feeling that she's also going to be reluctant to go to that too. What I'm going to suggest is probably going to give you a lot of hell, but I still feel like it's the only way you'll be able to effectively get rid of the car. Take the keys sell the car don't even say anything about selling the car until it's already been done. From the way you described your mother it sounds like if you ask and you keep trying to talk to her she'll probably argue and never come around and you'll have to make the decision whether or not to take the previously mentioned option or crumble.
posted by CosmicSeeker42 at 6:56 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

My advice is to: sell the truck, right away, and get acquainted with the notion of recovering from parental narcissistic abuse. Best wishes to you.
posted by macinchik at 10:27 PM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

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