Dealing With More Than Financial Burdens

Dealing With More Than Financial Burdens | AndThenWeSaved.com

Hey Anna,

I’ve found myself in both a moral and financial pickle, and I would like to hear other people’s opinions on this. Any advice or comment would be greatly appreciated!

First of all I need to say that in my family, we don’t discuss things. My upbringing has been pretty authoritarian — my parents often used phrases like “You can’t do that because I said so”, and they never talked to me about sex, death or money. I had no idea how much they earned, how much it cost to run a household, how credit cards work — I was pretty much financially illiterate. Only later I realized that my parents are not that good in managing money, either. I’m not saying I blame my parents for my own financial stupidity, I’m just trying to illustrate where I came from.

Anyway, when I went to university, I badly wanted to study in the capital. My parents said: OK, go, we’ll manage. I had no idea that their idea of “manage” was to take on a loan. When I left school after two semesters, they didn’t say anything. Only a couple of years later, my mother confessed that they had to take a loan to keep me at school. I was horrified and told her I would have never dreamt of going there if I knew they had to pay for it like that, but she just shrugged and said, “You wouldn’t have listened.” Well, I bloody well would have! Since then, she’s shoved this in my face several times in an argument, to which I’ve always said: “Don’t you dare blame me for something I had no idea of!” I felt betrayed.
When I continued my studies and then started working, I needed some money to buy a new laptop and a couple of other things, and because I was stupid, I took on a couple of credit cards and then had a lot of trouble paying them off. I had to move back in with my parents and they helped me, for which I’ll be eternally grateful, and now I’ve paid off nearly the whole amount they lent me. But here comes the pickle: I knew that the money they lent me wasn’t really theirs — it came from a loan. But I trusted my father when he said that the amount we agreed on which I would continue to pay off was final. Well, silly me. Recently, my mother hurled another piece of bad news at me — after they lent me the money, they took on another loan, and now they’re in a lot of debt and of course it’s all my fault. My father never uttered a word to me about it, but my mother thinks she’s entitled to keep me at home and claim more money from me, indefinitely. I want to move out, because I’m 27. I work from home and staying with my parents is driving me nuts. I love them, but our house is very small. I share a bedroom with my younger sister and I don’t have enough peace and quiet for my work. I want to pay off my debts and move on with my life, find a boyfriend, get married, have kids and generally just live my own life. But apparently, I can’t do that. Of course I don’t want to leave my parents high and dry. (Which is a bit of a euphemism, because I know they have a lot of debt, but I also know that they’re able to pay it off without any help from anybody. They just need to adjust their spending habits a little.) But are they right to demand more money from me, when they’ve kept their debts secret from me? Am I a bad daughter? :(

-More Than Finances

 

Hi MTF,

My word… your parents really have given you quite the guilt trip! I’m sorry you’ve been going through that. The way I think about things is like this… you can’t take action on things you don’t know about. If people don’t tell you directly what they are thinking about or going through, then how would you ever know? You would drive yourself nuts (and it wouldn’t do you any good, anyway) to try to think up every situation that is possibly happening. It would be impossible and horrible to try to live like that! So… with that said, I think it’s people’s responsibility to tell us what they want us to know. I never assume I know what people are thinking or trying to tell me. If they don’t say it directly, it’s on them. My point is, there is no way you should be held responsible for your parents’ decisions, especially decisions that you never knew about.

I also think that you are being very hard on yourself. I noticed a few times you said you were stupid, and I really want to encourage you to give yourself a break. We’ve all made less than ideal choices in our lives, and there’s no way anyone is expected to live life “perfectly.” Mistakes happen, learn from them, forgive yourself, and move on. :)

As far as your parents demanding money from you, I think you should obviously pay the money you agreed to pay them, but after that is paid off, I think you are done. You should be able to get on with your life and have the life you want to build for yourself. Who knows how many other loans they took out on your behalf that you may not know about? How long are you obligated to continue to live at home paying those off? You could be 80 before they are paid off! Your parents have to let you stick to what you all agreed to, and let you get on with your life. It doesn’t mean you love them any less, obviously. In my opinion, they chose the actions they took and they also chose the consequences of those actions. Since you weren’t involved in the making of those choices, you don’t have to suffer the consequences.

I hope my answer helps. – Anna

Do you agree or disagree with my response to MTF? Have you grown up in a household where your parents knew little about how to handle money? What struggles did it create for you? What did you learn from those experiences?  

P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!

11 comments

11 thoughts on “Dealing With More Than Financial Burdens

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  1. Mike

    Hmm is seems like a delicate situation. You cant put that burden on your shoulders though, its not good to point fingers but this is definitely not your fault. I think it would be better for you to move out and help whatever way you can.

    Reply
  2. Nerina Howe

    This is more thana financial issue. It’s really about owbership, fear, and losing you. The financial strift reflects fear, procrastination, and I suspect a mesh of wider cultural obligations, reading inbetween the lines.
    The burning question is what’s really holding you back from moving out of your parents home?
    You have paid your credit cards off, so pay off debt is not the issue.
    Dig deep and face your real fears, and work through them. Seek counselling. These are deep rooted issues that will not be resolved until you sort your emotional issues out with your family, especially your MUM.

    Reply
  3. Susan

    I don’t think you are appreciative or are accepting full responsibility for your actions. Your parents took on the loan for your college and you dropped out after 2 semesters. My understanding is that they absorbed that debt. I agree that They should have told you they were taking out a loan for you but maybe they didn’t want you to not go because of finances. You said that you got into debt for a laptop and some other things and that they took out another loan for you. You have almost paid them back but not fully yet. I think that you should pay them back fully and still yup should pay a bit of rent while they are letting you stay at their house. It doesn’t sound like they are rolling in dough.

    Reply
  4. Jaime

    I agree with the advice you gave. You definitely cannot live life paying for decisions you didn’t make. I love my mom but she is bad about constantly reminding me about bad decisions I made a decade ago, so can sympathize. It is especially bad when you are paying for decisions you had no control over.

    Reply
  5. Meghan

    Pay them what you borrowed plus interest, move out and don’t ever go to your parents for help after you make a financial mistake again. You should not be having your parents loan you money or take out loans to loan you money at 27.

    Reply
  6. Jenn

    I agree with Anna. I think you need to pay your parents back the agreed upon amount that you borrowed. You need to move out and get your own place and start your own life. And you need to learn from your mistakes – ensuring they aren’t repeated down the road. Furthermore, I think you should take the additional responsibility for your future mistakes by not going to your parents for help – if you get into more financial trouble, dig your way out by contacting your lenders and getting reduced rates, extended terms, whatever it takes to be able to afford to pay those debts back. As adults, we’re expected to correct our own errors and find our own way. Our parents’ responsibility for our actions ends when we move out of their home – ideally when we move to college or by the age of 18 if we don’t move out – at which time you should be required to get a job, pay rent, utilities, etc. My parents took loans for my college. As did I. But my parents are divorced and were required by the courts (we’re in the US) to pay 1/3 each for my college. I made good on my end of the deal by getting my degree – to make it worth what they paid. If you haven’t already finished a degree program, I highly encourage you to find the means and time to do so – just so their financial burdens weren’t wasted – in the end. If you were my child, I’d feel less put out by paying for that first year of college if you did eventually get a degree. Otherwise, it’s just money I wasted, ya know?

    Beyond that, it sounds like your relationship with your parents needs some major repair. The first step is to stop costing them money – pay back your debts, help out where you can – if you feel so inclined. The second step is to stop coming to them when you get into trouble – show them that they taught you to be self-sufficient and that you’re capable of being an adult. Earn their trust. That will take you far and will hopefully end the “you cost us this much” guilt trips. A little counseling for you might help too – it’s hard to feel like a success when someone is always showing you how you screwed up. Counseling will help you discard that guilt and move on with your life emotionally.

    Best of luck to you.

    Reply
  7. Dune

    Just like you I live with my parents. I have a huge credit card debt and would not tell my parents about it. I still need to give them money monthly and so I am really in deep financial debt.
    My boyfriend is helping me out monthly so I can still give my parents money and continue to pay my car. I promised to pay him regularly after I have all my monthly payables in order.
    For MTF, I think you need to talk to your parents and ask them to just work around with the money that you can give them monthly. I still think you should help them until everyone is financially free. Like my case, if I do not have somebody helping me I will be insane with debts. Just like your parents. Teach them responsibility but do not abandon them.

    Reply
  8. Amy

    I agree Anna- MTF needs to pay off the agreed upon amount to the parents, and then should be free of guilt and obligation to shell out more money.

    To mitigate these issues when I borrowed money from my parents for school and my mortgage, we tracked the money meticulously (google spreadsheets are awesome for this because you can “share” it with all parties) as well as have some guidelines written out for the lending/borrowing/repayment.

    In the letter, I hear MTF saying that the relationship with the parents is important, and ideally is kept in good condition. For me and my family this is best done through clear communication and a solid financial tracking, so that finances do not come between us. To me, it sounds like MTF needs to sit with the parental units and agree upon (and record!) what is both reasonable and expected for repayment.

    Reply
  9. Noel

    I agree with Anna that you should pay your parents the agreed upon amount and then move out and move on with your life. I also feel that having your parents loan you money after the age of 18 instead of taking out a loan yourself is a bad idea. In the future, take responsibility for the things you want and need by being financially independent. This way no one can ever have hard feelings about who owes what to whom.

    Reply
  10. Nicola Dalbenzio

    The move-out is inevitable. You cannot succeed in your business under the circumstances you’re living in. Once you move out you’ll have a better grasp on the situation and repay what was agreed on ( after the fact) at a reasonable pace. At this time I wouldn’t commit to the additional loan they took out. I think moving out ASAP is a priority. Even though they are your parents, if you let them, people can lead you to believe the sky will fall if you detach from them. This situation is clearly destructive for you and setting a bad example for your sister. You may need the support of a therapist to help you act on this difficult, though healthy, emotional choice.

    Reply

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