Anyone who knows me knows that I am fairly frugal. Some might say stingy. Or parsimonious. I just look at it as being careful.
And it’s not like I never spend money– I’m just very choosy about it. Sure I have art. And my condo. And my FJ. And my bike. But that’s kind of it.
Other than these things, I don’t have a lot of clutter around. No “toys” or cars or a second home or cabin or anything. I don’t go on vacations very often. I don’t buy clothes (and when I do it’s from Marshall’s). I don’t go out to eat or to the bars.
I just don’t have many needs and very few wants.
I think it was growing up and seeing my parents fight over money. Or watching them struggle to figure out how to help pay for my college. Whatever it was, it has left me very money-focused.
When I got out of school I focused on earning money and paying off college loans. I never had fancy apartments or anything. I just saved and worked on debt. And if I couldn’t afford it, I didn’t buy it. Especially on credit. Hell, I didn’t even have credit cards until my late 20’s.
I have my 401k plan which I contribute to. I have my monthly checking which I strive to keep above a minimum balance. And I have my rainy-day savings– an account separate from my checking (not even same institution) that I put money into to be used if I lose my job or have some dire emergency.
So, imagine my dismay when I had to talk finances with my aging mother, and I discovered that she had gotten herself into a financial mess.
She has never been good with money, which was one of the factors for my parents divorce. But being in her own I thought taught her some responsibility. She worked two jobs, and I never saw her spend money frivolously. I Assumed she was doing ok.
Well, she wasn’t. At some point she remortgaged or took out a second mortgage on her house. So she’s retired and still owes money on the house. A house that she and my dad bought. In 1975. For what– like 60k?
THEN I find out she’s also amassed quite a bit in credit card debt. Which is just getting bigger and bigger because of the interest rates.
So most of her monthly retirement pension and social security has been going to mortgage and credit cards– which she can’t keep up with– leaving her very little else.
All of which she hid from me.
So you can imagine I’m kind of pissed.
And I’m freaking out a bit, because I need to take care of her debt. Which is going to completely wipe out my rainy day savings AND I’ll have to take some money out of my 401k.
And this only takes care of the credit cards, which we need to because of the interest rates.
I can’t even deal with her mortgage. (This one pisses me off most as either dad should have paid for it in the divorce settlement or she should have had it paid off years ago. And her monthly payment is roughly the same as mine, which means she made some really bad financial decisions along the way.)
At least she doesn’t have a car payment, thank god.
Once I eliminate her credit card debt, I can start formulating a plan for the rest of her bills, etc. and I foresee some difficult discussions ahead along with the cutting up of several, little plastic beasts.