DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I am turning 65 this year, and have been married for 32 years to my wife, who mostly refuses to help me as a partner.
I have no savings, retirement, or investment accounts. We are now both collecting Social Security Disability. I get $1,500.00 and she gets $1,200.00 a month. There just isn’t enough money to pay everything on time, so I alternate what gets paid every month.
I had kidney cancer several years ago and had a kidney removed. Now I have stage 3 kidney disease in my remaining kidney and am at risk of further decline should I be exposed to someone who is sick in the workforce.
My wife, “M,” has had breast cancer twice and now has metastatic stage 4 breast cancer in her lungs and the cancer has metastasized to her brain. Recently, the doctors say the chemo treatments and radiation have significantly shrunk her tumors.
I am constantly struggling to pay the household bills, food, electric, gas, water, sewer taxes, car insurance, and both Verizon home and cellphone accounts, for myself, M, and our son.
I seldom get M to give me any money toward household bills, and when she does, 99 percent of the time I have to pay her back.
I am also covering our 28-year-old son’s truck payment of $545.00 a month, plus $442.00 car insurance.
M covered some of son’s truck payments, but now refuses to pay anything further. She says she has things to do with her money that are more important, like have a reserve for medical bills. I paid our medical insurance premiums for several years, but all she does with her money is give it to our son.
Prior to my disability, I always managed to pay the household bills on time, including my mortgage. M is not on the deed or the mortgage. She did not want to be part of the purchase process at all, saying she would not sign anything. The house is now in foreclosure.
Our son, who lives with us, has grown up to be a very financially irresponsible adult. M gives him money all the time for whatever he wants. I have had many arguments with M about her actions, telling her that she is impeding any ambitions that our son would normally develop toward building a better life for himself.
Son dropped out of school when he was 16, he has worked in the entertainment field for many years and is very good at what he does. Currently he is not working due to a workplace injury, and has no money coming in.
Part of son’s problem is the jobs are 1099-based and for several years, he has owed tax debt that has to be paid back. In addition to that, he is not paying anything into SSI to receive money later on in life. M and I help by paying his tax debt, to avoid late fees and penalties. The IRS is very unforgiving, and I try to recover the money I paid out when he has money coming in.
I have always tried to get son to see how much better his life could be if he got his G.E.D and a better job. But he has always been disrespectful and nasty toward me most of the time, unless he wants or needs something. When I reprimand him for being disrespectful, M and my sister-in-law “E” gang up on me.
After son totaled his second vehicle. He needed a car to get to work. He has no credit, and the car dealer wanted to put him in a 16-point loan, which would have made a replacement vehicle way too expensive. So to help son, I put the truck loan in my name for a lower payment. So now, I feel the way things have developed, I am being held financial hostage.
To make matters worse, son has a drinking problem, which has resulted in a recent DWI arrest, the legal fallout from which we are currently dealing with. I have tried to get son to see what he is doing, but he will not admit it to himself, and does nothing to get help.
M’s sister E is living with us. When M’s mom passed away in 2009, I offered to have E come live with us. E offered to pay something to live with us. I let M and E name the amount of a monthly payment. They said $200.00 a month. I said OK.
E stopped paying in the beginning of 2017, shortly after my house went into foreclosure.
M and E are part of a family trust fund, which provides them some money every year. But they insist that they have no money and refuse to help me.
I think M told E to stop paying room and board, figuring if I’m not paying the mortgage, why should she pay to live here, and she’s not contributing to any household bills.
To give credit where credit is due, E does a lot around the house. She does her, M’s, and son’s laundry, she cooks 60 percent of the time, and plays a major role in taking care of our dog all day.
As I mentioned, I have a history of kidney cancer, the result of an injury caused by chemical use at my workplace, and which resulted in a personal injury lawsuit that is now getting close to a substantial settlement.
Our marriage has not been in a good place for many years, I have contemplated divorce for a long time, and now that I will have the money to make my move, I find myself feeling guilty about walking away.
I am not planning to abandon them. If possible I plan on paying off my house and letting them stay in the house. If not, then I would move them into something else, if possible.
I feel helpless and frustrated that I cannot fix any of this.
I need impartial advice, please help. --- NEED HELP
DEAR NEED HELP: You’re certainly juggling a lot, and the first step you should consider taking is giving yourself credit for holding things together to this point.
It sounds like there’s potential financial relief on the horizon with the lawsuit settlement when it comes through. That would be an opportunity to pursue your plans of putting much-needed distance between yourself and the rest of your current household both physically and emotionally, thus lightening your load and allowing you some perspective on what can reasonably and realistically be done to continue supporting your family, if you’re so inclined.
You mentioned there are other sources of income into which your wife and sister-in-law are able to tap to help them stay afloat. I see no reason why they shouldn’t be expected to use those funds to help support themselves, thereby removing some of the burden on you. Once he recovers from his injury, your son especially should be expected to pull his own weight, or at least back off on his financial reliance on his parents. Twenty-eight is more than old enough to be making a way in the world.
If you aren’t already doing so, you might want to investigate discount or assistance programs for people with limited income for expenses such as your real estate taxes, utilities, phone, and other recurring bills.
Finally, please consider reaching out to services available in your community geared to aid seniors or those living with disabilities. You have been carrying a lot for a long time now. Hopefully, moving forward you’ll find ways to focus more on your own health and financial wellbeing.