DEAR ABBY: Twenty years ago, my sister and I bought a business from our mother. We all love and respect one another and get along well. We will be finished paying off the business in two years.
Our problem: Mom, who is now 77, still draws a salary from us above and beyond the payment for the business. Her workload has lessened greatly, as it should. She could do all of her work in one day and lessen the burden of her salary. However, she says she'd "go crazy" if she retired. We don't want that. She could still come in as often as she wants and do her personal paperwork, banking, letter-writing, reading, etc. These are all things she does at "work" -- on the clock.
If we try to discuss this, Mom gets hurt and says, "Just let me know when I'm not worth the money." We don't want to do that. We would hope she would see the fairness of this and suggest it herself.
Business expenses are going through the roof, and there are updates we should make, but we can't do it as long as we are paying Mom at the level we are, on top of the money for the buy-out. -- DAUGHTERS DEAREST
DEAR DAUGHTERS: You do, indeed, have a problem. It's one that should be handled with the utmost diplomacy.
Because your mother is an intelligent businesswoman, she must be a part of this decision. Schedule a business meeting between the three of you and put the budget on the table for discussion -- along with the updates that need to be made. Ideally, she will recognize the dilemma and suggest the cutback herself.
If your mother fails to reduce her salary for the good of the company, begin "planting seeds" about how nice it would be to have time to devote to charity and how much she has to offer volunteerism. (It's the truth.) Research volunteer opportunities in your area, and perhaps even talk to some volunteer organizations about recruiting your mother. When she realizes how interesting and fulfilling these activities can be, encourage her to reduce her hours at work to enable her to contribute to the community. Good luck.