son and DIL in financial trouble (warning: very long!)

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-30-2007
son and DIL in financial trouble (warning: very long!)
24
Wed, 07-17-2013 - 9:14am

O.K., first of all,  if you're going to tell me that this is none of my business and that I should stay out of it, don't bother reading this and don't respond.  I have heard all this "stay out of it" on the "in-law" board.  I am hoping here that I will actually get some advice.  This is serious.

My son and daughter-in-law got married last summer and had a baby in March.  We are elated to become grandparents.  However, this happiness has been tainted by worries over their finances.  She had school loans and he probably should not have married her until these were paid down.  But, they didn't want to wait until they were in their 30's to have kids.  I'm not sure how much is left on the school loans, but it's going to be several years before it's paid off.  She also bought a car that she didn't need (her other one needed only a minor repair)  All of this with no guidance from her parents. They even told her to buy the car!  (Her parents are terrible with money and this is where she learned it)  If she would have kept her old car it would've been paid off a couple of years ago.  They ended up having to sell said car, because it was too small for baby stuff.  My son got laid off a few years ago.  He had bought a house and ended up doing a short sale.  Because of this, he couldn't get a loan.  We bought them a house, and they pay us rent, sometimes.....they are behind since the baby came and DIL has not been working.  DIL doesn't make much money at her job, but it is something.  She works for a school so will go back in the fall.  She always talked about that she wanted to do daycare, and this was way before she became pregnant.  I thought she was going to do this, get licensed and do daycare.  Now she's changed her mind.  She could make hundreds of more dollars a week if she did daycare and she could be with the baby!  Yes, she can go back to her job and pay daycare, but she won't be bringing much home.  They were barely making it before and now with paying daycare she will be hardly bring anything home, and I'm afraid they won't make it.   So, this gets worse.  She has been so poorly taught about money that she doesn't even get how much trouble they're in and why my son gets so upset about it.  He is working 50-60 hours a week and driving home 30 miles after working the night shift.  I am very afraid he will fall asleep driving since your body tells you were supposed to be sleeping.  She doesn't like it that he works so much, but yet she still doesn't make any attempt to help a little more to support this family.  They are 4 months behind on paying us rent.  He has told her that if they had any other landlord that they would be evicted by now.  SHE STILL DOESN'T GET IT!!!!!!  My husband does not know how behind they are because I keep track of our finances, and I'm afraid to tell him.  I will just try to reason with him that it is because she isn't working right now.  Anyhow, I just don't see how they're going to stay married unless she changes her attitude about money and soon!!!  I am going to suggest financial counseling, I know you can get this cheap or free if you are low income.  Any other ideas?????   I would really like to sit down with her and explain how this is not working and that she needs to help here.  My son cannot do it alone.  I just do not understand how he can tell her that they would be evicted if they had any other landlord and she still doesn't get it that she needs to get off her butt and get to work and make some money.  He is not getting through to her, obviously, so I think I need to step in.  If my husband and I both do it, she will feel ganged up on, and since he doesn't know how behind they are, this isn't an option.  HELP!!!!!   I know they are supposed to figure this out by themselves, but like I said, it's not working, she doesn't get it!!!!!   They are getting further in debt and it will only get worse!!  Since they owe us so much money I feel it is our business!!!  What should I do???  What should I tell my son to do????   He is so stressed out I'm afraid he's going to have a heart attack or get an ulcer or something!! 

Sorry so long!!!!!   Any advice would be appreciated! 

I will be gone visiting my very ill brother this weekend, so if I don't get back to you right away don't be offended, I will get back to you when I get home! 

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008

I wish you and your brother well.

Since your son and DIL owe you money, you have every right to tell her how much they owe and give them a deadline to pay up.  If they say they cannot, then perhaps you could make suggestions how they can make extra and/or save money.

I would also suggest not giving more money to them.  If you want to do something nice, start a small education fund for the grandkid that the parents cannot touch.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-30-2007

Hello, thank you for your wishes.  My brother is severely ill with Parkinson's disease.  He is only 63 years old, in a nursing home, and sometimes doesn't even remember his wife.  It's very sad.  They live a distance away so we have to make an effort to get there.

We're not loaning them anymore money.  They are just behind on what they already owe us.  My husband also thought about putting money in a trust for the baby.  It would be something that DIL cannot get her hands on if they split up.  Neither he nor I think this marriage is going to last.  I had my doubts before they even became engaged.  Money was always a bone of contention with these two. But, it seemed, she had changed her attititudes about it.  She was being more careful about spending, and my son thought she had come around.  Guess not.  Being pregnant and having a baby has either completely clouded her judgement, or she just was never changed to begin with.  My son knows how to manage money, in fact he's very good at it.  That is what we've taught our kids.  She is the problem.  I have bought lots of things for the baby, (craigslist is great for finding gently used baby items!)  we have the money now, and I feel I should be able to spoil her if I want to.  That's what grandparents are for, right?  It seems DIL appreciates the things I have bought, but it kind of came to a head earlier this week when we wanted to buy them something for the backyard for her daycare.  When she said she didn't know if she wanted to do daycare and "didn't care" about getting the stuff for the yard, I kind of lost it.    I thought, fine, if you don't appreciate, we won't do it.  It would have been a fun toy for granddaughter too, but it's on hold for now.  It's so frustrating.  I do think I'm going to have to talk to her though.  She's not going to like it, but something has to happen.  My son is worrying himself to death! 

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997

I believe you need to separate the issue of how much they owe you from your general feelings about your DIL.  As many people have told you on other boards, you often seem to be overly involved in their marriage.  In this particular case, since they owe you money, you do have a right to become involved - up to a point.

They *both* sound like impetuous young people who don't have a whole lot of self-control (and I base that on what you've posted on other boards).  Your DIL may not have a brain in her head about money, but your son hasn't done the most mature things either - among other things, he made poor decisions such as buying a house he couldn't afford, made himself liable for her student loans, and couldn't wait until he was more settled to have children, as if there were some kind of rush.  That's water under the bridge, but I'm afraid your son is just as responsible for the mess they are in as your DIL is.  And that is THEIR business, not yours.  It is not your place to tell your DIL what she should be doing with her life - that is the worst kind of MIL meddling.

However, what IS your business is what they owe you, and here's your avenue to helping them BOTH grow up and take responsibility.

Sit down with both your son & DIL - preferably without your H - and inform them that they owe you $xxxx for back rent.  You realize that they may never have made up a budget, so you come prepared with a budget outline for them.  Be sure to include EVERYTHING on that sample budget, including movies, diapers, hair barrettes for baby, haircuts, etc.  Do NOT fill in the numbers - that is their job.  Tell them that they have one month to fill in the lines of that budget, both the income and the expenses, and to have a plan of action about how to fill in the gap between the two.  At the end of that month, they need to come to you with the budget, their action plan for increasing their income, and their plan for how they are going to repay you for the money that YOU are going to need yourself in your retirement.  If they don't, then you will tell your H how much they owe, and they can certainly plan on your never giving them any more money until they show more responsibility.

Then step back.  Leave them alone.  Let them try to make some truly adult decisions on their own.  If they come to you and ask for advice, great.  If not, back off.

Good luck.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006

I will try to keep this about "finances and budgeting."

My DS24 also has a GF who has poor money management skills.  Luckily they have not been in a hurry to marry or have children.  His GF has always worked though, which does differ from your situation.  But she puts her head in the sand versus dealing with things head on.  I could totally see her in a similar sitution though with a newborn. 

They did come over a few years ago and I had printed up a budget sheet from Gail (Till Debt Do Us Part) and tried to give them a little guidance.  They still struggle, but they started writing due dates on the calendar and things of that nature.  They don't owe me money though.

I guess from a landlord point of view, you have every right to evict them.  Thinking that if your DH knew they were 4 months behind, he might just do that! 

With all of that said, I am thinking that you could offer to come over and provide some tools that might help them manage their money better.  Lets be honest, you are not going to get your 4 months of back rent, but if they allow you to come over and give them some ideas, you could start the clock over and tell them that from now on, you have no choice financially but to treat them as any other tenant. 

Just an idea.

You may want to lurk on the Debt Support Board, if you haven't already.  You wouldn't get very far reposting this there, but if you look where posters have asked for help, you will see the same kind of advice over and over again that you could pass on to your DS and DIL.  There is one poster who always suggest giving our young adult children the Financial Peace Seminar with Dave Ramsey as a gift. 

We must always remember how important our retirement is, and unless you have the disposable income to support two mortages, you are going to have to make some hard decisions if things don't change.  (I had a friend in her 50's who's mother helped her, but it was all coming out of her inheritance.)

Good luck, I know how hard it must be.  Especially with a grandbaby in the mix. 

Serenity CL Making a Second Marriage Work

Serenity
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-30-2007

I wasn't aware that anyone on here would know my "history."  I really did want to separate this from the other things.  There a number of things about this DIL that bug me, but this is by far the most important.   If you recognize me from other conversations, then you probably know that my son tells me everything.  I like this about our relationship, but it makes it difficult for me to "stay out of their business."

I know my son isn't perfect, but he did not buy a house he couldn't afford.  We bought it.   In the small town where they live they couldn't find a place to rent that would allow pets.  If it was a bad decision, then it was our bad decision, we did it.   As far as her debt, I know I wish they could've waited until it was paid off, but that would have taken years.  The pregnancy was not planned, I'm sure many of you understand, these things happen.   No birth control is foolproof. 

I talked with him earlier today, and they are going to have her  mom watch the baby so they have some time to talk about this.  He is going to show her on paper, where their money goes and how they aren't going to make it unless she helps out more.  She has always wanted to do daycare, so I hope she will realize this is the way for her to help support them.    I just wish her parents could be of more help, she talks to them a lot.  They don't get it either.   Her mother actually told her that a savings account isn't necessary.  UGHHHH!!!!!   What's the matter with these people?!?!  

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-30-2007

Yes, I could go to the debt support board.  If there are any other resources that anyone thinks would be of use, I would appreciate it.  Like I've said, my son is very good with is money, but I told him he's just beating his head against the wall if he can't get through to her.  If this isn't successful this weekend, I will suggest the social services I found on-line. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2006
I am having trouble making sense of this. If your son is working 60 hours a week, what is he doing with that money? Presumably, his paycheck is in his name. He should pay you his rent first. If they are in credit card debt, he needs to cut up the cards, maybe giving one to you to hold for emergencies. If she has school loans, they need to explore what deferral options they have if they can't pay them. Perhaps thy should not have pets if they cannot pay to house themselves and their child, pet food, vet bills add up. You do not need to teach your DIL how to manage money...some things have to come from desire...weight loss, sobriety, financial responsibility. And I wouldn't hold out hope that divorce will fix this...your son might end up trying to support two households....best wishes. SJ
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-30-2007

O.K., 50-60 hours a week at a well-paying job, should come out to be plenty of money to live on.  But, that many hours a week at an average paying job, doesn't come out that well.  He even has a college education, but some jobs just don't pay that well.  I will not reveal what state I live in, but, it sucks here.  Wages are too low, daycare is too high.  But, with this average paying job, he has very good benefits.  You should know, that a good chunk of a person's paycheck goes toward insurance.  They have no credit card debt.  They have one car payment, cell phone, etc.   He has beat his head against the wall so many times on this, his head hurts!  She is spending money someplace!  That is why they're sitting down and talking about this.  Part of their problem at the current time is that they have a lot of friends getting married.  Those friends were in their wedding and in turn, my son and/or his wife have been asked to be in the wedding.  Some of these weddings are a distance away.  They cannot really afford the hotel, the tux, etc., but what should they do?  Pretty humiliating to have to turn down a good friend because you cannot "afford" to be in the wedding.  That is why we are trying to be patient about the rent.  I don't know how much her school loans are, but it's obviously a burden.  I do not understand what you mean by "deferral."  Does that mean stretching out the loan so they have to pay more interest on it??  Yeah, her mom and dad tried to talk her into doing that, and my son would have none of it.  He's not paying extra interest, that's just dumb.  She just needs to stop spending money on stupid stuff.  When my husband and I were first married I never spend money on the stuff she does.  There's got to be money she's spending on other stuff that I don't know about, and that my son doesn't even know about.  That is the problem!!!   I'll say this one more time, my son knows how to manage money, they were taught from very little that there are some things you just don't need.  It burns me to no end that people can buy pop, etc., with food stamps.  We did not have pop when we were first married, and when we first had kids.  We did not start buying pop and such things until my husband was making good money.  So, yes, pop is something she's buying that they don't need.  I don't know what else there is.  Oh, and something else, to this very day, we have NEVER had cable TV, a satellite dish, etc.  We never owned any video games.  Our kids did not watch TV, they got off their butts and did work.  This is the environment they grew up.  I guarantee he is NOT the one spending the money. 

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006

Hi Mom, I hope your DS and his W have a productive meeting. 

I feel for you wanting to help your DS and grandbaby.  I really do.  But this is a topic that is hard to separate, because you are not asking for yourself. 

I told you yesterday that I sat down with my DS and his GF a couple years ago.  Well, just found out yesterday they are moving out of their apartment and in with my oldest DD (and her BF and my grandson).  Of which, by the way, there is NO room for them.  They were wise enough to put in notice and get out before things got worse, but they are stuck in payday loans and he told me they didn't pay either of their auto insurance last month.  Her paycheck has been garnished (25%) for the last couple years from school loans she ignored. 

Yes, my entire family scratches our heads wondering how between two full-time incomes, (although on the low-side) they struggle so much.  They have no credit cards, so any lapse in judgement in the spending department then effects some other commitment. 

I hate to see it, but as my DS said to me yesterday. "it was either my sisters couch or live out of our cars." 

To be honest, I would suggest looking at your part of this pickle you are in.  I say that because being a financial board, this is effecting your finances. 

A quick story: We have some friends that are in their 40's and "rent" from her parents.  He works on and off.  High pay when he works, then unemployment when he doesn't.  She is self-employed.  Vacations, new furniture, etc.  Come to find out they only pay her parents rent after they threaten to kick them out.  Yea, in their 40's with grandchildren.  Really?  I am sure her parents meant well letting their DD, DIL and grandchildren live there.  Know what I mean? 

I am SURE you don't want this to happen to you. 

Good luck and I hope you keep us posted.  Again, I know it hard. 

Serenity

Serenity
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2006
I think what I was trying to say is that if she doesn't have access to credit cards, and her cash is limited by what he gives her after the rent is paid, then how does she have money to spend on the items you think they do not need? And as far as the weddings go, no good freind would want you to go in to debt just to attend their wedding. You can certainly choose to subsidize them, but you cannot change their behavior, just your own.

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