Sunday, March 23, 2008

Should Mom or Dad Really be "Last Hope" in Middle-Age?

I read with curiosity this article on middle-aged "kids" coming home to live with mom and dad:

After being laid off from her job as an events planner at an upscale resort, Jo Ann Bauer struggled financially. She worked at several lower-paying jobs, relocated to a new city and even declared bankruptcy.

Then in December, she finally accepted her parents' invitation to move into their home — at age 52. "I'm back living in the bedroom that I grew up in," she said.

Taking shelter with parents isn't uncommon for young people in their 20s, especially when the job market is poor. But now the slumping economy and the credit crunch are forcing some children to do so later in life — even in middle age.

Financial planners report receiving many calls from parents seeking advice about taking in their grown children following divorces and layoffs.

Should older parents really be digging into their savings and retirement to help their middle-aged children? One financial planner in the article says to be careful:

"I almost have to act like a financial therapist if you will," she said. "'Here is the line I'm drawing for you. That's fine. You can do up to this point, but at this point, now you're starting to erode your own wealth.'"

What is going to happen to these parents who use their savings to help kids when they need it for their own retirement? If their kids are self-centered enough to take their parent's retirement from them, will they really help the parent later on down the road or will they be more like this woman, who wrote to the Huffington Post complaining that her mom was a pain in the ass?

If the latter, what are the chances that the middle-aged kids will go on to return the favor and support mom and dad if and when their money runs out? Probably pretty unlikely. Perhaps a better investment for parents of middle-aged kids without jobs, income etc. would be to present them with the book, Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream. A young man goes out in the world with 25 bucks to see if he can build a life:

Ten months into the experiment, he decided to quit after learning of an illness in his family. But by then he had moved into an apartment, bought a pickup truck, and had saved close to $5,000.

The effort, he says, was inspired after reading "Nickel and Dimed," in which author Barbara Ehrenreich takes on a series of low-paying jobs. Unlike Ms. Ehrenreich, who chronicled the difficulty of advancing beyond the ranks of the working poor, Shepard found he was able to successfully climb out of his self-imposed poverty.

Perhaps there is a lesson here for older adults asking for hand-outs from mom and dad.

Update: Neo-neocon has more thoughts on baby-boomers moving home.


Blogger Jack Steiner said...

I don't understand it. I can see asking for help, but I can't imagine accepting it on anything but a short term basis.

2:13 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'd like to read those two books you've recommended.

Would anyone know if they were trying to pay their student loans while conducting this experiment? I can speak from experience that it eats away about 1/3 of my wife and my income per month. Car payments and insurance eat the next third and rent takes the rest. Not much left for food, gas, and incidentals. And we make 90k+ a year.

I've had to live with my parents just after graduating, but not once I was married and we had to move in with her parents for about 7 months before we could find a place in this ridiculously over-priced, shady market. both for rentalsna dto buy.

I agree that it's a little overboard at 52, but it still feels overboard at 30. It's a massive blow to your self-esteem if you have any pride and like to think you're a man.

Long Island sucks massively.

4:11 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

I feel I am somewhat at a moral crossroads here in the time of nosediving economy. As you may know by now I live grossly beneath my means, my bank account is my friend. We've all been seeing people buy homes with interest-only mortgages, and those homes are miles away from their workplaces so they and their families can be "safe". They drive big giant cars because the big SUV is also a vision of safety and status.

But now money is getting tight, the real estate market is doing interesting things, mortgage payments are growing in size and one's gas tank and thermostat is the enemy during this time of uninhibited corporate greed.

Do we start doing the "toldyaso" dance, or quietly keep our mouthes shut as a portion of the citizenry declares bankruptcy and moves back into mom and dad's home?

I'm inclined to keep my big trap shut, under one condition. Go ahead, do what you have to do but, for God's sakes, do not suggest dipping into my pocket to fix what ails those that have made bad choices. I'm not paying your mortgage, I'm not helping you with your fuel bill (I never turned my furnace on this year). I'm not buying you groceries, I'm not filling your gas tank. Call someone who cares.

6:07 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Mercurior said...

but sometimes the only place to stay is with your parents. increasing house prices (now crashing at a site near you). food bills rocketing, fuel bills going up, In the UK this year fuel bills for the household will go up $200, and thats not counting food bills, and more.

If you think its bad in america, imagine paying $10 a gallon for fuel. $1000 plus for electricity and gas.

I remember the housing crash of the late 80's, and its not as bad then as it is now. More and more bills in the UK, far higher than america.

And its only going to get worse. Sometimes the only place you can go is to your parents who may own their own house, so long as you give them housekeeping.

Then you get people who say move, you should do this, and get into more debt. I may not like to stay here, but i cant afford to move anywhere else. When the average, house here is $240,000.

6:43 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger GawainsGhost said...

Family is family. My parents never turned their backs on me. In fact, they went far beyond their call of duty and made sacrifices to help me, and there were times when I was younger that I really screwed up. I'll admit it.

But at the same time, I never turned my back on my parents either. Over the last 25 years, since I got out of college and became meaningfully employed, I've bought them cars, appliances and computers. So it all evened out in the end.

Everyone goes through hard times. Everyone makes costly mistakes. Then, to have a family support group is a blessing that few appreciate and even fewer respect.

Accepting help and support from your parents in times of need is one thing. However, taking advantage of and living off them is quite another. There is honor in the former, and shame in the latter.

7:15 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Trust said...

Liberalism is blurring the distinction between adulthood and childhood.

A specific example is the their use of a 12 year old S-CHIP beneficiary to give the rebuttal the president's veto. We are supposed to respect the child's wisdom on the subject, and not consider the fact that his his parents work part time and intermittently, own a half a million dollars in property and vehicle assets, and pass their health care costs to the nanny-state.

Is this not role reversal? Should it not be the child, instead of the parents, who are dependant? Should it not be the parents, rather than the child, responding to the adult challenges of life?

7:24 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Bob Sorensen said...

My wife and I have to deal with her lesbian daughter who keeps failing at relationships and coming back to live with us. She refuses to grow up, and her mother (age 51, I am 48) is an enabler, which puts a tremendous strain on our own relationship. This 25-year-old-going on-13 "adult" child is a sociopathic people user and has physically and verbally attacked me (one instance is written up as Neil's story, at . Letting grown adults keep moving back home does not help them grow up and ruins relationships.

7:52 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Lou Minatti said...

But now the slumping economy and the credit crunch are forcing some children to do so later in life — even in middle age.

What ever happened to the novel concept of SAVING MONEY so that you aren't forced to move back with the parents at each economic hiccup?

I wonder if Jo Ann Bauer "bought" a house with one of those stupid subprime ARMs a few years ago and lost it.

9:28 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Gahrie said...

There is a reason why extended families with multiple generations living together, are the norm across the world throughout history. They make economic sense. It has only been in modern times, in the developed west, that nuclear families with mother and father and minor children became the expectation. The vast gains in standards of living and wealth that the western captialistic societies have experienced are what allowed nuclear families to become standard.

9:31 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Lou Minatti said...

And its only going to get worse.

Why? If you were stupid enough to get caught up in the housing mania, walk away. The morals of welching on your mortgage payments? I'd say that Wall Street pretty much put the kibosh on that. If fatcats can walk away, so can homoaners.

Quit paying the mortgage you can't afford, save up the money during that "free rent" period until they boot you out, then go rent a place. Save a ton of money, save your toys (plasma TV, jet skis, etc.) and you still have a place to live.

9:32 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

@ Lou:

And if savings aren't an option? Living paycheck to paycheck is all some of us have. walking away and being scumbags isn't an option for some of us. We were raised to do the right thing despite the pain it causes. I owe the money - I owe the money.

Just sayin' is all.

I agree some jumped when they shouldn't have, but I'm not one of them and I'm still having trouble making ends meet. In a rented place in an overpriced market with undervalued talent.

9:36 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Tim said...

Okay, here's my take:
If you're still paying out 1/3 of your income to pay down college loans, you either didn't belong in college in the first place (or, you would have qualified for scholarships!), or you stayed in college too long (doctorates COST A LOT MORE than bachelor's degrees).
Hell, I've been bankrupt twice (Chapter 7 twenty years ago, and Chapter 13 today), but my parents are both dead, and the only loans I've gotten from family were paid back FIRST, years ago. Both my parents are long dead, so I'm on my own. On the other hand, I've almost always had at least two jobs...
Could it be that work ethic is the issue here?..

9:41 PM, March 23, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People taking Lou Minatti's advice are going to find out what "deficiency judgment" means down the road. Usually when you get back on your feet and thought they forgot about it.

9:44 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

A friend of mine stopped by this afternoon to visit. He's frugal like me. Recently he needed another car and he finally decided on a vehicle choice. I went outside and admired his new vehicle. We were both pleased at his economical decision, no payments and great gas mileage. Later on in the day I saw a TV commercial, where young men were lamenting the fact they had to buy a used car instead of a shiny new one. My friend's choice of car? well, the exact same one in the commercial. Same color, same dents. :)

9:49 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...


Work ethic has never been an issue. I do my work. I want an honest days pay for an honest days work. I will work until the job's done and I learn what the job requires of me.

I may not have belonged in college. i wanted to join the marines and my parents didn't want me to. I listed to them and picked a degree that's worth nothing.

As a comedian said, "I have an art history degree, it mean's my backup plan is homeless guy. I may not have a home, but I'll know which statue I'm living under and that's important."

I certainly shouldn't have transfered senior year and started the whole process over again. Fact is; I did and have to live with choices made.

I will honestly and freely account for my mistakes - but none of them
changes in the slightest that it's harder than ever to get a foot in the door due to how many people exist, how expensive the market is and how much incidentals cost. I may not be brilliant, but common sense does not escape me.

My wife has a doctorate and is an excellent attorney and will probably command her own salary within 3 years. I do not have the same prospects.

I don't even know what my point is anymore. Fact is, bills are bills and I'll pay them, but it's harder than it was and I'm not lazy, so you tell me. Maybe it's the same for others and maybe not. I have no answers, just frustration.

9:54 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger MossyMo said...

52 !!!
Middle-age ?!?

How many people do you know that live to 104?

I am 35 with an average life expectancy of 77 (given my weight and activity less than that).

Christ, at 35 I am middle-age. 77/2= ~38/39
At 52 you are in the last 1/3 of life. By any reasonable measure you are out of "the middle".

10:04 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger MathMom said...

I suppose there are circumstances where a middle-aged child would have no recourse except to move home (traumatic brain injury comes to mind). But able-bodied people who worked for years without ever saving any money? That's poor planning, and there is no time to start learning how to plan better than today.

I am taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University right now, although we are debt free. He counsels people who are in debt to their eyeballs and beyond. He always says to sell your car if you have high payments, and buy a used car or a real beater until you can get out from under your debt. He says to get a paper route in addition to your job, and claw your way out. Doing this will give you such an inner strength that you will become bullet-proof. He says there is a difference between "broke" and "poor". "Broke" is a temporary condition that can be remedied. "Poor" is a frame of mind.

I was broke and in debt years ago. I had lost everything. A very difficult legal situation left me with legal bills three times greater than my monthly rent. I started carrying my lunch instead of eating out, I didn't buy clothes for more than two years, and paid off every penny. Then I bought underwear which I REALLY needed by that time. I have never paid interest except mortgage interest since 1985.

We lived in a HUD repossession in Alaska and fixed the holes in the wall and the broken sinks left by the people who were evicted. It was tiny, and we were beyond cramped, but housing costs in Anchorage were second highest in the nation, after San Francisco, when we lived there, and I wanted to stay home with the kids. So we lived in a less-desirable neighborhood than we wanted, but we could pay the mortgage.

People complain about the cost of housing in Long Island. You can get a LOT of house in the Houston area for $250K - I'm talking about 3000+ sq ft and half an acre of biomass to mow. You can get completely adequate housing for half that. about changing jobs? Go West! Go South! Leave your nest and go somewhere that you CAN make it.

I've lived in Idaho, Arizona, Texas three times, Alaska and Saudi Arabia twice. You lose the comfort of being an hour's drive from Grandma, and your kids don't grow up around their cousins. But you grow a backbone and don't shame your parents by your inability to live on your own when your own kids should be on their own.

Oh, and by the way, we now have four cars of varying ages, all bought new and paid for with cash, a large, roomy house with a half acre of land and trees, nice neighbors, good schools, and financial comfort. You have to work at it. You have to be willing to go where work is rewarded and costs are lower.

10:08 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Bob Sorensen said...

Evil Dave should forget about playing with numbers and grasp the points that are being made. For Christ's sake. Happy Easter.

10:08 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Buford Gooch said...

Can't live on $90K? boo-hoo. Grow up and get over yourself. My wife and I have lived on far less than that for most of our 34 years of marriage. Yes, we paid off my college loans on time.

10:16 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...


And if moving isn't an option?

Then it's time to "Eat bitter", right?


Happy Easter to all who are inclined. Thanks to Dr. Helen for the usual though-provoking articles.

10:16 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

@ Eric

Yeah, I need to get over myself. that's obviously the issue here.

Bravo. Way to take it down a notch.

10:19 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger MathMom said...

Bill -

How can moving not be an option?

The second time I lived in Houston was in 1983-86. The bottom had fallen out of the real estate market, Houston being a boom-and-bust economy at that time. Thousands of houses were up for sale, many for two years without a nibble. Gulf Oil had been acquired or whatever by Chevron, and all those employees were told to move to San Francisco at their Houston pay scales, or be laid off, so jobs were very tight. Big layoffs were happening everywhere. Several of my co-workers finally mailed their house keys back to their mortgage companies and moved to Atlanta to start over.

You may not want to move, which I understand. Please explain why you can't move.

10:26 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger chrishaynesusa said...

No getting around it. People shake out on the Bell curve just like everything else.

10:27 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger MossyMo said...


I get the point but allow me to indulge my pet peeve.

Or more the point of my pet peeve is that we have a generation (Baby Boomers) that refuses to grow up.

10:27 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger mbet said...

I can see someone moving back home with his/her parents temporarily if something totally unexpected and devastating occurs. Traumatic brain injury/severe physical injuries/cancer/MS/etc., or your wife/husband looting your savings accounts and fleeing to parts unknown with a gym trainer right after you lose your job, leaving you with three kids, one of whom is autistic. In cases such as that, home is the place that, when you go there, they have to take you in. But that's not the same as able-bodied adults living beyond their means and then running back to Mom and Dad to fix things.

There is a reason why extended families with multiple generations living together, are the norm across the world throughout history. They make economic sense.

I agree that they did a few hundred years ago, when there was no concept of adolescence, and you were either a child who was contributing to the family in a minor way, or an adult who was contributing in a major way - tilling the fields, managing tenants, caring for children, etc. Nuclear families are inferior to extended families when it comes to, say, tending newborns. We live in a different world now, with more mobility, autonomy and urbanization. Parents no longer select their children's mates. Children no longer have immediate economic utility. Most of us spend time as adolescents learning the skills that we need to navigate a technologically, economically and logistically complicated civilization. Etc. Now, I could see the moving-back-home thing working out if the parents have some sort of family business and the child begins to work in that - say, three generations living under the same roof who are all involved in a family-owned chain of car repair shops around town. And if the adult children are substituting for paid caregivers, their presence can make financial sense. I don't think that's what's being discussed here. Instead, we have able-bodied middle-aged people who largely have not planned well being bailed out by their parents without any guarantee that the assets used to do so will be returned. That's worrisome, IMO.

10:33 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

@ MathMom:

I very much want to move.

I lived in the south for 4 years after grad. high school and liked the people. I came back to NY for family.

It all comes down to my wife. She makes almost 3X what I do, and is admitted to practice in NY. quite frankly we can't take a paycut because of debt. We'veeliminated CC debt, and only have cars, student loans, and monthly bills. we are on the right track, but as I said before are one disaster from disaster.

She has many options and has networked very well in NY. Comitee (the ability to practice in other states without taking the bar - but passing a background investigation and interview) only exists for certain states that I know of(such as NC). We've discussed it ad naseum but she has more opportunity here it seems, and that makes her less likely to leave. I defer to her judgement because I chose in college to support her career due to potential, vs. mine.

The problem for me has always been we're struggling here where we could be doing fine elsewhere. I think leaving NY is leaving her zone of comfort and she's not willing to do that. It's a conflict that's not easily resolved.

My whole point in posting to begin with isn't for sympathy. We've made and continue to make our own choices. It's for different opinions and options.

And maybe just to throw out there that it's not always because people are lazy, but that they're doing everything right and are still hurting.

I'm married and I take that seriously so I'm not willing to just strike out on my own.

Maybe things will change, maybe not.

10:35 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Lou Minatti said...

People taking Lou Minatti's advice are going to find out what "deficiency judgment" means down the road.

You can't squeeze blood from a turnip, and in America we don't have debtor's prisons.

Regarding deficiency judgments, it depends upon the state. The fact is, Wall Street assholes can and do welch on their loans and walk away without penalty. We read about this every day.

Since this is a FACT, there is no longer any moral reason for a distressed homoaner to feel guilty about turning in the keys. Jingle mail. Consult a lawyer.

Regardless, there is NO FINANCIAL EXCUSE for a 50+ year old (the pathetic hippy generation) moving back in with the parents unless the parents requested it.

10:35 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Justin said...

As a graduate school student trying to get a doctorate and being paid for it, I can't imagine unforeseen financial crisis. Ups and downs always happen, thus you should foresee them. I agree with those who've emphasized planning for job loss, and economic downturn. Save half a year's salary, then don't touch it.

It's all about budgeting I think. Make sacrifices here and there, and it starts to add up just like the bills do, keeping pace hopefully.

10:37 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger The Ghost said...

Go West, Young (wo)Man.

No, seriously. Save your goddamn money that you make at such jobs as "an events planner at an upscale resort" and use it to secure a piece of real estate in a region with plenty available. They're not that hard to find. Open this map and look for an area away from the "blue".

Most of these cases - and I say this as a home-living manchild myself (technically; a 24 year old college senior)- are a result of the person not wanting to move away from familiar cities or family members.

To which the appropriate counsel is: tough. And stop blaming "the economy" and "the credit crunch." There's no reason that someone making solid middle-class income with no dependents should have to move back in with their parents, at least not without a horror story about being at her wit's end after burning through the sizable savings account she'd saved up while working.

Or rather, there is a reason for it: overspending and abuse of credit. But there's no excuse.

10:42 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Justin said...

Additionally, a lot of tools are out there to help budgeting. I had heard good things about, and signed up. In five minutes I knew how much I spent and on what categories in the last few months. Quicken's useful for some, too.

10:43 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger john bono said...

Gee, Dr. Helen, I'm amazed you didn't notice these paragraphs:

Bauer was caught by surprise when her job at a resort in Kohler, Wis., was cut four years ago, one year after she got divorced. The single mother bounced around to several lesser-paying jobs, declared bankruptcy and even moved 60 miles south to Milwaukee.

Her daughter, now 12, moved in with Bauer's ex-husband near her hometown.

Bauer decided to move to be closer to her and in December she found a job with the Experimental Aircraft Association in nearby Oshkosh. She tried to buy a house but needed 5 percent down. She only had 2 percent. She's now saving for a down payment and hopes to have it as early as June.

Golly gee, do you think the reason why she moved back in w/Mom and Dad might be that after getting her no-fault divorce, to find herself, that maybe, just maybe, she found out that living on your own is, you know, hard?

10:48 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger leishman said...

Fragile ego-state can certainly keep one from making choices seen as "beneath" oneself, even when such choices are in one's best interest. Examples would be buying an older car, taking lunch to work, buying clothes at thrift/resale shops, buying food at Wal-Mart, or taking a less-than-ideal job. I make a substantial income, and my ladyfriend has a seven-figure net worth, and we're fine with all of the above. Meanwhile my ex- is still trying to figure out some "clever" angle so as to avoid all the above; after six years she's still looking, even as her once-substantial assets slip away.

10:56 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger MathMom said...

Bill -

Thanks for the conversation. I am 54 and kept going to school whenever we were in the US and I could get to a junior college or university. You have an education that you don't feel serves you. Can you take classes and get educated in a new field and increase your job satisfaction?

One thing about taking even three credit hours - you're around thinking people (unless you're in Freshman level required classes - then you're likely to get acne again, but I digress) and you have something totally new to do with your mind.

I got my Associates degree at age 44 - and pulled a straight "A" average, doing chemistry, anatomy and physiology, math, statistics and computing. It was hard but rewarding, and completely different than carrying my autistic son on my back through his middle school years through his high school graduation.

It sounds like you are trying to live an ethical life. My hope for you is for some joy in your life to offset your struggles. Best wishes.

10:56 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger mbet said...

You know, having said all that I did...reading that article again, I'm wondering if Jo Ann Bauer's parents weren't lonely. It sounds as though they're financially comfortable, and it's possible that the emotional utility they're getting from having their daughter there for companionship - and, I'm guessing, the occasional running-of-errands and physically demanding tasks - is making the move worth it. (Also, I'm betting that the parents get to see their granddaughter more often now than they did before.) It also sounds as if they don't have to be worried about her sticking around for 30 years - she doesn't seem to be too "sophisticated" to feel shame over her predicament.

In the Rachel Lucas post that was mentioned earlier, there was much discussion in the comments about how elderly parents can get lonely - often, the people in their social network have moved away, gotten too ill for much companionship, or died. If you are going to have an adult child living at home, the Jo Ann Bauer situation - financially comfortable parents seeking some low level of companionship who urge their adult offspring to move home, adult offspring reluctantly moving home but still behaving politely and using the shame of having to do so as a motivation to turn around his/her financial life - is probably the one least likely to cause long-term problems. I'm thinking, though, that this story isn't that typical of a lot of the cases involved - it's just that finding elderly parents willing to say, "I couldn't say no to my no-good kid when he/she wanted to move back home with me, and now he/she is sucking away my bank account AND MY SOUL" is more difficult than finding those who are happy to be able to sit down to dinner with their adult kid every night who are willing to comment.

11:02 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...


Thanks, I appreciate rational, polite responses as well ;)

I'm doing what I can as far as classes. I previously worked in an ER before this job, (I jumped for the benefits and regret it) and enjoyed it immensely, so I began taking prerequisties for a nursing degree which has massive potential and the ability to obtain work regardless of state. I'm good with people, don't panic in a crunch, and enjoy feeling useful, so it could really work out.

Like I said, I'm on the right track, I guess it's the frustration of getting there that comes out every now and then.

I appreciate the well-wishes and hope the same for you ;)

11:03 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger chrishaynesusa said...

AP Invents 50-Year-Olds Moving Home Story to Highlight 'Bad Economy'

11:06 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Macbeth said...

I'm starting to feel like I grew up in some alien civilization. 52 and running home to Mommy? I can't imagine a scenario in which I, past the age of 18, would have burdened my (now gone) parents.

But I also can't imagine a scenario in which they would have tolerated it, short of the direst life or death situation.

What kind of parents are unable to raise independent adults? Maybe it's time to bring back the custom, or at least the threat, of disowning.

11:09 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger MathMom said...

Bill -

Nursing is absolutely a ticket anywhere these days. My husband had congestive heart failure, and after seven years of very fragile health got a heart transplant three years ago this week. We have seen all levels of nursing, but I have to say that the guy who was his nurse for several days in the transplant Recovery area was at the absolute pinnacle of Nursing. When he was standing guard over my husband, I had no fear. You can do a lot of good as a nurse. Keep your eyes on the prize! I suspect that you are younger than me - you have time and determination. You'll make it.

11:39 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger Peter V. Bella said...

When I divorced my first wife, I went home for about two months. But, as I was employed, I only needed a place to crash.

Twenty one years later, I am taking care of my soon to be 93 year old mother. Do I have complaints? Of course. The woman makes me nuts. She always has. Do I complain? No. She did for me, now I do for her. That is what families, at least traditional families do.

11:49 PM, March 23, 2008  
Blogger ChrisLee said...


As soon as I read your first two posts I began to expect your wife had a lot to do with the money problems. I make 90K a year in the Bay Area, another very overpriced housing market with high cost of living. However, I live in a low end apartment, I don't own any furnature, I don't own a TV, and shared my room with a friend who was willing to pay half the rent. The result is that I put away more than half of each paycheck into savings. You, unfortunately, don't have the option to reduce your lifestyle to a draconian minimum because of your wife. I'm sure you would if you could. However, women want a home, not just someplace to sleep at night.

Good luck. Don't blame the wife (she can't help being a girl) and everything will work out in the end.

1:41 AM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger Dancing Master said...

Whilst I don't mind providing some comforts for my sons, I do object to the ones that go out and get themselves into debt and then expect the parents to bail them out.

I expect mine to live within their budget maybe not a lot left over for luxuries and expensive clothes, but then that is where I come in I provide some of the additional treats from time to time unbidden not when asked for which for a start off mine would not ask me for anything.

As for student loans, it is quite different to help to pay off for tuition fees, but not for the booze and other stuff the students seem to obtain mostly on credit.

I am sorry but if you cannot afford to go to University and pay those fees and expenses they should study whilst working via other College facilities that are on offer. Its not meant to be a joyride its ot study and learn how to be a responsible member of society, which from the looks of it is not happening.

6:48 AM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger Dancing Master said...

Sorry I also meant to say I consider this type of behaviour to be abhorrent in that it is expecting something for nothing which she/they are not entitled to.

Parents have done their job up to after schooling when they expect then the offspring to work and contribute either to the home or set up on their own.

There is a growing feeling now with parents especially in the UK of spending their money themselves its called "Spending the Kids Inheritance" The kids will have to get by on what it left usually the family home which the parents in all probability will have taken out agreements with Insurance Companies in exchange for cash they can spend on themselves for holidays and luxuries as is their rights to do so.

Helping out your children whilst doing this because of circumstances regarding jobs, etc, is fine, but it should not be the only option open to the adults.

There are an element of people who are unable to get a foot on the property ladder and they are tied into staying with parents until they do so, but not when they have had a job, they should have provided for emergencies themselves.

The training we gave to our sons was that when working they spent a third, saved a third, and a third went on basic things such as food, clothing etc., no such thing as saving these days, just get more and more credit till you cannot afford to pay for it.

A roof over your head, food and warmth and some clothing are essentials, everything else is a luxury.

7:17 AM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

Bill: Even if you can't leave New York, try leaving Long Island. I live upstate, and I turned down a job offer in Nassau County a few years back because the pay bump I would have gotten would have been eaten three times over by the insane costs of housing.

If your wife makes 3/4 of your household income, she makes less than $70K a year, which is not great for a Long Island lawyer---and you are making about $22K and could hardly make less, no matter where you were in the state. You could probably both do better in an area where your earnings are more in line with cost of living.

7:29 AM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger Mercurior said...

A lot of people with extra expenses of the economy, Sometimes you cant save, but thats ok its your fault you cant make money.


the economy is going down hill worldwide. living expenses are rising and rising and rising. Companies are feeling the pinch, not the BIG multinationals, they just gouge more money out of you.

to all those who are from a middle class, working environment, check out other places. they arent are good.

Macbeth, There are external factors, that make it hard for a young adult to go out and make their way in the world.

Yet blame the young, blame people who have no control over bills and bills, and bills. I am not talking about NON necessary bills. i am talking about food, and heat and bills for the house. But then some of the posters her will say, he should move house to a cheaper place to live, (which usually has less jobs so your screwed).

I live in one of the highest countries for living expenses. america is one of the lowest. You complain that gas is $3 a gallon, we pay over 3 times that. energy bills, vastly higher.

If we cant afford to drive to work, and to pay for a house and eat. then the only place to go is to your parents. But of course young women have a way out, get pregnant and claim money from the man, so its mostly young men going home. why is it so different, can it be that divorces make men poorer, they usually lose their house, any access to kids. so where are they to go, if they dont want to become bankrupt. back to their parents. if they dont they will only work and every cent/penny goes on that, how can someone save.

But blame the men, blame the young, call them spongers, call them lazy, i know i will be told i should move, i should do this, but you try living in the UK. and the expenses.

I am newly married, i cant afford a house, i cant afford much, so my wife lives 5000 miles from me. 5 months married, only been together 2. But people will say its my fault. When industry starts to lay people off, when living expenses rise beyond the wages a person gets. Its not easy to go and get a better job as there will be thousands going for the same one.

8:44 AM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger amr said...

The story misses a fairly new phenomenon. With parents living much longer (parents on both sides in our family are alive and in their early to mid eighties) resulint in failing health and Alzheimers, children are moving back into their parent’s house to care for them. This maintains familiar surroundings for the parents. And yes it is for economic reasons too, but not because either party has overburdened themselves with debt; they are trying to avoid just that problem. My wife works with the elderly and has noted that this is not an unusual situation in our area.

9:02 AM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger Larry J said...

Or more the point of my pet peeve is that we have a generation (Baby Boomers) that refuses to grow up.

Not all of us, just too many of us. I'm 50 years old. My house, my cars, and my airplane are all paid off. The only bill I have each month is the mortgage on a rental property.

As for nursing, it's a great career but with high stress. My wife has been a nurse for 20 years. She worked her way up to surgical nurse manager of an outpatient clinic. The pay was great but the stress was ruining her health, so she switched to working for an insurance company 2 years ago. The pay is considerably less but she's happier and healthier. The extra money isn't worth it if you ruin your health.

Our son became a nurse last year. He's in the Navy (prior enlisted) and working in the ER at a major Marine training base. They're understaffed to the point that they recently lost a patient (gunshot wound in a training exercise) because no surgeon was available.

Another career possibility to consider is X-ray technician. The schooling is typically about 2 years, the demand for the job is very high nationwide, and the pay is pretty good. If you really want to make some money in health care, consider becoming a dental hygenist. They often make much more money than nurses and are also in demand.

You can't undo past mistakes, so the best thing you can do is try to recover from them and avoid making new ones. If you're living in a very expensive area, you need to evaluate whether the extra salary you're making is worth it. Suppose, for example, that you and your wife could move to a less expensive area. Your salary would likely decrease but if the cost of living decreases even more, then you're coming out ahead. In the end, it's what you have left over that counts.

Getting out from under debt can be done but not quickly. My wife and I married in 1983 while we were both still in college (we were older "non-traditional" students). For our first few months of marriage, our combined income was about $400 a month. We took whatever jobs we could find to make more money. Sometimes, you need to work more than one job if that one isn't paying enough to meet the bills.

There is a simple technique to paying off bills that works very well. First, cut every unnecessary expense (e.g. eating out, cable TV, even the Internet) to free up some extra cash. Brown bag your lunches (I've done that for over 20 years), drop the Starbucks, etc. Take that money and add it to the minimum payment of one of your bills.

There are two schools of thought as to which bills to pay first. One school says to pay off the bills that charge the highest interest rate first. The other says to pay off whichever bill you can pay off the fastest. Both are valid options. In your case, you might want to go for a quick victory and pay off something as fast as possible.

Now, once you've paid off that bill, take the complete amount you were paying on it and drop that as an additional payment on your next bill. Lather-rinse-repeat as you work your way up the list of bills. You can make great progress on a list of bills in just 2-3 years using this approach.

It does require not "living in the moment" as the credit card commercial says. Don't buy anything new until you can afford it. Don't put anything on your credit card unless you can pay for it that month. Don't buy or lease another new car until your debt is under control.

9:37 AM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger erp said...

Bill, You may need to execute Plan B* pretty soon because your wife's bound to get tired of your whining. I don't understand why she's put up with it this long.

*Growing up.

11:02 AM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger Sokmnkee said...

My husband just went to work after losing his job of 22 years. Last year was a bit of a struggle, but it would have been even more so if we had been living above our means. We had a year to prepare for the plant closing. We refi-ed our house for 15 years at a locked in rate of 4.35%. It saved is over a couple hundred a month. We dropped anything which was an "extra." We stockpiled what we could and saved his severance. We lost our health care coverage because we just couldn't afford COBRA. Luckily, we're both healthy and do not require prescription meds. My husband was like a baby bird who had fallen out of its nest. He didn't know what to do next. He tried working some on his own, but it didn't work out as he'd planned. He went to work in another plant, but hated it and it was temporary anyway. During that time I had finished 2 years of school and was trying to become self-employed. The money I had set aside for that purpose got used for monthly living expenses and groceries. We never entertained selling our house and moving in with our parents. I do have an aunt that wished to gift us with $5,000.00 for me to start my home business. As badly as I needed it, I couldn't allow her to just give it to me. I set up a promissory note, plus interest, and I make regular monthly payments to her. For all practical purposes, it's a business loan and I have given her the privilege of "calling" it whenever she feels she needs to prior to the 2-year payback schedule. I have set up my business and I'm beginning to see things pick up. My husband is also newly employed in a job he seems quite happy at and we'll have health care coverage within the next 90 days.

I won't lie. Things got tense, but throwing in the towel was never an option. I wanted to be an adult all my life, and I'm not about to go back to being an adolescent anytime soon.


12:06 PM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger jabrwok said...

Another title to add to the reading list: The Wealthy Barber. Good, sound advice on planning for retirement and saving for other expenses. It's a little old now, and pre-dates the current housing bubble burst, so the advice on real estate may seem quaint, but I think it pre-dates the sub-prime mortgage too, so that might explain that oversight.

Easy read and quite helpful IMO.

12:28 PM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger Earnest Iconoclast said...

That's really sad that some people believe that the decision on whether or not to help your children out should be based on your personal financial situation. Certainly one shouldn't help out children who are taking advantage or who need to learn a lesson. On the other hand, family is family and one should always be willing to help family (with exceptions for abusive members).

This should be a two way street, though, where kids help their parents, siblings help each other, etc...

I'm never going to criticise someone for choosing to help out family members. Any member of my fmaily would do whatever was needed to help out any other member who was in need.

1:06 PM, March 24, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with you, earnest.

I'll do whatever I can for my kids, or my siblings. As one who has seen it first hand, the most unexpected and otherwise inexplicable things can (and do) happen in many lives. It's not just those who can't handle their money, or have drug or alcohol habits.

1:26 PM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

@Everyone who had words of advice:

Thanks for the thought and advice, I really do appreciate it.


Yes, you're a shining example of how adults behave. I'm glad your brilliant demonstration gives me a counter-point to my childish behavior; Of having the temerity to actually voice frustration. How dare I? Whiney insolent child!

Now I have something to shoot for! The bright and wonderful Land of Adults - complete with snarky nastiness and judgemental holier-than-thou attitude!

Am I close to adulthood yet? I feel superior to you, so I must be close. Although, man, I feel like I'm dirty behaving this way. I'm sure letting you know how much better I am than you, so I guess my transformation to adulthood is complete. Or do I have to kick a puppy as well to complete my joining this exclusive club of my betters?

How dare you think you're good enough to judge me or the relationship I have with my wife you arrogant troll? You haven't earned that right, and I really don't think you'd ever be able to.

2:20 PM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger Mercurior said...

bill, dont worry, there are people like erp, we all get them from time to time.

There are a few idiots on here, who love judging, they havent experienced your life, yet they "know" BETTER.

If you complain your whining, if you dont your a wimp for not complaining.

I know its hard at the moment in all western economies, its east to say save up. but its not that easy today. i hope things work out ok with you bill.

4:17 PM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

john bono -

...after getting her no-fault divorce, to find herself,...

Where did you get that from? I didn't read it in the article. Just wanted to know how you knew.

5:45 PM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger Serket said...

I read the article also. They also have a related article: Eight Ways to Live Rent-Free and only one of them involves going back to your parents. I enjoyed the article by Rachel Lucas. It is interesting that the Huffpo reader is the only one in her circle that hates her mother.

My dad went to school to become a helicopter pilot. Recently the school went out of business. He had already started paying on the loan about six months ago, but now says he can't afford it. I think if he knew how to manage a budget he would be able to pay for it or else he wouldn't have started the loan in the first place. I think you have a moral obligation to pay as much towards your debts as possible and at the same time try to keep them at a manageable level.

6:15 PM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger Z said...

A lot of people seem to be using little more than anecdotal evidence to explain why, since *they* managed to extract themselves from a bad financial situation unassisted EVERYONE should be able to do likewise. I think its commendable to be financial independent but its not always shameful to need help. I mean, often it is but you can paint this one with too broad a brush pretty easily if you get going with the "always's" and "nevers".

Besides, I'm always a little bit happy to see the parents of a Baby Boomer burdened with having to care for the pathetic product of their indulgence. Better them than me.

9:08 PM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

zelda -

Agree with your 1st para. My brother got cancer. The day he was diagnosed, he was given a 5% chance of survival of 6mo. Kind of devastates your resources, psyche and earning potential all at once.

Screw anyone who would think ill of him in any manner for having a hard time dealing with that.

9:19 PM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger Larry J said...

Zelda wrote:

A lot of people seem to be using little more than anecdotal evidence to explain why, since *they* managed to extract themselves from a bad financial situation unassisted EVERYONE should be able to do likewise.

The thing about these personal stories is that it proves people can quite often lift themselves up without outside assistance contrary to what many (politicians in particular) seem to suggest. No one said that everyone can do this simply because individual circumstances vary so much. However, your hostile attitude comes across loud and clear. No one I know would be willing to help someone as hateful as you come across.

9:01 AM, March 25, 2008  
Blogger Richard Cook said...


Thanks for the inspirational story. I lost my job in December in IT and am going to get certified as a Personal Trainer and strike out into a new career field at 48. Budget, budget, budget. Too many time people give in to immediate gratification when there are bigger fish to fry.

9:06 AM, March 25, 2008  
Blogger eatyourbeans said...

The sanest man I ever met was named Pete. He graduated with a degree in economics from college, and didn't go to Wall St or into a corporation. He moved to a 3rd tier city, bought a multi unit or two, and established himself as a landlord/part time contractor. Applying what he learned of economics, he'd calculate how much $ he needed to make in such and such a year, and then work enough to exactly earn it. Needless to say, he wasn't a big spender, but he arranged his affairs well enough to support a family in frugal comfort.

I've since lost touch with him, but very much hope he's still sitting in his old chair opining about this and that while we dumb mortgage slaves trudge to our cubicle gulags.

9:14 AM, March 25, 2008  
Blogger Z said...

"No one I know would be willing to help someone as hateful as you come across."

Not everyone can come across as loving as you do, larry j. Especially those of us left to clean up the mess that the Boomers are leaving behind as they enter their dotage. It makes a person cranky.

1:04 PM, March 25, 2008  
Blogger Larry J said...

When you blame all boomers for the actions of some (admittedly too many), you're being just as bigoted as someone who profiles all members of a racial minority for the acts of some. Bigotry is bigotry and it's ugly no matter who does it.

Not all boomers went to Woodstock and "tuned in, turned on, and dropped out." Not all boomers expect someone else to provide for us. Fact is, very few of the people that I know who are my age (50) expect anything from anyone. We're in that group that believes Social Security is a rip off for us and for our kids.

9:30 AM, March 26, 2008  
Blogger Serket said...

Cham: well, the exact same one in the commercial.

Is yours the other car? A while back you said you were tired of dating, but if this guy is single he might be a good match for you.

Mercurior: so my wife lives 5000 miles from me. 5 months married, only been together 2.

That is sad, I hope you are able to work out a better plan soon. I thought she moved to the UK to be with you.

4:09 PM, March 26, 2008  
Blogger 1970_baby said...

I just have to add that people in debt over their heads should look into a debt management plan. There are non-profit companies that consolidate your debt and stop the fees and interest from rising. Interesting fact I wish I had known a long time ago- if you only pay the minimums, it takes about 75 years to pay it all back. I now pay the equivalent of the minimums to the plan, and it will be paid off in 5 yrs. It was a Godsend! They don't advertise, I heard about it word of mouth. We had to do something when our monthly gas and food bill nearly doubled in the last 6 months, as everyone's has.

And my dad definitely helps me out- I have nothing left over for emergencies while on this plan, and he is my safety net. I do to him only with the greatest need, for the smallest amounts. Without him, I would go bankrupt. Am I irresponsible?

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1:16 AM, March 18, 2009  
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