I was having a conversation with a co-worker the other day and she was telling me about how she is going to start taking over the bill paying for her parents, who are in their mid 80's. Her mom has been losing her eyesight and my co-worker thought this was something she could help her mom with, since she lives in a different state and is not able to physically do much to help out. I'm not sure about her dad, but it kind of sounds like her mom has always taken care of the bills, so dad, at his age, is not really an option to start having him pay the bills.
My co-worker has found a bit of a surprise where her parents finances are concerned. She found out they have over $15,000 in credit card debt. She's making a trip to visit her parents and see what she can work out to start getting their finances in order. But she feels like she is in a tricky situation. She doesn't want to make her mom feel like she is judging her or trying to take over her finances, but she also knows she really needs to get her mom to make some changes. In a phone conversation with her mom, just mentioning the credit cards to see how her mom might react, it is obvious her mom doesn't really have a grasp on what these cards are costing her. Her comment to her daughter was "but I am making a $300-400 payment every month on them". My coworker had to point out to her mom that she is also charging the same amount each month or more, so the balance is not going down, plus she is paying over 20% interest on the 2 cards. Mom's reply: "but I saved 5% on my purchase by getting the card". And then she told her she just signed up for a Target credit card so she could save the 5%. Co-worker tried to explain to her she is not saving 5% if she isn't paying off the balance in full each month.
My co-worker is financially savvy, so there wasn't really any advice I could give her that she doesn't already know. It's just hard when it's your own parents! We both agreed that when she is visiting she should get out the statements and try to show her mom how much she is getting charged interest each month. The hard part now is she can't see well, so it won't have as much impact on her to actually see the numbers in print. It will be interesting to see how my co-worker's visit with her parents turns out. I have a feeling she will end up helping them get out of this financial debt with her own money, more than likely, without even letting her mom know about it.
I'm glad I won't have to go through this with my mom, one less thing to worry about as she ages. She probably still has the first dollar she ever earned, LOL. Dh isn't close to his parents anymore, so their financial problems (and I'm sure they still have them - they always did) won't be ours to deal with. Thank goodness for that - they are nearing 80 years old and I know even 6 or 7 years ago they still had 20 years left on their mortgage and loads of credit cards. I doubt much has changed in their lives. Scary. We have 15 years left on our mortgage, so at least it will be paid off when I retire, which is a minimum of 15 year away. I don't want to burden my kids or leave them with a mess to clean up when I get old.