Well... turns out, my big sis IS taking care of my parents since they're moving in with her. TODAY.
My big sis closed on her brand spankin' new home on New Year's Eve. She bought a 3 BR/2.5 Bath, 1750 sq. ft. home with granite counter tops, all stainless steel appliances (incl. washer/dryer), window treatments AND landscaping inclusive for $250k. (For those of us who live in expensive States, doesn't this make you sick?)
Anyhow, I digress. About a couple of months ago, my sister noticed that my parents got a renewal notice from their landlord. My sister asked what my parents intended to do. My mother confided that they probably can't afford to continue to live in their apartment since they've been using their credit card cash advances to pay their rent. *EGADS*
In response, my sister offered to take them in for $675/month rent. My dad immediately accepted her offer. *DOUBLE EGADS*
My parents live on a fixed income, but not a shabby one. They take in about $3,300/month in pensions and Social Security. So how come they can't afford to pay ~$1,200/month in rent?
Over the past two months, my sister and I have been trying to piece together my parents' finances. Although we're not certain yet, this is what we estimate:
- Approx. $40k in credit card debt;
- My father never signed up for Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage). His monthly prescription drugs cost about $300-$400/month.
- Supplemental health insurance cost about $500/month.
My mom often cries that she wants death to come a day sooner. My dad has been telling anyone that would listen, that his family neglects and abuses him. (My dad is suffering from advanced dementia. For the record, no one is abusing or neglecting him. If anything, he is the one that is emotionally abusive to us all.)
It is appalling to my sister and me that my parents can't seem to appreciate how lucky they are. They are not destitute - - they have over $3,000 in monthly income. ($3k/month NPV is probably more than I can expect in my retirement!) They have children that are willing to step in to care for them. (My parents see this as a cultural birthright, so of course they wouldn't consider this "lucky." *Sigh* Gotta set them straight on this one eventually.) Yet, all they can see is how miserable their lives are.
Being happy or miserable is not only a state of mind but a life choice. I agree that my parents are not in the best financial state. But that's the consequence of their poor (read: no) planning. Rather than accepting the consequences of their failures and attempting to make right, they both claim they are just plain "unlucky." My parents have made their choice to wallow in misery. How sad and depressing.
I tried explaining to my parents that being "lucky" or "unlucky" is not an issue of chance, but is reflective of one's attitude and effort in creating one's luck. The common characteristics of "lucky" people are:
- being skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities;
- taking risks on opportunities;
- being flexible and don’t define themselves by others' expectations;
- being able to make decisions by listening to their intuition;
- being able to maintain positive expectations;
- being able to “not give up” and manage to transform bad luck into good.
My parents lack all of the characteristics of a "lucky" person. I guess they are indeed unlucky, but unlucky by choice.