Monday, April 19, 2010

My Parents Are Moving In With My Big Sis... Today

Lately, the phrase, "the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray," is running through my head frequently. I previously wrote about how my big sis was planning to buy a house in Arizona and rent it out to my parents in the event that her employer transferred her to another state. I petulantly pouted and threw a tantrum that if my sister went through with the plan, she'll need to take care of my parents, not me.

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.
Doing the math, there’s no reason why my parents can’t make ends meet. But I suspect there are other "financial bombs" that my sister and I haven't yet uncovered. My parents hate each other and refuse to speak to one another. Both are passive-aggressive and obstinate. They refuse to listen to one another. Neither will admit to, or take responsibility for their current situation. Worse yet, neither has any clue regarding what financial obligations they have. *Sigh*

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.
As the 18th Century Irish Author and Physician Oliver Goldsmith once said, "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."

My parents lack all of the characteristics of a "lucky" person. I guess they are indeed unlucky, but unlucky
by choice.


Moneyapolis said...

What an update! I'm sorry you're going through all this and hope the new living arrangement helps ease some of the burden on everyone. And thanks for the reminder about choosing happiness over misery! So true.

DogAteMyFinances said...

Wowza, what an update. Your sister is going to need some support. This sounds like the worst living arrangement ever.

ndchic said...

Good luck. What is your culture? I think that you may be Asian from what you've said previously but I was just curious.

Howard said...

Your sis should not only be charging $675 a month for rent, but demand that the monthly Social Security checks be signed over to her, she take $1500 of it and pay down the credit card(s) and then keep them on an allowance with the remainder.

paranoidasteroid said...

Your sister should have saved her money and put your dad in a facility. Dementia is no joke, and it sounds like your mother isn't really willing to take care of him.

(It s very easy for me to say this, though, since they're not my parents. Howard has a pretty good idea too - do you think your parent would go for it?)

Donna said...

I'm sorry for the turmoil. But I'm filled with admiration for the ways you and your sister have been/are coping with such a difficult situation.

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