Q: My brother wants to do our mother’s 80th birthday party on the cheap. We’d always planned to hold a festive dinner at a nice hotel. But now “Don” wants the party to be lunch at an inexpensive chain restaurant. I believe Mom deserves a nicer event, and so does Don.
But he says his business is terrible and this lunch is all he can afford (Don sells insurance). The thing is, Don just leased a new Lexus (he says he needs it to maintain appearances with his clients) and took his wife on a luxury cruise (he says he’d have lost a big deposit if they hadn’t gone, plus he’d always promised her a cruise for their 25th anniversary).
So what should I do? I’m sure Don is telling the truth when he says his income isn’t what it once was, and I don’t want to make him pay for a party he can’t afford. But still, I feel resentful about the car and the cruise.
A: So does Don’s business also require him to maintain an expensive wardrobe and a membership in a country club where he can entertain clients? Does his devotion to his wife require him to take her to the club for dinner every Saturday night? Pardon our cynicism, but it sounds to us as if there’s not much Don wants that he can’t find an excuse to buy and a way to pay for.
Even if we’re totally wrong, though — even if Don is in full economy mode — a man who drives a new Lexus and takes his wife on a luxury cruise shouldn’t be going cheap on his mother’s 80th birthday party. The car and the cruise make it clear that, tough as times may be, Don has some wiggle room in his budget. He needs to wiggle it a little more so your mother gets the party you both agree she deserves.
Q: Over the past two years, we’ve lent our 40-year-old daughter over $2,500, which she promised to pay back but never did. Now she’s in more financial trouble than ever. Consequently, she’s asked us for an additional $2,500 to pay off some of her credit cards before she goes to a debt consolidation company, which she says will help her get her problems straightened out. My husband and I would like to say “no,” because we know we will never see the money again, and we need it for our retirement. Meanwhile, she blames everyone but herself for her troubles and expects everyone to help her out. Would we be wrong to deny our daughter more money?
Feeling Guilty, Toronto
A: You are absolutely right to close the lending window, and you shouldn’t feel bad about doing so. You and your husband cannot allow your daughter’s chronic irresponsibility to undermine your own financial security. Stay strong, and don’t give in to her emotional blackmail.
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Source: East Bay Money Manners: He lives the high life, but cheaps out on Mom’s 80th