Friends, Family and Money

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  • Inherited money - keep a secret from BFF?

    (24 replies)

    I inherited money. Lots of it. It was unexpected. My immediate family wasn’t all that rich but my extended family was. 

    How much you ask? Enough to buy a really nice house in Berkeley and fund college education and retirement. We have a tiny place, we are behind on retirement, and didn’t expect to contribute to kids education. So yeah that’s all great. 

    My question is this. My best friend. I haven’t told her how much. I haven’t told anyone really. But it will all become rather clear as we upgrade our lifestyle. 

    This makes me feel weird, and distant from the friend I share innermost thoughts with. She’s had financial and personal set backs due to Great Recession and divorce. She’s doing well but will probably not ever buy a house in the Bay Area. She’s had a ton of crap happen in the last ten years. I feel weird not telling her details. And I’d feel weird telling her details. What if she’s jealous? What if by telling her our relationship changes? What if she tells other people?  What if what if. 

    Any thoughts about this? Experiences related to sharing money details to people? 

    Thank you for your advice! 

    I will be impressed if you are able to navigate this without it changing (harming) your friendship. In my experience, it is tough to be friends with people who have very different financial circumstances from yours.  It's going to hurt your friendship if you don't say anything, either.  I guess I would vote for half-truth. You inherited enough money to be able to buy a house.  I would leave out the fully-funded retirement and the college fund.  The house is hard to hide, but she doesn't need to see your Vanguard statements. 

    Also, you didn't ask for financial advice, but be careful with your windfall! Buy a decent house, but don't go nuts. You may need a lot more for retirement than you think - you may want to be able to help your kids beyond their college education - you may have expenses you don't anticipate.  Take advantage of the fact you are used to a modest lifestyle, and don't upgrade too much. And get a good accountant so you stay on top of your tax situation. 

    Windfall money is very hard on friendships and relationships.  Lots of people start asking for money. They start expecting you to pick up the tab for dinner, etc...  Somehow, people see it differently than earned money.  It’s tough to navigate.  Is it worth buying a big house if it costs you your longtime friendships?

    As to buying a big house, I would think long and hard about it before doing it.  The taxes are enormous and just keep growing each year.  Taxes are a big ongoing cost that you will need to factor into your annual costs both now and throughout retirement.  Truly, talk to a financial advisor before upgrading your house.

    As to funding retirement and college—yes!  What a relief to take care of those big items, especially from inheritance money.

    Another idea—think about using the money to fund an investment that can earn money for you into your retirement.  Several family members have bought rental properties, and they are very happy with the long term income especially into retirement.  This might take a bit of work to find a well-priced investment property in the Bay Area.

    Funding retirement, college, and investments are things that aren’t so visible, so it can be easier on your friendships.  If you have been wanting to dump your friends and make new ones...well, then, it’s another thing.  :)

    I think you need to tell your friend. If you keep it from her, she will find out some other way. Secrets like this are never good. She might be envious, or not, but that's okay, if you are good friends you can weather this. Allow her to have whatever feelings she has.  I think she would feel betrayed if you don't talk with her about it. I also suggest that you talk with someone else first to process what this brings up for you. If I were your friend, I would definitely want to know. 

    Say nothing. If she asks, say you received some unexpected money and leave it at that. A good friend will not pry, and a good friend will deal with her jealousy and not let it ruin the friendship. For your part, just be discrete and don't brag about it and no one can expect anything more from you. You don't have to apologize for this, or save people from their own emotions. If someone wants to ruin a friendship over their own jealousy there's not much you can do about it. 

    I very much agree with the previous advice and find it wise.   You could simply say that the inheritance allowed you to make a substantial down payment on the new house.   I inherited a chunk of money when I was a young adult and felt awkward, so I didn't talk about it but I did things others weren't doing, e.g., travel.   I also know how resentful I feel about friends who are 'trust fund babies.'   So I agree that you shouldn't talk about anything beyond the house but that alone may be trying.  I don't know your m.o., but talking w/ her directly about it as you have in this post would be great---e.g., I love you and our friendship and I don't want this to come between us---gives her permission to express her feelings.   That's ok if it doesn't go on for years.  Perhaps you could invite her out for something special that you normally wouldn't do, and pay for it, as a special treat/celebration.       Also agree that you should talk w/ a financial planner who can help you lay out the next 15 years or so, or longer, with a reasonable spending plan.    

    I agree with previous poster on revealing the house part as that cannot be hidden.  as far as the monetary assets, that I would keep private and/or divulge some of it.  ie: we set up an account with 10k in it to start a college fund.  that can be the truth without divulging that you also have 500k invested elsewhere.  most of my close friends and I do not discuss/disclose exactly what we have/not have financially.  

    as far as damaging your friendship?  that's harder to call.  I would spend some serious time thinking about the possible directions this could go.  also, what will you do if she (or anyone else for that matter) asks for financial gifts or loans.  money solves a lot of problems, but also creates them.  make a plan and have boundaries.  a good financial advisor may be able to help you with this.  they work with many folks in your shoes.  be upfront and honest (minus the part you want discreet), and be the person you always have been in the relationship.  you cannot control what she does with the information, all you can do is be compassionate and honest.  this very much reminds me of the situation of infertility and friends getting pregnant.  I was unable to have kids and yes it compel me to distance myself from good and old friends who were blessed with kids.  I miss them, but I was filled with much anguish being around their happiness...  also, I could not be the friend they deserved under the circumstances.  life isn't fair and relationships do not all survive the twists and turns of circumstance.  no good guys, no bad guys.  just life.  best of luck to you.  this is hard.

    I understand this one. I didn't inherit as much as you but a lot more than I ever expected or anticipated. My BFF has always been on a very tight budget and it felt weird to suddenly stop worrying so much about money while she had to budget for every latte. I never told her how much I got and she never asked (actually, I don't think that anyone really asked for details. I know that I wouldn't). I really didn't change my lifestyle all that much but I did do things like paint the house, replace windows, replace a gross car, etc. I tried very hard to act exactly the same as I did before towards her. I think that people like to pull their own weight and they don't want to be pitied. If I wanted to do something that I knew she couldn't afford, I'd ask if she'd go with me as my date. I convinced her that it was a lot more fun for me when she was there and she was okay with that sometimes. But I more often tried to plan the things with her that I knew that she wanted to do and could afford. 

    My advice is to not worry too much about it. If the money doesn't change you, it shouldn't change your friendship.

    This is sticky! Especially if you were transparent about finances previously. Don't tell anybody how much. I think that is inappropriate. And don't talk about money and how to spend or save or invest. And don't start flaunting with expensive jewelry or designer purses. Don't put anything in your husband's name. It is your money. Keep it separate. Men have a way of suddenly turning on their wives. Just say you got a surprise inheritance and money will not be as tight as it has been in the past. 

    When people's circumstances are so different, it is hard to be friends. One has kids the other doesn't. One works full time the other doesn't. One is rich one is poor. It is possible, but unlikely. Don't reveal too much. Let her assume that your husband got a promotion. But don't lie either. I would suggest becoming more generous, but don't go crazy. Offer to pick up the tab when you go out. Get her a holiday gift that is a bit nicer than what you got in the past. 

    Continue the conversations of the past: kids, politics, hobbies, whatever. Be the same person you always were. And hope for the best. 

    So you've had some good luck and your friend has had some bad luck.  Of course she'd be jealous.  Would it ruin the friendship?  Hard to say, but more likely to ruin things if you're dishonest than if you're open and communicate about what is happening.  

    But the first thought that came to my mind was: Why don't you share with your friend?  After all, you did nothing to earn this money.  So why are you more deserving of it than your friend?  I'm sure she'll be thinking about that, so maybe you should too.

    Imagine on your deathbed you reflect on your life: family, work/career, community, friendships. What do you want to not regret?  What do you want to say you felt good about, accomplished?  Just an idea

    I agree with the response not to tell her everything.  My first instinct was also for you to also say, hey, I received this unexpected money and I’d like to gift some to you.  Then pay your luck forward and write her a check.  It might not be enough to change her life but might help ease her burdens.  

    I was in a somewhat similar situation a few years ago. I was vague with my closest friends about my finances, and I think that's a good way to go in general. I don't know how my friends paid for their houses, unexpected medical expenses, luxury items, and they don't know how I have paid for mine. It is implied, if you end up buying a house, that you got a down payment from somewhere, so people may still get an inkling that you are either a super-saver or perhaps received a windfall. There are so many things to bond over with your friend, but maybe your different financial worlds don't have to be one of them!

    In the meantime, it sounds like you have some great ideas about investing this new-found wealth. Might I suggest sitting with the funds invested as-is for a year or so before making any big moves, get used to the amount and think through how to use them with a financial adviser -- as you may know some people get blinded by the short-term rewards of new money, but I'm sure you won't fall prey to that!

    Another poster here brings up a good point about taxes -- if these inherited accounts are from IRAs that would require RMDs, there is a benefit to taking yearly RMDs rather than lump sums. I'm sure you already knew that, but just in case you had not known about that (I had a big learning curve in your situation), make sure to look into it before the end of the year :)

    There is no reason you need to share the full financial details of your what received with your friend or anyone else outside of your immediate family or financial/tax professionals you hire.  I would tell her that you got an inheritance and it was enough for you to be able to afford to buy a house.  You owning a home as opposed to renting one should not change your relationship.  Unless you are planning on significantly increasing your standard of living (i.e. getting housekeeper/daily maid, visibly more household help or help with kids, very expensive home, private schools, etc.) then there is no reason she should know how much you have sitting in your bank, brokerage and other accounts.  Frankly I don't even share the actual amount income that I bring home -- I'm sure that based on our standard of living our friends think we make way less than we really do, but this is fine since I don't want others, even friends, to know about the income/assets we have to avoid the exact same issues you are worried about.  If you don't say anything and don't make drastic changes, there is no reason why she should or would ever find out. 

    Like the previous poster stated, buy a modest house, don't go nuts. Like the advice many give when you get a raise at work, keep the same lifestyle and day-to-day budget, save more. You will probably need more money for retirement and higher education. 

    Speaking from a similar situation, money makes things complicated with relationships, even the most honest and open ones. In an age of wanting to share everything with everyone, privacy and modesty should be just as important. 

    I basically agree with the advice to tell the almost-whole truth: we're buying a house with the inheritance I got from my extended family. Don't complain to her about all the work that comes with managing money or the difficulty in finding just the right house. She may want some distance from you in the short term or the long term; respect that and don't make it any weirder than it needs to be for her. Or, she may be perfectly happy for you and not feel the need to compare her situation to yours. Just be aware of not "rubbing it in" by for example, not taking her along house-hunting.

    I would say it's not unusual for friends to have radically different financial circumstances. Share your joy with her, and yes, tell her how happy you are about buying a house. She will share in your joy, if not, there's something wrong. There s no reason to be specific about the numbers.

    Why not share? People in this country are weird about money. Do you love your friend? Why not make a little sharing fund for yourself and find small ways to share the windfall with her. Clearly all your needs are covered now, how hard could it be to open about it and share. 

    Is it possible to update your lifestyle more incrementally, and attribute vaguely to a combination of work/career success and some inheritance? I minimize (and make vague) the actual dollar amounts. I say this because it's actually easy to have a lot of money in the bay area and not be super showy about it, just because living here is so expensive. We've had a single-earner household with an income that's gone from 400k a year five or so years ago now to 1million (post tax) this past year. We have a house we bought for around 700k and go on vacations, but besides that, no one could really tell how much $ we have. We give 10% of our net income and fully fund retirement/kids' education - but these things are done privately. What people see is that we don't go out to eat a ton, we shop at Berkeley Bowl and Trader Joes, we buy clothes from Banana Republic and Old Navy during the holiday sales and buy what we can discounted after Black Friday. I don't think you need to change your lifestyle thaaaat much. 

    Not directly addressing your question about your friend (others have offered a lot of input on that), but wanted to add - be sure you immediately take care of designating beneficiaries for wherever the money is at the moment.  If you haven't already, you'll want to consider setting up a trust (not just a will) with that many assets. Just in case!!  (I'm not an attorney, just sharing what I've learned)

    Original poster here. Thanks for the stories and advice. We are hiring a financial planner and thinking hard about things. No big upgrades planned as of yet! I think I’ll continue to be vague and hope for the best. 

    I will weigh in because no one has answered who has been on the receiving end of this. My BFF inherited enough money so that she never had to work again. She told me all the details about the lump sum she got immediately and the trust set up to give her money each month. Her monthly amount was more than I make.

    It was a little hard at first but within a month or so things were back to normal. If it had been a couple years earlier when we almost lost our house, it would have been harder but we still would have gotten through it. If we had been about to lose our house and she offered us $10K so we wouldn’t, I would have accepted and it wouldn’t have ruined the friendship (at least on my side) but if she offered or we expected a monthly maintenance fee, I think that would have broken us. If it hadn’t been a dire circumstance it would have been weird to be offered money. She was already better off than we were but by the time she got the money we weren’t struggling so much.

    Her lifestyle has changed; she has “people” for most mundane tasks — house cleaner a full day a week (who also does all laundry), a dog walker, a handyman who comes by on a semi-regular basis to do any accumulated tasks, someone to do errands 20hours/week, a gardener,.... But with all that, I don’t think she is happier. There are definitely a lot of people who try to take advantage of her.

    On my side, I have had to be careful to make sure I don’t slide into letting her pay for stuff. I generally pay for lunch at the hole-in-the-wall restaurant we both like. We split bills when I don’t pay. I don’t go out to $300/person dinners with her since while we could pay for it, we very definitely notice it and I find myself bitter about the money spent. I’m sure there are similar adjustments on her side.

    Good luck.

    Thanks for asking this question so honestly--and so fascinating to hear the range of responses. 

    One resource I would suggest is an organization called Resource Generation. While their focus is around young people (which I think they define as younger than 30) who have inherited wealth, they have some good articles about how to handle money, privacy and wealth, while keeping important relationships in your life. They also have a big social-justice sense and framework.

    I'd also recommend Iris Brilliant, who used to work for Resource Generation, and now has a consulting business that works specifically with people around inheritances.

    A financial advisor is never a bad idea, and Iris Brilliant may have suggestions of who would be a good financial advisor for someone with this kind of inheritance situation. 

    Not sure if you are married, but realize that an inheritance to you is not community property in California.  It belongs only to you and in case of divorce you keep it all no matter the circumstances.  However, if you commingle the inheritance with marital property it becomes community property like all the marital assets. 

  • Greetings.

    This is my first post here; I am so gratified this website is available for ultimately helping us be better parents, friends, people.

    I have a friend who is a single parent. She does not have much contact with her baby's father. The baby is I think around 14 months old. The mom is a very casual friend of mine, so this may or may not be any of my business - but it concerns me that she has a great deal of focus on her own looks and the looks of her baby, to the point where doing the responsible things a mom has to do (single or not) get put off until some other time.

    Example: she is on a very limited budget but will get beauty treatments like tattooed eyebrows or constantly get her nails done. Then she begs for someone to babysit her baby for free, because she's 'broke and my stupid manager scheduled me to work when I don't have daycare.'

    When I was a single mom, I remember a (very) brief period of engaging in 'magical thinking' as in: "One day, I'm going to be walking down Montgomery Street and I'll bump into a man who will fall in love with me and take care of me and little Wolfgang, and we'll live a great life and I'll get to stop worrying about money and rent and day care. . . ."

    She seems to have latched onto magical thinking like that as her plan for the future.

    I feel on very shaky ground here; I don't know her that well and I'm not sure it's my business. But she's driving away her support network with her constant cries for free babysitting. She tells me how much her baby "loves me" because she thinks that will convince me I need to give up my weekend plans and instead, watch her baby. So, there's a little attempted manipulation there as well.

    She just seems to be stuck in "I'll get rescued by a man any day now!" thinking.

    Should I mind my own beeswax and just keep saying 'no' when it's not convenient for me to bail her out, or should I risk her getting upset/mad/emotional by telling her she really needs to get her sh*t together?

    It's just puzzling to me since my situation as a single parent was waaaayyyyyyy more stranded in a big city with no one around to bail me out, and I was hella young (like, 20) but I hustled till I worked my way into a job where I could pay my bills on time. There was no question of me getting manicures or tattooed eyebrows; we wouldn't have eaten for weeks!!!

    Thanks in advance for any advice or guidance.

    I don't think that you will be able to change your friend's thinking at all. I would just never be available to babysit and probably would even stop responding to the requests. She'll either figure it out or she won't but it's really not your problem. Sad situation though, I can see why you'd like to be able to help.

    Just keep saying no and don't get into your judgments about how she lives her life or her wishful thinking. People have to make their own mistakes. And who knows, maybe her plan will work out (seems unlikely, but much stranger things have happened). If you're getting tired of saying no or find it annoying to listen to her then just put distance in the relationship and spend less time with her. 

    That's a tricky problem.  Unless your friend is at a point where she's able to truly listen, speaking up probably won't end well.  Her ability to see the situation clearly will depend on her maturity level, which doesn't seem stellar from your description.  Even if she has the capability, she may have to run out of options before she slows down enough to listen.  A few years ago I had two major "perpetual screwup" mama friends in my life.  After one pushed me to find out why I was hanging out with her quite a bit less (and she noticed other moms were downright avoiding her), I took great care to write a positive, thoughtful, and respectful letter to explain how her actions pushed me and my family away.  She actually received it fairly well, but our friendship never recovered.  I don't think it changed much for her.  From afar, I see her old destructive patterns continuing.  With my other screw-up friend, I was moving soon and thus just let things go.  Then she started using me as a character reference for jobs working with kids.  I felt I had to be honest, so one day I got a furious call from my friend saying I'd cost her her dream job.  Sometimes I wish I'd been a little more honest about her behavior, but on that ranting phone call it was painfully obvious that everyone was to blame but herself.  Mature friends working in kindness can nurture wondrous growth in each other.  With an immature friend, it becomes Star Trek's Kobayashi Maru -- there's no real way to win.  You might try easing into a kind, non-condescending conversation about your feelings and experiences as a young single mom to test the waters.  She may listen to you when she won't listen to others because of your shared background and it is possible you could do great good and this could morph into a decent friendship.  I wouldn't count on it, though.  You may just wish to tell her that you care about her but would like to be taken off the babysitter's list.  That at least keeps her from having false hope that she can have a network without nurturing it.  Best of luck!  Thanks for being a caring person; the world needs more of those.

    Wow, that's tough. 

    I can only provide my own opinion, so take it for what it is: I think lectures in general don't help change people's behavior, so I would not offer unsolicited advice. I see two potentially more productive options:

    1. When she asks you to babysit, you can give reasoning instead of just saying "no": maybe something along the lines of "sorry, but I have things to do, and I can't give free daycare." (Maybe more gentle than that, but you get the idea).

    2. If you were legitimately in a similar situation in the past, you can mention that and offer to talk with her about your experiences. I think it's important to let her opt-in: "we can get together and talk about what it's like to be a working single mother" or something like that.

    It's also worth remembering how important it is to do some things for yourself. Sure, there's a line beyond which is damaging, but different people have different ways of coping. It may be that beauty treatments are what helps her keep going. I hope this helps some, and I hope your friend's situation improves soon.

    "I don't know her that well and I'm not sure it's my business."

    I don't think it's your business, though if she is being too demanding you should probably let her know. She's your friend; you should be supporting (within reason), not judging.

    If she's on a super-limited budget, it's probably not your place to critique how she spends her money. For all you know, tattooed eyebrows or nail treatments might be the one glimmer of dignity/self-respect she can get for herself. You might be more generous to your own past situation, but it's because you know 100% of what it was like to be you; you don't know even a fraction of what your friend is doing. More to the point, even if she is financially irresponsible, telling her/judging her is not going to get her to change, *she* has to want to change.

    If she has not asked for advice I would not offer it. Continue to deny babysitting requests. If you were her good friend I would  suggest giving advice but since you are not I don't imagine it would have an impact- she will probably have to out on her own. I know you mean well but unlesss she seem interested in your feedback it will fall on deaf ers

    Unless she has asked for your feedback I doubt she will be receptive to your feedback- 

    Saying "No" when you can't/don't want to babysit is great. Changing your life to accommodate her needs isn't good for anyone. Additionally, suggesting co-ops or share care/other options for her may move her toward responsibility for her child, a change of job, or more regular care. It may not, but that's all you can do. She and her baby are lucky to have you as a friend, yet the job issues are hers to address. Blessings to you for caring.

    Srry to say, but, yeh, your friend sounds self absorbed and manipulative. I am all for honesty, put as kindly as you can.

    It's really none of your business how she parents or how she spends her own money (unless the child is being neglected or a abused.) sounds like you set your boundaries by saying no to her requests. Now butt out. 

    Please try to keep in mind that women are at a great disadvantage in our society, especially single women with a child, especially here in the Bay Area. Kudos to you for making a go of it as a single woman. But economically, we women are better off attaching ourselves to a man. Statistically, men earn higher incomes, and their status at work does not suffer if they have children.  Not true for women. It is also very hard to make it in the Bay Area on one income with a child.  Your friend is actually doing the smart thing, trying to "attract a man" by prettying herself up with manicures and eyebrows.  I say this as a feminist who has an advanced degree and a decent income and does not wear makeup. I could not live here and support my children if I were single. Please find it in your heart to support this woman in whatever way you can.  We need to stick together!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages

How to thank parents for financial help

Aug 2012

Hi BPN, My partner and I just bought a house, which was made possible by my parents giving us the down payment. We are so grateful and wondering the best way to show our appreciation. I know my parents can afford to do this and feel good about helping us, and I am sure they know how grateful we are (obviously I have thanked them verbally many times!), but we were trying to think of something special we could do or make for them to express our gratitude in a tangible way.

It would feel silly to ''buy them something nice'' because they have quite a bit more money than we do and have all the ''stuff'' they need. We did consider making something special with photos of our young child enjoying the house (since they are doting grandparents too and live far away).

Has anyone ever been in this situation? Any ideas, suggestions, etc. would be great. Thank you! Grateful daughter

I completely understand where you're coming from. My sister told me at one point in a similar situation ''sometimes you have to suck it up and just be grateful''-meaning I could never say thanks enough and to just let go, and allow the other person to enjoy the gift they were giving me. It's intense though! How about a beautiful rose bush or fruit-bearing tree to plant in your garden (or theirs)? As it grows through the years the joy and beauty it gives is enjoyed by all. What a wonderful problem. Enjoy your home! paying it forward
You are very fortunate indeed. I would suggest that you invite them for a home cooked dinner at your new home, perhaps with other family or special friends, and thank them with a toast, but no physical gifts. If you have time, take some photos of your family in your new home and have a book made online, give to them with a handwritten note about how much you appreciate their help. Otherwise, do that over the next few months and give it to them at the holidays. Enjoy your new home!
Are your parents local? If not, one important thing you can do is go to extra trouble to make the house comfortable for them to visit. For example, get them a real bed with a high-quality mattress, not a spine-busting pull-out, even if it means sacrificing space for other things. Make sure there's dresser or closet space that is left empty. Etc. Futons in the living room are harder to endure in your sixties and seventies, and making space for them shows they are an essential part of your lives, not an afterthought to be squeezed in around the edges.

Otherwise, the photo-related gifts, such as hardbound Mac photo books, are indeed nice. Also, kids' artwork made into gift items, like trivets or aprons, can be good. Generally, try to show your gratitude by opening your lives to include them as much as possible, and when an opportunity for doing something special presents itself, take it! Anon

I have made about 12 photo books through Shutterfly. They have many different styles and tons of options. It's a bit tricky at first but grandparents don't care if it does not look perfect. my first book had great pages but the two sides of the pages did not always go well together colorwise or style wise. Now, having done so many, my books are great. I made a brag book for my mother, one picture per page with a few words and then several 8x8 hard covers for all of the 6 grandparents. The more you make, the more discounts you get. My mother in law displays hers on her entertainment center. it was for her 64th birthday with lots of pictures of her and her grandson. Feel free to contact me if you have questions. Faith
I think an honest, sweet, thankful, handwritten letter would be a great gift. They wouldn't want you to spend money on something, seeing as you needed financial help on the house. If they knew they really helped you and you truly appreciated it, that would probably be gift enough. I'd bet they'd even save the letter with other treasures.

Resentful about parents' comfort vs. our financial struggle

Sept 2011

I need some help getting perspective. In the midst of financial struggles, I can't stop myself from feeling resentful about the relative financial comfort of my parents. I am much too old to expect them to help me financially (and they have helped a great deal in the past), and they are retired and thus managing their money while facing the insecurities/fears of getting older. However, I find myself annoyed when hearing the details of their nice vacations etc while I am worrying about which bill I am not going to pay this month. My partner and I both work, and we have two young children, and we live very frugally. We have no security (don't own a home, don't have savings, do have lots of debt). Although I know this is my problem to solve, and I tell myself that I am glad they are able to enjoy their retirement, etc., I am still full of resentment! I would love to get some advice about how to let go of that. Greedy?

I think there is still something of the child in you, feeling that your parents should see your situation and do something about it. And then I think that your reaction is very normal, very human. There are a couple of factors here, which you probably already understand, but it might not hurt to go over them. First, you are at a very different stage of your life: the struggling stage. My parents had it very tough economically when we were kids; they had to work their tails off and account for every penny. But as we grew up and gained independence and they became more established financially, their worries slowly peeled away. They are by no means well off (they are working-class people), but they are comfortable enough, can do the things they enjoy, have no major financial issues... whew. Thank God. So part of this is the generational difference, and we can hope for that light at the end of the tunnel ourselves. Except for the second part, which is harder to handle from my perspective: the economic crisis we are experiencing, which definitely hits some people harder than others. We are in the thick of it; your parents managed to avoid the train wreck by having their money in the right places, apparently. But I fear we are going to be struggling with it for a long time to come, especially when I look at the rising cost of education and diminishing resources. I think I would speak with my parents about the latter half of this, not with the expectation that they should shell out cash, but just let them know about your worries. My parents, who do not have any resources to share with me, have fantastic advice. They help me make decisions about money matters. So tap your parents for advice and comfort. They must have done some things right, so see if you can emulate them in any way. Good luck to you. daughter of Depression babies
I couldn't read your post without at least commiserating! My parents have both been retired with really fat pensions. They never saved a dime in their lives, and just count on these very generous pensions. I am glad that they have a good life, don't get me wrong, but they are just so out of touch. They complain about their health insurance and having to go to the dentist. I would *love* to go to the dentist, but haven't had health insurance for over 6 years. My parents complain about not seeing their grandchildren enough, but they don't realize the extreme stress that me and my husband are under. My mom flipped out on me when I stated she should enjoy her days, since my husband and I will likely never retire--should thought I was being critical, when all I was stating was the truth, we will likely work until the day we die. Part of it must be generational--and I don't have any great advice about how to deal with these feels. I am not proud of the way I feel, but also am not going to tiptoe around them. Young families are really having it hard these days, and I don't think they realize how hard it is. struggling
Can you spell entitlement? Not to be too hard but you are sounding spoiled. Your parents took care of you when you were young, got you educated (I presume) and have even helped you with your finances recently. They've kept their end of the bargain. To expect them to not enjoy their lives is plain selfish. To put into perspective, I come from a third-world country and my family (and those of most of my fellow-countrymen who came here to study/work) spent money & resources to help us get here & get educated. That took a lot of sacrifices on their part. Now, I (and most of my friends) send money back home to help them (and no, most of us are also struggling in the expensive Bay Area). I think if you're not helping your parents as they get older (as they don't need it), the least you could do is let them enjoy it. Live vicariously through them & enjoy their experiences. Nothing is guaranteed in life, especially in one's retirement years. What if they got terminally sick soon or something horrible like that happened? It would be nice to know they enjoyed a good part of their lives. One day when you're in their shoes, you wouldn't want your kids to begrudge you your hard-earned money?

I agree that it's hard in the Bay Area. Almost all couples I know live pay-check to pay-check. But you're chosing to live here and making other choices about your lifestyle, line of work, etc. Maybe changing one (or all of) that part of the equation will change your standard of living? Not looking to support my kids when they are adults

Since you are an adult, your parents are not obligated to help you out, but maybe they would if you asked. Do you have siblings? Maybe they could give gifts to all of their kids. Maybe if they knew that you are struggling, they would want to help. When they get old and sick and unable to take care of themselves, who is going to take care of them? Will it be you? Maybe giving you money now would make sense if you are going to be burdened by their needs later. It is nice if offspring can provide the love and attention old folks need without being paid, but they can't always do that. Giving you money now could be a way for them to buy ''insurance.'' Anyway, it seems to me that you are doing your part to be responsible. Why shouldn't they help? anon
My parents did not support me during my struggling years, and I am very glad about it now. My father has dementia and is in an assisted living facility. Every penny of his savings will be needed for his care. Thank goodness he was both responsible and fortunate.

I also recognize that although I consider myself to be financially responsible and frugal, my parents NEVER had any of the things I take for granted. We ate out twice a year. Hamburger was a big feature of in-home dining. Clothes were always discount and we shopped for new ones twice a year, total. For the kids. There are lots more things to buy now, and you can sure feel deprived not having them: cable TV, cell phones, internet service. But try to consider them luxuries, not necessities!! Besides not having those things, my parents didn't spend money on water, either, and coffee was Maxwell House in a can. So even though they had a nice home and my dad was able to retire with a good pension, I don't think their lives were really easier than mine.

I'm also a bit on the other side of the fence. My husband has adult children who give us a little attitude every time we take a trip or buy something (Oooh, that's really nice, I wish I could afford that!) Please don't do that. If you need money for some emergency, ask for your parents for it -- don't go passive-aggressive. I hope this helps and doesn't sound too preachy. You sound like you are honest with yourself and trying to figure out a way not to resent your parents. Maybe a little more time spent with the truly disadvantaged? And try to enjoy your independence, too. Would you really want to be Paris Hilton, who couldn't last for five minutes if she didn't have her parents' wealth to consume? Good luck.

- I know a lot of people might say get over this. And it really is something you can't act on or speak to your parents about. I'm sure they had years of struggle too, even if less intense than yours.

I just want to acknowledge that economic times have changed so much and it really is harder for people to raise a family and have any security nowadays. Your parents probably overall did have it easier. And owning a home in the Bay Area? I never could do it and I know I'm not alone but I am alone among my friends who have a far higher level of security than I do. (I was a single parent.) I do know that feeling of envy bordering on despair when someone goes on and on about replacing the gutters on the vacation house. Or, one time, a woman was actually crying at school dropoff becuase HER car died and she had to call her husband and they had to SHARE a car while hers was in the shop. (Hello, you have a partner and a second car.) I was and am happy for my friends' good fortune and I know they wish me the best.

I think it's ok to feel that way privately. Then go back to your own life. Take responsibility for any iffy decisions you made that got you into this. In my case, married wrong guy, wouldn't live with an abuser. Acknowledge the wisdom and stupidity of your decisions.

And it's not over! List all the pluses and advantages you have, maybe a husband, health, the ability to work, the fact that childhood passes. You can create some level of security still. I'm probably older than you and I believe that. Unless you choose suicide, and you can't with kids (can you tell I've ridden this train of thought?), you just can't give up. It comes to some spiritual or philosophical attitude of accepting the unique challenges you have and remembering that everybody has something. It's hard but try not to compare. I compared myself to one of my friends, financially, then she got sick and died. Young!

Maybe it comes down to just not giving up, doing your best, and appreciating all the small things. - i hear you

Wow. I have the opposite problem! My mom is so incredibly unskilled at life that she can't keep a job, she can barely keep a roof over her head, and often doesn't have enough money for food. We don't make nearly enough money to support her too, but we often do end up bailing her out (paying her rent, buying her gift cards to Trader Joe's, etc.) and then I feel so resentful. So we have that in common- the resentment part!

I'm not sure how you can heal/deal with your resentment; it's such a foreign thing to me to have highly functional parents (at least where their finances are concerned). I'm actually jealous of you! I had to raise myself as a kid because my mom is so inept at ''life'' -it felt like I was raising the both of us, frankly. I always wished someone would lend a hand. But it was just the two of us. Now I (once again) wish I had a sibling or someone to help me... It feels like so much. My mom is only 60, but has to work at minimum-wage jobs because she can't handle much more than that. I should shut-up now, I'm depressing myself.

But good luck to you. And when you feel the resentment creep up, think of me. At least you aren't having to take care of them AND yourself and your family. Something small to be grateful for. Mama-to-My-Mama

After reading some of the responses, I had to write in. Obviously the writers' own experiences are driving their perspectives. Those who are better off than their parents seem to think you are being a spoiled brat. I disagree. The reality in America is that, overall, we've passed the peak. For many, especially the young, but even many in middle age, they are simply never going to achieve the level of prosperity that their parents had, no matter what economic circumstances they grew up in. In addition, the communal benefits that their parents currently enjoy (Soc. Sec. and Medicare)will not be there for us. Acknowledging that is not spoiled; it's realistic. It may not be true yet for some individuals whose parents had no education who themselves got an education and have a completely different kind of job, but for many of us it is the case. Real incomes in many (most?) fields have declined since I was a kid (the 60s and 70s). I have the same education level and quality and am in a similar field as my father, but our lifestyles have no relation to each other. My mother stayed home, and we lived a really privileged life on his one scientist's income. I am a scientist AND my husband works full time, and there is no way in hell we could buy the house I grew up in, go on the vacations we went on, pay the tuition for the private school I attended, have the new cars or anything that my parents were able to do on one professor's income. That's just a fact. It's NOT because I pay for cable and they didn't (I don't have cable, since we can't afford it). The fact that you don't have the nice life your parents had or even now are enjoying in their retirement and the fact that you will likely not have anywhere near as comfortable a retirement yourself (if you even get to retire), probably has NOTHING to do with you buying more luxuries than they did. It's just the ugly reality of 21st century America in which wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of very few and almost ALL the rest of us are losing ground. It's only going to get worse, by all indications. (continued below) Part of the dying middle class
(continued from above) So, your reality is mine and many others' as well. I don't resent my mother having her comforts, but I do get extremely irritated when she complains about the expenses of her second home in Tahoe, the single supplement she has to pay to have a private room on her guided luxury trips to Africa/India/Morocco/France, the cost of the bathroom remodel, etc. Or when she complains about how little her Social Security increase is, or how annoying it is that Medicare won't pay for something or other. Or when she mentions, somewhat petulantly, that my sister's and my families don't come travel to her enough (seven people traveling vs. one - what makes financial sense?). Or when she comments that we should have bought a nicer house like the one next door (which we couldn't afford in a million years) or should replace our furniture or I should buy a new outfit for some event. She has no concept of the reality in which her children live and how even in our prime earning years we have nothing like what she had in my childhood or has now in retirement. No, I don't begrudge her her good fortune - she was lucky enough to hit the peak of prosperity combined with high public support in America - but I do NOT want to hear her complain. So, I can relate to you frustration, and you are not being unreasonable. That being said, you should probably keep it to yourself; saying something won't change the reality, and might just put an unnecessary damper on their happiness. Just try not compare, and think of what you DO have. It's hard, but it helps. Of course, some day I might just scream at my mother if she complains again about some luxury I could never EVER afford...... Part of the dying middle class
I read your post with bemusement - I wish I had such a problem! My parents have always handled their money badly. Decades ago they expected their own parents to give them a down payment on a house - and it never happened, and they are still renting. My father has been in and out of more jobs than I can count. He is now 65 and unemployed - laid off two years ago, and unlikely to ever work again. My mother works two jobs and will never be able to retire. I literally lie awake at night worrying about how I will manage to put my own children through college and simultaneously help my own parents as their health continues to decline. And I do own a house - my husband and I scraped and saved for many years. No one helped us. The catch is that I can never, ever discuss my finances with my parents because my situation is the exact opposite of yours: my parents are envious of me. And not a day goes by that I don't feel guilty for what I have. anonymous
I know very well what the original posting is all about. I also have to agree with the two-part response a couple of newsletters ago. You are not alone in this. I unfortunately have to tell my parents that some comments they make around my spouse and I, or our friends are based on assumptions they make that are completely wrong, and as a result they might hurt people. Thankfully, they can take a hint and have been very measured, but I think in large part it helps that they live on very little and are far from comfortable at retirement.

This is not true of a few of our friends though who are comfortably retired. Their comments and assumptions have been rather unfortunate in the past, and we have to manage our contact time with them. We know they like to come visit the kids, or to generally hand around with our friends but it is too much stress. Their own kids have to publicly admonish them for making remarks that are misplaced, or whining to people who they don't realize have far more economic uncertainty and challenges galore to deal with (to say nothing of the strong ideological views they so willingly share with everyone regardless of context or venue).

It's particularly hard that my peers (in mid-30s to mid-40s) despite their advanced education, capabilities and most of them being new parents, they are having enormous difficulties and fairly uncertain economic prospects at what should be the prime of their working lives. No-one wants to ''brag'' about how tough things are for them, so it's probably really tricky for someone to appreciate that the ''problems'' they have are nothing compared to many younger families.

This is not entirely generational though. We have some friends who regardless of how they are doing at retirement (and some are struggling) they are great to be with, insightful, lively, wise, and calm, regardless of what goes on in their lives.

That said, it is really weird to see some of our friends having to take their parents aside for ''a chat''. My uncle sometimes jokes that some in his generation are acting as if their kids are the adults in the room.

I think you need to at least communicate to your parents about how their words have an impact. I think you have the acumen necessary to convey to them that you both love them and appreciate them for how much they have done for you, and that their complaints are sometimes distracting to you, or that it is hard to relate to them about all that. You know that it won't make things instantly better, but you are their child, and you ought to give them a heads-up about what this impacts your relationship with them.

My dad expects me to provide him with money

August 2008

I'm having a very difficult time with my father and would like to seek some advice from those with wisdom/experience. My father was a good father to me; he did everything he could to bring my mom and his three children to the US; support us during our early days in the US. On the down side, he was very self righteous; authoritative; and was not open to open communication with his children. I basically entered my first marriage out of the desire to escape the traditional family dynamics. Since then, I went through a divorce; went to law school on my own; remarried and now practice law in the city.

Now my father's retired from a great position. He lives in a condo which I helped buy; drives a SUV Lexus; occasionally travels to the old country or out of town; basically leads a very decent life for a retiree on a fixed budget. However, having the old Asian values of expecting children to support the parents financially in the parents' old age, he has driven me completely crazy. He expects me to provide him with money. Honestly, I have failed to do so simply because I have my family obligations myself: mortgage; my kid's education; other expenses, no luxury by all means: I'm still driving a 6 year old car, and frankly after all bills are paid, I survive on a $50 the last five days prior to the next paycheck!

And my father has turned completely hostile, bitter, & angry at me. He would either confront me directly about money issue: ''Why don't you pay for it, etc?'' Or everyday he would tell my mother that one of his deepest regrets is to bring his family to the US; he should have left us in Vietnam under the communists! That kind of statement hurt and angered me tremendously. First,as a mother myself, I cannot even imagine saying such cruel things about my kids.Secondly, I think if I could afford it, I would help him financially. But I can't. I tried to explain to him but he never listened and he has maintained a very cold, bitter interaction with me. I appreciate any advice you might give. anon

We (my siblings and I) also went through a similar situation with our dad. In our case, what eventually helped was setting a budget for dad's expenses. Our dad knows that he will get a certain amount each month to cover his personal expenses while we siblings will cover other fixed expenses (home, utilities, food, medical). We've explained to him that we also have our own personal bills to pay and that he can't expect us to pay for everything.

And yes, I know of the emotional blackmail (''I raised you - why aren't you being grateful, etc etc'') which sadly, has caused our relationship to deteriorate. I've decided to ignore it now (hard to do yes) and I've told myself that I won't let him get the better of me. I know this isn't very helpful but I hope you find your own way of dealing with his comments. spf

Hi. I am also Asian (Chinese from Hong Kong) and know what you mean about parents and money. I didn't get from your posting whether you are a man or a woman. That matters, in my opinion. I think Asian fathers expect male children to perform but not female children. I have a feeling you are a man, and that is why your father is so hard on you. I think you have to consider also that your values have changed since coming to the U.S. (I know mine have). All the things you mentioned about communication and expectations between you and your father are caught up in the cultural differences. I don't think you can ever change him, so you just have to do your best in YOUR part of the communication. I would definitely explain to him that you don't have the money to support him, and that you are having a hard time. Apologize because you feel really bad, considering all the things he has done for you in the past. Help out in other ways other than financial, and give him the love that he is looking for. Don't get caught up with the money. It's not worth it. Hope this helps. Feel free to email me if you want more communication about this. I have more to say, but it's hard to say it all here. paula
In reading your post, I recognize that there are two issues here: cultural expectations and relationship problems.

You should hightail it into therapy with someone who understands cultural issues surrounding Asian daughters (an Asian woman therapist if possible). She could help you get perspective on what is culturally appropriate - you are straddling two cultures and should have some support in your navigation towards a relationship with your parents which is comfortable for you.

It is possible that your father may not ever be able to accept that his paradigm is not going to work here. If he continues to be abusive, stop talking to him.

I know lots of Asian women who have successfully maintained a relationship with their old country parents within an American attitude (ie: no, you cannot come and live with me, I will not support you as long as you have the means to support yourself, yes I will be helpful to you - but not a servant). It takes strength not to fall into the ''good Chinese daughter'' trap (or Japanese, or Vietnamese), but find a therapist who understands these issues and you will be able to find a balance between the old world and the new. Eurasian and proud

Hi - Your dad's a narcissist, surf the web for definitiions of that. It might be comforting to have the labels. He's open and honest about how little he cares for you. You are still hooked and feeling responsible and guilty. Get therapy to help you distance yourself from him - you owe him no justification for how you spend your money and have the right to have a jewelry fund, a retirement fund, a vacation budget, candy fund - whatever the heck you want. You've been more than a good daughter. I guess I'm assuming you're a woman because we women are more likely to get hooked into guilt for not serving the needs jerks who don't care about us and I can't imagine a man writing that post. Good luck. anon
Easier said than done, but DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Parents know your weak spots, and your dad is obviously struggling with the fact that things aren't working out the way they were ''supposed to.'' And how could they? He moved from his home country, which was in turmoil. He's probably experiencing a bit of mid-life crisis, and discovering that belligerence and anger doesn't work anymore (as maybe it would have if the war hadn't come along). But that doesn't mean he won't stop trying! But it's not about you; it's just dissatisfaction that doesn't have a home. And, unfortunately, for immigrants in this country, things are not like home, and you don't know that till you've left and made a commitment to live here. And once you've lived here, ''home'' isn't really the old country anymore either. Both you and your parents may always feel a little lost from that perspective. (Heck, I even had that sense of disillusionment and disorientation moving from one part of the Bay Are to another after a divorce, so it's much worse changing cultures and countries completely!) Here's what I suggest (again, easier said than done): Do your best with your dad, be firm on your limits, don't join him in his anger (that's just what he's doing to try to get you to do things the ''old way.''), be as loving and compassionate as possible, and mourn the loss of the loving, family-oriented dad you'd love to have (but try to get over it). And walk away when you can't take any more, to take care of yourself. I have similar issues w/ a couple of family members (minus the cultural clash). I will never have the mother I want and imagine, so there are limitations, but she has her strengths as well (and difficulties from her past that I try to empathize with). When necessary, if she lashes out at me--doesn't happen much anymore b/c I am an now expert at avoiding the unnecessary battle--I simply say I have to go, making up an excuse if needed. Also try not to feel guilty about not meeting all of your father's demands. You do what you can, you take care of yourself & family & dad as best as possible, set your limits, and move on. Try not to say things you'll regret when he dies. You wouldn't be anguished if you didn't love him too.

Friends' frequent requests for money donations

March 2008

I have friends who belong to organizations, lead organizations, and run marathons. Quite frequently, friends personally ask me for monetary donations to support their causes. When I was younger and starting out, even when money was an issue, I certainly didn't mind offering a small donation of perhaps $50 to support lymphoma or breast cancer for example for a friend running in a marathon. Now that I am older and financially established, friends hope and somewhat expect that I have the means to offer thousands of dollars to support their causes. I have been even placed on permanent mailing lists which I think is a bit rude. Annually I do donate to organizations of my choosing but I wish my friends would not persist in this arena. It has come to the point that one friend remarked, ''Why don't you just donate what you donated to .... to my organizaion?!'' or, (comparing qualities in friends, never good) ''Suzy Q donated $2000 to our organization this year, you really should, don't you think?'' How would you handle this situation? Why can't friends keep money out of the equation? Frustrated

How about sending an e-mail to all of these fund-raising friends (blind cc list), saying something like, ''Dear friends, as you all know, I have donated to many causes over the years, and have rarely if ever, turned down a peronal request for a donation. What you may not know, is that I also donate to causes that I am personally, if more privately, committed to. While I wish I could continue to support all the different causes that all of us support, and I applaud everyone's efforts for doing this important work, I have decided to select a finite number of causes and support those as fully as I am able. So from now on, I will not be making donations to other organizations. I wrote this letter to everyone because I feel badly about saying no to anyone. But I'm sure you all understand we all have our limits, and I have now found mine. Thanks for understanding!'' That should nip it in the bud, no? anon
This is a very good issue to raise. Giving money to causes you support can be a wonderful thing, as you get the good feeling that you are helping make the world a better place. However, getting browbeaten because you haven't given enough to someone else's pet cause (in their estimation) is not such a wonderful feeling.

My husband and I make a careful plan for our giving at the end of every calendar year. We favor making fewer, larger gifts rather than scattering smaller gifts between many organizations. When people hit me up, I explain our strategy to them. Not everyone is happy. Some people are so passionate about their causes that they can't understand how you could fail to share their passion. Explain to them that, while you admire their commitment to X, you have made other commitments.

One of the problems of being a donor is that you sometimes feel as though your reward for making gifts is more mail, more requests and higher expectations. But it's still worth it to support the causes you believe in, and they really do need your money. Stick to your guns, don't feel apologetic and keep on giving. Giver

I know exactly how you feel. I've been responding this way: ''How great that you're running/walking/bicycling. I want my charity dollars to go to one or two places so I can follow the impact my donations have. This year I'm donating to Heifer International and Habitat for Humanity because those causes are really important to me. (During Katrina it was to the Red Cross.) So many people have asked me to sponsor them, it felt like my giving was too scattered.'' Still feels awkward but it's the truth. Choosing Charities
I have this problem and it bugs me a little too. I even get them from people who are my business clients. I remind myself that their intentions are good and my response is usually ''thanks for this wonderful opportunity but I will be sticking to my own list of donations for the year. I hope your bowl-a-thon is very successful.'' Or something like that. Nice - to the point. Pick your own good will!
Friends no longer ask me to donate to their organization unless they are willing to donate the same amount to my organization, ''Huntington's Disease Society of America'' at Committed to Preventing Huntington's Disease
When friends ask me money for their causes I give what I can. If you don't feel like giving, then my advice would be to say I don't feel like it, maybe some other time. It's that simple

Want to be removed as co-signer on step-daughter's loans

Sept 2007

Hope the BPN community can help w/this one.

We co-signed student loans for my now 26 year old SIL back in 2002 & 2003. Her mother couldn't really help her and we stepped up. She is now married and has an excellent job tho is sometimes late w/a payment (and the loan co calls us every time).

As part of our general financial housecleaning this year (property trusts, paying down debt, etc)as we expect our second child, we have asked her to take us off her loans as co-signers, and thus far she has not, as she's been complaining that the interest on consolidation loans are too high (from 5% to 12% seems to be the range).

Do we have any recourse or are we dependent on her to get this done?

Thanks so much, Responsible

My mother co-signed a student loan for my daughter. We asked about taking her off and it's very simple: we had to make on- time loans for one year and then you can apply to remove the co- signer. The terms of the loan don't change, it's still the dept. of ed. Since you are a co-signer, you have a right to see the loan, I would suggest that YOU find out how to log in to look at the loans you co-signed, find out exactly how to remove yourself as a co-signer and if, in fact, the one year rule still applies, then monitor it and then just DO IT. You can do all of this online and you'll know for sure what the real story is. Gizella
if you cosigned a loan, you are going to be unable to break that contract. it is a legal document and that's pretty much that. however, i consolidated my loans 2 years ago through sallymae and have a rate a little over 3%. the rates are higher now, but i'd advise her to contact them. this is a fixed rate on the majority of my student loans, with about a third being revolving (a HEAL education loan). i have the option of paying this one off first. i'd approach her less from the standpoint that you want to be released of your legal obligation and more that you are trying to help her- catch flies with honey and all that. good luck! paige

Money I loaned to friend has not been repaid

Sept 2007

Back in May, my *good* friend, a colleague of mine, who is a single male, who works full time and makes 4K a month, asked me, a part time worker and married mother of 3, for a small loan. He stated he was in dire need of the money as he was getting evicted from his apartment for ''lack of payment''. He also was having problems with the IRS and the phone company for not paying his bills. I hesitated for a sec (with my instincts telling me no because I figured he will not repay me) but reluctantly decided to go ahead and lend him the money because he cried and seemed so desperate as he begged and begged. I knew he was manipulating me but oh, well, I hated to see him so upset. Well, it's now September and of course he hasn't paid me. I am just figuring I should just ''eat it'' and chalk it up as experience. I'm actually embarrassed for him that he hasn't paid me as I'm the type of person who immediately pays my bills. Unfortunatley, it's awkward now when we see each other at work as the air is tense but I don't bring up the subject waiting to see what he'll do. Anytime he sees me, he always brings it up but doesn't pay up. Don't really know what to's uncomfortable. anon

Mark Twain once noted how sacred the bonds of friendship are -- until money comes up. Your friend has a problem with money and he took advantage of you. Friends don't do that. At the same time, you say that you didn't think he would pay you back, so you apparently told yourself at that time that your friendship was worth losing that amount of money. Did you establish a time at which he should have paid you back? It doesn't sound like it. I would approach him at a moment when you can be alone and ask to talk to him. Tell him that your friendship with him means a lot to you and that's why you need to have him help you out by returning the money he borrowed. Give him a time limit -- a short one, as it was a ''small loan.'' Make it clear that it's really important to you that he make this effort for you. If he doesn't -- make it clear you're no longer friends. And don't lend money unless you really want to. also a soft touch
You are generous to call this person a friend! I wouldn't ever take advantage of a friend in that way. If I wasn't able to pay you back immediately, I would explain in DETAIL why, and give you an idea of when I thought I would have the cash. This may be a losing battle, but I wouldn't just let him get away with this. If it's already awkward talking with him at work, then I would just get my courage up and straight out ask him for the money back and give him a deadline when to pay me. If he brings it up every time he sees you, then follow up his comment with something like this: ''You know, Joe, it's been six months. Xmas (or whatever) is coming soon. I would like to have the money back in the next two weeks. What can I do to help make that possible? Would you like a phone call at home? a note?'' If he says he doesn't have the money now, then tell him that you will accept installments. ''I understand that money is tight. How about you just pay me 20 bucks (50 bucks/100 bucks) every week/every pay day?'' If he says he can't, tell him: ''well Joe, as a matter of good faith and friendship, it is important that you take your debt to me seriously. what CAN you afford to pay me each week?'' Even after all that, he may never pay you back without being forced to. But at least you have stood up for yourself. Did you and he sign anything when you made the loan? Do you have a cancelled check or anything? I would like a friend like you!
I think you've got a few choices. If he's really a good friend, then you tell him, look, I'm uncomfortable with this debt. Let's make a plan for how you'll pay it back. How about $20 a month (or whatever seems reasonable?) If you can't do that, then you can either write it off in your head, and tell him that you've written it off, and therefore it's a gift, and truly think of it that way, or write him off as a friend. It sounds like you're going that way anyway, since you're not really ''awkward'' with a true friend, and a real friend doesn't ''borrow'' money with no apparent intention of paying it back. (Actually I don't have any friends who would ask me for money...) You knew you shouldn't have lent him the money in the first place, you were just hoping you were wrong. You're an optimist, nothing wrong with that. But I wouldn't loan anybody any more money unless you're a money tree.
You're right, he probably won't pay it back. Think I would simply tell him it's ok that he borrowed the money (next time he brings it up) and you know he'll pay it back when he's able, but that you don't wish to talk about it until then. Then change the subject and if he ever brings it up after that just smile and talk about something else. He'll get the message. anon
Yes, I've been there. After not getting paid back, and feeling so uncomfortable, I decided to heed my Grandpa's words, ''Don't loan money, just gift it.'' So I told my coworker not to worry about paying me back. It was still awkward for a long time. After a decade, we are still coworkers, and I will never have the same level of trust in this person, but we are amiable. Much later, I found out that she ''borrowed'' money from many coworkers. One of them did set up a payment plan with her, and she paid the money little by little. hope I never have to go thru that again
I'll bet you are not the only one that your friend has borrowed money from. I had a friend like this too, and I finally figured out two things: everyone he knew was, to him, a potential source for free money and 2) he was never going to pay it back. Nice guy, but really irresponsible. Just be aware. So, I also have siblings who borrow money, and who can also be irresponsible. This has worked for me over the years: I tell them I will lend them money when they need it, but they have to pay me back before I will lend to them again. And then I stick to it. This has worked really, really well. A couple of them need to borrow money pretty often, and they know I'm there for them, but they have to pay me back. They do pay me back, sometimes it takes a year or two. One of my sisters is paying me a little bit every month - she asked me to keep track, so I have a little Excel spreadsheet and when she sends me a check, I add it and send her a copy. It sounds a little unfamilial, but keeping things very business-like has helped. You might try that with your friend. Soft touch, with restrictions
To document the loan, just file a claim in Small Claims court. You might not get your money back, but at least there will be an official record of an amount due to you. And, you will have a documented loss to write off on your taxes.

There's an old saying that if you want to see less of someone, lend them money. It sounds as if there's something else going on that your ''friend'' hasn't told you. Is he a compulsive shopper or gambler? Has a credit-card company increased his interest rate to usurius levels? Does he need credit counseling? Is he trying to impress another woman with expensive jewelry? Lender

Best friend's questionable moneymaking scheme

Dec 2006

Hello BPN! I am conflicted about my friendship with my childhood best friend. We have known each other for over 20 years which accounts for 2/3 of my life! We were true best friends, did everything together from elem thru high school. I moved away for college and have just moved back to town. We'd see each other at least around the holidays and talk every month or so.

Since moving back, there have been some ''transition'' issues, mostly seeing each other more often and realizing how different we are, but mostly non-issues that we both can handle.

More recently, however, she has become involved with a financial company - World Financial Group (WFG), thru her cousin (who I also know from childhood, not the most honest fellow). After asking a few basic questions about the types of life insurance he was hyping up to her (variable universal life), I realized he was blowing smoke. I did a little research and found out the company doesn't have the best reputation, they use multi-level marketing to gain clients (friend abuse i would say) and their associates basically get kickbacks for the referrals (like Amway).

I shared all my research with her and she read it, but still believed her cousin's pitch. I think she just saw dollar signs and that because he was so ''knowledgable'' about financial matters that he would share his ''secrets'' with her and her friends and family. I sat w/ him for a half hour and he backpeddled every time I asked a tough question, no secrets, he was just a fast talking salesman.

Anyhow, I hoped it would pass, I pleaded with her to do more outside resarch, but she has only become more involved. She even has her mother in law in the ''group'' and she is actually going to put real money into one of these lame life insurance plans. She was just wasting her time, but her mother in law can potentially lose lots of money. (my dad has sold life insurance for over 25 years and explained how these work in detail)

I feel very upset by the situation. I have tried to ignore it and have a rule (to myself) to not say anything about it anymore, but she keeps bringing it up because it's such a part of her life now. I have tried to recategorize her in my mind as a sister, since you don't choose family but you do choose friends, and it helps but i'm so annoyed (aside from the ethcial problems i have w/ the situation). I don't have a lot of friends in the area yet so I am also low on options there. What do I do? lonely and concerned

I can completely relate to your situation. My friend of 14 years has been duped into thinking he can make tons of money on the foreign currency exchange market. To humor him, I went to a hotel for the sales pitch. (Gag) My friend was convinced as were 100+ other people they were going to make millions in just a few days trading currencies. They bought the story hook, line, sinker fishing pole and fishing boat and washed it down with cool aid,

I was appalled, people plunked down $5,000 for software. It was hard to stomach; people maxed out credit cards just to pay for the crapy software. Think! 100 people spending $5,000... It's a huge amount of money these people are making.

Now I'm no savvy investor, but when we I returned home I did a Google search for the software/company and found web site after web site with the words complete rip off - stay away - invents if only you want to loose money. Several sites gave details on how the company makes money and you don't. On the how risky is the foreign exchange market? It's right around winning at Keno or hitting the big jackpot on a slot machine.

I hate it, but I have lost my friendship with my friend over this. No amount of evidence I produce for him will convince him otherwise. He think's I'm a fool for not investing. As I'm sure you've learned, you have a better chance at making money gambling then with the scheme you friend is offering you. I'm sure you know you will lose ALL your money with your friend's scheme.

Thanks for sharing your story with me, I needed a reality check.

My advice.... Is your friendship more important to you then money, invest. If money is hard to come by, more important to you and your family then lost a friend.

I think you would be happier giving the money to a charity then knowing some SOB is partying with your money.

Avoiding the topic doesn't work with this friend. He believes and I don't. I've tried to educate him and that's about all I can do. (You can lead a horse to water....) It's frustrating.

What's tragic is he is working harder then ever before and not getting ahead financially. As for the mother-in-law - If what you think what these guys are doing is illegal, contact law enforcement. You could try to educate the woman, but now you are butting in on family - You'll be the bad guy In a few years they will say, You know you were right, I should have listed to you. Maybe then your friendship will bloom again.

My friend hasn't made millions. The software these clowns are hawking is now on TV - Christian channels. They use lines like You have to believe you can become rich. And You have to believe this system will work for you. Oh my god Anon

It looks to me like your best move is this: the next time she brings it up, look her in the eye and tell her, firmly, gently, & lovingly, that you realize she's committed to this program, but that it is absolutely not right for you, and you'd appreciate it if she'd agree to drop it & not bring it up again. And make a concerted effort to find more friends. --anonymous
I'm sorry your friend has fallen prey to a pyramid scheme. However, the issue here is your friendship with her, not her choice to be taken. There is no point in you spending any more time or energy trying to change her mind as she's made up hers. However, you can gently tell her you've made up yours and you're not interested in joining her venture. If the two of you can continue on as friends, then by all means do so, just be sure not to bring up the issue anymore. If, however, she refuses to drop it, then it may be time to cool the friendship. Also, regardless of the outcome, do look for new friends. That way you won't be dependent on her if you decide to break it off Anon
Be careful. This could end a friendship, and has ended many before.

World Financial Group is most definitely a multi-level marketing (MLM)scheme. They pretend to have a ''support'' network. They must, because they mostly make money on new recruits.

Say no once firmly. If your friend persists, tell her that you need to take a break from her if she will only talk about WFG.

Good luck with this. MLM's don't make friends. MLM make money for those on the top Anon

I would be very clear with your friend that you are NOT interested and want nothing to do with it. If she can't grant that wish, I would start taking my distance.

An acquaintance of mine became involved with this group and tried to get me involved. Some basic research revealed immediately that this was something that I was not interested in. First of all, this person wouldn't tell me much about it.

He just pushed for me to come to a meeting at his home. Then he kept calling me. He even asked another friend to ask me to come. At that point I called him and told him that I was just not interested. I also have a problem with the semi-legal status of these types of businesses and want nothing to do with them.

But about your friend; realize that people change. You did and she did too. (Why do you think so many marriages fail? And these couples LIVED together!) Being apart and having your own lives will change you. Though your lives alligned when you were younger, they obviously don't any longer. You already came up with a solution yourself. Find other friends! Join a sports club of some sort or anything else that will put you in contact with other people. Before you know it this will just be a somewhat bad memory JOJ

I think you have two different problems here. 1) How to keep a life-long friendship with someone who has turned out to have very different values than yours and 2) What to do when people you love do stupid things (and try to get you to do them too).

For problem #1: I really believe in ''make new friends but keep the old''. It's probably selfishness on my part: those old friends are a pretty big slice of my past, and my past is part of who I am, so I want to keep connected to it if I can. For me it's like hanging on to old photos and mementos. You don't look at them every day but it's a great pleasure when you do. So I grew up in Alabama and some of my old friends are way, way more conservative in *every* way than I am. When they come to visit me, honestly they look like they came from another planet. And you wouldn't believe some of the email they send me around election time. But I either ignore it, or joke about it, and they do the same with me and my liberal notions. We all know which topics not to bring up, and where the shut-up-now line is. When we get together, not often but we do, we have fun. There is nothing more relaxing and comforting than spending time with someone you have known for a long time, who knows about all the events in your life that got you to where you are now. The more years I've accumulated, the more important this has gotten. So I just hit the delete key when the Hate Hillary chain-mail comes in, and look forward to the next get-together.

Now #2: a good 2/3 of my immediate family believe very fervently in get-rich-quick schemes. None of them are rich and never will be, but they are all very happy and optimistic, so that is why they keep making the same mistakes over and over in the belief that one day they will actually hit the jackpot. There are few multi-level marketing type schemes that have not been proposed to me by a sister or a cousin or a nephew. My mother regularly invites me to attend this ''free'' seminar or take advantage of that ''free'' hotel offer. I learned a while back that they do not listen to reason. Also, that they never, ever stop believing.

It's part of their DNA. So why beat my head against the wall? I just say ''that sounds like fun but I have so much work to do I just can't make it.'' Or, ''Gosh we just don't have the money'' or ''I just really need to stick with the cosmetics and bath products I use now'' They are all *always* surprised that I do not want to take advantage of all these wonderful opportunities. They just want to help. So they keep coming back with more. I try to view is as just another one of those irritating things that you have to put up with when you are part of a family. G