Finances & Money

Parents, Spending and Retirement – A tough combination

Old AgeWhile driving home to see my family last weekend, I got a call from my dad wondering if I was bringing home the truck. I was, and then he proceeded to tell me the heater and mattress in their 25 year old water bed finally gave up the ghost. They had been wanting to get a new bed in the next year soon anyway, so this was a good opportunity.

My dad told me they had a 50% off coupon to the local furniture store (a scratch-off), so I offered to pitch in a couple hundred dollars, assuming the total after the coupon would be about $400-500.

So I get home, all ready to drive up to the furniture store with them to pick up a simple mattress, box spring and frame. I end up getting watching my nieces while my parents drove to the store….without my watchful frugal eye to monitor their spending.

My mom runs all the finances in the family, and because likes to spend, my mom has to be the frugal one. But in this case, she turned out to be the spender.

When they came home from the furniture store, I asked them what they got. They proceeded to rattle of the following: king cushion top mattress, split box springs, sleigh bed frame, dresser, and 2 night stands.

I thought “Ok, they probably spent about $2000 with the 50% off coupon”. No…they spent about $5400, EVEN AFTER the 50% off coupon!. Then, this week, they went back and got the matching chest of drawers and a Sauder computer armoire.

Now, here’s a short bit about my parents: my mom has some insurance (don’t know how much) and a small pension when she retires. My dad is a short-haul truck driver and pretty much has nothing. They make about half as much as I make, combined, but live in a much cheaper area. My parents live with my gram, and my sister lives with my parents, and my sister has 2 kids. Four generations in one house. Oh, and only one bathroom.

This past week, I talked to my mom and asked her how they expect to be able to ever retire with what they’re spending (this isn’t the first multi-hundred dollar or more expenditure). She said “Don’t worry, I’ll leave enough to pay everything off and then have extra”. That’s all fine and good, but I wasn’t thinking about them passing away. I was wondering how will they retire? What if they get sick and can’t work? How will they support themselves, and who will be able to help? Us? My sister?

We live hours away, so that makes it difficult, and we’re stuck in our own debt for the next few years, so the budget is tight. We would never put our families in any nursing home (my parents are only in their 50s and listen to rock music), but they’re just not prepared for retirement and not helping things by buying an LCD TV, video cameras, and fancy bedroom suites…on credit.

They only seem to think about how they’re “worth more dead than alive” financially. How do I counteract that thinking this late in my parents’ lives? Plus, they’re my parents. How can I get them to believe me, trust me and listen to me?

Image Courtesy of [Rebecca Key]

About the author

Clever Dude


  • That is a bad beat man! I feel for you especially since it seems you do not want to end up that way. That must be rough as you basically saw it coming, just not to that extreme.

    “How can I get them to believe me, trust me and listen to me?”

    As much as you love them you can’t change the way they are. They have spending habits of YEARS programmed inside, and they aren’t going to change anytime soon. I say in this case let your actions speak more loudly than words, make sure you do not end up the house with two kids. Be the first to be completely independent and on your own, that should send a message over time.

    Lastly, sympathies man, it is frustrating but totally out of control!

  • I “feel” you pain…
    As someone who is kinda known for debt reduction… let me just say the following. No one will listen to you until they want to listen to you. I have relatives, colleagues, and friends who all think that it’s “cool” and “awesome” that I’m debt free, but very few of them will listen to me when I try to “help” them out.. I have the same fears about my parents. I think that the BEST thing I can do for THEM right now is to focus on my OWN savings and investing so that I can have a little to help them when they get older…

Leave a Comment