When the Ship is Sinking, Get Everyone in the Lifeboat Dear Mary: My wife and I made a terrible mistake and bought a house that I don't think we can afford. We dumped all of our money from the sale of our last home into it and now we have run out of money. It is not even close to being done. My wife is …Read more. Readers Weigh in Bananas, Buttons and Brown Sugar Readers Weigh in Bananas, Buttons and Brown Sugar Not long ago, the produce manager at my supermarket noticed me putting a bunch of bananas in my cart and offered this bit of handy information: When you get home from the store, separate the bananas …Read more. Everything is Negotiable What I know about the art and science of negotiating I learned as a matter of survival. Driven to save myself and my family from financial ruin, I jumped into the deep end of the real estate industry. I knew nothing about negotiating. All I knew was …Read more. Danger Signs You're Headed for the Debt Trap Debt. It's a four-letter word and certainly not ideal under any circumstances. Being debt-free is always better than being in debt. But not all debt is created equal. Generally, debt comes in two flavors: Secured and unsecured. Secured debts are …Read more.more articles
How to Help Mom From Overspending
Dear Mary: My mother is a widow who lives on a tight budget. The last few Christmases, she's been blowing a lot of money on gifts for my husband, me and the kids. By February, she'll usually ask me for a little help to cover her bills. I know she feels Christmas is the one time she can really spoil us, but I'm worried she may be digging herself into a money pit. What can I do? — Janice, California
Dear Janice: I think your mom and I have something in common. We are people-pleasers. It's easy for us to go overboard trying to get approval. Take her out to lunch, and tell her you understand that things are tight since your dad is gone and it makes you uncomfortable when she spends a lot on you.
Gently turn the conversation to the coming holidays. Ask her to help you teach the kids that sometimes the best gifts aren't wrapped up in a box. Years from now, they won't remember the gifts she gave as much as the time she spent with them. One idea might be for her to give them individual gift certificates for "My Special Day with Grandma" doing just what they love to do with you.
As for you and your husband, if she has a possession that you love dearly, suggest she give that to you for Christmas. She'll have many years of watching you enjoy owning something that is also precious to her.
Dear Mary: Our beloved dog, Bella, is getting older, and we're concerned about safeguarding her health. She recently had surgery that cost us $3,000.
Dear Pat: Plan ahead, stashing money into a Bella Account. Call to learn your vet's policy regarding emergency services, for things like hours, fees and discounts for cash payments. Find out what constitutes a true emergency and what can wait until the office opens.
Look into alternatives such as the humane society or university vet clinics that offer thriftier alternatives for shots and routine care. For Bella's wellness checks, keep an eye out for reduced veterinary-service clinics sponsored by government agencies or pet stores.
Should Bella face another serious situation, I hope you will have time to get a second opinion. You might want to look into pet health insurance with a company like Embrace Pet Insurance (www.EmbracePetInsurance.com). I've recommended Embrace in the past, just keep in mind that most pet health insurance policies exclude pre-existing conditions. And they have high deductibles and copays, too. I wish you many more wonderful years with Bella!
Do you have a question for Mary? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Your Christmas: Celebrating the Holidays Without Breaking the Bank," her 2012 holiday release. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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