When Grandma Runs Out of Money

My grandmother, who lives in Las Vegas, is not someone who you’d call “good with money.” While she lives a relatively modest lifestyle, her social security check covers her rent in a two bedroom retirement community, and little else.

Other than playing piano, her main hobby is video poker. While I — nor her children — know exactly how often she plays, we’ve all seen her play and blow hundreds of dollars in one sitting. Sometimes she wins, but as gambling odds work, she certainly loses plenty of times as well. And as she likes to call herself “lightening hands” you can guess just how fast she loses.

So the other day when she called up her three daughters and asked for help paying for fixing her car, they all had mixed responses to the tune of “no.” The middle daughter doesn’t want to help at all — she thinks that if her mother spent all her money gambling, then she should have to deal with not having a car for the time being. The other two daughters want more¬†visibility¬†into their mothers bank account (just how much did she gamble away vs. how much did the market crash cause her lack of funds?)

While I’m not sure what the family is ultimately going to do, I hope this teaches my mother a lesson well in advance of her old age. We joke about it now, but I can see my mother running out of money later in life — not due to gambling — but due to a shopping addiction, and it’s not going to be fun to have to explain to her that she has run out of money.

Have you or your family ever paid to support an older relative? Why did they run out of cash to support themselves?

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3 comments

  1. chipsforsupper says:

    I agree with Beagle. Gambling can be a big problem and just *poof* one day there is no more money. Someone should seriously sit her down and hash out a plan that allows her to continue with the video poker if she wants it, but not so much that she loses all her moolah.

  2. I'm all for families caring for each other, so there is just no possibility of letting Grandma starve. However, the Beagle is right about managing her finances. The support would not be a "no strings attached" transfer or loan.

  3. Money Beagle says:

    That sucks. None of my grandparents ever ran out of money, but I know that I was lucky for that.

    I think some tough love is in order. The only way she would get any money is if she agreed to have someone else run her finances for her, and she gets an allowance. Other than that, the problem will only get worse because she'll see the loans as another source of income and will eventually incorporate that into what she gambles.

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