Tag Archives: parents

My Father is Sick, My Mother Doesn’t Even Know How to Pay the Bills

Far across the country, my father is lying in bed, fighting off illness, and my mother is fretting that the lights are going to turn off because the electric bill hasn’t been paid.

My dad is in his late 50s and has been suffering from diabetes and obesity for years. He has refused to treat his condition properly, and has not taken the insulin prescribed to him because he said that it was impossible to lose weight on it. Of course, the way he eats with no exercise, it’s not possible to lose weight in a healthy way.

He’s supposed to go to the doctor to get checkups every few months but he hadn’t been to the doctor in over a year. That is, until this past week, when his health quickly deteriorated and has left him bed ridden.

But, being the stubborn guy that he is, he’s still telling my mom to bring him the bills to pay. He can’t even get out of the bed, yet he won’t let her pay the bills.

The saddest thing of all might be the fact that my mother doesn’t even know how to pay the bills to begin with. I mean, she could pay them, but she has no idea how much money my dad has in his accounts, or how much is saved for their future. If any credit card bills don’t get paid, it’s on her credit history as much as it is his.

My father finally went to the doctor. It sounds like there are more problems than just the discomforting illness that sent him into the doctor in the first place. They did some blood work and determined that there’s something wrong with his prostate. It’s either an infection or cancer, apparently. They’re giving him antibiotics to try to clear up the infection but if that doesn’t work it might be malignant.

Given that my dad hasn’t been to the doctor in forever, he’s probably waited too long to treat any sort of cancer if that indeed is his infliction.

My father and I don’t have a close relationship, but I’m still scared for him, and for my mom. I’ve accepted for a long time that he could just die and be gone any day, the way he takes care of himself. Still, I don’t want it to happen, obviously.

My mom said he hasn’t said he’s scared, but he at the very least admitted to her that she was right – that he should have gone to the doctor sooner. For anyone who knows my dad, him admitting to my mom that she was right says a lot about his view on his condition at this point.

He’s been in the hospital before, but it wasn’t enough to scare him to get healthy. He doesn’t seem to believe he can, or he doesn’t care to do it.

I want him to grow old and be around to be the grandparent of my children one day. He’s not the best guy in the world, he has his issues, he was abusive to me when I was a kid, and he’s emotional abusive and somewhat physically abusive to my mother at times. Still, deep down inside of him, there’s a good guy there. And I want that good guy to grow old and be around for a while.

And then, logistically, there’s the real concern of what would happen now if he did pass away. My mother wouldn’t know what to do with the money at all. I have a feeling my dad has a decent amount saved in 401ks, etc, but if my mom knew just how much they had she’d go and spend it all. Of course I wouldn’t let her do that – and she’d listen to me. She admits she knows nothing about managing the household money. I’d have to step in and take charge of all of that, probably – from figuring out my sister’s potential college education to the cost of my mom supporting herself, etc, etc.

I’ve always figured it would happen – some day – but I’m not ready for it to happen quite yet.

Maybe I’m thinking too far ahead of myself. My dad could just have an infection and he could get better soon. And if that’s the case things will just go on as they’ve been… he’ll continue to be stubborn and my mom will continue to be clueless.

First Generation with Fiscal Suckage?

Frugal Zeigeist has a great post today about whether we’re the “first generation to be worse off than our parents.” She writes:

…I’d say that I’m way behind because of the way the work world has changed. My dad worked for a single employer in Canada and a single employer in the US; although he went through reorganizations, I don’t think he ever worried about layoffs or downsizing the way I do. He also has traditional pensions both from his years of work in Canada and from working in the US. Between that and Social Security, my parents have never had to touch their retirement savings. — Frugal Zeitgeist

At my age (24), my parents were living in New York City, renting an apartment. In a couple of years their apartment would go ‘co-op,’ and they’d buy and sell their place within a few years for enough profit to put a down payment on the house in New Jersey where I grew up.

My mom was a fashion designer, working for fairly low wages, and my father was… well, I think he was a grad student when he was 24. He was going to grad school for physics but dropped out and ended up working as an actuary (pension planner). He stayed with the same company UNTIL HE RETIRED. He obviously had a good pension plan in place as well. My mom… she stopped working as a fashion designer 10 years into her career to have children (waves).

I’m not sure where they were financially at 24. Were they struggling? Possibly. I assume that if my father had started his job as an actuary, his entry-level salary was probably pretty high. And back then it wasn’t so painfully expensive to live in a city like New York. Then they got lucky with buying their condo and selling it, and the rest is history.

Looking at where I’m at now, I don’t see myself buying a condo anytime soon. It’s not that it would be entirely impossible to make enough money to buy a small studio apartment, but I’d have to live extremely frugally and, even more so, I’d have to be sure I want to stay in this area for the foreseeable future. And I’m just not ready to make that kind of commitment.

Then again, the housing market seems to be pretty attractive right now. I don’t know a lot about it other than the fact that lots of people are losing their houses because they can’t afford their mortgages. That’s sad for them, but good for potential buyers.

I don’t want to just sit back and watch another housing boom happen without having the opportunity to partake. Still, I don’t think I’m ready to buy a condo.

So, instead, I spend $12,600 a year on rent. Ouch.

My 25-year-old boyfriend… he lives at home and works part time. I don’t think he’s ready to make that commitment either. :X

I wonder how much monthly payment on a studio condo would be. Would that help me be as successful as my parents were at my age?

In any case, Frugal makes this important point:

They key point that this thought exercise brought out for me is this: The rules of the game have changed big-time. In the modern economy, the cards are stacked in such a way that if I’m ever going to be better off than my parents, I can’t rely on employers or government to lend a helping hand as a reward for loyalty or years of service. It’s definitely possible to end up being better off than my parents ever were, but I have to make it happen on my own. — Frugal Zeitgeist

Personally I think the opportunity to switch employers and make oneself more of a commodity is to the advantage of the employee. It might hurt when it comes to long-term savings, but salaries (and benefits) are higher if the employee has well-sought skills.

Here’s to hoping that my skills will develop into ones that people want to pay me for!