Why I Lie to My Parents About How Much I Make


In January 2011, my debt hit an all-time high: I had $90,000 in student loans (which included loans for graduate school; I earned my master’s degree in marketing and communications in August 2010) and $10,000 in credit card debt. I couldn’t believe it, and I didn’t know how I was going to get myself out of that financial mess.

For the next year, I tried to pay down my debt but I didn’t feel like I was really getting anywhere. Then, in March 2012, I was set up on a blind date with David—the guy who’d eventually become my husband. After a few dates, I knew I was going to marry him. And while I was so nervous to talk to him about my debt, I sat him down and spilled the beans. I told him that I had a ton of debt, but that I was working on it. I also told him that I had recently read a LearnVest article about a woman who didn’t spend money on clothes or other non-essentials for a few months and that I was starting a similar kind of spending fast. I told him that I didn’t want to hold him—or us—back with my debt.

I put myself on a tough financial diet, spending money only on the absolute essentials, and I started aggressively paying down my debt. Within eight months, I paid off about $4,000 in credit card debt. David was impressed and soon after, he proposed. He helped me pay off the rest of my family-incurred debt, though I was against him taking it on at first.

David and I were proud of the progress that I’d made, and I felt like I was finally breaking free of the financial hold that my parents had on me.

RELATED: The Shopping Embargo: My Annual, 8-Week Buying Fast

Cutting the Family (Money) Ties

Then, one night, David and I were sitting on the couch relaxing when my mom called, crying, saying that my dad’s tooth was hurting him and he needed to see the dentist. She told me I had to help.

The irony is that while my mom was telling me they had no money, and I had to help, I knew that they were spending a lot of the money that they managed to scrounge up on non-essentials. For example, they always buy organic food—the most expensive eggs, butter and milk at the grocery store. They refuse to buy the cheap stuff or generic brands of anything. They also spend far too much money on my nephew, buying him the latest gaming system or whatever else he wants, including a big-screen TV.

RELATED: Family (Money) Matters: The Right Way to Give Loans to Relatives

That night when my mom called about my dad’s tooth, I was about to tell her I’d help—like I always did—and David just looked at me. He’d overheard what my mom was saying on the phone, and he just shook his head and said, “No.” I summoned up my courage and told my mom that I was sorry, but I couldn’t help out by giving them any money. I could tell it hurt my mom, but it was the right call. In that moment, I realized that if I continued to bail my parents out, nothing would ever change for them. They needed to get on a better financial track, and coming to their rescue wasn’t going to help them do that.

David and I got married in March. Right before my wedding (which, obviously, my parents couldn’t afford to help pay for), David and I had a tough conversation with my parents. We told them we’d closed the medical credit card and made it very clear that we couldn’t help them financially anymore. I think that really embarrassed them, and I felt badly about putting them in the hot seat, but David helped me see that coming to their rescue wasn’t really helping them in the long run.

Why I Still Feel the Need to Lie to Them

My salary has come a long way since the $15,000 I was making when I first graduated. Thanks to raises, promotions and bonuses, I now make $70,000 a year. Even though my husband and I made it clear to my parents that day that we’d no longer be helping them out, since then, they’ve still asked for help every now and then—particularly after each time I told them about a raise or a bonus I received at work. So, I stopped giving them that information, and I lie to them about my paycheck. I don’t feel guilty about this. It’s sad that I’m not able to share my successes with them and all of the accolades and promotions I’m getting at work, but I know it’s how it has to be.

RELATED: 3 People, 1 Salary: How I Save and Splurge on $70,000

Now, when they call to ask me for money or complain about not being able to afford something, I say, “O.K., I’m really sorry to hear that,” and I tell them about how David and I are saving our own money. I also show them our budget (without going into exact numbers) and how I track every expense in a spreadsheet so I can see where my money is going. I’m hopeful that I will set a better example for them and encourage them to be more responsible. When David and I visit them, we stock their fridge with extra food so that I know they’re not going to go hungry. Somehow they’re getting by—they’re about to rent a room in their house, so that’ll be a bit of a break on their rent—but I still worry. They still don’t have steady jobs, and they often rely on friends to hook them up with odd jobs, like housecleaning or babysitting, so they have some cash.

Watching my parents struggle and have no retirement savings has made it clear to me that their situation is not what I want for myself. That’s why my husband and I have been paying down debt aggressively before we buy a house or start a family.

RELATED: I Paid Off $90,000 of Debt in Just Three Years

I’ve learned so much from my parents’ lack of financial fitness. Now, with my husband’s support, I finally feel like I really can say “no” to them when they ask for money, whereas before I felt like it was my daughterly duty to help. And having a support system—someone who has my back when my parents cry or yell, who’ll sit on the couch with me, hold my hand, and tell me it’s O.K. to say “no” to my parents—has made it so much easier.

*Name has been changed.

  • Elaine

    I also felt compelled to not fully disclose my income to my parents. And yes, it was very very difficult. I couldn’t share my success stories, my raises; every time I shared that information with them, I could almost hear the gears turning – ‘Your brother needs money, could you send him $5000?’ Or more…. It was just easier in so many ways to move to a non-disclosure situation. It’s called self-preservation.

  • http://www.makingsenseofcents.com/ Michelle

    Wow what an interesting read. I am so sorry that you are not able to share your successes with your parents because then they would ask for more money. I had/have (working on repairing the relationship currently) a similar issue with my mother, and her always asking me to pay for things.

    However, my story has recently turned positive. I stopped paying for things for her. Before Saturday (yes, this past Saturday), I hadn’t seen her in over a year, and barely talked to her ever since I cut her off. I visited her over the weekend to try to amend things, and I found out that she is actually doing much better. I am so glad with how things worked out, even though I never thought my situation would turn positive.

  • nuna

    This is an unfortunate story- my parents aren’t great with their money; however, they have never asked me for a dime. That being said, I know I will have to contribute in the older years… I feel that if a person has financial needy relatives, if they expect financial help- then I should be able to assist in the financial decisions. I.E. Budgeting, major purchases, debt repayment plans, etc. Luckily I am not nickeled and dimed in my youth (25 right now) and I am able to instead invest that money for when I will need to help later.

  • Merrilee Slaton

    I think many young people don’t understand that older people really don’t realize the cost of retiring until it is to late. Their health becomes bad and they are forced tor retire or their company has a retirement age. The cost of retiring is really as much as continuing to work unless you want to sell out and move into an apt. or lower your standard of living to almost the poverty level. We didn’t make the high salaries that younger people make today, but were caught in the we need it now vice to. My parents and grandparents didn’t have 2 cars and 4 or 5 bedroom houses and didn’t expect to have them, my post WWII generation came along and all of a sudden we started to see all the things others had and we wanted them to, but because our parents and grandparents had not needed to teach us about credit and things like that (they didn’t use it much if at all) we didn’t understand how to use it when it was thrown at us from all different directions. So maybe your parents need to take a class on money management or they may just need a few hundred dollars extra on birthdays or Christmas to help with the extra expenses.

    • Kay

      No excuse. Once you are an adult, it is your responsibility to figure it out. If an individual is financially responsibility, and an emergency occurs, others are much more likely to pitch in happily, it is when you see flagrant waste and then crying when too much has been spent that it is maddening to be asked to bail someone out. So now, I have to give up what I have saved for a rainy day by foregoing new things and stuff and vacations etc. because you had too good of a time. No.

      • Merrilee Slaton

        No, I am saying maybe money instead of other type of gifts for holidays might help. I am old enough to have lived through the times I am talking about and I was taught how to manage money, but had many friends who had no idea. Yes, I agree they should have learned more as they became adults and had families and stuff, but it seems there is enough money to get by while you are working but then when you retire and your income goes down there just isn’t quite enough, not flagrant waste but are you sure you are calling flagrant something you would not want or need.

        • joeaverage21

          I agree with the money in lieu of gifts. Want to spend $20 on a gift for me? How about a crisp $20 that I can buy gas or groceries with? Been there, needed that.

          That said I get not wanting to fund a smoker’s habits or some other habit that the gifter doesn’t approve of. I try to give of my time. Need help cleaning up the yard or fixing a car? Better than doing it alone or hiring it out.

    • Merrilee Slaton

      I am just pointing out the difference in generations and what they expect or expected out of life. I am old enough to have seen the first radio’s and tv’s and have raised many children over the years and the difference in what we learned and what children learn today is totally different. We did not have finance classes and things like that. We had how to bake cookies and bread. The boys had wood shop and mechanics. At that time the credit card companies just sent out cards to young people as soon as they were 18 and got them hooked on that credit. I agree no young person should have to spend their main money on anyone if they don’t want to but for special occasions maybe cash would be good.

    • joeaverage21

      High salaries kid have today? Maybe SOME have high salaries but some of my peers have quite modest incomes. Pair that with a divorce or two (budget reboots) and an emergency repair or two of the family car or the house and trying to do it with savings and the hurt is on.

      My wife and I have chosen the slow and steady approach. Careful choices and lots of patience and it’s paying off for us. Two middle incomes and a comfortable gap between our combined salaries and the costs of raising a family so that we have wiggle room.

  • mara

    I am glad I’m not the only one that has to hide the true income. My parents don’t ask me for money (aside from sending some to my brother when he needs it) but I do get the hints…” your cousin took her mother on vacation”, “awww I love those shoes and they would be a perfect gift,” “you must be making lots of money at your job” etc etc. I don’t mind helping and it does make me feel good to give my parents gift and spoil them a bit when they are visiting I just don’t like it when it is expected. They are certainly the keep-up-with-the-joneses kind while I am more frugal and plan for the future. I just don’t think it is fair that while we spend to fill the fridge, have a paid off car, and have the essentials they spend in luxury with the expectation that I contribute to that lifestyle as well. In their eyes I am cheap and may be even selfish for not giving them more considering how much they think I make but in reality we are frugal now so we can have savings for us and in case they have some emergency we can be in the position to help. It took a long time to be OK with deviating from being a “good daughter” on their eyes due to my commitment to be smart about my finances. Sometimes their view of me not wanting to give more still hurts me though.

    • Merrilee Slaton

      Personally I would have no problem with telling them to cut back on some of the luxuries and maybe they could take you on vacation. You keep on saving and good luck, sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders.

      • mara

        thank you Merrilee…It is always interesting for me to hear the opinion of someone from a different generation. My parents are great in so many ways and I have lots to thank them. It is hard for them to negatively view my frugality even though the only time I am not as frugal is when it comes to give to them. I don’t think I can ask them to cut back because on my mind I feel like its their money and if that’s important to them then go ahead but I have been a bit “braver” calling my mom out on things when I can. A few days ago she called me about how expensive things are now days and how much essentials cost and how much our money has devaluated (we are from another country) and her example was “a $100 shirt now cost this or than on our money” and had to answer with “why will you have your closet stock with $100 shirts?” she answered with oh I have $200, $300 ones…I laughed at the whole conversation and I think she got the point. I am attacking the situation with humor rather than frustration and I think I am getting a bit further :)

        • Merrilee Slaton

          I would probably make a joke about I could buy 3 or 4 shirts for $200. and leave it and let her think. Or take her shopping when you are buying something you need, sometimes is just hard to relate to the reality of this day compared to the way things were before. Better you than someone else not as nice.

        • joeaverage21

          I can’t imagine. My best shirt came from an outlet mall and cost so much less. I’m neat and tidy but surely not impressing anyone with my wardrobe. Don’t see the point of spending that much on clothes when they aren’t going to contribute to my success.

    • joeaverage21

      Could you ever explain it to them and make them understand?

  • mostlywentzel

    I completely understand your situation and sympathize. I never had it quite as bad, but I have had to deal with many family members over the years with financial irresponsibility. My former in-laws always had money trouble and called us desperate one night because they owed a lot to the IRS. We and my BIL helped them out and a month later they showed up with a brand new car. My sister is bipolar and has often had money issues. My siblings and I have supported her financially over the years as well as helped in emergency situations. That wouldn’t even be a problem except that when everything is going great for her, she never acknowledges the help that she has been given, but rather tells people that her family should do more. Another in-law situation involved helping someone else with their IRS problem. Since then, they have bought new vehicles, made expensive home improvements, bought a timeshare. And still complain about money. It’s a shame that helping out family doesn’t always make you feel as good as it should.

    • nuna

      To see those that have expected “help” to continue to make laveous purchases is like having sand rubbed into your eyes. If you make a comment about it you are judgemental– Ironic how no one hesitates to ask for add-ons. I make it a point to let others know that although I have money in savings, It is earmarked for something. Whether it be retirement, savings for a new-used car, an investment property, or my emergency savings- All of my money is gainfully employed and not readily available for use by others…

      • mara


  • http://www.success.com/profile/k-shelby-skrhak Shelby Skrhak

    just an interesting note, you should check out the comments on Business Insider, where this was reposted. Very disturbing

    • kgal1298

      Too many people there are trying to defend the parents. Ugh they seriously don’t get it. I mean it sucks for people like us and we want to help, but you have to be able to stand on your own before you can let anyone else lean on you or you’ll both fall over.

    • Eve Jones

      Whoa… I’m almost upset I went and looked. As the “author” of this article, some of those comments really stung. How nasty!

      • INTL

        Wow – I just looked @ some of the comments. There are always going to be trolls. The art of posting on the Internet is learning how to distinguish from those and some genuinely useful feedback.

        For example, the post up top about how you seem to be hiding behind your husband and thanking him from saving you instead of truly owning your decisions as your own woman — first, you did things because your parents told you; then, you put your foot down largely because David told you it was “okay”…

        There was some personal power really missing i that article, despite all appearance to the contrary. Still appreciative of you having posted regardless.

        • Eve Jones

          I hear you. I wanted to share the side of “financially I am doing ok but I’m cleaning up years of messes now.”

          Frankly, there was a lot of personal power missing from ME. I was too scared to say no.

      • http://www.success.com/profile/k-shelby-skrhak Shelby Skrhak

        I just realized you’re the Eve Jones as told to– ugh, those comments are nasty and I’m sorry I was the one that alerted you to them :(

        • Eve Jones

          It’s totally fine. Don’t stress. It’s on fire over there…

  • Kelly J

    Its hard to say no but you have to put on your life vest first before someone else’s.
    Most money issues don’t stem from a lack of money but rather an inability to manage it.

    • nuna

      “Most money issues don’t stem from a lack of money but rather an inability to manage it” – very well put!

  • kgal1298

    Shortly after I started working in LA I took it upon myself to wait about 3 or 4 months before I told my mom I had a job. She still doesn’t know the exact amount I make and often times I just lie to her and say I have no money because I know she could easily go through what I have in my savings or my tax account and I can’t let her. As well she already got a car repossessed on my credit and not to mention the fact that I couldn’t open a bank account for the longest time because of what she did and she blew through 25K my grandma left me after her death and then still complains about my student loans…the trade off from her using my 25K is that she had to pay me back and chose to do it that way and somehow always wants me to pay it off. Now she calls and asks me to cosign for things, but I have to tell her no because I can’t have my credit ruined. It hurts and it sucks, but it’s just something some of us have to do or else we will end up just like them. I have a friend who never tells his mom no and he always says Kate you don’t understand it’s different with large Mexican families and I’m just like family or not I think we all love our families, but are you really going to let them bring down your finances like that? Drives me mad really, but at least I know I’m on the right track after years of being off of it.

    • Merrilee Slaton

      You are right to not let her pull you down, but remember there are young people out there doing the same thing to their parents. I have had children that talked me into co-signing for them and then never made a payment. I paid for it that time but the next times I have kept the car or what ever in my name and paid the insurance on it. When it was paid off then they got the title. LOL

      • kgal1298

        My mom took out the loan for the same amount she owed me. Which doesn’t even count the ruby necklace she had sold among other things that got pawned during the years. Growing up my parents would pawn things all the time it’s not a healthy lifestyle at all to grow up in at least not money wise.

        • Merrilee Slaton

          No, pawning things is not good, I had a mother who had problems and would pawn family items and we never got them back. I think some people are just broken, they do the best they can but as my grandmother who raised us would say they have a square screw in a round hole and just can’t think the same as the rest of us.
          One piece of advice for you, let the anger go and forgive her for the stuff that is gone, it will damage you and not affect her at all.

        • Merrilee Slaton

          I can understand pawning something once in a real emergency. I can even see having to sell something to really help someone, but doing it all the time is not good.

  • LearnVestGuest

    Great article though it slightly annoyed me that the author is clearly using her husband as a scapegoat.

    She’s 32 years old. I’d love to hear about how she simply woman’ed up and she says no because she, as an adult, realizes that she, as an adult, is responsible for what she says yes or no to.

    Not that she has to hide behind or beside her husband to put her foot down. What if he’s not around; what if something happens to the relationship?

    The only thing that annoyed me about this article was how much the author seemed to a) first blame her parents; b) then thank her husband for saving her.

    She may not have realized this though the ‘savior’ complex she so articulately painted about her parents is also represented in her own narrative — i.e., she has a bit of that, too — and she could stand to do some self-inquiry around that so she realizes everything in her life that she agrees to begins and ends with HER. No one else. Not her parents or her husband. Her.

    Otherwise, I really applaud her for the hard work I know she’s done. I’m just easily agitated by people who pretend to have no agency over their own decisions, no matter who they are.

    • Eve Jones

      I own it. People told me for years to put my foot down. I just hated seeing my parents sad. I couldn’t just say no to them. It was so hard to see them suffer but forgive me for saying it… when I couldn’t buy food or was working two jobs to pay my bills, they didn’t offer help. I was stuck in a victim cycle and my husband snapped me out of it.

      • Sunne

        Eve, you need not explain yourself to anyone! Perception is a very interesting thing, and I learn that by reading a lot of comments on articles. It is amazing what people will focus on or get out of a whole piece to come up with some trivial piece to base a rant on. This is not the case with this “guest” poster, simply stating his/her view. Nevertheless, I completely understood that YOU owned your NO and that you simply appreciated having your husband’s support to back you up. We are accountable for our own lives, but in a marriage/relationship/partnership you do have some accountability to that person as well, given that you are a team. It does make it easier and you’re a team that’s what he’s there for.

        Continue to DO YOU! I’m proud of you! :)

        • joeaverage21

          That spouse can be very important to one’s sanity. I let my parents walk all over me for the first part of my 20s. They thought (and continue to think) they knew what was best for me. It was like an extension of my teenage years right into my late 20s and they attempted to make my decisions for me. I resisted but not enough and it created a divide between us for a while.

          After my wife and I married, we began comparing notes about our families and we helped each other through alot of growing up stuff. Mostly needed a simple understanding of what we were witnessing in our families that made all the difference.

          This helped us both help our collective parents to treat us like adults rather than delivering endless commentaries on how we weren’t making the same choices they would. We both feel like we’ve made much better choices for ourselves than they would have.

          Great article Eve.

  • EricaS

    I lost my job in 2011, where I was making about $42,000 a year. I contend, to this day, that it’s probably one of the best things that happened to me in regard to taking my finances seriously. I never used to balance a checkbook or try to save money, and when I lost my job I was screwed. My credit report became a mess(however after nearly two years since learning how to better manage my finances on a very limited income, it’s on the mend)and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was on unemployment while searching for full-time work from 2011 to the end of 2012. The government cut everyone off and I still didn’t have a job. I finally started temping early this year and now have a permanent assignment, but it’s only part-time. My mom has been helping me out here and there. But I keep it at a minimum(because I won’t tell her how much my bills are)as she is on a fixed income, but she’s a really good mom and she’s trying to help. I am keeping track so I can pay her back when things get better, but I would never expect her to just ‘cover me’ while not even trying to fix my own financial problem. Bottom line, I don’t think I will be so blase about my finances again. Because when you are, then your problem becomes someone else’s problem because they love and care about you. It was a hard road, but a good lesson that you should always manage your finances well and always think about tomorrow….

    • Merrilee Slaton

      You are young and had to learn, but now you know how to manage your money and will end up much better off for having had the hard lesson. I am proud you for paying your mother back and I bet she will be over the moon when you finally can.

  • 2deuces

    For most of us the first impulse is to help the ones we love. Sometimes it IS only a loan and it is paid back. Sometimes they truly need it and we decide to make a gift. But we should not beat ourselves up should we refuse to help others more than they help themselves.

  • thenemo1

    Elaine maybe i grew up with old fashioned parents or i was
    plain lucky i never had them come after me for money. I did find out at a time their taxes got out of hand.

    So I adjusted their retirement funds to pay them 8.4% to cover their tax burden. Growing me up being responsible paid off, thanks Mom & Dad

    • Elaine

      You are both lucky and have old fashioned parents! My parents grew up under different circumstances – my father was raised by his much older brothers and sisters, as his parents were deceased when he was a baby, so his viewpoint is that families take care of their brothers and sisters. That’s great, except when you have your own family to care for. My husband committed suicide, leaving me with two small children, a dog, two cats, a house, a yard and a full time job to care for and look after. For my parents to be basically telling me that I had all this money after my husband died (like, 2 months after he died…) and that my brother needed money, just felt heartless. The money my husband left me was really the last income I’d have from him, and I had my daughters to worry about. But, like others, I did not like to disappoint my parents either. It was a very tough time in my life, and that incident is what convinced me that my income was for ‘my eyes only’.

  • Kim

    Hi, Eve: As an alternative viewpoint, I read your article and found nothing wrong with the fact that you needed someone else’s assistance to get over a lifetime of training, and was surprised to see others lambasting you for somehow being weak or irresponsible for it. I’ve found that we are all quite weak in some areas of our lives and it’s pure baloney to expect everyone to be just as “wonderful” as we are in our own areas of strength. What I find most intriguing is the knowledge that if you had said that your personal coach or counselor had helped enforce your actions, you’d be applauded by these same individuals, but because it was the one person you should be able to lean on the most in life, and who should lean on you while you both grow together and individually as people, suddenly you’re a weak female with no spine. Shame on them. You’re doing it right. Keep on.

    • Merrilee Slaton

      I agree Kim, a husband or really good life long friend should be the one person we can lean on, I think a lot of younger people are to much into being self sufficient or depending on a coach or someone who really only is interested in the money they are charging to advise you. Maybe that is one reason the divorce rate is so bad, you should be able to go to that one person with anything and expect support and help and they should be able to do the same with you.

    • mara

      Completely agree..a husband is your life partner…they should help you when you are weak and we should help them when they are weak. I am all about being self-sufficient but I am also fine knowing that at times I feel like I will crumble if he is not there to offer me his perspective…we all get pulled by our brains and our hearts and sometimes you just need that little grain of assurance to know that you are (or aren’t) doing the right thing…it is not like we don’t know it ourselves

    • Sunne

      Nice Kim! Very nice :)

  • Melissa Pafiakis

    I used to have to “help” my mom and sister. At just 17 and earning minimal wage, I was paying for utilities and constant car repairs. But it was because of frivolous spending and on/off employment that there was never enough money.
    Ten+ years later, I think back and realize how wrong it was for me to be put in that position. I felt terrified that if I didn’t come through and bail them out each time, then the whole family would fall apart. That if I didn’t pay for the car to be repaired and the taxi rides for my mom to get back and forth to work while it was in the shop, then my mom would lose her job. If the electricity was turned off, I had to pay to get it turned back on so that CPS wouldn’t try to take my nephews and nieces away. In more recent years, we’ve helped with several mortgage payments so that they keep a roof over their heads.
    And my family also has NO idea how much my husband and I earn. There’s already enough anger, resentment and jealousy without them knowing that bit of information.

    • Merrilee Slaton

      I can totally understand your not telling them your personal business, When we leave home and go out on our own we have a right to our privacy, yes I think we should help to a certain extent but not to the detriment of our own family we are starting.

  • Share Bear

    You can’t throw them a few bones and help them as they have helped you because you’re on your own now and you and your husband are barely making it on a six figure household income? You judge that they should redirect spending from their food budget, perhaps by buying generic, so that they can pay for unexpected expenses. Why should you sacrifice and help them, when they are not helping themselves (as you see it)?

    Hope they fare ok without the help of you and your spouse. It’s great you and hubby are so conscientious with tracking and budgeting and saving and etc. It’s terrific that you and your husband are building financial security. But as your finances rise, could the same be said for your sense of compassion and empathy? I don’t know you, but the tone of your article sounds like you’re patting yourself on the back and maybe searching for the approval of like-minded, money-savvy frugaloid types who are on websites like Learnvest.

    It seems like you feel detached from your relatives which in my view a sign of poverty. In my culture, (Korean-American) we have a sense of community, we help our elders because we believe they are a part of our community and they helped use when we were young and dependent. That’s my culture however, not yours. I bring it up only because overall your story seems not one of success but of tragedy that you are not rising and walking through life with your parents but rather you feel the need to ‘lie’ to them. You judging them over petty things like their grocery purchases. How dare they buy that organic milk and then ask for help! Like Gordon Gekko says “greed is good, greed works.” If not financial support, could you not offer any advise or support beyond flashing them your budget and suggesting they get one too? Maybe help them establish one that includes an emergency fund. Is there still an opportunity for you to reach out with love for them and offer some support. Or is it unacceptable that a parent would need the aid of their child?

    God blesses us so that we can help others, it’s all His anyway. Give a hand when you can give it and take a hand when you need it. Your savings may grow at 8% but hopefully when you are old, like me, your heart and mind will grow too.

    • Elaine

      I completely understand your feelings, and, having volunteered as an ESL teacher, I know that in your culture there are extremely strong family ties. But I think that your judgment is a bit harsh. The author HAS been throwing them more than bones. It’s not just the organic food that they purchase, they also buy a lot of non-essential toys for a nephew. She had $100,000 in debt that she was paying down, and that’s a huge load. The parents need to examine their own choices first; this is the story of a daughter who has proven that she was willing to help, but shouldn’t be expected to enable her parents to continue a lifestyle that was far beyond their means. And her means as well.

      • joeaverage21

        I don’t mind helping people who will help themselves. That helping themselves might be more formal education enabling better odds of a better job. Might be some self improvement like the rest of us here are likely attempting to do with self-education i.e. learning how to manage our own finances better. Might be coming to terms with their own spending habits before you ask for help. Recognizing that they ought not be giving elaborate gifts when they have no savings of their own – can’t afford to buy video game machines even if they have the money today b/c next week they might not have money for utilities or food.

        Teach them the Dave Ramsey envelope method. Caution them against all his merchandise b/c they can’t afford it. His radio show is free though.

        I’ll help friends and family with their chores. Can’t help much with money. Fortunately nobody has ever knocked on our door looking for money from within the family.

  • Sunne

    Congrats to you and your hubby. I’m proud of you and it’s very empowering to finally get that under control.
    Trust, you are doing the right thing and many of us here have apparently had similar situations.

    It was extremely hard for me to say NO. …the first time and probably the next 50 or so times, but then it got incredibly easier to the point that I just say I don’t have it. I really don’t. You can’t let other people put you in a bad situation. I had to learn to live that. However until I got to that point though, it was a process that was literally tearing down my health – physically and emotionally. Those that have been through it, know exactly what I’m talking about….you get off the phone and you have this flurry of emotions, your chest gets tight, you want to help because it’s just your nature, you know it’s really not in anyone’s best interest to help, you get all angry at yourself for not having the strength (or whatever) to say NO, you get angry at them (but don’t really communicate it) because how dare they put this on you. You watch them be wasteful and then want you to take on the sacrifice. You know you’re throwing good money after bad, because in another few weeks, the cycle repeats….and it just drains you to no end until you do say NO…then it gets better.

    I got to the point where I stopped taking the calls, strained relationship, the works….but I got better. You got better. To anyone out there in a situation like this or about to be, learn from those that have been there and spare yourself.

    You have to love them enough to force them to be better and you have to love yourself enough not to allow others to destroy you.

    Wish you and yours continued success!

  • imdb

    My dad gave each of us a one time gift of $500 in his lifetime, and then proceeded to try to borrow every single bit back. After my grandparents passed away, he called his brother for ‘a loan’. He told him that bank had closed with their parent’s death. Enabling is a viscous cycle. Don’t worry about saying no. Those asking will just turn to someone else to use. Sad, but true.

  • Libby

    I love my parents dearly too, but they have found themselves in financial trouble. I used three years of raises and tax returns to help my parents with their credit card debt and in the end they filed bankruptcy. I now have $55,000 in student loans and I’m still not done with my degree. I am currently in the process of paying off $12,000 in personal debt as well. I thought it was my job to help my family and it hurts that I don’t make enough money to be able to fix their situation, but the truth is, their situation is not my fault. It has taken me a long time to realize this and not feel bad about it. Just like the woman in this article, I have to lie to my parents about my raises, bonuses, tax returns, and paychecks. I can’t share any good financial news with them because they will want money.

  • GypsyGirl

    For me its my son, he has a wife that refuses to get a job outside the home even with all the kids in school now. When they get into a tight spot they expected myself and my husband to bail them out. After about 10k in “bailout” we started telling them we cant help. Until my daughter in law gets a job and starts pulling her weight I wont help out anymore! First rule of life: If you dont work, you dont eat.

    • joeaverage21

      Geez, I’d just about die before I’d ask my parents for money or move back home for that matter.

      Not the same with our peers. Took a long time to figure out how this worked for other people. They’d be broke and then show up with some expensive shiny thing that replaces some other shiny thing they didn’t have for long. Either they are in debt to their eyebrows or Mom ‘n Dad are paying for it – or both. Used to get the “Keeping up with the Joneses” feeling – like I wasn’t doing something right. Then realized that we were probably doing things right and the peers weren’t. Well, what was right for us. Today we’re driving an old car that does quite well for almost free (very rare repairs even at 280K miles) and considering a newer car at some point. We’ll keep driving the older car daily and save the newer car for trips. Not keen on out of state travel with an elderly car.

      No debt is such a good feeling. A savings account is even better. Fortunately one set of our parents is well enough off and they other pair is a bit more frivolous but self-sustaining for now.

  • KateSF

    Thank you for sharing your story. I can 100% relate to having parents who have been financial disasters! Now that my partner and I are adults and are successful, it’s hard to draw that line and say no. I think you’re doing the right thing. Although I would say that perhaps, once you’re out of the mess/debt they piled on you and you’re meeting all of your savings/retirement goals, if after all that you have some extra cash you can send their way when they are struggling, that’s OK. But there’s a balance. For me, my goal is to break the cycle and make sure that if/when I have kids, they don’t have to worry about the financial well being of their parents.

  • disqus_c0GzjW1jdA

    Thank you so much for this! It is so comforting to know that I am not the only one who has gone through this. Similar to you, my parents have borrowed money from me since I was able to work, and have always made me feel that since they paid for me growing up (private school, etc.) I now need to help them with every expense. It took me years, and yes, support from my husband, to realize that the choices they made to pay for private school and family trips rather than save for their retirement are not my responsibility to make up for. They do not have as many frivolous expenses, but they do make choices, like going out for dinner constantly, that I can’t support. I am just now at the point where I need to put my foot down with them, and I expect a similarly uncomfortable situation – hearing your story helps me to think it might actually be ok in the end. I think that you are absolutely right to lean on your husband for support – I know that without my husband there to help me see that I deserve to value myself first and need to take care of my own finances for our future children, I would have remained trapped within the pattern my parents set up for me as they raised me. Of course it’s not all their fault – I made the decision to help them – but it is hard to break the cycle when it’s how you grew up. Needing the support from someone who loves you unconditionally isn’t a failure on your part – it’s a smart way to take care of yourself through a difficult time.

  • Zaza

    I was in a similar situation but with an older sibling. Not fun at all.

  • Catie

    I really appreciated this article. I have little to no sympathy for people who experience money problems due to negligence and frivolous spending. No one will ever call out anyone for working hard their entire life and simply running into bad luck and/or health issues (that seems to be the argument that commenters are using with the author). The issue lies in the hands of those irresponsible adults that seem to think money grows on trees. Good for the author and her husband for deciding to cut her parents off. No child should experience the burden of their parents financial woes simply because they were irresponsible and made poor decisions.

  • Janelle

    I’d love to hear how others have handled a similar situation. My parents did quite well in my early years however saving was not their forte. After I left for college things seemed better and from my outside perspective I thought things were financially good for them. We vacationed together, they traveled and both had good jobs. Now fast forward I’m not quite 40. My parents are young. My grandparents left them quite a sum of money which is now gone. They accessed their retirement as well but it is nearly gone now. By my best estimates they have blown through about $750,000 in the past 6 years. Very little income during that time and getting worse by the month. I watch them make horrible decisions routinely and I wonder what happened to the couple that raised me?

    They get very angry and defensive when I try to discuss their finances or when I comment on a trip they can’t afford an do anyway. So, here is my question, as the tides change and they are moving in with me (seriously) what is considered “taking good care” of your parents? I feel like I am suppose to give them a weekly ration or something. They seem to have no concept that they are onlyI’d love to hear how others have handled a similar situation. My parents did quite well in my early years however saving was not their forte. After I left for college things seemed better and from my outside perspective I thought things were financially good for them. We vacationed together, they traveled and both had good jobs. Now fast forward I’m not quite 40. My parents are young. My grandparents left them quite a sum of money which is now gone. They accessed their retirement as well but it is nearly gone now. By my best estimates they have blown through about $750,000 in the past 6 years. Very little income during that time and getting worse by the month. I watch them make horrible decisions routinely and I wonder what happened to the couple that raised me?

    They get very angry and defensive when I try to discuss their finances or when I comment on a trip they can’t afford an do anyway. So, here is my question, as the tides change and they are moving in with me (seriously) what is considered “taking good care” of your parents? I feel like I am suppose to give them a weekly ration or something. They seem to have no concept that they are only60!!

  • Anna

    This story is sad and so are the comments! You probably learned how to be selfish like that with your parents, so it’s not your fault.
    That being said, it just appalled me that you won’t help with medical bills for your elderly parents even though you can and you live comfortably.
    I feel bad your kids are gonna be like you and your husband too, however, it’s fine, so they can live by the time they are 18, and just expect you to pay for everything then when u bother get old they will visit you once an year at a fancy old people home.

    No family values there.

    • Deanie1994

      Parents aren’t required to anything. The kid never asked to be born and has no need to be caring for their parents. Especially if said parents screwed the kid or themselves over. They didn’t have to care for a kid, in fact, anybody can literally care for a child. Just because they’re parents doesn’t give them a free pass. Not to mention, most of these parents are pretty loaded with retirement money, which is there to help pay for their bills since they no longer work. It’s their own fault for spending it on something they needn’t had to have. They’re responsible for it, not the kid. And if we go by your logic, the parents should be helping the kids with bills instead of sending them out on their own. It’s a two way street, honey.

  • Kay

    This sounds like my husbands father, and to an extent my own parents. I know that my husband loves his father, but he’s a bum. He always calls to borrow money, or to stop over and take prescription pills that my husbands needs for his massive migraines because he doesn’t want to (or claims he can’t afford) to buy. I tell him that it’s not our problem. His dad still lives at home and doesn’t work, and I know that when they pass he will want to live with us. I have told my husband that it isn’t fair to us or our future children financially to take on another person who should really be living on their own. His dad does have health problems, but there are many systems in place to help them out. I am all for helping family, but I also believe that we cannot be burdened with parents who clearly don’t want to help themselves. My parents have filed bankruptcy three times–yes that’s right, THREE. Basically once they can start getting credit cards again they do, then ring them up and don’t pay them off. Then they have to file for bankruptcy again. It’s a neverending cycle for them and they don’t seem to learn. My parents wouldn’t even let me eat their food, use their shampoo, or buy me clothes when I was a kid living at home, so as far as I’m concerned they’re on their own–I refuse to help them in their old age and that may sound cruel but with the amount of financial (and other) abuse they inflicted on me as a child (imagine being 13 years old and having to scramble for lunch money or know you’d go hungry because your parents refused to give you any when they had it) has hardened me to them. I spent my childhood watching my mother ring up credit card debt on expensive clothes for herself while my siblings and I didn’t even get winter coats. Deadbeat parents disgust me. The only debt I have is my car (a lease) and my student debt– which is quite high. I don’t have credit card debt and don’t plan to. My focus is on myself and my husband and planning for a financially stable home for our future children.

  • Lari

    I just felt terrible, but hey, pray and everything will be alright. Devil will come out if u say “GET OUT” oh lord as well it will help by just asking God for a chance. Like today was a good day cause I stopped lying

  • Ace


  • nan

    I had to cut off my sister. She was smoking and drinking lattes everyday, but could never pay her utility bills and was always getting her gas or electricity shut off. There comes a point for all of us when we have to stop enabling our family members. Over spending has become a disease for many people. They live in denial of their problem and will never see it until we stop bailing them out.

  • Apresmoi

    I recently had to cut off my mother after giving my family at least $25,000 over the course of 10 years, which around $14,000 being given since 2014. I don’t let her know my salary but she realized that I had a healthy savings account after I helped her with dire emergencies related to her house, which I grew up in, starting in 2014. The sad thing is that when “giving help” originally started, it was in regards to moving fees. My dad, who was alive at the time, and my mom basically showed up at my place one evening when I was 25 and said “oh we need her help. We need you to give us $1200″ to which I didn’t have and had to borrow against my next paycheck and I wasn’t making that much money at that time. They promised to pay me back but that never happened as I learned the hard way. Five years later I had no choice but to help them out of foreclosure that was caused to something rather juvenile that they never informed me or asked for advice about until I was handed foreclosure papers one early Saturday morning.

    Recently, I had to tell her no more after revealing to her the total amount. She retorted with “It’s only money and you have only one mother” What she fails to realize is that the money that I gave her was going towards savings for a downpayment for a home that I had planned to turn into stock investments. She has a job but switched careers after 40 years in medicine in the private and public sectors to being a public school teacher. I was under the impression for many years that she had a healthy savings account until I was 25 and realized that wasn’t the case. Currently, I don’t let her know my salary and I don’t let her know about bonuses or promotions. I want to avoid repeating the cycle by building up my retirement and assets so that I don’t have to rely on my own children, if I decide to start a family. I’m single. I can’t imagine what drama would’ve occurred if I had a spouse and we both had to come to a consensus on helping out my mother. I think it’s where she could turn ugly and try to turn against my spouse and marriage.