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what do you predict for my sister?

Posted by rileysmom17 (My Page) on
Wed, Jun 18, 08 at 15:37

This really is about my sister, not me in disguise, we are money polar opposites. I just woke up to the thought that I would be supporting her eventually. I'm 44 BTW.

Story: 43 years old, college educated, she and (now ex) husband operate a small business on the west coast. Has bought two houses at about 1 million each, at the height of the market both times, net zero on the first sale and is unable to meet her mortgage on her current home. So, no net home equity. No net business equity as buildings and most equipment leased. I seriously doubt any tax-deferred retirement accounts. So I would guess her net worth is negative.

And she's 43! Yikes! I mean, is she on course to be a bag lady? Can you recover from zero net worth at 43, without magically lucking into some big-time job with lush benefits?

It was learning about the current house situation last week that brought the issue to my mind. I am sweating this long term because I am a frugal accumulator and working on staying healthy so I can have my (deferred) fun in semi-retirement, and I am really not inclined to share my probably quite comfortable future lifestyle with her. At least thinking about it right now, I'm not. I'll stand her to a small apartment or something, but she has been having the good times on her cash flow for the past 20 years, it's now or later and she picked now. Does that sound horrible?

Anyone else in this situation or already in the future situation of supporting a spendthrift sib?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

Honestly, I have no idea how society is going to handle our little financial gluttons. I'm kind of hoping NASA will figure out something for them.

But, I know that is only a distant dream.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

If you're not familiar with Dave Ramsey and his book, "The Total Money Makeover" and his radio program, I'd suggest the book AND his program. Even better, take her to one of the live events he does all over the country. If that doesn't change her life, nothing will. But no, it's not too late, it's just not going to be easy, but it's probably going to take someone besides you to shake her up.

-Grainlady


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

My mom had nothing at age 43. She worked at an hourly wage job until her health forced her to retire. She died just as her savings disappeared, leaving her with only her pension and SS checks.

I think that a lot of us just won't be able to retire. Lets hope your sis has paid her own SS and "self employment tax" and will have SS coming to her when she retires or becomes disabled. Then she will work part-time as long as she can. Out here in middle america, a LOT of hourly workers have little savings. Have you paid attention to who is working the morning drive through shift at the fast food joints? Who checks you out at the drug megachain or grocery? A lot of older people work these hard jobs.

I have had luck in my opportunities and in my marriages and do have retirement savings. My sis does not. She is 50 and recently began saving a little in her 401k. I do worry a bit about her, but she works so darn hard that I know she will work as much as she can. Her health is not good, and she will probably live a short life, like our mother did. At least her mobile home was paid off with Mom's life insurance proceeds, so I won't have to fully support her, but I do plan to have to help her out for repairs and emergencies, like I do now. She just won't be paying me back when those things happen after she retires. I really have learned to look at my money as community property, in a way. Luckily, DH thinks this way too. We will be okay, and will have a bit extra to help others.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

I've been wondering similar things about my one remaining sibling - we're both in our fifties - he is older. It's not that he's spent extravagantly - he's just never earned very much. He has had some drug/alcohol challenges that I think may have something to do with being drafted during the Vietnam war. He's always worked hard but not in high paying jobs and often trades that were seasonal. I think even now he's significantly challenged by the impact of higher gas prices. I sometimes think about helping him out in some way but I don't think he'd accept it and I think it would hurt his self esteem if I even suggested it. Plus I think it's kind of enabling his other issues. But I do wonder what will happen if he is no longer able to work before he reaches SS age. However I also wonder if he will live to retirement age with a probably somewhat unhealthy lifestyle (doesn't smoke though).

My parents had very little materially. My father died when I was in high school and my mother struggled to make it. She retired with very little to live on other than Social Security - she lived in a very small, federally subsidized apartment until she died. I envision my brother will end up like that if he lives to an older age. Rarely a day goes by that I don't give thanks that I have somehow achieved a financially secure and comfortable place in life. I feel extremely fortunate.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

Your sister is college-educated and presumably resourceful, since she's somehow managed to live a materially successful life for 20 years without anyone supporting her. You mentioned she has a negative net worth, but how is the business actually doing? Are they making money?

Worst case scenario, she'll have to get a job, file bankruptcy and live on what she makes. It wouldn't be the end of the world.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

Response to ky114: I'm not sure about the status of the business although it has made enough cash to support two humans with expensive hobbies for many years.

Gibby3000: As far as SS and self-employment tax, I think that she has not paid any personal income tax in years, maybe never. I have no idea how that comes about, I know they do file personal and business returns. I don't know how that might affect her SS contributions. I've always been an employee myself.

I don't know what to think about the supposedly worsening divide between the haves and have nots. What I see is a divide between the work-hard and the work-not, with an interesting middle segment of work-hard-spend-hard. I am surrounded by nice people at the office who could probably have better jobs if they had paid attention in high school. When I hear about their financial travails I don't know how I should feel about it. I think I'm having a relapse of "success guilt".


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

My mom was broke, had no credit to her name, no home, a low paying retail job, 3 kids, a worthless ex-husband with no chance of collecting child support, and no college degree at that age. When we left my father, the house was in foreclosure, the heat and electric had been cut off, and we were on food stamps.

She now has a nice townhome, will retire from SSA at 63 with close to $1 million in her govt savings account, has good SS money coming in, and has been taking great vacations for the last couple of years- Ireland, Baltic cruise, Alaska cruise, Spain...

She worked her arse off from the bottom at SSA to a very well paying position that required some extra training and did I mention a lot of hard work. There were no vacations for many years, we lived with my grandma for several months before she could rent a small apartment, then a small rowhome, and finally she got the townhouse. She paid for 1/2 of my first year of college, about 1/2 of my sister's private college tuition, helped out my brother and his 2 kids when his marriage was going through a tough spot.

I am VERY proud of my mom.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

Meghane, how old was your Mom when she first started her govt savings account?


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

Hard to tell since you don't really have actual insight into what her situation is. You can't worry about it, and shouldn't.

My DH's stepsister is a lovely person who's had a run of bad luck. We expect we will be giving her some sort of help at some point, which will be hard for her to accept because she always tries to pay her own way.

When I was 42 we had to file for bankruptcy when a business deal with our BIL went south (he had to file the year previous). We had a house, but the equity on it was zero and remained that way for ten years before the recent RE boom finally gave us some equity in it. It was rough sledding for a while, but we've managed to rebuild our assets and will earn a decent retirement in a couple of years.

Everybody's situation is different. You can't assume the worst just because someone handles their money differently than you would do.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

My mom was 44 when she started saving, and she put the absolute max into it even when she was barely scraping by. Govt kicks in some, and over the last 20 years it has built up quite well from interest. Also her salary has gone up significantly over the years, from a little more than $20k to more than $70k now.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

Meghane, that is a wonderful success story and hopefully motivation for many "late life" investors.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

rileysmom - "success guilt" - I've never heard that expression but it's a good one. I have some of that too and I don't know why. I grew up with not much (parents filed for bankruptcy among lots of other difficulties too numerous to mention here) - miraculously lived through life threatening illness in high school - paid my own way through college - dealt with a recurrence of life threatening health setback at age 25 - survived - went on to work very hard in my thirties - bought our first house with a friend because we couldn't afford one on our own - avoided credit card debt - saved a lot - never cashed equity out of our house so house is now paid for - and now I have a nice life in my 50's and have some feelings of "success guilt" myself. It's interesting.....


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

I am sweating this long term
Quit sweating it, or at least try to. Just accept the things you cannot change.

I'll stand her to a small apartment or something
I wouldn't start to consider doing such a thing. She could very well become dependent upon you, just as if she where your child, and you were responsible for her needs. Besides that, you could never, satisfy all her wants.

Just hope and pray (if you are a praying person) that she lands on her feet. If she doesn't, just help in what little ways you can, and guide her in changing her lifestyle so she can take care of herself. Do not be an enabler...enabling her to go on with the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed. Someday she will have to wake up and smarten up financially.

Give her some suggested reading as mentioned above. You might also add to the reading list Personal Finance for Dummies. It sounds like she needs to start with the basics.

Sue


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

Dave Ramsey and the "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" dude irritate me. They're schills... buy my book, pay for my seminar, and your problems will be answered. They string people along, wringing money from them by dropping stupid little "tidbits" along the way. They are, IMO, a complete waste of time, energy, and MONEY (that the most needy can't really afford to spend!). What they SELL is readily available to anyone willing to read, think, and seek free assistance through a local "adult education" program!


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

>>that the most needy can't really afford to spend!). <<

Yes, but I think the OP already stated her sister is "having the good times on her cash flow for the past 20 years" - the issue is that she ISN'T needy but the OP worries she might be someday.

Value received, in many people's minds, equates to how much something costs. You might think this is shallow, and so do I. However, it remains true for many. The OP's sister might very well take the advice of someone she has paid $$ to, more seriously than any free advice received on the Web.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

Chelone, I could not agree more. For a variety of possible reasons that I have thought about but am not sure of, we Americans are particularly susceptible to the myth that everyone could, with just a few tweaks to their money management strategies, be rich. I've seen all the tables that show if you save X dollars a year for so many years, you have a million dollars when you're 68, or whatever, but telling someone who has no money that they could be rich in 40 years is like telling a starving person they're invited to your house for Christmas dinner next year. In addition, building a retirement nest egg does not constitute becoming rich - it's the result of stashing a little money away now not so you'll be rich later, but so that you'll be able to survive without working until you're 90.

But the hucksters have, indeed, found a path to wealth, so perhaps the best way they've helped others to wealth is by inspiring emulators to produce ever more books and seminars that either purvey outright lies or simply state the obvious.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

There seems to be a similar thread that links all of us together on this thread. We've either been raised to be frugal (and we fear impecunity), or we've experienced the reality of poverty, didn't much care for it, and figured out how to deal with it!

What irritates me so much about too many of the "gurus" selling books, filling auditoriums with desperate people is that too often they make it sound EASY to get out of debt. Buy this, that, or some other thing, pray to delawd, and it will take care of itself.

It's hard work to claw your way out of heavy debt, I've watched a couple of good friends do it and had to tell them NO when they asked me for money. Cavalier debtors pay heavy interest rates, have no financial credibility with steady, secure lending institutions, and don't usually understand the concept of "compounding". Usually, they own nothing, but THINK they do, because they don't understand the concept of equity, either.

I watched an Oprah show a year/so back that provided a perfect example of it all. People would rather fork over money they can't really afford to spend and time that could be more profitably spent WORKING to receive a pat on the head and encouragement. The grim reality is, you have to seriously address your spending habits, pay to principal on outstanding debts, negotiate interest rates with CC companies, and get real about why you are so far in the hole. There isn't a single "guru" out there who can "sell" you personal honesty.

Honestly? I don't know how i would react if I had a sibling who was in finacial jeopardy as a result of their own foolishness/greed? and an unwillingness to "save for a rainy day". I know we have offered affordable room and board to a couple of good friends who've fallen on hard times (medical bills both times!) but they more than pulled their weight around here and all they needed was a "rest" (affordable room) to get things under control. My mother lived with us for 3 1/2 yrs. when her health crashed and it was clear she required assitance on a daily basis. I did the tough, daily work required to preserve her savings for as long as possible. Her last few months were paid for from savings; savings that would have been destroyed in under one year had I not been willing to step up to plate and do what was required.

Responsibility is a tough subject... why do some of us "get it" and others don't care a fig about it? dunno. When I come up with the answer I'll write a book, conduct seminars, and maybe get rich...


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

I'm sorry about this. I know you are so worried. She's your sister, so you feel you need to help. You have my sympathy.

I know you don't want her on the street, but it doesn't seem fair at all for you to provide an apartment for her. She's able to work, right? Maybe she'll just have to rent a room and bath or small studio apt. I wouldn't be too quick to jump in to help. See if she can hoe herself out. Maybe her x will help. I'm sure you have worked hard to have a stable, secure lifestyle. If you try to support her too, you will jeopardize all you have worked for.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts. When I finally finished school, owning nothing but a degree and a pile of debt, the first book I read was Personal Finance FD and then Mutual Funds FD and since then I have handled all my own investing and done very well. They are great books for those already inclined along the lines of prudence but not exactly shock treatment. I loathed what I read of Rich Dad Poor Dad, not the least because this guy was dissing his biological father for being a hard working wage slave and putting food in his (the author's mouth) and a roof over his head.

I guess my sister is part of the "negative net savings rate" swathe of citizens who are heading towards an unknown financial end.

Has anyone figured out how two kids raised in the same household (it's not just me) can end up so different in their concerns about security?


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

>>Has anyone figured out how two kids raised in the same household (it's not just me) can end up so different in their concerns about security?<<

Yes, it's interesting, isn't it? In our family of 4, the older two have very different attitudes about money than the younger two (my brother and I). Curious, how things turn out!


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

"Story: 43 years old, college educated, she and (now ex) husband operate a small business on the west coast. Has bought two houses at about 1 million each I'll stand her to a small apartment or something, but she has been having the good times on her cash flow for the past 20 years, it's now or later and she picked now. Does that sound horrible?"

No. That doesn't sound horrible at all. I have a sister who started out in a much better position than I. She married early, she and DH bought a house, a vacation house, had new vehicles every few years, and went on nice vacations, etc. She and DH also have quite a bit of debt. That is not my problem.

I did things differently. I rented for years, paid cash as I went and did not incur unnecessary debt. I had a great time doing things that didn't cost a lot of money. I went without for many years because I do not believe in spending what I DO NOT HAVE. I thank my mother for this attitude. She was raised during the depression. She was able to retire early with a government pension, SS and a nest egg. I was also able to retire early. I don't know what happened to my sister.

If she or her family needed a place to stay, they could count on that, but I have no plans to sacrifice my own lifestyle anymore because of other people's frivolous, careless spending decisions.

You've paid your dues and deserve to spend your money as you wish without subsidizing irresponsible behavior. If your sister and DH are smart enough to have a business and two houses valued at 1 million each, then they can certainly figure out how to come to terms with their dilemma without having to ask their more thrifty 'sis' to help them out. They have been having 'their fun' for a long time. They are both young enough to be able to work for another 20+ years. If they have to tighten their belts, then thats what they should be prepared to do. Now its time to pay the piper. Them, not you.

Idleness brings want
To work today is to eat tomorrow
It is best to prepare for the days of necessity
The Ant and the Grasshopper, a fable attributed to Aesop


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

Except in the case of very young children or serious illneess, no one should support someone who is able bodied.

And rileysmom, I would definitely give her Dave Ramsey's book, "The Total Money Makeover" if she was my sister. It's cheap on Amazon. Regardless of what anyone thinks of pop financial counselors, his book is wise and the message is very much needed for our time.

In fact, I would give her good financial advice/life strategy books at each and every birthday and Christmas. Another wonderful book is called "Your Money or Your Life." And there is the Tightwad Gazette books. What people need is to re-frame their thinking about money. Dave Ramsey, Joe Dominguez, and Amy Dacyzyn are trying to do is to create a new, successful mindset about money. Our culture is so consumption-saturated that people are unable to think clearly about real world spending. This would be a very efficacious but kind message, that you are truly concerned about her situation. And perhaps she will ask you for sage advice one day, and you can graciously speak your heart to her on this matter. Pray for her..... things become a lot clearer that way.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tightwad Gazette


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

I thought I would update all the respondents, whose views I greatly appreciated. My sister emailed me a few weeks ago and told me that she and her ex-husband are filing for bankruptcy. They own several health clubs in the south Silicon Valley area and the local economy is really bad, has been down for some time longer than the national economy. Because they had no equity in the real estate or equipment and no cash savings, when the cash flow slowed down it all fell apart. Interestingly she asked me if I might loan her $10000 in a few months for a specific item that she really wants to keep. I mulled that one over, and wrote back "what loan terms were you considering" and that was pretty much the end of the communication. Even in an up market 10K is a lot of money. Does she realize that she is a really bad risk? Honestly I would just GIVE her the 10K if the market was better and I was willing to take the sisterly hit.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

I think lending am unreliable sibling money would set a very bad precedent. I think I would decline and say the last thing you need is another loan payment while your trying to get back on your feet after bankruptcy. Whatever material item it is will most likely be available again once she is financially stable. It is materialism that got her into this mess, it won't help get her out. You'll also become the banker of choice when any other financial "need" arises.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

change your name, your phone #, and move. then never contact your sister again. end of problem.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

Gee, I have a sister that is a lot like yours. She and her husband have worked all their lives but have nothing to show for it. I finally stopped having anything to do with her. It was so draining. It was the smartest thing I ever did. Her husband and his family have always been huge drunks and they now have 3 kids that have so many problems due to this. All of them just barely make it.

She has always had huge money troubles. My Dad put her on his money things and when he died she had an appointment with the attorney the same day we buried him. We buried him at 10:30 and she had an appointment set for 1:00. She wanted her money NOW!!!!!! My brother found out and jumped her and he canceled the appointment. She didn't even go to the cemetery for the burial.. says alot, doesn't it??

She has always been her worst enemy. I would never help her in any way. She is like a leach and always would expect more. She lives a very loney life because she has ran everyone off. I don't feel sorry for her. We have worked very hard to have what we have and have always taken care of ourselves and our own family.. Sadly, she will go to her grave having nothing.. You can't ever help people that won't help themselves.

Susie


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

Thanks for all the thoughts above, I know I know you are all right it is just harder when it is family. The latest is that she called me up and asked me to loan her $27,000 for a 1-ton diesel truck so she can start a horse hauling business. She says she is looking for a job (essential now that the health club business is collapsing and she will be filing for personal and business bankruptcy), I pointed out that a M-F job will interfere with horse-hauling as a profitable enterprise, and the conversation melted down from there. No business plan, she hasn't really pushed the business using her current 3/4 ton truck, no answer to my question about the economics of commuting to work in a 1 ton diesel. But boy oh boy was I the evil sister.

After I recuperated somewhat I realized that of course she doesn't need this truck, she just wants this truck because she had the recent experience of hauling with a borrowed 1 ton diesel and liked the power. I guess I am just feeling sad now because I do not see her financially growing up if she hasn't already, and this will always be between us, so the relationship seems to be sagging to kind of an end. She said "you're financially set" to which I replied "yes because I lived my life very differently from you for the past 15 years"...why should I feel apologetic about it? Sheesh. Fortitude! No Bank of Financially Shrewd Sister, as an early poster said, it won't solve her life problems.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

Hi guys, this makes me think of the kids that are always about to lose their job, their home and starving and need money. My history with this is a long boring story, but will tell you my neighbor's story. After her husband died their kids started hitting her up for loans, probably thinking she was a patsy and would feel sorry for them. Surprise, surprise, she told them how long they had been retired and how much it cost to live, etc.. The result is they think she is almost broke, and they don't tell her their money troubles. She also has a half sister who hits her up for money and she moved without telling her where she moved or her new phone number. She said her kids will be pleasantly surprised when she dies. LOL

I wasn't that smart, but I feel am not responsible for people who spend their paycheck when they get them or live beyond their means, with our any regard for the future. If would be different if they had been ill or a spouse died and left their family with no income.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

rileysmom, If you chat again with your sister and money comes up, you can also state to her that you need to have a new boundary with her - and tell her that you will not have conversations with her about money. Period. None.

And then stick with it. If she brings it up again, end the conversation.

Family members are the ones who are best qualified to push our buttons because those family members installed the buttons in us. Your sister sounds like she knows the way to get to you. Don't give her the chance.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

rileysmom17. Let your sister flounder and fail and dont you help her with money or luxury items.

She sounds spoiled and thinks everyone should take care of her, owes her. She sounds like a 43 year old who thinks like a 17 year old. Just tell her you don't have the money and let her grow up and face the results of her own decisions.

If she wants the horse hauling truck she should get a job and earn the money to pay for it.

It isn't your job to support your 43 year old sister. My siblings would never think to ask me and I wouldn't ask them.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

Interestingly she asked me if I might loan her $10000 in a few months for a specific item that she really wants to keep.

I'm so very curious as to what that item was, that she would ask to borrow money to 'keep' it. Am I right in assuming she had it in her possession, yet it wasn't really hers, because she had never paid for it totally, as she was living beyond her means?

Sue


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

My niece was going to file bankruptcy and she would have been able to keep her home, but she would have had to give up her computer which was on her credit card. She opted to lose her home and to keep the computer. You can't help people like that.


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RE: what do you predict for my sister?

It sounds like you're setting some good boundries with your sister. You can love her, care for her, listen to her, empathize with her, etc. But don't get caught up in her problems. Set your own personal boundaries, and say things like "Gee I'm sorry to hear you're having such a rough time" and leave it at that.

I have a good friend who sounds like you sister. 44 yrs old, still lives in an appt, shops constantly and doesn't have a dime saved. She had major surgery in Jan & called me in March bawling when she got a hospital bill for $10K, which is her part after ins. paid. She was crying so loud DH could hear. I just kept saying things like, "I'm so sorry you have this stress after having surgery" and "I'm sure you'll be able to work out payments with the hospital." I refused to get invovled or try to solve her problems. When I hung up, DH said "you know, you can give her some money, we have a little to spare." I told him, yes we have a little to spare because we live frugally, shop at Goodwill not Macys, eat at home not eat out, etc. I would not give her money because it would not have helped the problem at all.

By the way, that friend is now out shopping with her credit card constaly. Every week she tells me about the new outfits she bought, or the new shoes, or the new craft supplies, new furniture, etc. I wonder if she's paid any of that $10K hospital bill?

It also sounds like your sister needs to get a 40 hr a week job, or maybe 2, and forget about owning her own business until she gets her finances in order. She sounds like 2 couples I know, both own their own businesses and are going BROKE right now (construction businesses in a down economy) but neither couple will even consider "working for someone else." Sometimes you have to do what it takes, not what you want.

Good luck!


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