Mom won't stop spending money.

Started by

My mom will buy things just for the sake of making the purchase! I have POA, but she refuses to give up her credit cards or bank card. She buys things she does not need and does not use and a lot is wasted food purchases. She gets mad when I tell her she does not need these items and is wasting money. Without taking her cards away, how can I get her to stop buying everything she sees!


My dad is similar, but with regard to charities. I am absolutely fine with him donating, but reasonable amounts (i.e. $25 to $100). He is giving thousands of dollars away, to the point that he balks at spending on his medical needs and a birthday gift for my daughter (his only grandchild). He lives with us, and I provide 24/7 care for him. When I ask for gas money for his appointments, he says, "You're not including any of this money for your own car uses, are you?" He is stingy with us to the point of being ungrateful. His priest came to our house (uninvited) in the fall right after my dad was released from the hospital and persuaded him to donate $10,000. The priest then came over unannounced again and called our house several times until my dad sent the pledge card in. (I nearly reported this to our archdiocese for being on the verge of unethical and heavyhanded.) Again, donations are fine, but my dad is NOT Bill Gates. What scares me is that no one is going to donate to us/him when he needs continued treatment down the road, and his money is gone. I, too, have POA, but I don't want to cause a rift. Does a POA have the right to use a reasonable amount of money to cover expenses? Again, my dad is living with us, and I perform all errands for him.
If your parent has enough to pay for continued long term care or has sufficient long term care insurance, it is certainly reasonableable to spend their money as they see fit. If someone is taking advantage of your parent, stand up to them and bring it to a halt. Why not sit the paremnt down and tell them how you you feel anbd tell them you are going to take steps to stop it if you are able.
MIL also goes crazy with grocery purchases. At one point, we had 12 boxes of cereal and 9 loaves of bread. 5 cans of sardines. I know that is her one enjoyment. My gripe is there is literally food everywhere. All cabinets are full. Fridge and pantry also full. She likes to leave it out on the counter tops so she can find things easier. This also drives me nuts. My only real solution is when college aged kids come home, I tell them to take what they want. We have to do this when she is sleeping, because she gets panick stricken when she sees them taking food. Anyway, the only other thing we have tried, with minimal success, is to review her list before we go to the store. Sometimes that works, sometimes not.
If you have a DPOA, it should state that you have permission to handle her financial affairs. This means that you can go to or call the companies (you may have to send them a copy of the POA) and have her credit cards and debit card closed. This way she will not be able to make the wasteful purchases. Be ready for her to get really mad, but this will allow you give her so much money per week to spend on the little things she wants to purchase. She may also suffer from hoarding, which is a mental disability, and be able to help herself without counseling. Be careful, if you do this, you may wind up taking care of her bills as well.
My father is so far gone in his dementia, that this is exactly what I do. He has a debit card, but rarely uses it. I closed all of his accounts and took his cards well over a year ago, when I had him sign a DPOA. I put everything on automatic withdrawal from his checking account, charge him for room and board, as suggested by my tax adviser and give him money every now and again. He no longer drives, so in order to spend any money, we must take him or he must go with the seniors, at the senior citizen center on a day trip.
Life is much easier!
Even with POA, it is not that easy to just sit a parent down and discuss this topic. I have had the same challenge with my mom, she says it is all for christmas presents - and is only $9.99. Well I printed her statement and showed her all those charges added up to over $800 and she still didn't care. I explained her grandson's were driving around in the snow on bald tires while she threw money away on jewlery to wear when she goes out only to the doctors office. She still didn't care. Bottom line, it is her money, I have always disagreed on how wasteful in my opinion she is, but I do and will continue to as POA make sure her bill is paid off in full every month, because if I get stuck with her debt, I will care!
* I also think bottom line, she's lonely and these shopping channels are her friends. Any advice on helping a home bound senior not so quick with a computer to socialize would be great. Maybe a site like this in reverse :)
Usually the compulsive spending is a way for parents to assert independence when they know they're getting older and losing control over other areas of their life. It's a good idea to have a discussion with them and express your worry. Discussions always go better if you don't accuse them of anything, rather try to come up with a solution together. If the problem becomes serious, you may be able to block certain websites they visit or prevent charities from calling. Even though it's their money, it can be dangerous for the whole family if the spending continues to become out of control.
Been there, done that. All the above is common. I have a mother, who insisted, she needed another car. She is very adamant about her wants. She wanted my help. I agreed to take her, to look. I told her the car was "too much car" for her. Her previous car, that she wrecked in April, was a Dodge Neon. Today, a pretty red '04 Cadillac Deville, sits in my driveway. Twice the car she had before. She didn't want my help. She was determined to buy a car. Period. But, I am tired of fighting. She has a car. Now, she needs to shut up about it. I won't be a passenger as long as she is the driver. What else can I do?
I guess you should pray for all the other un aware drivers on the road, offer to drive as much as possible and I will just be grateful that is one out of many other issues, I don't have.
(Thanks to everyone - who shares their stories, it somehow makes me feel not so alone)
I hope it isn't too late to add on to this. CareSimply12's comment about being able to assert independence through spending with growing age really resonated with me.

My mother's completely dependent on my father for money. She doesn't work, and has no work skills. My father's in his mid-60s, is becoming more fragile (physically), and wants to retire. However, he can't retire yet because my mother is spending all. of. his. money.

My mother has two children: me and my brother. I'm a junior in college and am financially independent, aside from my father paying my student tuition and giving me money when I see him, which I always try to slip back into his pocket. My brother is also a spending machine. He's going to college next year.

My mother used to be busy taking care of my brother and I: taking us to the doctor, to practice, to school, etc. But since we've grown up, she's had less responsibilities to fulfill. So, what does she do? Shop for groceries and useless odds and ends, and I know this is because spending money is the only independence she feels she has.

What can I do to stop her erratic spending? We've told her to stop, given her the numbers of how much she's costing us, but she won't listen. Help, please.
In other words, your business is selling counterfeit moneycto the elderly to hand out as real money, kind of like a money laundering scam?

Can you please explain how you can charge for this service, and even if someone's heart is in the right place, how can this be legal?

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support