My MIL moved in several months ago after selling her home and most of her things due to her overspending and debt. She came out on the plus side of it and is living with us. She has already depleted her money from the home sale within only a few months. My husband and I have spoken with her many times (and yelled) but she continues. We cannot have her declared incompetent bcz she is able to drive and care for herself. We can not afford to take her expenses on and she still needs to pay for things. What can we do?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
“She can only take advantage of you if you allow it. Put a stop to it now...”

I am in complete agreement with realyreal. You talk as if you are helpless in this situation, when in fact - you hold all the power. MIL is living in YOUR HOME as a kindness from you - or whatever word you would choose to use. You are in no way forced or obligated to have her there - living with you and your family.

Start charging her rent again and include the cost of food and all other shared household expenses.

You say she is capable of understanding - so spell out in a written rental agreement what her rent includes and “entitles” her to. She watches TV - a share of the cable bill. She bathed and uses the washing machine - a share of the water bill, she turns a light on - a share of the electric bill and so forth. Be fair about it - but even as such, I imagine these expenses will take the majority of her SS check.

IF there is any money left over then just assume she is going to blow it. DO NOT expect that she will save any of it for medical or any other “rainy day” expenses. She has proven she is incapable of doing that - over and over. That is her pattern and history. Why would you think she would be capable of being financially responsible now?

IF and and I stress IF, you are so inclined AND it does not put any financial burden on you - you can take a portion of the rent she pays you and stash it away for her. For her rainy day - as she will certainly have them. Everybody does. But, if you choose to do this - DO NOT tell her you are doing so. She’ll only demand the money at some point and get really angry when you tell her “no”.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. STOP enabling your MIL!!!
Helpful Answer (16)

Tell her. No free rides, pay your way or find senior housing, period.

No yelling, just a rental agreement that is very specific about how much she will pay and what the consequences of nonpayment are. If she won't sign, you move her out.

She can only take advantage of you if you allow it. Put a stop to it now or you will resent her every day of her life. It will take any peace out of your home and make you miserable. She is taking advantage and will become harder to deal with as she ages if you don't set and enforce boundaries now.
Helpful Answer (14)

Are you charging her room & board? If not I would. That will give her less to blow.
Helpful Answer (11)

When you say she has nothing to go to senior living with, I assume, please correct me if I am wrong, that you are referring to household items.

It is fairly cheap to set up a studio apartment. A twin bed, a set or two of sheets, an inexpensive loveseat, a couple of bath towels, a cheap set of pots and pans, a 4 place setting set of dishes, utensils and a small television. Most of these items can be purchased second hand or at Walmart.

You have become to believe that you have no choice, she knows you believe this. What motivation does she have to do anything differently? None. That is the 1st step to change this situation. You need to make it very clear that things WILL change, one way or another. She either pays her fair share to live in your home and she does her fair share of the chores to be able to stay or she will be moved into a subsidized senior apartment. Those are the choices that she should have.

Let her throw a tantrum, doesn't change anything. Just makes it easier for you to get her out.

She has taught you that it is easier to let her have her own way then to enforce boundaries and be the mistress of YOUR home. Time to teach her that you have grown up and those days are history. If she gets to bad call the police and tell them that she needs to be transported to a psychiatric hospital because she is a danger to herself and others with these emotional breakdowns. That will get her attention that times have changed and her manipulative behavior will no longer be tolerated.
Helpful Answer (11)

The fact that she still drives and can care for herself does not mean she is competent.
Spending can be a sign of many things. Depression, dementia (hoarding is very common and what one hoards is different for everyone.) You do not say what she is buying.
It may be time to step in before this gets more out of control than it already is. Unless you want to assume financial responsibility of her future.
Depending on what she has spent money on it may be more difficult if she has to apply for Medicaid.
If you are not charging her "room and board" it might be time to sit her down and discuss this. That there are bills that she needs to pay before she spends.
rent,food,portion of electric, gas, cable and anything else that may come up. Set a budget and from that she can spend $XXX. per month. All this IF she is competent enough to understand.
Helpful Answer (10)
goodk68 Jun 2019
Thank you. She is competent and understands. I am sure that her spending ways have always been this way but without a husband and her 401k gone and now her home she is going destitute. She buys just to buy, knickknacks, purses, shoes, magazines, stuff from PCH, plants, anything just to buy (because she likes it and wants it) She throws a fit (almost 5 yr old like) if we say anything about her spending. We stopped charging her anything for rent because of her other bills so she would have some left for medical, nursing, or end of life, but she has spent it. I am just at a loss how to "control" it when she says she is capable- does what she wants anyway- and really does have her faculties- just choices she makes.
There are bad decisions, irresponsible, silly decisions; and then there is detachment from reality. Your MIL is compulsive in her buying, yes? She can't restrain herself, and she reacts as though attacked if anyone mentions this habit?

You and your husband have stopped charging her rent. Hm.

Suppose (just suppose) that you and your husband sold your house and left the area, leaving her on her own. Where would she go? How would she live?

I'm guessing you've tried this kind of Q&A session as an approach to addressing the issue, and that it hasn't got you very far. I'm sure it is also true that neither of you would dream of surreptitiously selling the house from under her and running away (fantasise, maybe, but not dream).

Well. Unless you and your husband can afford to support this lady as your permanent dependant, without severely damaging your own future financial security, you're going to have to get help. She has long passed the point where she is just a silly woman. She is not well. This is an addiction. Have you explored possible therapy options in your area?
Helpful Answer (10)

Charge her room and board and do not pay her bills. You have no legal obligation to pay her bills.
Helpful Answer (10)

Start charging her rent again. Bank the money to use for her later. The money can be utilized when she has run out of funds.
I am sure she did not raise her son to have no regard for how he spent his money. I am sure your parents raised you to budget as well.
Unless you want her living with you for the rest of her life you and your husband both need to put your foot (feet?) down and tell her that her spending is out of control.
You could fill out papers to make your husband the representative payee for her social security income.
Helpful Answer (7)
Isthisrealyreal Jun 2019
Grandma my parents did not teach their children how to manage or budget money. They have always spent money like they were printing it.

I was the blessed one, I said not me when I was very young. I had a savings bank when I was 6 years old, all of my family at one time or another stole it from me. I just became more determined to not be like them.
Your MIL sounds like a emotional shopper. My mother was doing the same thing. Now I give x amount every month and it is cash! I hate that it is like this but my mother put herself, me and my BF in financial danger and that is what your MIL is doing!

I think Isthisrealyreal has a good point, if you feel helpless you become helpless! Take back your power! You have gotten some really good advice here!

Think it out and talk to your hubby. This will get worst if you don't do something about it soon.

Good luck!!
Helpful Answer (6)

I read this as her being no different than an adult son or daughter who came back home. Put her on a budget. She’s going to kick & scream about it, and how is that different than now? YOUR minds will be at rest. Charge her rent & her share of the utilities (have it spelled out & documented for when Medicaid time comes around, which it will), then have some put aside for her specific needs (current & future). Get those monies out of the account immediately after the SS check is deposited. The rest she can spend as she wishes. If she charges to CCs, oh well. Not your monkey, not your circus. What are your monkeys? (1) the increase in your household expenses since she moved in and (2) if money isn’t aside for her current/future expenses, then you will have to come up with the money for them.

How to do this? That is the beauty with technology. All can be done on-line & via automatic transfers. Key is to have one joint account with MIL. She will be happy because she can still spend freely; you & hubby will be relieved as well.

I speak from experience with my youngest adult son.

edited to add — we also froze his credit (his idea)
Helpful Answer (6)
Takincare Jun 2019
They should NOT have a joint bank account with her. #1 Medicaid will look at those funds as MIL's. #2 if MIL goes to bank and no money in her account she is legally entitled to take from the other one. #3 if MIL overdrafts that account THEY are held responsible for nsf and fees. Also if she overdrafts her account the bank will transfer funds back to cover nsf and fees completely negating the rent payment. They will have bigger issues sooner rather than later. Best bet is to open an account at same bank in their name only and to go there with MIL when deposit is made from SSI so funds are available on MIL account, have MIL write check with rent in memo. Clear paper trail, very specific, MIL aware of process so she can't say they're "taking" or hiding her money from her. Also protects account from medicaid seeking those funds or MIL figuring out how to access them for herself. Only reason I say this is I've seen all scenarios played out while working at a bank.
See 2 more replies
See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter