The grandmother that I have talked about here, the knee replacement one, has always been horrifically cheap all of her life. She lives on her own and does her own grocery shopping but buys the cheapest stuff available at Save a lot then complains that the fruits and veggies that she got are rotting a couple days later. My response was maybe you should either quit buying them or maybe take a look at the thermastate on your fridge and turn it down, and naturally, the fridge is fine. But her latest thing is calling me up telling me that I have to buy her a laptop and set up an internet connection. I asked if I could expect a check for buying her a laptop. Her response was that I wasn't going to get a check or any kind of money. I don't have a whole lot of extra money period to spend at the end of the month, I'm lucky if I have $150 breathing room at the end of the month. I told her that she was going to have to get off her butt and go to Best Buy and get herself a laptop. She had a meltdown, which I expected because she calls every day asking me to buy her things but has no intention of paying any one back. Between her pension, Social Security and investments, she has $4,000 a month. She has no house payment, no car payment and her bills total are $1,500 a month. Other than cutting her completely out of my life, how do I deal with it?
I'm going to take a step back and venture that the friction isn't about the food or the computer or other issues. It's about control and manipulation, and she's literally got you around her finger. She complains, you feel an obligation to respond or explain.
To me, that's the critical issue.
Just say no.
"I could pick that up for you. Are you paying by cash or a credit card?"
"Maybe you should pay a little more and enjoy the fruit longer."
If grandmother has been firmly attached to her money all her life, don't expect her to change now. But that does NOT obligate you to pay for things she won't buy for herself.
Just say no.
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