My 85 year old mother is going to run out of money soon and refuses to stop spending money on needless items from shopping channels. What should I do? -

My 85 year old mother is going to run out of money soon and refuses to stop spending money on needless items from shopping channels. What should I do?


She has 1250 in social security income and 50,000 in savings from a death benefit from when my father died 4 months ago. She has no other assets. Her monthly bills are less than $1,000 a month, including gas, groceries and insurance. I put her on a 5 year budget plan, giving her $2,000 per month for 5 years. Then she will have nothing left but social security. Each month she spends well over her budget with the majority of her spending done on the home shopping channel and mail order over the phone from catalogs. I can't seem to get her to understand the importance of saving her money should she need care in her home, car repairs, or any other unexpected expense. She blatantly tells me it's her money and she will spend it however she chooses. I've tried reasoning with her, yelling at her, begging her to wise with her money and she refuses, saying it's none of my business, although I am her only child and will be the one responsible for her care when she has no money other than social security. I don't know how to get her to stop spending and it is interfering with our relationship. What should I do?

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Thank you so much! I've been torn between just leaving her alone about it, knowing she will go through what little money she has in a short amount of time, and continuing to battle with her. I believe a 3rd party is great advice and what I will likely do. You have provided me with a lot of relief because I was starting to think I was in the wrong for getting on to her about it. But at the rate she spent this past month, she will run out of money, except for social security in less than 3 years, rather than 5. She is still in good physical health. Sadly, she has always been a spender, but my father allowed it. Sincere thanks.
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This is very very hard to see happen - especially if they were either very financially responsible before, or just overindulged in shopping in a very minor way that did not really hurt mom also was a QVC addict and would buy junk mostly as gifts for others, stuff they did not really want, and would just go ga ga over the litle freebie junk items they would send her from time to time for being such a good customer. Also had a cousin whose mom had never missed a bill payment except once in her whole life, end up running up debts that nearly ruined both of them and turned the once beautiful and well-kept home into a disaster area.

So, as hard as it may be, you may want to take more definite action on this, unless this is a lifelong pattern and she will just choose to be as foolish as she has been all her life, and is fully within her rights to do so...

1) If she is hoarding, buying mutliple duplicate items and squirreling them away without even being able to use them, you may need a geriatric evaluation that would be looking at early dementia, more likely vascular than Alzheimer's type (she may be fine with recognizing people, conversing pretty normally, etc. but have impaired judgement). Getting financial POA and getting control over the shopping cards may be in her - and your - best interest. You might even be able to return some of the stuff surreptitiously, particularly any duplicate items.

2) If it's not that, see if there is a trusted friend or impartial third party (e.g. financial planner) who could be an advisor to both of you, and make it emotionally easier for her to accept the advice/listen to reason. A person in their right mind can understand simple math as you have presented, and maybe even realize they need help if their behavior is more compulsive.

Either way, saying "its my money and I'll spend on what I want" is a dodge and could cost her any chance of paying for better care later on or having a few $$ to spend on things that might be a lot more worthwhile. She will probably never thank you for it, but it could make a huge difference in the quality of her life.
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she could still be in the mourning process. give her time to distract herself. if she is not disabled or has any other medical conditions, then you're left with little to no options at all.
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