How to Help Financially Challenged Mother-in-Law

Featured Article, Finance, Home & Family
on February 25, 2013

Dear Dave,
My mother-in-law is in poor health and doesn’t have a lot of money. She has been giving us much of her earnings as an early inheritance, so she won’t spend it all. We’re setting it aside in a savings account in case she needs it, but I still feel strange about the situation. What do you recommend we do?

Dave Says: This is an odd scenario. It’s like taking donations from poor people because they refuse to address their own issues. My recommendation is that she learns how to handle her own money. Obviously, it wouldn’t be a good idea for you to say that to your mother-in-law, so your wife should attempt to lovingly and carefully deliver the message. The conversation still may not be pleasant, but there’s a better chance she’ll listen to a daughter than a son-in-law. I appreciate the fact that you and your wife aren’t being greedy or opportunistic about this situation. Setting the money aside and earmarking it for your mother-in-law later on is an honorable thing. If your wife can’t convince her mom to start taking care of her own finances, at least you can protect her from herself. You’d be treating the symptom instead of the problem. But if she won’t listen, it may be the best you can do.