Annie Lane: Financially frivolous in-laws make me fret for the future

Published 5:46 pm Friday, July 22, 2022

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Dear Annie: My husband and I are a young couple. We’ve finally decided to take the leap and are getting ready to move down south and start living the life we’ve dreamed about. Our families would rather have us stay close and don’t want us to leave. My parents are financially set for the rest of their lives and have their retirement planned out for the most part. My in-laws, on the other hand, are a financial disaster.

They recently took out a second mortgage on their home and financed a new pool and hot tub, which they cannot afford. My father-in-law works, but my mother-in-law chooses not to. Her excuse is that she had to raise the children (many years ago, all of whom are grown adults now). My husband has a great career and makes good money. His mom’s name is still on his bank account for some reason, and he sends his parents and siblings money when he notices they are running low, even though they are irresponsible and frivolous when it comes to money. My husband has given them thousands of dollars.

Every time the discussion comes up about our big move states away, my in-laws chime in and say they are moving in with us and to make sure we have enough bedrooms for them. At first, I thought it was a joke, but they were really feeling out our reactions. Now they mention it every time we see them and have offered to move in with us and pay half of our mortgage. My husband laughs and says, “Might as well. I’m at work all the time anyway,” which is not true, and he will be working fewer hours when we move.

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I am not comfortable with this and feel like it’s invading our privacy big time! My husband feels the need to support his family. His siblings are in no financial shape to “help out” or “take care” of their parents, so my husband feels like it falls on his shoulders. I tried to discuss this with him once when his father was diagnosed with cancer, which he thankfully beat. I asked him what would happen to his mom since she’s unable to support herself. He said she would move in with us. I didn’t really know how to respond to that and let it go. I’m not sure what to say here without offending any of them. It’s aggravating and clouding my once shiny dream of our future together.

— Intruding In-Laws

Dear Intruding In-Laws: Money plus family usually equals a tricky situation. It’s understandable your husband feels responsible for making sure his parents and siblings stay afloat. But now that it’s your money as man and wife, not to mention your house, it should absolutely be a discussion between you two.

Speak up and express your reservations to your husband. Family to him means his mom and dad, but it also means you now, too, and the vision you have of your future together must be taken into account. There are certainly ways to continue being supportive of his folks while maintaining appropriate boundaries — and not gaining new roommates.

• • •

Dear Annie: I just saw the letter from “Missing The Boat” about becoming an administrative assistant in her 40s and wanted to offer some additional advice. I’ve worked in this position for over 20 years, and it is truly rewarding. My suggestion is to sign up with a qualified temp agency and take short-term positions, usually six months to a year, to learn the basics of office work and computer programs. They can then build on what they learn to advance up the administrative ladder. Some courses in Microsoft Office would be beneficial as well. I wish them the best of luck!

— A Fellow Assistant

Dear Fellow Assistant: Thank you for sharing these tips! You make an excellent point about trying short-term roles to gain experience, knowledge and a better feel of what’s interesting. Pursuing a new passion like this should be exciting and fun. It’s never too late to get started.

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