Ask Paul: My wife won't stop giving our adult kids handouts
My wife and I are disagreeing over money lately.
We're in our 50s, with adult children, and several years ago my wife opted to give up her full-time job to pursue a small business.
Unfortunately it's really more of a hobby, and it costs more than it brings in, but it makes my wife happy and if we live carefully then we can manage without the second income.
But our adult children are always asking my wife for money.
They work but they seem to prefer to spend their own money on holidays and eating out, then approach my wife when there are bills to be paid.
She doesn't like saying no, whereas I think they need to learn to budget better. We have a mortgage on our home, and with rising interest rates and bills, I'm worried about our future retirement. - Bryan
This is quite a dilemma, Bryan, so I should not chuckle, but we clearly live in the same universe.
Some years ago I was really keen to give our youngest daughter solid money skills and teach her how to live to a budget.
So we sat down and worked out her spending plan for her last year at school. It was not a big amount, so we gave it to her in advance. Along comes the end of year and I ask how she went. She proudly told me she had "saved all of it". This was a complete mystery to me until, much to my amusement, I discovered that my wife, Vicki, had "helped her out" with expenses during the year. Oh well.
But this is about you being financially independent in retirement. This is a serious issue. What is needed here (I suggest rather nervously) is firstly a chat with your wife about the fact that you are not assisting your kids with their money skills. In fact, you are being a negative influence. Rarely in life do we find a "money tree" and I suggest you find a way to trim it.
The critical issue is you are not providing essential care to kids, you say you are funding holidays by paying their bills.
What I would suggest as step two, is a chat with the adult kids about the critical need for you to increase your mortgage repayments not only for rising rates, but you need to get the house paid off ASAP. This means much less disposable income for you and your wife and you need the kids' help to do this.
This conversation is going to require great tact and delicacy. I am not encouraging a relationship crisis, which is a real possibility.
Giving to the kids makes your wife happy and I can already sense "Scrooge" accusations, unless you are really cautious in your approach. With a mortgage, though, I cannot see how any reasonable kids would not agree that you should get it paid off. After all, they will eventually inherit the home!
You have a right to a comfortable retirement and, to be quite frank, you are doing the kids no favours by acting as their "money tree".
Angels fear to tread in this very complex area of couples living together with different views on money. This may be too negative, but I have seen relationship splits over money issues like this. Walk gently.
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