My mother wanted one thing when she divorced my father: their valuable home. Five years ago, she confided that she used its equity to pay its $6,500 monthly mortgage, enjoy shopping sprees, treat me to a car, fund a four-year degree and pay $70,000 down on a house for me. She spent over a million dollars. Her monthly salary is $3,000. She earns the rest by tutoring. Her credit cards are maxed, and she has borrowed excessively from her sister. She wants me to pay her upcoming and past-due property taxes. I live paycheck to paycheck. I could charge the $7,200 but refuse to risk my tenuous financial security to enable her. My mortgage is in her name, and for seven years, I have struggled to pay it. I didn’t realize that a $1,360-a-month mortgage payment was undoable on my income. I am angry and embarrassed that my mom is childish about finances. She is angry and not talking to me. I have no contact with my dad because of incest I suspect my mom knew about. Advice?
Forgive your mother for being herself, and forgive yourself for being like your mother. You both have a magical view of mortgages and money. Here’s the reality: A mortgage payment should be no more than 25 percent of your take-home (not pretax) income. That might not be what a mortgage broker will tell you, but it is what a savvy financial planner would recommend.
Your mother’s primary income is not enough to cover her mortgage, yet she has managed to make the required payments for years. You followed in her footsteps. Yes, I know she borrowed, begged and tutored to make ends meet. You have struggled, too, and resentment about that is partly why her request feels poisonous. Consider this: As long as your home is in your mother’s name, she will expect your support. So set a boundary by returning the $70,000 down payment. Can’t afford it? Pay your mother’s property taxes in exchange for her signature on the legal documents required to put the house in your name. Taking deliberate action allows you both to grow toward financial maturity.
It’s overwhelming to imagine that your mother knew about the incest and did nothing to protect you. Your grief at being abused by those charged with your care is natural. But given the level of denial she exhibits about money, it’s possible that she never allowed herself to acknowledge the abuse. Or maybe she assuaged her conscience by buying you things. Money and sex symbolize power. Lying about money or sex reveals victimization, the descent into powerlessness. It’s time now to rise above that. Become who you were meant to be, not who circumstances trained you to be.
A friend left his girlfriend to be with me. He made a quick verbal commitment to be my boyfriend and then traveled to another state to visit family. He got stuck in Colorado, so I sent him money for the bus. Two weeks later, he announced his engagement on Facebook. I want to maintain the friendship, but it’s hard.
It’s difficult because you’re the only one holding the relationship together. That’s not a labor of love. There’s no love or friendship between you and this man. Friends bring out the best in each other, but he inspires stress. Friends are loyal and honest, but he lied about his availability. Friends share generously with each other and accept each other, but that doesn’t mean that you put up with someone taking advantage of you. A true friendship balances give-and-take so that over the course of the relationship and in various ways, it is equal. You don’t have that with this man. Let go. You deserve better.