Finding a way to say no

Things have been a little rough around here lately.  In the past, I’ve alluded to the fact that my parents have never had a lot of money, especially in the eyes of our relatives.  It’s only gotten worse over time as debts add up and bills kept going unpaid.  I think it’s reaching a breaking point.


Photo Credit: George Self via Flickr

My philosophy with money and family is much the same as my general gift-giving philosophy – if I am able to give it and I want to give it, I will.  Any gift from me is always freely given, I have no regrets in that regard.  As such, I’ve tried to help them out with bills and groceries each month.  They might say that they’ll pay me back, but I don’t expect to receive the money back, and quite frankly, they’ve never ever paid me back for a debt in full.

Sometimes though, what people ask for is too much for a person to give.

My parents have reached the point where it is truly impossible for them to ever repay all their debts.  I know this.  Thanks to a series of home equity line of credits and refinancing schemes, they owe approximately $750,000 on a house originally purchased for $420,000 ten years ago.  Their monthly bills and debt repayments total nearly $6000.  And that’s not including all the personal debts that they’ve accumulated with family and friends, nor the numerous tax assessments that have come and gone.  The amount and scope of their debt is both staggering and frightening to me.  And my dad, the only income earner, is on disability leave from work.

They’re in the middle of trying to sell their home, but in the mean time, the bills keep adding up.  Just last month, they asked me for $3000.  They asked me to put it on my credit card, to take it out of my RRSPs or my employee stock plan.  I said no.  I gave an excuse – we were in the middle of paying for a re-piping project on the rental condo.  This month, they asked me for $5000.  Again, I said no – I’m still paying for the piping project and now our tenants are moving out.

The truth? There is no way in hell I would ever lend them that much money.  I don’t have that much to give and despite all that they have said, I know that they will never repay me.  I can enumerate all the times that I have given them money and never seen it again, and it totals nearly $10,000.  I believe their good intentions, but at the same time, I can see the reality that they are choosing to ignore – there is not enough money and there won’t ever be, unless they finally decide to make drastic changes.

It bothers me that I am unable to tell them this to their faces.  I try to be honest, brutally honest, with everyone.  But I can’t bear the thought of disappointing my parents.

I’m not sure what will happen next, but I will try to write about it.  I would love to hear any suggestions that readers might have.

Posted in: Credit and Debt, Family, Money

Top of page