Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Well, hi there

It's been a while, so I thought I'd drop in again and give you the highlights about some things that have happened recently.

First, I took two reasonably significant financial hits. Remember my New York Mom and New York Dad? They're an older couple I rented a room from as a grad student, and I secretly bailed New York Mom out some years ago with a few hundred dollars when she overspent. (This couple has never been able to manage money.) New York Mom also had a major, major health crisis and nearly died a couple of years ago, so I pitched in with a lot of logistical and emotional support during that time.

Well, I got a call from New York Mom and New York Dad a number of weeks ago. They asked if they could borrow some money because of a cash flow problem. They inherited an apartment from a friend they cared for when she was ill for a number of years, and it's been on the market without selling for quite some time. They never changed the way they spend, and I think they also made some sort-of investment decisions with property in Florida that are inappropriate for how they live and how much money they have. They hit the wall and ran out of cash, and from what it sounds like, they were about to lose property as a result.

I asked how much they needed, and New York Dad said "Ten thousand. . . maybe twelve thousand?"

In other words, they had no idea what they need.

I needed 24 hours to think about this and talk it over with my sibling, who is really good in these situations. In the end, I decided the following:

1. I offered $6000.
2. It's a gift, not a loan.
3. This is a one-time deal and it never happens again.

They accepted and insist that they'll pay me back, but I know it won't happen. I'm actually fine with it; the only thing I find slightly galling is knowing that some of it will go to support their slackass daughter (Grifter), who still has no real interest in getting a job even though she's getting divorced, since it's a lot more fun to be a mommy.

(By the way, what does it say that this nice couple came to me for money and not their own two adult children??)

I know I'll probably be pilloried for doing this, but there have been times in my life when people have helped me out, i.e. my parents giving me the boost I needed to pass my co-op board financials when I bought my apartment. I have enough to help them, and my gut is telling me it's the right thing to do. We'll see if that's how it really plays out.

The other financial hit I took is that my washing machine finally died, and in a most dramatic fashion: It flooded my bedroom as well as the basement. I was extraordinarily lucky that there was no permanent damage to the electrical panels in the elevators, as that would have been my responsibility to fix. I stayed up late researching compact washers and dryers (since the dryer is 27 years old), and the next morning I sailed out to a store in the neighborhood and bought Bosch replacements. There's not a huge market for compact units and these have the best consumer reviews, much better than the Maytag, LG, and Whirlpool equivalents I looked at. The two machines plus taxes, installation, new outlet (Bosch hates US outlets), unexpected extra costs based on the old dryer not being up to code (!), and removal of the old units came to $2360. Ouch.

I tapped my emergency fund for both of these major expenses, so there was no question of either racking up debt or liquidating investments. It means I've had to divert new money into rebuilding my emergency fund, but the fact that I had the money is peace of mind like no other.

And finally, the third major event: I met someone. For some reason, I have (ok, the right word is probably had) a lot of readers from Australia; I hope you folks in particular will be pleased to hear that he's Australian. He came here a few months ago on an expat assignment with a one-year visa that's renewable indefinitely. It's early days yet, but so far it's been fantastic. That's about all I want to say about him for now, but the spark is definitely there, and it's there in a really big way.

If anyone's still reading, I hope all is well and that your own personal economic recovery has legs. Back again when there's something else to report.

13 retorts:

Rachel B. May 25, 2011 at 9:18 PM  

I absolutely support your decision to give your NY Mom & Dad money. You love them, they need help, you're able to give it. It's great that you're in a position where you can help them.

And congrats on your new relationship. Early days are exciting days!

AussieSaver May 26, 2011 at 12:30 AM  

Aussie Aussie Aussie!

And yes, still reading. Please update more!

Penny in Australia,  May 26, 2011 at 8:04 AM  

Wooooooooooo! Australian boyfriend!!!

Very pleased for you :)

I reckon you're right to listen to your gut on giving the money to NY Mum and Dad. You're doing the right thing by your own morals, and if you can afford it financially I think that's the right thing to do. Definitely agree with you about giving it as a gift not a loan. Lending money tends to destroy relationships.

No Debt MBA May 26, 2011 at 8:16 AM  

I feel like your gift to your NY mom and dad is completely defensible, but I'm glad that you could come up with some boundaries that will prevent you from being taken advantage of in the future.

Anonymous,  May 26, 2011 at 2:01 PM  

Good for you!

Anonymous,  May 27, 2011 at 11:09 PM  

I think its excellent that you gave them money. You set good boundaries, and you had it to give. You will put that money (and more) back into ER fund in less time than you think.

Good luck with the new boyfriend!

Anonymous,  May 28, 2011 at 4:24 PM  

Please post more often, FZ. Your NY mom and dad are lucky to have you in their lives. I would have done the same thing. What's the point of having money anyway if you can't help out those that you love and are in need?

Karin May 30, 2011 at 7:50 PM  

G'day from Down Under! Yes, I'm still reading and it is lovely to hear your news. As the others said, it was good of you to help out your friends in need. As for the Bosch appliances - good choice! I bought a Bosch washing machine three years ago and it runs like a dream. I'm a firm believer in investing in smaller quantities of excellent quality stuff, rather than cheap and nasty brands that don't go the distance.

Oh - and your new Aussie bloke! How exciting. Hope it all goes well. Please keep us posted ;-)

BumbleVee May 30, 2011 at 8:26 PM  

Erm.... you tapped out your emergency fund by loaning 6,000 to a couple who know you are good for cash whenever they decide they need some?... gee........ uhm.... can ya loan me $3,000 for some dental grafts that need?

Bonnie,  June 3, 2011 at 12:29 PM  

I've had the worst week and seeing that you had a new post was one of the only good things that happened over the past few days. So thanks. :)

I think it's nice that you gave the money to your NY Mom and Dad. The important thing is, you KNOW it's a gift...I think the only problem would be if you expected them to pay you back and harbored resentment in any way, which you won't.

Congrats on the new Aussie!

Marti June 7, 2011 at 2:05 PM  

You sound like a good person with a big heart. I totally believe in following your gut instincts. You had the money in your emergency fund and didn't have to touch your retirement account, so no complaint from me. I would probably have added another string to the gift and request they take a financial course so they can start building their own emergency fund. I would also expect them to come to you again if they don't get a grip on their finances.

frugal zeitgeist July 7, 2011 at 12:42 PM  

Thank you so much for the comments, even the snarky one. It makes me feel good to know that people are still reading once in a while. :-)

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