What percentage of our monthly income should or can be allotted to Christmas gift giving? Michele, Florida
Because gifts are a non-essential expense, I can’t give you a number. You can do this by first determining how much you intend to spend on Christmas. Let’s say it’s $600. Divide by the number of paychecks you will be getting between now and then. If it’s only a few, you’ll need to save a big chunk from each check. But if you’re thinking of Christmas 2013, you have the entire year to save. If you get paid say, twice each month, then as little as $25 from each paycheck will reach the goal of $600.
I am a long-time member of Debt-Proof Living and have been reading Everyday Cheapskate for years. You have really helped me a lot. Thanks! I have passed along everything that I could to my parents, but evidently they haven’t read a thing. My brother bailed my parents out from foreclosure and they are still so far in debt they can’t see even a glimmer of light.
Now they want to come for a visit and I want to tell them not to come because I know they can’t afford it. If you ask them if they can afford it they will tell you they can’t afford anything. They have nothing in savings and spend money (credit cards) like they have all the money in the world, trying to keep up appearances.
Should I tell them that they can’t come visit until they get back on their feet again, or just let them come and continue to flounder and get more in debt than they already are. I’ve been able to put them off for a couple of months, but I don’t know how much longer I can. I feel like I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. Debbie, Georgia
There is a reason I have not written a book, How to Debt-Proof Your Parents. That’s because you can’t. You need to stop trying.
I understand how frustrating this situation must be for you, but there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot control your parents or make any useful demands on them. They are not under your authority.
My advice is to back off. Call and invite them to come and visit at the earliest possible time. Do everything you can to make their visit enjoyable including not talking to them about their financial situation. Let the way you live and the way you manage your finances speak louder than anything you can say.
The way your parents handle their finances is none of your business. And don’t worry. Should they die broke leaving all kinds of debt, you will not be liable for any of it, provided you have not added your name to any of their accounts.
Please, just love them and allow them to have a warm and loving relationship with you despite your differences.
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