Help! Mom’s in Financial Trouble, Leather Seats are Hopelessly Stained and Need Recipe for Window Cleaner

Dear Mary: I read stories about parents with grown children who constantly need bailouts. What do you do when it’s your 62-year-old mother who has the money problem?


My mom has a job and makes enough money to support herself. A few years ago, she bought a house for $95,000. She had little debt at the time. Since then, she’s refinanced her home twice to cash out her equity and now owes $127,000 on top of extensive credit-card debt.

Recently, she called me saying she was $3,000 in the red. My husband and I sent her the money. This isn’t the first time we’ve bailed her out. My brother and I are at our wits’ end. She is hanging on by a thread. I can’t make her get a roommate, a second job, or take away her checkbook.

What do you do with a person who cannot make good financial decisions? We don’t want her to be homeless and live in her car, but we don’t want her to move in with us, either. Please help! Anonymous

Dear Anon: You are in a difficult situation. Giving your mother money is about the worst thing you can do. That only exacerbates the problem. You have already discovered that you cannot control her. If she will not agree to see a qualified family counselor with you and your brother, the two of you should speak with someone who will help you lay down ground rules. Then, you both need to become united on how you will respond to her in the future.

It’s not going to be easy. You’re going to need to exercise tough love with your mom.

In the future, if she is truly in need of food, has the electricity turned off or her personal safety is at risk, do not give her the money directly. Instead, my advice is to pay the bill for her or take her groceries.

Dear Mary: Last summer, heat from the sun caused the red lettering from a plastic shopping bag to melt onto the grey leather front passenger seat in my car. I have been unable to remove the stain and hope you may have a solution. Toni

Dear Toni: Provided your previous attempts to remove the have not set it permanently, BooYah Clean! Leather Cleaner and Conditioner should take that stain away, and at the same time condition the leather. While you’re at it, you should clean all of the leather interior.

BooYah Clean! is the secret miracle product that car enthusiasts use to restore cars to their former glory. The reviews on this product as fantastic. Make sure you read them before you spend money on this stuff. I’m confident it will be money well spent to remove the stain and protect your car’s resale value. Good luck!

Dear Mary: I make my own window cleaner and laundry detergent. I would like to make all my cleaners: pump hand soap, shampoo, toilet bowl cleaner, dishwashing powder, dish liquid, general purpose cleaner for walls, scouring powder, all of it! Is there one book or website that has it all? Cathy

Dear Cathy: I’ve replicated all of the products you mention with homemade alternatives, some with great results. I have concluded that there are a few items that cannot be successfully made at home. Shampoo and automatic dishwashing detergent, for example. I have created an ebooklet, Cheapskate Solutions,” with dozens of recipes for homemade alternatives that do work, including recipes for all-purpose cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and hand soap. This 60-page ebooklet is available here for the low price of $3.99 ($2.99 for DPL Members). 

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3 replies
  1. Mary Lynn Carlson
    Mary Lynn Carlson says:

    Mary, I do enjoy all your advice and often try your recipes. I make my own shampoo mostly because I don’t want all those chemicals going into my scalp. It’s very easy and I love it! Here it is:
    1/2 cup castile soap (use baby for kids), 1/4 cup coconut milk (in the can), 10 drops of essential oil of choice (I use lavender). Shake before using. I make it up every month and it doesn’t get bad before that time. I also use it as a body wash. I do use a conditioner lightly, too, but haven’t found a recipe for that yet.

  2. Sharon Campbell
    Sharon Campbell says:

    If this is new behavior from Mom, I would insist on a thorough physical, including mental functioning. She should be having any number of issues that need to be addressed.


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