Mom and her money

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My grandparents on my mother’s side were always the wealthy ones in the family. Don’t get me wrong, none of us have ever wanted for anything, but it was always clear that my mother’s side of the family was more comfortable. But they were the sort of people who wanted their kids to make their own way, so my mother didn’t see much of that money until both of my grandparents passed away.

That happened last year, and my mother (and my father) are now much better off. My mom is different from her parents and wants to share the wealth. She bought a house on a lake and wants us each to pick things we want her to get. She wants the big purchases to be family decisions. My dad has hinted to me that we should get a boat, and my sister is talking about TVs and electronics. I’m not sure how to handle all of this, though. Maybe I’m more like my grandparents, but this isn’t my money, and I feel weird about all this. I’m worried my mom will spend too much. What should I do?

It’s always a good idea to be careful with inherited money. It’s easy for a fresh influx of cash to go to our heads, which may be why studies show that wealthy families spend their inheritance within two generations. Your mother wants this money to do good for the family, but it can only do lasting good if enough of it is kept in investments and savings that there will be some left over for your sister and yourself–and perhaps even for your children and their children’s children, depending on how much your family has!

With that said, though, this money is your mother’s now–and she can do what she likes with it. That doesn’t mean that you should encourage reckless spending, but it also means that it’s not your job to tell your mother what she should and should not do with her own money.

Communication is key in any type of relationship, so one commonsense step you could take would be to speak directly to your mother about your concerns. Frame your worries around your own feelings–your mother would probably rather hear of your discomfort with unearned gifts than about your fears that she might spend all the money! If the conversation goes well, perhaps you can discuss a budget for the big expenses and a plan for making this money last.

Budgeting doesn’t have to mean giving up on those luxuries you mentioned, though. Real estate experts say that vacation properties aren’t just luxuries–they can be investments, too. With median home prices surpassing pre-crash (2007) levels in 2016 and continuing to rise, the idea of a real estate investment growing in value is very plausible. As for the boat, the pros say you can find options all a wide variety of price points. If your dad’s dream sounds fun to you, maybe you should work with him to develop a budget. The experts at Boat Crazy can help you with your search, as can other online and regional dealers. With careful shopping and a reasonable budget, a boat can be a perfectly sensible purchase.

“Don’t tell me what you value; show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” — Joe Biden

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