Sunday, August 28, 2011

Still on the topic of Mothers and Children

Just when I thought there was nothing more to say about the financial relationships between parents and kids, there's this story about "bad mothering."

Judging from the appellate court decision the mom in question is not going to win any parenting awards but gimme a break! Sending a birthday card (which I thought sounded both cute and funny) with NO MONEY in it is "outrageous conduct?" Refusing to buy a teen age girl acne medicine results in "acute emotional trauma?" And paying for the limo but not the prom dress (never mind demanding that the little darling be home by midnight and calling her when she doesn't arrive) is "inapproriate parental behavior?" Where are these two spoiled brats coming from?

And what kind of father actively participates in a lawsuit like this? Well, except for a father who is not only a lawyer, but a bitter divorced parent. What's weird is that it looks like Dad 'won' the divorce, in that he got physical custody of both kids. That wasn't enough for him or the children?

I guess Morrison and Terry and I are all lucky our daughters didn't find themselves lawyers.

The saddest financial aspect of this story is that the otherwise very reasonable judge who dismissed this case did NOT award the mother her court costs or attorney fees. I think these kids SHOULD have had some financial consequences for filing a case like this.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mothers, Daughters & Money

Is there any relationship more fraught with drama than that of mothers and their daughters?

I say this as the mother of five daughters. Of course, if I'd had any male children, I might have a different story. Then again, maybe not.

Two of my favorite bloggers have been grappling with the intersection between finances and adult daughters. Morrison, at All Doors Considered, is in the mood to cut her daughter off. Terry, at A Little Bit About Everything is more conflicted.

Grace? She can relate to both of these mothers.

On one hand, my daughters do need financial help from me. On the other hand, they expect me to step in entirely too often. And on the third hand (something every mother has!) I am acutely aware that saving for my retirement has to be my highest priority.

All of the above leaves out the most important issue--the emotional one.

When I provide money to my daughters, I try to make it without strings. But the emotional binds are still there. Don't they owe me something, at least respect, for getting them through their tough times?

From their point of view, am I trying to buy that respect from them? If they need what I freely give, do they then owe me?

If I don't get the level of respect and financial understanding that I want or expect, should I then cut them off entirely?

I don't have any answers. Like Morrison and Terry, I'm just now learning to ask the questions.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Counting Pennies--Literally

I had to laugh when I read Meg's latest post at World of Wealth. Unlike myself, an older struggling woman trying to get her retirement in order, Meg is a young upper-income banker well on her way to financial success.

But that doesn't mean we don't get some of the same thrills just counting up our change!

At a post-Christmas sale at Walgreen's last year, I bought a child's toy bank--actually just a jar with a battery-operated lid that counted all the change inserted into the jar. It was 75% off and priced at $2.54. Never one to pass up a deal, I sprang for the purchase.

I must be easily pleased, because it really is a thrill to insert dimes and nickels and the occasional quarter and watch it all add up. I've emptied the jar twice so far, so it now stands pretty empty, with $12.90 in it.

I don't bother rolling the coins, but I fully understand Meg's delight in the process. Somehow it feels like found money.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Living With Bad Managerial Decisions

It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to (with apologies to Leslie Gore).

I spent my week-end at my employer's Board of Directors meeting trying to head off impending lay-offs. Although the majority of union members showed up and offered to take wage freezes, furlough days and pension contribution cuts in order to save jobs and continue client service through the end of 2012 at no increased cost to the organization, our Board, in its infinite wisdom decided that lay-offs were the way to go.

Why? Because that's easier for a Board that meets only four times a year to handle. Never mind that they are laying off folks in the middle of an economic downturn. Never mind that the needs of our poverty-level clientele has never been greater.

I am just so saddened by these actions which strike me as short-sighted. Having worked in my field for the past 38 years, and having weathered four serious financial crises before this one, I know that predicting our organizations's finances three to five years down the road is a fool's errand.

So here's the kicker! On a personal level, the Board's decision works well for me. I am not one of those in danger of being laid off. Now, my wages won't be frozen, I won't have to take any furlough days (resulting in a 4% pay reduction) and all the current employer contributions to my 401(k) will continue to be made.

I should be happy, right?

Then why am I feeling so darn frustrated?

And depressed?