How would you deal with a close relative in penury?

With the Credit Crunch, lots of people are in financial trouble. How would you deal, in the longer term with a close relative (aunt / sister / niece or closer) who was in penury?

Assuming she was still trying to make a life for herself and not crazy or addicted, I’d take her in for a year while she got on her feet. Longer term than that, I’m not sure.

Really depends on who and why. If my grandmother (who is quite comfortably well off) were somehow reduced to absolute want, I’d be happy to write her a check every month for the rest of her life–not for a huge amount (I’m very middle middle class), but I wouldn’t be the only one helping, either. My mom and dad would always be welcome in my home for as long as they needed a place to stay. My alcoholic sister? Not so much.

If they’re in such dire financial trouble that I’m their lifeboat, they’re screwed.

I’d take my sister in, but one of us would be dead before it was over.

Just curious: was the gynocentricity of the example relations intentional? Am I only allowed to care about my female relatives?

My dad always said that if he ever became a drain on his children or society in general, we should just take him behind the barn and hit him in the head with a big stick until he wasn’t a problem any more.

I love him, but there is wisdom in his words. :smiley:

Seriously, I would help out where it makes sense, but I would never ask family for help and I kind of expect them to show me the same courtesy. My parents raised us all to be very independent and it would almost be a family scandal to ask for help from a relative.

That’s the point, isn’t it? I can’t imagine any situation that would reduce my parents to penury, so if it did happen, it would have to be some epic cluster fuck that was entirely out of their control–like a total collapse of the economy or something. If that did happen, what was mine would be theirs, no question–how could I possibly live a comfortable life if they were hungry?

I wonder how long it might be for my parents, to be honest. They don’t really have a retirement plan and no real savings. When my dad goes, my mom will probably burn through his 100K life insurance policy in no time flat. Then, I suppose, my sister will take her in – my sister lives a mile away.

If they were starving or living on the streets and trying desperately to help themselves, I’d probably help, but not in a way that would jeopardize my family. And them living here certainly would do that.

I’ve got some long-term relatives to deal with, and I’m not sure what we’ll do. My husband’s parents are poor and always have been. They had a house for a while but lost it last year after taking all the equity out of it. They’re OK for now, but they’re getting very worrying. Both are slightly loopy, and FIL recently had a stroke that immobilized the left side of his face. He refused to see a doctor about it. He gets SS, and they’re managing their apartment complex, but I’m worried that the next step downhill will mean they can no longer manage on their own. They’re only 64, but they’re effectively much older for various reasons.

In the past, we’ve given them money. We will continue to do what we can. My husband’s younger brothers aren’t in a position to do much, and the oldest lives overseas. But I have yet to figure out what we’ll do if long-term care is needed. I doubt my FIL will live that long, actually, but who knows. My younger BIL is the only one with room to house them if necessary, but I don’t know if he and his wife would; I think they’d rather stop eating and use the money to pay for housing, for which I can’t blame them–my in-laws aren’t exactly easy to live with and I dread the idea as well.

About fifteen years ago my mother’s sister, my aunt, appealed to my brothers and sisters and me for help. I would guess she was in her seventies at the time and unable to work to earn money. One of my brothers visited and reported that she had resorted to eating dog food. While she owned her own house and had all the requisite contents, I guess she just didn’t have sufficient to feed herself properly.

It didn’t take much discussion. I think we all (six of us) sent about 200 per month each to the brother who had visited the aunt previously to organise a regular stipend for her. I certainly didn't begrudge the money but it was a pita for me. As I'm Aussie I had to convert Aussie into US $ and post it to my brother. Still, she died after about five years of this but not from malnutrition, thankfully.

I would do it again now for any other rellies in need.

Oh, I’ve helped them over a hump before with a loan or a gift, depending. My sisters all know I’ll help them if they need it. They don’t abuse it, so it works out well. If there’s an economic event that brings the whole country to their knees? We’ve kidded around about it, but my sisters and friend know that there’s a serious streak to the jokes. I’ll share my home with any and all of them and their families. If we have to push the cars out of the garage to make room for the people who won’t fit in the house, we’ll do that and keep chickens for eggs and meat or something. I suppose if any of them were facing a choice of homelessness vs overcrowding in my ramshackle house, I’d opt for love and squalor.

If it’s consumer debt, immediate unemployment, inability to keep up with the mortgage they chose, a lack of foresight, or something equally stupid: screw 'em.

If it’s something more forgivable like persistent long-term unemployment in the Great Depression, I suppose we’d all have to band together.

God, my dad has kept so many relatives out of the poorhouse he ought to get to claim them as dependents on his taxes. I’m not even kidding - if you put somebody else’s kid through college how’s come you don’t get any tax breaks for it? So far he’s put at least three kids who belong to other people through college, bought my PTSD-ed Army Ranger cousin’s house and car for him to rescue him and his wife and daughter from total rock bottom penury and let him pay him back, about to do the same thing with my evil half brother except my evil half brother didn’t catch it in Iraq and has no excuse, and sent three of our old cars down to various people for various reasons. He’s constantly propping people up (some of them need and deserve it - the Army has failed my cousin in the most catastrophic way and I have a lot of sympathy for his situation) - all my one uncle’s kids call him Dad because when he was fresh out of the navy he went in and took them all into his house because they were failing to thrive. (One child had already died.)

It just makes me sad - I mean, a few of these people appreciate what he’s done for them and are either paying him back monetarily or in other ways, but how many of these people would lift a damned finger if he needed them? I bet not a one of them.

I think I was quite a drain for 20 years or so, I could make some room for 20 years or so.

Ok, somebody has to say it, the first thing I would do is look up the definition of penury.

I have helped out before and I would help out again. The same for all of us siblings. Both my oldest sister and I have had relatives living with us before.

We’re not well off financially but we have living space we could share, so we’d do that, assuming we’re compatible. I smoke, we have indoor pets, we sleep in and stay up late and we don’t fix regular meals. If you lived here, you’d have to accommodate that.

One of hubby’s sons lived with us rent-free for a year while he got on his feet, and my daughter has lived with us for short periods.

It would be easy enough for us to rent office space, clear out our home offices, and move relatives or friends into those rooms. This is the cheapest, if not necessarily most desirable, scenario. We’d do it for any of the relatives in the short run, and for most as a long-term option.

We don’t have even a spare room, so things would have to be dire - and short-term - for us to take anyone in. Obviously, exceptions would be made in desperate circumstances.

We’ve dealt with this before with two of my husband’s sisters.

One had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse, physically fighting with her siblings, theft (from family and jobs), etc., and has supposedly been trying to get her life in order. A few years back, after many complaints from neighbors in her apartment complex about the loud arguments between her and her then-boyfriend, the place was trying to have her evicted. IIRC some months before that, she had repeatedly called her family members looking for bail money after the two of them got tossed in lockup for a drunken argument while on vacation. One of her sisters caved in and wired the money.

Their parents have more money than we do, but wanted us to help this sister out. My husband even told me that his dad suggested we put her up in our unfinished basement, in the house we’re renting, and the basement doesn’t even have cooking or bathroom facilities in it. I hit the roof and went off on a ranting fit. Fortunately for my father-in-law, he had apparently dismissed the idea by the time he got to our place - or maybe when he saw my face when he entered - but he still wanted us to give up some money. He even had the gall to ask if he should just give her a gun so she could kill herself (because she had nothing if her family wouldn’t pick up the pieces for her, again). Meanwhile, they have never let her hit bottom, and even if they didn’t want to do that, they’re the one with 3 empty bedrooms in their big house. So FIL forked over the money. She’s actually working at a part-time job now, and I think that seems to be helping give her some structure and focus in her life. I don’t know if she’s still abusing drugs or alcohol, though.

The other was from a couple years ago; I’ve complained many times about it here before. She called my husband sobbing, saying she was so ashamed and he was the only one she could talk to, because she was being taken to court for eviction from the apartment she lived in above us. She hadn’t paid rent for months. (Mind you, this was only a few months after Christmas, where she had lavished everyone with expensive gifts.) She tried to get him to cosign a loan first, which he refused. He did agree to loan her a few thousand dollars to cover the back rent. She promised she’d pay us a little back each month. Yeah, I know, expect to never get paid back. That’s pretty much what happened, as she’s paid back maybe a quarter of the money and we count ourselves lucky when we see anything. She also lied about how he was the only one she could talk to - she also got money out of her parents and the siblings with any money to spare, and a significant amount, too. Meanwhile after her lease wasn’t renewed, she left us with a basement and back porch full of her shopping habit/hoarding, turned to junk with the accumulation of mold, dust, etc.

The latter doesn’t get a second chance, I don’t think, unless things were very grim.

My dad’s brother and my mom’s sisters have been close to the edge all of my life. While my dad hasn’t had to do as much as Zsofia’s dad, he’s done things like give large gifts, buy monthly grocery gift cards and even had my uncle, aunt and 2 cousins live with us for a bit.

So, it’s sort of expected in our family that we all help out however we can. I wouldn’t bat an eye at taking in a relative in need.

Perfect timing, my neighbor is in financial trouble and borrowed some money off me today. I didn’t have any money to give her so I borrowed it on my credit card. Other people owe me money that I have had to borrow but what can you do?

My neighbor is in deep shit, her family seem to have deserted her, she is from the country and has no friends here and without my money she may end up in jail. Fuck that. If I lend her the money (forget the if) the worst that can happen is she doesn’t pay me back and I think I can survive that.

I may end up in deep shit but why worry now, I am just dealing with what is in front of my nose, and a lot of people are struggling.