Tag Archives: Finances

Holiday Love

A Christmas/Kwanzaa holiday note

Style: "Agfa"

Walking through the mall this afternoon, there were alot of men wandering around, looking a little glassy-eyed.  Most of them looked  to be between 32 and 48 years old and they looked tired. Some of them were in work clothes. They looked lost. One man approached me holding a very tall pair of women’s boots in his hands. “Will these work? Do you think my wife might like these? They look pretty good, huh?” The man was short. I asked him, “Does she have really long legs? Because if she doesn’t, those might not work.” “Oh”, he said, “This is too hard. I’ll just give her the money and she’ll have to pick her own boots.” (How easily we are discouraged.)

Christmas is supposed to be fun

Love is a gift you can give for free. We shouldn’t feel that love will be rejected or deemed false if it is not accompanied by an adequate gift. After all, most men hate shopping. It seems to be a little overwhelming for them, if not in the decision-making, then in the range of prices and sizes. Some folks make up a very specific gift list (not a bad idea, except it seems like you’re putting in an order).  The really detailed folks send a text or email with  mistake-free links to accomplish the ordering and shipping. Some folks want it fancy wrapped. Some folks just want your clearly spoken words of love. And that’s a good thing because I think what I saw in some men’s eyes reminded me of what I see when folks start talking about their student loan debt: Fear.  Remember, unless you’ve been skipping out on the basics despite having the ability to provide, no gift can replace real love. If that’s all you really have, give that. Be open and honest and if your partner is worthy of you, that’s what they will give back. But if you have a few bucks, most will probably appreciate a gift card.

Dealing with your adult child’s problems

Parents likely to feel it when their adult children have problems

This generation of the “squished”, that is, those folks who are caught between aging parents and young adult children is having a hard time. Their retirement savings were dealt a tough blow by the recession, their homes lost value, and many of their successful adult children’s mortgages went “belly up”. Just when they thought things were sailing along, they found themselves in deep water and struggling to keep their children afloat. Over 14 million adult children are living at home with their parents and 85% of college graduates are returning to their homes after graduation. How can you get them on their way to independence in this market without damaging your own financial and emotional health?

Tough times call for, hmmmm, ….. what? Patience? Do you have a choice? Creativity? Absolutely! Creativity, that is, seeing things from lots of new or different perspectives, is essential. Stepping “outside the box” by trying a different career field, expanding a former hobby into a service or product you can sell, that’s creativity. It’s not all bad. Many folks discovered talents they disregarded while going after the “real” or “practical” job. Many turned their weekend or evening pursuits into a full-time business and while they don’t have the same “benefits”, they enjoy freedom. But for most people who find themselves displaced from the job or financial standing that they were used to, it’s a time of reevaluation and reorganization.  Yep, we know. It’s when your adult son cuts off the cable that you really have to worry.

What also works:

Clear rules

  • A written chore plan – those who work, pay; those who don’t, help
  • Agreements on food, utilities, parking space, storage, visitors, etc.
  • A clear plan for discussing and working out grievances
  • A time limit – Just how much time or what events (like getting a job) will signal the end of the roommate arrangement
  • A clear hierarchy in your home – You’re in charge & it is your house!
  • A rule about drugs, alcohol, mood problems & other issues that signal a need for other services.

What doesn’t work: you worrying, too or prodding about your adult child’s interview plans or nudging. Maybe you’ll pass along info about jobs when you hear about them, but not with suggestions. You’ll practice the fine art of building their self-esteem by reminding them of the successes they’ve had – yes- even if you have to go all the way back to 8th grade. You’ll maybe speak of the phases in your life when things changed for the worse – and muse over how you found your way back to better circumstances.

Of course, while you’re being supportive and empathic, you also have to be strategic, and not let your adult child get too comfortable or go completely without responsibility – after all, they are adults now.

Changes in financial, and even emotional status are not necessarily disasters. They are turning points that, just like when you’re driving a long road, you don’t notice until you’ve gotten beyond them.

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