I don’t know enough about my parents’ finances

Normally, this wouldn’t bother me, but my parents have a history of being clueless about money.

Recently, I’ve been slacking off in the Mom & Dad Money Monitoring department, and letting other siblings take over the reins of responsibility for that.

It wasn’t until I heard something about them signing an open line of credit that made me sit up and take notice. Here’s how the gist of our conversation went:

Open line of credit? For what?

To invest of course“, my mom chirps.

#$&%@$&@%$&!$^! Where is the money coming from, Mom?

Oh against our house. The money was just sitting there, and apparently we could make a lot more than 3% or whatever it is!“, my dad chimes in.

So let me get this straight:

  • You’ve wiped out the equity you’ve paid into your home for 30 years
  • Your mortgage is close to being paid off, but now you have this new DEBT to think about?
  • ..and you are paying interest on this shiny new debt, in hopes of getting a better return on investment?

Umm…..“, my mom falters.

Is the line of credit in your name? How much have you lost/gained so far?

Uhh.. Yes. The line of credit is in our name against the home, and … we don’t know how much we’ve made or lost“, my dad says.


Because the investment accounts are not in our name. They’re under __insert sibling here__’s name,” my mom counters.

…….*dead silence*…… *crickets chirping* Okay, so add to the list that the debt is in your name, but the money in an account is under my sibling’s name, and you think everything will be fine?

Well they’re blood! They won’t steal from us. I trust them,” my dad huffs.

Okay, you can trust my sibling, I GUESS (NOT!), but consider that there’s a marriage to be concerned about.

What if something happens?

Where does the money go?

Who does it go to? Who has to pay back whom?

You can’t just trust the spouse to do that, people turn crazy when they hear money disappearing, especially in those six-figure amounts.

If everything is in their name, and it isn’t in yours, but you’re carrying the debt, NOBODY KNOWS THIS LEGALLY.

That’s when the conversation went into a huge lecture about keeping finances separate and making sure you have papers to back up all of this ish.

It isn’t like my sibling is single and childless here! What if they divorce? They have to split it all in half.

I think a little stepping in to figure this ish out is in order, I can’t believe how trusting and naive my parents are sometimes. They just don’t see the big picture of the real world, filled with separations, divorces, bankruptcies, spending more than you make and the legalities of everything being proposed.

And just when you think you can trust someone to just make sure that Mom and Dad saves some money for retirement, has a budget and doesn’t spend more than you make, you come across some of the stupidest decisions I’ve ever heard.

I feel like this is my fault. I should have stepped in sooner and I should have been more involved. Now I’m kicking myself because the money could be gone, and totally spent. πŸ™


Turns out, my sibling is also formally in charge of my parents’ investment assets by the bank, and as a result, he gets the statements forwarded to him at his address to manage, but they are legally under my parents’ names.

They just don’t ever ask about those statements because they come from another part of the branch (the two departments don’t intermix), which is why they have no idea WTF is going on, but since they still pay the bank their mortgage and the interest on their Line of Credit, they get the statement for THAT every month to clear.

I also wouldn’t put it past my mom to get a statement like that and read it wrongly, thinking: Oh balance means I have money, rather than I owe money or vice versa.

I’m 99% sure they hand over anything financial to my sibling to handle, and he sorts it out for them, which I find pretty dumb.

He’s just making financial weaklings even weaker by not involving them in the decisions and listening to what they want, and advising them to be MODERATE in their risk strategies, seeing as they will be retiring in about 20 years.

I still think it’s still pretty damn STUPID to take out equity on your home just to invest it (also fairly sure they lost 50% of their assets in doing so), but at least everything is in their name.

Still going to call a huge family meeting.

UPDATE: IT IS WORSE THAN I THOUGHT. He lied to them and used the money as his own line of credit.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.