Should I support my senior parent?

  • All in the family: should an adult child be expected to financially support a senior parent who has not planned for retirement?

    All in the family: should an adult child be expected to financially support a senior parent who has not planned for retirement?


Dear Dave,

Do you believe the adult child of a senior citizen, who is physically and mentally healthy but has neglected to plan for retirement, should be burdened with providing financial assistance to that parent?

— Robbie

Dear Robbie,

Based on the wording in your question, I can only believe you don’t think the adult child should be “burdened” to provide this assistance. My guess is you’re talking about one of your own parents. I understand that you might be aggravated with a parent who has been irresponsible with their money. But in my mind, there’s a bigger question. How big is the burden?

I talked to a guy recently who was making $1.5 million a year. He was questioning whether he should help his dad — an older man in poor health, who didn’t handle his money well — by giving him $1,000 a month. There’s no question you give that guy money. You’re making millions, but you don’t want to help your sick dad? Come on!

However, if you bring home $2,000 a month, and your family is barely getting by, you’re not morally required to financially take care of a parent who was irresponsible with their money.

It’s all relative. Do you have the money? Can you provide this help without placing an undue burden on yourself and your family? If the answer is yes, you may be asking more about your own aggravation than any sort of moral obligation.

But no, you’re not morally obligated to destroy your own life, or your family, to take care of a relative who didn’t take care of themselves financially.

— Dave

***

Dear Dave,

I’m going to be debt-free with a full emergency fund in pace by the end of the year. I’m going to get a dog after that, but I wanted to make sure I did it the right way and was in good financial shape before making that move. Is a separate emergency fund for pets a good idea?

— Scott

Dear Scott,

My wife and I love animals. We’ve had at least one dog the whole time we’ve been married. Still, I think a full emergency fund of three to six months of expenses will cover you and your pet.

You go through some expense as a pet owner, along with happy, wonderful times and heartbreaking things, too. We lost our golden retriever recently, and I can tell you that was really hard on everyone. You love them like they’re family, but you still have to use common sense sometimes, and remember that they’re animals and not human beings. Part of that includes spending reasonable amounts of money on them — and in some unfortunate cases — doing things with the animal’s best interest, not our own desires, in mind.

What is a reasonable amount? That depends on how stable you are financially. It’s really a ratio question of expense to means. But no, I wouldn’t recommend a second emergency fund just for pets.

— Dave

Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven bestselling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 14 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey

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Published Aug 11, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 10, 2018 at 10:10 pm)

Should I support my senior parent?

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