Reader Question: My mom and dad filed bankruptcy recently and are on a fixed income of $2,200 a month. They gave up their house, and my wife and I helped them find an apartment. We’re also trying to give them other help while they’re getting back on their feet. The problem is, we’re paying off debt and trying to get our own finances in better shape. I think my sister should help out some, too, but I’m not sure how to approach her about this.
It’s not out of line to ask her to help and then gauge her interest and willingness. I mean, it’s your parents we’re talking about. Still, you can’t force someone to do something they can’t do or simply don’t want to do.
Before you approach your sister, you might try working up a monthly budget on your parents. It doesn’t have to be complicated — just a one-page document showing their situation. Let her see that mom and dad are struggling right now, and suggest that you both chip in a little each month until they’re back on their feet financially.
Don’t point fingers or make accusations, because that will ruin things in a hurry. Family should always try to pull together in times like this. In most cases, things like this work out fine and family bonds become even stronger.