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Mom Gives Away the Money That We Give Her


"My mother continually gives away her money.   She gives to her church, friends and every charity that asks her.  Frankly, she is quite generous.  The problem is that she is giving away the money we give her to live comfortably.  What do we do?"


First, it is very kind of you to make sure your mother is well cared for.  It does not matter how much money you make, it is still difficult to give cash to a parent instead of your nuclear family.  It must be even more difficult to watch that parent give your money away. 

Several things may be going on here.  Your mother may be uncomfortable with her situation and does not want to appear as though she has no money to share, especially if her friends are able to donate.  She may find her new status embarrassing.  She is not only dependent on you, but her friends might find out that she does not have extra money anymore.

If your mother is giving the money to her church in the same way she always did, you are clearly providing enough for her to do that.  If she is skipping food, medications or rent to make that donation, something is definitely not right.  She may feel the donation is necessary and is more important than her personal well-being.  If this is the case, it is time for a chat with Mother.

Before you speak to Mom, get yourself centered.  If you are giving Mom the money to live, it is hers to spend.  Think back on your younger years.  Did you always spend money as wisely as you should have?  If you have so much to give that your mother has excess (and she is already not much of a saver) her behavior should not surprise you.

Does Mom have a history of inappropriate money management? Did Dad manage all of the money, giving Mom a small allowance?  There are marriages that work that way, even today.  If that is your situation, you may need to give Mom just enough for the bills, while keeping spending money limited.  You may even need to pay the bills if Mom is not making the appropriate payments.  When you give Mom a little spending money, know that the excess will go to things you might not approve of. 

Now, if your mother is being taken advantage of by an individual or organization that is preying on a weakened mind, we have another situation entirely.  In this situation ask Mom’s permission to retrieve the money, report the incident to the authorities, and/or stop the flow of cash.

A parent who is being taken advantage of or who has poor spending habits creates a very challenging situation for any adult child.  Whatever the situation, you will want to intervene to bring the spending to a reasonable level or to prevent an abusive situation.  This will not be easy, but stay close to this parent, be present, and be supportive of their needs.

I wish you the best.