g: 0 Posted By: Marsavings
Views: 78 Replies: 3 My dad died in 2005. I am an only child and live 2 hours away. He had always handled all of the money in the family, so I was concerned about how my mother would deal with it. He left a couple of small life insurance policies (one thru MetLife and one thru his former employer where he retired at age 57 in 1985). She gets a small pension payment (half of the pension he used to receive when he was alive) from his former employer, along with SS. When my dad died I paid for the cremation myself and I also paid the remainder of their car loan off for my mom so she wouldn't have that to worry about. I believe she has spent all of the life insurance monies except a small amount (less than $2000) that is left in one account. She does not want to spend that money - I don't know if it's an emotional attachment to my dad, or if it's the security of having that money available. She claims it's because it earns a higher interest rate (maybe 6%??). After my dad died she opened a checking account (my dad didn't believe in checking accts or cc's - he paid for everything in cash unless he needed a car loan, etc.) as well as a Chase Freedom card that got 5% CashBack on Gas/Groceries/DrugStores at the time. They have since changed that program so the categories are revolving every quarter. I told my mom at that time the the only way she should get this credit card is if she pays it off in full every month. Otherwise the interest charges will eat up any CashBack she might get. She also has a Discover card that she uses (supposedly) just for her medication that she has to buy thru mail order. Over the years she has bought several things that I did not agree with, but when I said anything, she would say "I needed it" or "I've never had xxxx, I deserve it", etc. Examples are new carpeting, new linoleum in the kitchen/bath, new toilet, new stove, new bedroom suite, new couch. Some - like the toilet - were a necessity. But others like the flooring and furniture were just "I want it, I deserve it" situations. For about the past year she has made casual comments to me such as "I want to get that credit card paid down," etc. But I never asked, as I didn't want to butt in. If I made a comment about something she had purchased, she would get defensive and justify it. I figured if she needed help she would ask for it.
This weekend she called and asked for my opinion. She wanted to know what I thought of taking out a loan at the bank to pay off the credit card. She said the bank has 12 months interest-free and she would pay it off in that year. I kept telling her that didn't sound right as I've never heard of a bank that doesn't charge interest...credit card companies - yes. Stores - yes, 12 months interest-free. But never banks for a loan. I asked her how much is her credit card bill, that this "loan" would be for? She said about $5,000 (I was actually afraid it would be more, but still a daunting amount). So this morning I called my local brach of that same bank for clarification. I was told they have a bank CREDIT CARD with a balance transfer deal of 12 months interest free. But not loans. So I don't know if my mom realizes it or not, but she is looking at getting yet ANOTHER credit card to pay off the Chase with a balance transfer, etc.
I think at the very least, she should take the remaining money in that life insurance account and pay down her cc bill to at least reduce it. But she doesn't want to. But it makes no sense to earn some small amount of interest on a small remaining balance of life insurance money, when you have $5K in cc debt that is probably accruing close to 30% interest every month! And maybe then contact Chase and see if they will settle the account for a less amount. I know she would take a hit to her credit for doing that, but she probably doesn't have that high of a credit score to begin with anyway. She told me that her minimum payments to Chase are $150/month right now.
And to top it all off, I asked her if she'd ever cashed in any of her CashBack rebates from the Chase card, and she said no. !!! So for 7-8 years she has never contacted Chase to get any of her CashBack sent to her or credited from her bill. I don't for for sure, but I doubt ALL of the CashBack that she would have accrued during this time would still be available, as I know most of the time the points or CashBack rewards expire after a certain period of time. But I told her to contact Chase using the 1-800 number on the statement, and askabout her CashBack rebates status. She might even have CashBack money available from Discover too. I don't know which Discover card she has.
We are in good financial shape - no kids, no car payments, mortgage paid off, pay our credit cards in full every month. I am wondering if I should let her "live and learn", or should I pay off her credit card in full for her so she doesn't have to worry about it anymore, and have her cancel the account so she can't continue to use it.
I just don't know if I should bail her out or not. She is 77 years old and this time since my dad died has been the first time in her life, I think, that she has had total control of her own money. I helped her out right after he died by paying off the car and the cremation costs, and tried to pound it into her head about paying off the cc's every month. At first I thought she was doing alright because she would take the checkbook to the bank to have the teller help her balance it every month, and she assured me when I would ask that she was paying off the credit cards every month. But then she started getting all this other credit from Lowe's, and the furniture store, as she purchased bigger items, and she knew how I felt about that.
I know it's hard for her living on such a small fixed income. Her mortgage is paid off, but she still has to pay the taxes and all of the monthly bills plus medication costs,and I know she's not rolling in dough. I just don't want her to repeat this all over again if I come to the rescue and pay it off.
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