Sorry for the lack of formality brothers and sister. This is a problem we need to solve. To string it out endlessly and pretend it will go away cannot go on. Of course this is not for Mum’s eyes and not to be spoken about to her until we have a workable plan.
I directly confronted Mum, suggesting that her financial situation is not sustainable and had she thought about moving into a unit or a retirement home. She pooh poohed both ideas, as I knew she would and has in the past at any mention of such. Between us we have endlessly discussed her options, often with a good laugh, as it should be. We know all know what Mum is like. A friend suggested that if Mum has never had to budget before, she is not likely to start now. She hasn’t and she won’t now.
I have taken a look at her finances and from what I can work out, her fixed bills, electric, water, phone, rates, and insurance work out to about $100 per week. That should leave her $250 per week. Then there is the lawn mowing, $15 per week, less in winter. I expect the chemist does very well out of her, although she now buys many things at the Chemist Warehouse. Cigarettes and cat food must cost too. We all dislike the cats, but they give her some pleasure. Breeding season is about to happen. Maybe she will realise that one pet cat is practical, rather than a colony of them. Regardless, on paper, she should have enough income to survive, but life is not always like the theory.
Mum has been nagging me again about looking up about reverse mortgages and while we all dislike the idea of them, she owns her house and why should she go without when she has an asset than can be partly be liquidated?
She stated that she can manage but there is nothing spare left to ‘fix up the house’ or ‘if something breaks down’.
Given how quickly she went through Bone Doctor's $5000, I am not so sure that she can manage on a daily basis. Don’t forget that Bone Doctor will need to be repaid at some point, plus interest. Also note that Sister has been extremely generous with money for Mum. Sister, present your accounts to us at an appropriate time. Should the value of the house be eaten up in nursing home costs in the future, the debts to Sister and Bone Doctor stand.
Enough blather, here is what I propose.
The house rates have been paid not too long ago. We will pay the next, a bit over $1000. Round to say $300 each, perhaps next due about February 2011.
The electric bill is a killer. I am not sure of the hot water component (later update, it is a minimal part of the bill), but I know the old air con unit is burning money. I hate the thought of Mum being cold in the winter yet cold she is. I suggest we put in $500 each in the immediate future to buy an energy efficient split system. It will give her quieter and more economical heating and reduce her electric bill considerably and give her much more comfort. It will also be much better for cooling. If you don’t have the funds, I can wear the cost until you can repay me or it becomes a standing debt to me. We should look at getting the unit installed in spring. The only place I can envisage for it to be installed is above the existing unit. Tradie Brother, will the power supply be up to it? I think it will as it will draw less power than the existing unit.
She worries about appliances breaking down. Well her fridge did break down and a cheap one was sourced by A. So, can we reassure her that if a major appliance breaks down, we will pay?
Mum has realised how bad the northern side of the house looks. There are some spare weatherboards already there and some may need to be bought, but at the end of the day, it will be Tradie Brother's job to replace them. Perhaps we have a family working bee to paint them. So, Tradie Brother puts in the labour and the cost of more weatherboards and additional materials is divided among the remaining three of us. This, of course, is not so urgent.
If you think my suggestions have merit, then there is a quick upfront cost of about $500 each for the air con unit, and $300 next year for the rates. The rest we will work out at the time.
Mum is very determined to stay in her house, and if we don’t come up with a good option or assist her to get a reverse mortgage, she will get a reverse mortgage on her own. She is old, always fuddy duddy, but never stupid.
Email, phone, text or write your thoughts, but don’t wait too long. I need to present Mum with a sustainable solution to her financial problems.
I have full agreement from them all. Tradie Brother has teed up a friend to supply and install the aircon for $1800. ABI Brother says her rates are under $1000.Now I just have to inform Mother.