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I consider myself one of the lucky ones.  I was born into poverty, pretty dire poverty actually, although it was never acknowledged in my family and I was too unobservant to realize it until I was older.  My father had very poor health and was often unable to work.  He had pride in abundance (together with right wing beliefs), however, and so refused any find of government benefits, regardless of how his family might suffer.  So we frequently somehow survived on what my mother was able to earn in the days when few women did work and those who did were grossly underpaid.  I was, however, also born with a drive, determination and stubbornness, together with an ability to book learn, and happened into the college years at a time when it was, if not affordable, at least reachable.  Therefore, I was able to make sacrifices, work hard, and end up with a profession that enables me to live comfortably.  If I'd wanted, it could have made me more than comfortable.  However, for whatever reason, I've never had the desire for more than a modest style of living and therefore chose to practice my profession in such a way that I have been quite successful at avoiding becoming wealthy.

My problem?  Few members of my family have experienced the same kind of luck.  Oh, they all more or less make ends meet.  None of them have lost their homes and they have food on the table and decent clothes.  And unlike when we were growing up, they have working plumbing in their homes and cars that generally get them where they're going without breaking down.  

But the debt.  The never ending grinding debt.  The figuring out how to pinch pennies to be able to go to the dentist, where there's already a big bill.  The selling of a favorite piece of antique furniture to make this month's mortgage.  The inability to go to a grandchild's graduation because there's no money for airfare. The trying to cobble another fix to the car so it can eke out another few miles.  I see it constantly, and I feel so helpless  about it.  I don't have enough to solve these never ending emergencies and even if I did, they don't want to be rescued by or indebted to their little sister.  But I sure would like to help without making them feel like failures or that they're taking handouts.

My guess is there are more people than just me in my position on this site; there must be more than a couple who are in a position to give a little help to those they see struggling around them, but who don't know how best to do it.  And there are lots on here who are struggling.  Who better than those who are struggling to give us somle advice on how to help?

In the past, I've tried to do things anonymously or pay for things in a way that they maybe don't realize how much it actually cost, so I could say their share was less or paying for things for their kids.  And I've just out and out paid for things - but then always felt uncomfortable and like there was a certain level of resentment that I was acting the part of the rich relative (which we got to experience when we were kids and we hated).  

I have had some relatives make comments about why I live modestly and tend to give away quite a lot (not only to relatives, btw) and wondering whether it's because I feel some kind of guilt or something, I've tried to explain that I do it both because I don't need or want more than I have and because I know I have what I have only through luck.  Yes, I might have worked hard, but it was a matter of luck, not only that I was born with book brains, but that I was born with the drive and stubbornness and energy and health and all the other things it took.  It's not like I was somehow inherently superior to others - in fact, in many areas of life, I'm inherently inferior.  I was a stubborn, obnoxious, and according to  my mother, selfish and lazy child.  I didn't do any great and wondrous things for humanity to deserve an easier life than others.  I just happened to be born with traits that got me where I am.  And so I feel an obligation to share that good fortune.  I think she got it a little bit, but I don't think others do.  I think they wonder why I  live in a modest house and wear average clothes (sometimes below average, since I hate to shop and so wear things past their expiration date), have few toys, and splurge only on the car I drive and taking a few extra trips.

So what I really want to do is to figure out how to help them out  when I can in a way that will help them the most and make them the most comfortable. Or would it better for me to just stay out of their problems altogether and just give my excess money to charities?  Since I'm in the midst right now of trying to figure out a way to help in a particular situation, it occurred to me that there's no place like Dkos for getting the down and dirty truth from people actually there, in the trenches, who will be able to actually identify with my family members.  And maybe getting the knowledge from those in the trenches can also help out a few others on this site.

So - give me your experiences - or your fantasies - of someone coming along to help you out and how it made or would make you feel.  Keeping in mind, this wouldn't be like winning the lottery and all financials problems be made to go away, but rather just a little help here and there.  Let me know what offend you and what would not.  Is it uncomfortable to get help from an anonymous source and would you rather know where it came from?  Or is it easier to feel less of a sense of gratitude or whatever if you don't know who it came from?  Are there certain expenses that you'd feel comfortable being taken care of? (I tend to try and pay for some of the "extras" in life - maybe a little trip - or to just sneak some cash into their bank account when I know there are worrisome bills).  Is it more uncomfortable coming from a family member than a stranger?  Are there certain levels of need that make it easier to accept?

Essentially any information that provides the perspective of those on the receiving end that can provide me with some guidance on what is actually the right way to handle the situation would be appreciated and helpful.  I'll thank you in advance for your input.

Originally posted to gustynpip on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 10:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It varies (40+ / 0-)

    I've received money and I've given money and shelter. Results vary, but tend to be underwhelming.

    My only advice: gifts, not loans. You can always accept paybacks, but never count on it.

    •  I get the underwhelming aspect (16+ / 0-)

      of any help, which is maybe why this is getting to be such a difficult situation for me.  I realize that I can't "fix" their financial problems, the most I can do is momentarily ease some of the pressure.  So I definitely don't want it to come between us.

      I often wish I had the gift one of my sisters has, of doing the little thoughtful things for others that make them know someone is thinking of them and caring about them.  I know what she does for others makes much more of a difference in their lives than anything I can do.  But I've learned to accept that is simply not a skill I have and I will have to be the biblical Martha to her Mary (or is that reversed?) in that she can help with the important stuff while I try to help with the practical.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 11:00:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  gifts not loans...yes (3+ / 0-)

      I've found if I also tell them I am paying forward the help to them that I once received and that they themselves will then need to pay it is well received.

      •  that is what I do too (4+ / 0-)

        I was also born into poverty--I grew up in rural Pennsylvania where we still had outhouses. Whether we had meat in the spaghetti sauce usually depended on how good a shot I was.

        Until just three or four years ago, I lived on shit factory jobs.  Then I formed a little publishing company that did far better than I ever dreamed it would, and now my income has literally quadrupled over the past three years (my lifestyle hasn't changed much, though--I'm just not a materialistic person).

        So while I have always done my best to help people through political and social action, now I can also help out financially as well. When I see people who need a hand, I do--and I ask them to repay me by helping out the next person THEY see who needs a hand, in any way they can.

        It makes the world a better place.

        •  I was born to (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Angie in WA State, sockpuppet

          solidly upper-middle (Naval officer, which is 'upper' in that world, then corporate exec). Married young, hubby got drafted out of college when he proved himself a pain in authoritarian ass for anti-war stuff (poli-sci major), we've been struggling ever since. Raised 2, adopted 3 godchildren when their mother died, then grandchild while trying to get disabled daughter through college). Now trying to get two grandsons through community college, just turned 61 and hoping like hell I don't end up having to raise great-grands...

          But we've a nice chestnut cabin (with loft and half basement) and ~26 acres of Appalachian gorgeous we found 20 years ago. Big truck and herb garden, forest managed medicinals, orchard and vineyard (small), peace and beauty. We're happy, but always struggling to keep a vehicle going and make ends meet.

          I remember talking to God once when my parents took us five kids to a cabin in Pennsylvania for a week vacation. It was so beautiful and simple and my parents were actually happy together for once. I said I'd gladly give up being rich in my life and live forever in a rustic cabin in the woods if I could have a lover who loved it as much as me. That is just what I got, so I'm fine with it.

          Do hope the grandkids get rich, though. Then they can support ME! §;o)

        •  Me too. When you are dealing with someone who (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is poor, it's not a safe assumption to give them a lot of cash and really believe that they will ever be in a position [any time soon] to pay it all back.

          So if I give someone a gift, it's a gift.

          You are already in debt. A loan is just more debt. It's robbing Peter to Pay Paul. You can always premise this on the notion that if they make some enormous amount of money like win the lottery or some such, or make their first million, then they can pay you back.

          Otherwise--don't worry about it, or better yet, pay it forward.

  •  That's a hard one. (23+ / 0-)

    I live with very little, and I'm always glad to receive a little here and there to help me through. My daughter is very generous, and she knows that when I can help her, I will, so it's a give and take thing. In that your family appears to be very proud about receiving help, it's difficult. One thought---Is there something they can do for you in return? If you're putting money in their accounts, and they're not saying anything, they appreciate your help, but are too proud to say anything. Maybe that's the route, as it doesn't require words of recognition. That's all I've got.

    Your left is my right---Mort Sahl

    by HappyinNM on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 10:42:37 AM PDT

  •  As long as all are being respected, I don't see (30+ / 0-)

    why anyone should take offense at being offered or accepting the kind assistance of another. People helping each other is the most natural thing in the world...except maybe not in our strange culture. I don't know. Anyway, good luck with it.

  •  I agree, gifts... (23+ / 0-)

    a little extra on birthdays, paying for tickets for something they want to see or a place they want to go for an anniversary, etc. Gift cards work as well, especially for kids, then the parents can get something they need and something they want, just make sure it's for a store in their area, and not the most expensive store in their area. You can even get pre-paid Visa cards. Another thing for kids, if you want to help out a bit, is rewards for good grades.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 10:52:15 AM PDT

  •  At this point in my life, I'm a giver (31+ / 0-)

    (not a lot, but steady) but most of my family is doing as well or better than I am so who I give to are not blood kin.  Remembering "back in the day" in my own childhood - my momma hated to ask for anything, which meant the gas went off in the summer time and I learned how to bathe in a gallon of water one pint of which was heated in the electric skillet.  However, anything that could be "covered" by an acceptable story was OK.  The best examples I can think of are 1) the year we lived in grandmother's rent house because "the renter bailed" on her and she needed to have the house inhabited and 2) the summer day we were down to a quart of milk for my baby sisters when a friend came by with a freezers' worth of food because her "freezer just broke and it's going to spoil".  Good luck.

  •  You give what you can for what they need (16+ / 0-)

    And if anyone "resents" or feels guilty or funny about it, you send them this story along with your gift.

    Barrington Bunny

    Or if they or you are religious, you send them a copy of Matthew 25: 31-46 and explain that you are a sheep, not a goat.


    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by absdoggy on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 11:08:10 AM PDT

  •  If you start helping them, where does that (8+ / 0-)

    expectation end?  If all you are doing is supplementing a regular issue, then when you stop or are unable to supplement, they will still remain in the same position most likely

    I understand wanting to help, but at the same time, helping specific people, even your own family can create huge problems as you have already experienced.

    I was in a bad place without a job for two years. At teh end of the first year, I had to move in with friends. Just over a year later, I found a new job. 2008 - 2010. Through the end of 20120 and all of 2011 I saved my money and in Jan. 2012, I bought my own home. (Yes, I saved - a lot!)

    My friend's parents were great and he moved out when I did. He found work a few months ago and is now beginning to save his own money as well. Technically, I am doing this for family. He's like a brother I never had.

    Something else I do as I can is I save things of value that I no longer can use and donate them to the Kidney Foundation. My mother died due to complications from Kidney Disease. My mother also had breast Cancer, however that form of cancer receives so much attention. I like to draw attention to Prostate Cancer as well.

    There's an online site KIVA - for helping people in other countries with small dollar value loans.

    OperationSmile.Org is another site that makes it easy to get involved.

    As far as those on the receiving end of giving. I have a somewhat opposite item to share. I was working in a department for a company where they arranged to give Christmas Dinner and presents. A group from our department made the delivery. It was inappropriate. The family was embarrassed. I felt the agency should have handled this part. We should not have been the intruders we became when we delivered the meal and gifts. I was embarrassed for us, and for the family because they deserved more dignity than that. A few co-workers felt the same. One or two more worried over recognition and feeling superior felt just fine about it. I try to give where it is anonymous and will not make those receiving feel inadequate.

    -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

    by Vayle on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 11:15:59 AM PDT

    •  But is it really better to let my family suffer (19+ / 0-)

      than to help when I can?  Where it ends is where I can no longer help. And I find it odd that you would discourage helping individuals when you were helped yourself.  Someone letting you live with them when unemployed was a huge gift from them.  

      Guess your last paragraph really nailed what I'm trying to resolve.  The family you mentioned might have really appreciated the gesture of dinner and gifts had it been handled appropriately.  I'm trying to figure out how to be certain I don't injure the dignity of my family members while still easing specific situations.  And so I'm trying to figure out whether recipients themselves feel regarding things like being anonymous rather than my making my own assumptions about it.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 11:49:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My own family - blood relations - (10+ / 0-)

        color my own initial 1st part of my answer. In for a penny, you better hold on because they will try to take you for everything they can squeeze out of you.

        My unchosen family are people who will use someone until they are no longer useful, and then badmouth/scorn the used up person for no longer being useful. If you help them once, you're expected repeatedly to give and give and give because you have it and they want it.

        My chosen family are people who will help me and who I can help without creating the static that can generate.

        -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

        by Vayle on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 12:15:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ah yes, I did experience that with one group (13+ / 0-)

          of family members.  One that was more needy and so I did much more for than others.  My eyes were kind of opened when I was taking one of the little girls shopping for a new outfit for her birthday and she informed me that her mother had told her to make sure she picked out something expensive.  I still helped, but I was a bit more careful.  Now that they no longer need help, I seldom hear from them.

          But that has been the exception rather than the rule.  For the most part, I'm hopeful that any help I've given will be
          "paid forward" someday.  I'm just now at a juncture that I want to help a few who need it but really hate that they need it.

          "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

          by gustynpip on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 12:29:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Gusty pip.... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Odysseus, sockpuppet

            we had generous relatives when I grew up.  They gave us regular checks and savings bonds when we grew up.  The money helped my dad start a successful business and paid for our college and weddings.  We weren't poor exactly but they had also been very generous to my father's family growing up so this generosity lasted for decades.  I think they raised this branch up through education-paying for college in the depression.  I never resented their generosity and still remember them fondly.  We helped them in old age and hopefully will help others.  We have a tradition of generous wedding gifts and help with college.

            I doubt if I was grateful enough at the time but I know I am now.  We had the expectation to go to college with the money they sent us.  I don't know if that is true now for your relatives.  It also taught us to save for a goal.  In retrospect, we are all very grateful to these ladies (they were maiden aunts) and didn't thank them enough for their positive impact and example.

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 03:09:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I love being able to hire my neighbors, (12+ / 0-)

    especially at a "neighborly" price, for jobs. If you have applicable skills, be on the watch for opportunities to tell people, "I could help you with that." The deal you cut for them will be a much greater savings than any monetary gift would offset, and they'll have a practical result from it as well.

    My other car is a pair of boots.

    by FutureNow on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 11:26:21 AM PDT

    •  Hey, I'm great at giving them advice!! (12+ / 0-)

      Seriously, that's another of my problems.  I see the younger generation, who are just starting out in life, making mistakes that are going to hurt them financially.  Trying to figure out whether I should step in with advice even when not asked for it is another of my quandaries.  I've worked hard at keeping my nose out of it, but am now discovering that sometimes at least, they would have appreciated the direction from me at the time, but didn't want to impose by asking.  However, I know full well that if I start giving advice unasked, it won't be long before "the kids" tire of it.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 11:54:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What if you just told everyone your concerns? (11+ / 0-)

        I know that is sort of off-beat in our culture, but it can really clear the air. In addition, if the kids know they can come to you then you can relax and know they consider you a resource. If you don't think they are using their resources, tell them all the ways you would be willing to help. Tell them you don't want to judge or elevate your self, but that you care and want to help if you can.

        Poverty = politics.

        by Renee on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 02:47:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, I did talk very candidly with a nephew (9+ / 0-)

          today.  He'd asked for a small loan the other day and prefaced it with "I know I can't count on you being there for me forever, but . . .", so I let him know that yes, he can count on me being there forever.  And that I'd much rather he comes to me for help while the situation is  managable than wait until he's drowning, whether it's for a loan or help in figuring out how to get his finances under control.  He's borrowed money in the past and always repaid it asap, so I know he's not going to take advantage.  And if he's ever not able to repay, I'll know he's doing the best he can and not worry about it.

          "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

          by gustynpip on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 08:13:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Also, you could put together a mentor type (9+ / 0-)

        gathering once a month or so, and open it to young adults beyond just your relatives… do they have friends? Do your friends have young adults who could use some mentoring? Then it's more of a gathering focused on that and less of you sharing your ideas with people who aren't interested.

        If you were nearby to me I would love that sort of thing, and tell my kids and friend's kids about it. Sort of a non-heirarchical focus group.

        Poverty = politics.

        by Renee on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 02:50:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I LOVE this idea! I've been thinking how (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GreyHawk, murrayewv, lotlizard, Odysseus, Renee

          beneficial establishing some realistic life skills class for high schoolers would be, and this would be something that could kind of be an introduction into doing something like that eventually.  Setting it up as an interactive system, rather than a boring lecture from an old fogey, with the individuals discussing some of the mistakes and wise decisions they've made, things they've learned through experience, etc., with each learning from the others mistakes and successes might be a very fun and experience for many.  I'm going to give this a lot more thought.

          "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

          by gustynpip on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 08:21:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, almost like a salon. (0+ / 0-)

            Look up free schools and anarchist schools to see some of the ways people do this. There might already be a free school set up in your area which you could advertise your class through.

            Poverty = politics.

            by Renee on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 09:15:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Being the "poor" ones in the family ... (18+ / 0-)

    I always appreciated whatever help I could get.

    When my kids were young, my mother-in-law (who was not a really nice person), would ask me to take her grocery shopping. Then she would load up the cart with thngs that she thought the kids might like (milk, hamburger, fresh fruits, etc).  She was not subtle but I apprecited it. Oddly enough, her son (my now ex) got peeved all the time that she only thought of the kids. So, receiving can vary according to personality.

    The kid's uncle is very well off.  He sends money for holidays and birthdays and sometimes just because.  He  sometimes invites them to visit (he lives out of state) and foots the whole bill. The ice thing about how he helps is that you do not feel like it is a handout and he also does not expect the kids to katow to his wishes or his beliefs.  He does tend to reward those who stay in touch and call or text him more than those who neglect him.

    You neglected to tell us the number of your relatives (5, 20, 50+) because that would make a huge difference in what and how you can help.

    Those who resent your help will also resent you if you do not help ... it is their personality. So, do what makes you feel good and what you thnkis right ... it is your money and you can spend it you want with it.

    "Life without liberty is like a body without spirit. Liberty without thought is like a disturbed spirit." Kahlil Gibran, 'The Vision'

    by CorinaR on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 11:39:44 AM PDT

    •  Large family. Probably in the range of (13+ / 0-)

      20-30, including siblings, nieces and nephews and greats.  But it's only the siblings who have or will soon reach retirement age that I'm really concerned about and that's 3.  I feel comfortable just giving to the younger generation, and have always done that.  But they're beginning to get a bit more settled and that frees up money that I'd like to direct toward my siblings instead.  It's much more difficult to give to them without risking a level of discomfort and perhaps putting up barriers between us.  I'm  trying to figure out if there's a way to do that without coming off as the rich relative.

      Your uncle sounds like a winner!  I completely sympathize with his being more generous with those who maintain contact.  It's hard to know what to do for people you don't know well, plus you simply don't think of them nearly as often.  I think that aspect is pretty natural.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 12:20:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Older generation.. (11+ / 0-)

        perhaps you could arrange or host a family reunion, give everyone a vacation? Make sure they know you want them there, and you want to see everyone and everyone to spend some time together... It may be less.. objectionable if you're helping everyone at once rather than singling any one person out at a time?

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 03:14:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This is interesting to me because out (11+ / 0-)

        of 3 siblings I am the only one who fell off the cliff in this economic collapse. The other two are well above middle class and have helped financially and with time. One very minimally and the other extensively.

        It sounds like your relatives are not at a place where they could get food assistance so if that is an issue, it would be a priority for me. Since I am eligible, the more important priorities are

        Medical, medications. (I have no health insurance so premiums don't come into play)

        Cell or other phone

        Internet access

        Gas, vehicle repairs

        Rent is going to be an issue on 7/5.

        The gift cards or prepaid credit cards are a good option as it lets them use the money where the most urgent need is.

        My problem has been not knowing when or how to let them know things are getting worse. That is due to being in such an unstable situation. If I could find a job, especially with health care, the issues would disappear.

        Maybe setting up accounts for each according to what they might need, and then using when something becomes apparent?

        The interpersonal stuff is tough to comment on. My relationships are both unique. I haven't resisted or done anything but appreciate the help that I have gotten. OTOH, the sister who has been the least helpful was driving me home one day and made a really insensitive comment about a homeless man at a street corner. I just bit my tongue, it is how she thinks about homeless people and she can separate it from what she thinks about me.

        I think asking for input was a great idea. Hope some of it helps.

        "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

        by Ginny in CO on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 03:29:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for this. It really does help, and makes (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cai, GreyHawk, murrayewv

          me feel a bit more confident that stepping in to help will be appreciated rather than resented.  

          And isn't Audrey Hepburn wonderful?  (or should I say was - but her spirit lives one.)

          "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

          by gustynpip on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 08:07:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Are you on Facebook? (0+ / 0-)

        I am keeping more in touch with nieces and nephews now.  The is could be a way of sharing advice through the Internet- like financial planning links or good deals at the grocery.  Might not work but could be excellent.  I know some families use it for helping relatives with a sick child.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 03:18:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I had to get over being proud. (14+ / 0-)

    It wasn't easy, but there is a point at which you just say, "Help!"   BUT, I am a liberal.  I don't have the same kind of boot-strappy thing that conservatives seem to embrace.  

    I wish I could help you, but there are so many variables that it's impossible to predict how they'd react to any given level of assistance.  Perhaps you could set up small trusts for nieces and nephews?  I used to buy savings bonds for mine.  Yeah, I'm really old.  ;-)

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 11:45:32 AM PDT

  •  You say you have a particular situation (16+ / 0-)

    so it's hard to give you a specific answer....but....

    While I've never been able to do large things for other family members, I usually have been in a better position than some of them.  I couldn't pay my cousin's rent this year while he was out of work, but I could make sure he had food on the table for his kids:  "Hey, Pat, I went to the big box store today and I have stuff now I can't use...can you guys use some?  I'll bring it over?" We both knew what I was doing, but we didn't have to acknowledge it.

    But when another relative desperately needed a new stove, I threw that caution to the wind:  "Hey, baby sister, I'm mailing you a gift card for a stove.  Don't argue.  I got the gift card for credit card points, it's like free money.  And why bothering putting up with your crazy family if we can't be useful now and then?"  And I have never mentioned the stove since then.

    Your situation is, no doubt, "situational" and has to be handled the same way.

    I think it's wonderful that you want to help your family first.  

  •  Right now (8+ / 0-)

    it would really help if I had help just getting through the next month or so with groceries and maybe a little help on my rent payment. I don't have a job until the end of July, and won't get paid for it until the end of August. Things this month are going to be a little tight.

    I'm not proud. I'd accept whatever help is sent my way.

    Science can tell you how to clone a dinosaur. Humanities explains why this is a bad idea.

    by Killer of Sacred Cows on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 02:36:11 PM PDT

  •  I will be debt free in 6 years (7+ / 0-)

    If my plan works out..

    Peace and low stress ..

    by mdmc on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 02:52:08 PM PDT

  •  It's not always simple. (7+ / 0-)

    I am a standby helper to a member of my family, there at the times they are prepared to ask but not pushing. Never pushing or hinting.  There are reasons for this other than mere finance.

    One of the things you have to take into account is the family dynamics of the family about whose needs you are debating. There often are in families other issues which are unresolved, in addition to money as you see it. And the interposition of mere money does not resolve those issues.

    Family history can be a lot of it, such as struggles at other times which still have reverberations, or wars with in- laws in which the observer either was not involved or was not even present to see or hear about them at the time they occurred. And internal matters such as gender politics when your kin is not the guy, things that cannot go forward because of the way the guy and his position in the family interact that you have nothing to do with. One of which is almost always the thought that getting money from kin or an offer of it is a suggestion he refuses to accept that he cannot properly support his family.

    IMO, you really do need to let the family with the issue decide how they want to handle it, even if you are sure in your heart that that broken toilet or failing roof is important. And then follow their wishes as they express them, if they ever do.

    •  I wish I could figure out even how to let them (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cai, GreyHawk, Odysseus, sockpuppet

      decide.  I'm not sure even how to approach the subject, and so was hoping to get ideas that would be least likely to make my sibling not feel like like I'm being patronizing or something.  I'm the "baby" of the family and quite a bit younger than some, which I think makes it more difficult for others to feel comfortable accepting anything from me.  Which is why I tend to feel more comfortable try to do things anonymously if at all possible - but I'm not sure if that makes them feel more comfortable.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 08:32:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Does your family give Christmas .... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, sockpuppet

        or birthday gifts?  The great aunts were most generous at Christmas and we reciprocated with gifts of food and other thoughtful presents.  There is an absolution for the annual gift cycle.  You could also let them help you raise money for a charity with small contributions.  My nephew just sent us an email to raise money for a playground for all abilities through the Internet.  You could ask for small sponsorships for a race or walk for a charity close to your family.  

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 03:31:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Given and received in my day. (9+ / 0-)

    I was raised in a household where it was, to say the least, gauche to ask another for money.  However, when it comes to budgeting, I've always been a pragmatist - if the money is there, it is there, if it is not, it is not.

    I've gone through a few periods in my life where I've had to ask for financial help from my friends (keep in mind, very close friends) and immediate family.  Most of this had to do with two basic reasons:

    a) A critical illness combined with junk graduate student insurance, and

    b) Never in my entire working life having a job that lasted more then 2 years (and thus, being able to accumulate many savings instead of debt).

    But I've also been on the giving end; I've had two very brief periods in my life where my income exceeded my outlays by a significant amount, and I used a lot of money to help my family then.

    My advice to you would be this:

    a) Offer to help, but if they turn you down, there isn't much you can do about it.  They have to be willing to accept the help before you can give it.

    b) Don't wait for them to ask first.  Asking is extremely hard for anyone.  If you know they are in trouble, offering first will blunt the psychological blow and allow for much less lost face.

    c) Make absolutely sure that if you give them money, do it as a gift, not a loan.  Gifts given freely can strengthen a true friendship; loans corrode them, always.  And do so with no strings attached; if you are worried the money will be misspent, you can always offer to pay the creditor(s) directly, send a gift card from the store that has the supplies they need, etc.  This is how my medical bills were paid; my benefactor sent money directly to the hospital.

    I pray one of these days to be able to permanently retire my "fundraising hat" and concentrate entirely on giving.  It's much more rewarding.

    •  My experience has been that it's actually quite (6+ / 0-)

      hard to give money with no strings attached.  I've realized recently that even though I've thought I was giving it to my nieces and nephews that way, there's a part of me that does, in fact, actually expect some level of gratitude.  I'm very involved in a particular nonprofit and recently asked a niece to help out in a fundraiser.  She agreed, but the night before called me and informed me she had instead agreed to help someone else with something else.  It put me in a very bad spot and I have to relunctantly admit that I thought "after all I've done for her . . . "  I don't want that kind of feeling to insert itself with my siblings, so I guess it's not only their feelings I'm concerned about; it's mine as well.

      Ach, life just gets too complicated sometimes.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 08:39:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, expecting some gratitude... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, sockpuppet, gustynpip

        ...isn't really attaching strings, I think, it's just being human.  I sure as hell thank my friends for the gifts they have given me over the years.  I'm still thanking the one that advanced the co-pay for the surgery that saved my life.

        It does change relationships, but I've found that it doesn't have to destroy them.

  •  May I suggest you pay the seniors gas and electric (12+ / 0-)

    bills? I've seen many seniors suffer without a/c or heating because they can't afford the higher bills in the summer/winter.

    Any other service would be good too - lawncare, snow removal, leaf raking, appliance service calls, doctor co-pays, perscriptions etc.... Set up an account for them with you as the payer.

    Good thing you're doing. Good luck.


    Nature created the human race, but humans created racism.

    by GrannyOPhilly on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 03:25:40 PM PDT

  •  You sound exactly like me (11+ / 0-)

    Raised in abject poverty.  A single wide trailer in the worst part of town, wealthy relatives that didn't give anything to my cocktail waitress mother who couldn't afford a babysitter, and didn't know what welfare was, and wouldn't get it anyway because of the fear that right wing relatives would find out.  No food in the kitchen. Left home alone night after night with only bags of books to keep me company and if I was lucky, I would get leftovers brought home from the bar she was working in.
    Fast forward, it's years later, and I got to a very good living through a combination of intelligence, hard work, good luck, and charm.  
    I now support my mother 100%.  I pay all of her bills.  She was never capable of supporting herself, much less me and herself, so I take care of everything.  She thanks me a lot, but sometimes I feel a small twinge of resentment, but I resign myself to this lot in life.  Maybe I got to where I was simply because I did have such a hard beginning and only books to entertain me.  Do you ever feel like you wish your relatives could support themselves?

    "Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

    by dancerat on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 03:39:35 PM PDT

    •  Being poor as a child leaves a mark (9+ / 0-)

      that is seldom forgotten. 45 years later I can still remember eating cold cereal with water, because there wasn't any milk. At 52 years old, there is not a time when I open the frig to garb the milk that I don't think of that time.

      I liked the idea of going to a box store to stock up for everyone close bye. 'Hey everyone I going to a sale at X, come over later and pick what you want'.

      "Behold the Turtle, it only makes Progress when it sticks it's neck Out."

      by vzfk3s on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 04:21:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I can understand the resentment. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, cai, gustynpip, Odysseus, sockpuppet

      You suffered because she was afraid right wing relatives would find out if she took charity.

      My wonderful mother in law stayed with an SOB husband, who occasionally beat the kids-one of them unconscious once. She didn't feel she had choices about where to go or how to change the situation. She was a wonderful loving person who blossomed once the SOB died. But, she should have gotten those kids away from that man, and it was hard to forgive her 100%.

    •  I've nearly forgotten the hiding behind the (4+ / 0-)

      couch, terrified, when left home alone.  That was one of the most horrid parts.

      I've never had to be the sole support of anyone else - both my parents died before I became established and the rest of my family never expected anything from me.  It's just that I can't seem to quit worrying about them.  So yes, I do often wish they'd planned ahead more, not because I resent their needing help, but because I can't seem to quit feeling responsible for them.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 08:49:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  services (7+ / 0-)

    we're in the same boat financially. I'd love for someone to say hey I found a deal on some lawn care and will send someone over.

    A prepaid card to a drugstore would help. We use a lot of over-the-counter stuff, prilosec, dental floss, mouthwash.

  •  Hmmm... (7+ / 0-)

    leave cash when you visit, in a place that isn't immediately noticeable but where it will be found within 24 hours.

    Offer to pick up prescriptions.  Pay for them, and don't give them the receipt.

    If there are any kids in college, offer to pay for textbooks.  Believe me, that's huge these days.  

    If you know they are doing Hamburger Helper a little too often, quietly sneak a whole chicken or roast into the freezer.

    Plenty of others have left good suggestions.  And if you get static, tell them it is a gift of love, that it hurts you to see them suffer without, that they are doing you a favor by accepting what you can give.

    "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, v3, n18 (-8.50, -7.23)

    by Noor B on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 04:25:02 PM PDT

  •  I got help from Jewish Family Services (7+ / 0-)

    in 2001. I had just gotten out of the hospital, and still had 18 weeks of cancer treatment in front of me. Then I got furloughed from my part-time job (through which I had my insurance). We spent retirement money to pay the COBRA and co-pays.

    My husband had been laid off the week before. Our stress levels were through the roof.

    Jewish Fam. services had a social worker who found us counseling, got us on a meal program and got us on a housekeeping program (like housekeeping for no $$). They never asked one single question about our religious affiliations. I will praise them and their care at every opportunity.

    My own family helped as they were able, though one in-law didn't help at all- never even offered to run an errand. I resent them for that, tho' my husb. doesn't. He had pretty low expectations. Family picked up restaurant tabs, helped with cleaning, brought some clothes over. All was appreciated. My mom took cookies to my cancer health workers-nice thank you's that I couldn't do myself.

    There was also a wonderful charity that would give cancer patients an event per month that was worth about $50, or more. The recipient just called up with a request and a couple days later they called back with details of where to get the tickets or said the restaurant bill would be covered, tip included. Some months they had their regular treats plus some bonus free tickets to a show. They were successful through the 90's but after the crash, they couldn't keep up with the need.

    We had some embarassment, but the need forced us to get over that. I called every agency I could think of because I figured out that we needed HELP!

    So much charity is income based, and we looked ok on our previous year's tax returns. it also takes time to liquidate assets (if you have any).

  •  I use Amazon & (9+ / 0-)

    and I buy useful items, often things I've used myself, and have them shipped (free!) to their door. It's easier to accept a gift when it's not face to face.

    When they call, I just explain, "yeah, I tried that organic bread flour and I loved it. You bake such great bread, I knew you would too!". Of course, I sent them 50 lbs, with a food grade container to store it in, 3lbs of vital wheat gluten, spices, and some other baking stuff too.

    But it doesn't feel like charity because it's a gift acknowledging the great talents they have. And I really feel that way.

    I've sent so many things this way, from steaks to cleaning supplies.  I buy on an Amazon subscription plan iwhich helps keep my costs lower. If they don't like something, I cancel it. But I'm pretty careful about what I send, so they usually do.

    We don't have a lot ourselves, but we don't need much.  If I can put a good dent in their grocery bills, then its good.

    I also pay attention to the calendar and any holiday, the more obscure, the better, is a gift-giving event. July 4th? I've send a card with a gift card to their favorite grocery store tucked in.

    And in August, I'll send something nice for the feast of the Assumption....

    © grover

    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 05:03:58 PM PDT

    •  Okay, this one will take some thought, since (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cai, grover, lotlizard, murrayewv, sockpuppet

      it would have to be carefully tailored to each individual.  It would require some of the kind of thoughtfulness I've never considered myself very skilled at, but that's what I feel has been missing from my approach in the past.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 08:57:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In a dream world, (5+ / 0-)

    I'd have the auntie who had enough money to pay for my school.  I haven't yet graduated and have somewhere around $30,000 in debt as we speak.  It's frightening to think of how I will be able to pay it off. Terribly.

    Having school paid for or at least having far less debt would give me a confidence, a faith, in my future.  It takes time to get a career in my fields (conservation and forestry) going now.  I'd be able to make those transitions and survive on low pay if only I didn't have to worry about those loan payments.  I'd instead build up my resume and fix my credit, so that I could one day work towards owning a home and having a family.

    Or someone making me able to pay off my debt myself would also help me beyond all description.  The problem with paying off school now is that two jobs barely allow me to afford rent/utilities/tuition: stuck in the debt cycle.  If my finances were freed up from having to worry about the day-to-day expenses, I could begin to pay off my debt now, so that it would be reasonable and manageable when I graduated.

    Thank you to jayden, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Aji and everyone in the Daily Kos community involved in gifting my subscription and gifting others!

    by Nulwee on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 05:19:23 PM PDT

    •  I've at least got some good news for you. The (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cai, Nulwee, Angie in WA State, sockpuppet

      future for foresters is good.  My husband is one and he says there's going to be a shortage of foresters shortly.  For a long time, it was nearly impossible to find a forestry job, and so people quit taking forestry. In fact, many programs shut right down.  But a ton of foresters will be retiring in the next ten years, and there's looking to be a real shortage.  It's already starting.  So your future might be brighter than you're expecting right now.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 09:02:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think the most important thing is to ask. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gustynpip, Odysseus, sockpuppet

    A family member swooping in or making executive decisions is going to spark that resentment.  Asking if people need help, how they are doing, whether they would like you to do thus-and-so, is a way to let the decision stay in their hands.

    You can't make people ok with getting help if they're just not.  But you can say, "Let me know if you need me.  I'll see what I can do."

    As to your broader questions... I think in some ways these things work better inter-generationally.  It may be easier to receive help from a parent or parent-figure, because that's something we all do as children, and many of us do as young adults.  Again the key is to ask, and to not insult someone's sense of independence.

    And if you're doing better than your parent or parent-figures, it's easier than with siblings to say, "You did so much for me" (even if not much of it was financial), "let me help you."

    But bottom line is, you can't make people ok with accepting your help if they're not.  And that's their right.  If something becomes dire, especially if children are involved, you may wish to do something anonymously.  You may decide saving a friend is more important than saving a friendship.  But that doesn't sound like the case right now, in which case the better part of valor may be to step back, save for future emergencies and your own retirement, and let it be.

  •  I live on a very limited income (9+ / 0-)

    I pay the bills, and I need help with them sometimes, but then I have no money left.

    I do get food benefits and medicaid.

     My brother and sisters might come over with some beer, which I like but cannot afford. They quite often come with groceries to make supper, but it is usually enough to make ten suppers. Then, of course, they have to spend the night because they can't drive after drinking. They then always forget their shampoo, lotion and whatever else they have thought to forget. Last year my sister forgot her new winter coat. Hope she forgets her car next time!

    One sister brings me flowers. Hanging baskets, cut flowers or a houseplant. Food for the soul. This does so much positive for my state of mind.

    It is hard to say, not knowing your family, but these are just things that help my life be happy.

  •  You know it is very hard for me now as two years (6+ / 0-)

    ago I was making $250,000 per year and was the one helping family and friends with money. I am now down to selling things on Craigslist and my company is no more. I owe everyone and taxes. My wife is fighting breast cancer and we may lose our insurance soon. House may be next. I do not know what the answer is but I do have a job offer to work for another company. My wife had to put off new bridge work and is now having a tooth pulled instead. I will survive though and keep on. There are many people out there worse off than me.

    "I want my fair share, and that's all of it" - Charles Koch

    by nancat357 on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 07:32:21 PM PDT

  •  Hi, and thanks for your generous attitude. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cai, Rizzo, Odysseus, sockpuppet

    I would like to offer 2 thoughts.

    1)Micro-loans to third-world women through a number of good sites and organizations. Your money will go a lot further
    over there, and micro-loans have an excellent re-payment history so your money will keep doing good.

    2)To specifically help your relatives I wonder if you could use your brains and follow-through, to start a home-business that they could pitch into. You have skills and cash, but cannot cover all their bills, indefinitely.

    Instead if you could be the catalyst for an ongoing set-up that could use their skills ... they could cover their own bills. You would need to set up a business that breaks even, or at worst loses a little bit, after all payroll is covered; and that would allow them to pay basic bills even with their diminishing skills.

    Then if you pitch the idea to them of "needing help with this new venture"and offering good, but fair, payment, they have no reason to resent joining in the new family business--especially if they don't have to acknowledge that it really is designed as a work program. .

  •  I was born (3+ / 0-)

    into a seemingly rich situation- dad was Yale Prof & we lived in a great old white house in CT.

    But it was mortgaged to the hilt.

    Then, he ran off with a 'coed' & left for good.

    In those days, my mom could have sued him into the ground, but she was to proud. She made him promise to pay for my college someday;  but he never did.

    We moved to the inner city, and lived in poverty.

    After a lot of struggle I did OK though for a long time, like 'top 10%' or so until business & I finally went down in 2008; I will never recover.

    I say give it all away, except what you & your family really absolutely need, you do need to take care of them to some extent in this crazy world.

    If everyone did this, there would be no problem. But, since they don't - give it to those least likely to squander it in 10 days.

  •  Stay involved and do what you can. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My family was very poor when I was growing up.  I qualified for free school lunches, we were on food stamps at times.  I didn't and don't understand all of the interpersonal extended family dynamics which grew out of that.

    My own career has had several ups and downs.  In the last decade, my income has varied by a factor of 10.  That is not an exaggeration.  In 2007-2009, during the worst of the economic downturn, I was unemployed for 9 months, and spent most of two years living in my 2% brother's guest bedroom.

    I have diaried in the past one thing that I do to help some of my less wealthy family members.  I don't know if your family would see this as intrusive or not.  Nationally, only about 20% of people who qualify take advantage of this, and that fact angers me.

    My 2% brother has also paid for two years of community college tuition for my sister.  The certificate that she earned she has never used, but other factors in her life got her a much better job.  He considers this a success for kindling a life change, she considers it a failure because it was "wasted money".  Sometimes you just can't tell people anything.

    -7.75 -4.67

    "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

    There are no Christians in foxholes.

    by Odysseus on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 07:02:26 AM PDT

  •  I am relatively well off in spite of my (3+ / 0-)

    home equity having gone up in smoke. I have a good pension and my retirement savings is out of the market and earning a decent rate.

    I am the son of a woman who waited on tables for most of her working life. My father abandoned us and never provided financial help. Our economic situation was dire at times but improved each of the two times my mother remarried, not to rich men but to decent wage earners.

    I owe much to the kindness of strangers both as individuals and in the form various government programs such as food stamps and, perhaps above all, PUBLIC EDUCATION. Teachers kept me from going off the rails at many junctures in my life. Blessings be upon them.

    You provided at least a partial answer to your own question. Helping people with specific amounts for specific needs such as attending a graduation, buying food, fixing a car seems a good way to go. Obviously you don't want to enable destructive behavior nor deplete your resources to a point that you render yourself incapable of further assistance.

    Congratulations on your decency. You have a high quality problem, as do I with certain members of my own family.

    The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

    by Wolf10 on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 07:39:36 AM PDT

  •  The struggle never seems to end (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State, sockpuppet

    I worked and worked well until I got disabled but I had been self employed and foolishly didn't pay into Social Security during many earning years.  Then when I got injured, I found that Social Security disability didn't pay enough to live in my home in my town.  I sold my home and moved away to be near the doctor who had me up and about again.  Right now I borrow against the equity in my house to pay my property taxes and put into the optional column things which others consider necessities, like getting dental care. I try for jobs constantly but despite my abilities, so far no one has wanted to hire a woman over sixty five who is recovering from being disabled. My family doesn't help but if they did . . .

    I wouldn't want them providing me with the extras in life.  I need help getting through paying for the basics.  I'd adore getting a gift of fuel or wood in the winter or any of my utility bills paid.  I'd be thrilled if someone picked up the vet bill of getting my dogs annual checkup and shots. A contribution towards my car insurance or homeowners insurance would make me happy.  Money to help me get some of my broken teeth capped would excite me.  I'm not proud but still, I'd be glad to exchange work for the money. Hiring me to do some part time job, from grant writing to editing to pet sitting to organizing or researching getting them help they needed, to researching the best price on something large they are buying -- These are things I can do well that could be meaningful to them and for which any pay they give me would be an enormous help in getting through the year.

    I suspect that one of these days I will find a job.  Heck, I'm running as the Democratic Candidate for County Commissioner here in NH.  Unlike being in the State House, this job pays although not very much, it pays enough to cover my property taxes and allow me to stop borrowing more money from my house. All I need to do now is raise enough money to buy signs and palm cards and convince the electorate that they would rather have me working for them. I do have a good slogan that will fit my sign -- Good Sense Good Values.  Goodness knows I know how to get good value for a dollar and could put that to use saving the taxpayers money while not doing it on the back of working people the way the GOP incumbent does. I also have hopes of the economy improving enough to get another job so I can bank some money to pay taxes when I am older.

    Meanwhile, if someone was to help me out in my daily struggles to hang onto my home, health, and pets -- I'd think they were sent by heaven.

  •  There needs to be some kind of exchange (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm one of those fixed-income, no medical coverage seniors.  While I don't have any relatives with money to spare, I did have a once-dear friend who came into millions (literally - over 5 of them) and my experience with her and her generosity was not a good one.

    It is demeaning to just be given money, no matter how needy one is.  I would offer to do just about anything for her - clean her house, do yard work, mending, sewing, knitting.  But she would never allow it.  What her agenda was, was to be queen and royally dole out cash as she wished.  What she wanted was to be allowed to "rule" those she helped, though she could never acknowledge that.

    Of course, she also isolated herself - built a compound in rural NorCal, fenced herself in, bought guns to protect her property, and so on.  She became addicted to those home shopping networks on TV (never bought a computer or learned about any tech) and worst of all, Faux News.

    All it took to have her remove herself from my life was a conversation suggesting that she might want a wider perspective on the world by adding some other information sources; never suggested she drop the evil junk but just add something a tiny bit more balanced.

    After some forty years of friendship, she dumped me as a friend and moved away.  I don't resent her manipulating her friends, but I do find that "buying" agreement to her agenda was the price for any help I got.

    So, perhaps your relatives would be a little easier with accepting your help if there were things they could do for you that would make it more of an exchange instead of looking for ways to make it charity.  If there are ways you can help anonymously (and maintain your deniability) that may be the best way to go.

  •  I don't know... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I let the babysitter move in with me for 2 years. Got groceries for the ex. loaned my good friend about 5K to help get her out of a bad situation- she won't speak to me any more. Sometimes, I suppose, you just do what needs doing. It seems that only after, do you deal with those things.

    Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

    by postmodernista on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 09:08:50 AM PDT

  •  If I were one of your family (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the best thing you could do for me would be to help me pay some of my past due Property Taxes on my home, to help ensure I don't lose it to foreclosure by the county.

    Or some of the next mortgage payment already past due...

    For those with a home, these are the big dollar bills that keep us on the edge of hopelessness. Luckily for me, my family has been helping me for about four years. One sister paid my taxes three years ago, and my mom helped me this year.

    It was such a relief, after struggling, just as you outline, for years now, to receive that help.

    That's my advice.

    Help them with these big issues when you can. The day to day stuff is always going to be there, and they will muddle through most of the time on those (groceries, gas for the car, etc). But the big bills are what cause sleepless nights and serious stress.

    For those who rent, you might consider asking if you can help them replace a failing car with a new-to-them-but-used car in better shape, so that they can continue to drive to work at the low-paying job they still have.

    If any of that is more than you have or can help them with - next biggest issues are car repairs, home repairs (like water heater), dental problems. Items/issue that cost more than 200 but less than 1500, all of which is out of the range of what many low income folks can afford these days.

    Outside of your family?  Local food banks are in dire need, everywhere across the nation. Homeless and Women's shelters are in the same condition. Needy. You can find the ones in your area by contacting your county Social Services, they'll likely have a list on their website these days.

    Hope this helps.

    * * *
    I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization
    -- SCOTUS Justice O.W. Holmes Jr.
    * * *
    "A Better World is Possible"
    -- #Occupy

    by Angie in WA State on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 10:11:35 AM PDT

  •  I agree with Hunter (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sockpuppet, GreenMother

    Always always make it a gift. Do not expect any return.

    If I had kept most of the money I had earned in this life I might "qualify" as a Republican. I could have had nice clothes, nice cars,  vacations and rides on cruise ships. Instead I've given money where I saw suffering; that being mostly children and according to my belief that its our moral duty to help others.  

    I grew up in bad poverty. There was no indoor plumbing. It was about 30 yards to that wooden building full of flies and we were all thankful when the car started because there was no AAA to come save us. I could easily write a book about those years. I miss the landline, though. Cell phones will never equal old Ma Bell.

    Children have imaginary friends; adults have god.

    by glbTVET on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 10:37:07 AM PDT

    •  It's strange. My family now makes more money than (0+ / 0-)

      my parents ever did. And we are still poor by comparison to the life style of others we know.  We still watch every penny.

      But this is nothing compared to the life I had as a child.

      I don't think that most people know what Middle Class really is, nor what working poor is.

      But that being said, if you can keep your health, you can be happy with fewer material things.

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