My parents have been planning to drive out to visit us this summer. Over the phone, my mom admitted that she was planning to pay for their trip by maxing out their home equity loan. This is a bad idea for several reasons – they are close to retirement and should be aiming for zero debt, and often a HELOC is the last line of credit available to you in an emergency and it should be reserved only for emergency use. I was dismayed by this news, and told my mom that a better choice would be to save up for a trip until they could afford it. But she wouldn’t listen.
At the same time, I recently realized that in order to take time off during their visit, I would need to take some unpaid days off from work. This doesn’t align with our goals of aggressively paying off debt and saving up for our wedding. I realized that this trip was going to be a bad financial decision for my entire family, so I sat down and talked to Him about it.
Him had a great idea! He suggested we cancel their visit, and offer to visit my parents during Thanksgiving instead, when we already have time off from work. At the same time, we can accrue some air miles toward our Honeymoon. It’s a better solution for everyone. I pitched the idea to my parents today, not mentioning my opinion of their loan idea, so they would feel as though they were doing us a big favor and wouldn’t be embarassed by their financial situation. They thought it was a great idea! My mom even confessed that she was worried the cost of the trip would “sink” them, but she didn’t want to cancel it and break my heart. She was so relieved when I suggested we re-schedule.
It just goes to show how tightly money and emotions are bound up. Sometimes parents are willing to quietly put themselves in financial jeopardy for the sake of their children. Therefore, it’s important for children to recognize when parents are over-extending themselves and be proactive about protecting them.