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Dave Says: A Parent's Last Days

Dear Dave,

I need advice on how to handle things where my mom is concerned. She was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) a year ago, and now she wants our family to do things together that we can’t afford. Last summer, we took a trip to Norway, and mom paid half, but it still made things hard on us financially. What can I do?

Emily

Dear Emily,

I’m really sorry to hear about your mom. I know that’s tough on everyone in more than just a financial sense. What you’re facing is very sad, and I understand that you want to spend as much time with her as possible. At the same time, though, you can’t bankrupt your family, either.

I think you need to sit down with her and gently explain that while you love her and want to spend as much time with her as possible, you can’t put your family in financial danger to help her with a bucket list. You have to balance your love for your mom and this awful situation with what’s best for your own household.

Make reasonable decisions on what you can and can’t do with her. Can you stretch yourself to do a few special things? Sure, but stretching is one thing; breaking is another. If she’s leaving you insurance money, you could stretch a little bit, then put that back into your funds later. But don’t go into debt to make these things happen. That will just start a cycle of borrowing that you can’t afford and leave you with a pile of payments later on top of your grief.

Your family has enough to worry about right now. Don’t put a bunch of debt on the list, too. That’s going too far.

God bless you, Emily.

—Dave

* For more financial help visit daveramsey.com.

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