Monday, February 18, 2019

My Quarterly Blog Update: What's Up with Mom

That seems to be about the frequency I'm posting with lately! I really appreciate the comments from longtime readers and am glad to know you are still checking in! And it is good to hear from you about how you are doing in your own pursuits of financial stability and independence.

T'Pol, thanks for asking after my Mom. She is actually doing quite well. I invested the money in her two trusts (one revocable trust that is all hers, and one irrevocable trust, where she only gets the income but can't touch the principal) in Vanguard funds and they have been doing well enough to generate over $13,000 of income for my mom in 2018. She has been living on what she still gets from my father's pension, and her social security payments. In 2016 and 2017, she asked me for $5000 from the trust income to pay for other expenses. One year, that included my grandmother's funeral. The other year, she was moving to a new apartment. In 2018, she ended up asking me for two $5000 checks, as she had some expensive dental work. I was a little worried at first that she needed that much more-- it came at a point where she was fantasizing about moving to a larger and much more expensive apartment, and I sent her a slightly stern email querying the amount to make sure she wasn't somehow going behind my back to rent the new apartment. This was in December, and I explained to her that things were generally going well with the trusts but that the markets had just plunged and that we should be careful. I had another conversation with her where I reminded her how stressed out she had been when she was drowning in credit card debt, and that we had things under control now.
I worry that my mom doesn't understand the concept of building up a cushion for emergencies. I'm legally required to report to her on the trusts every year, and I've come up with a nice little template where I paste in a lot of charts and numbers from Vanguard showing what the assets are, how they did, and how much is being paid to her. (I do this by transferring the income from the irrevocable trust into the checking account for the revocable trust, which I also control. When my mom needs money, I write a check from the revocable trust made out to her personally.) My mom always just seems to glaze over on the overall details of the investments and just wants to know "How much did we make? How much more do we have than when we started?" Right now, the value of the trust accounts is over $130,000 more than when we started in 2015 (with about $450,000), and I worry that a number like $130,000 just makes my mom think "woo-hoo, we won the lottery!" So I keep reminding her that the funds go up and down, and that the money has to stretch itself out over quite a few more years, and that the more money we have invested, the more income we make, etc etc.
Some of that sinks in, some doesn't. Even though she is basically spending all her income except for a few thousand dollars of the trust income some years, she was on the verge of signing herself up for an apartment that would have cost her about $900 more a month! She said "oh, I'll just cut back on my budget somewhere," but she doesn't have any big areas she can realistically cut.

So overall, I would say things are pretty good, and we haven't had any fights about money, which is the best thing of all. But I'm always wary of what could go wrong! We are lucky to have the resources we do have, and as long as we are careful with them, everything will be fine.

And I do have more stories to tell, and hope to get around to posting again soon!


T'Pol said...

Thank you for sharing. Trust funds seem to be the working solution for your mom. You are a good daughter, I am telling you. As for me, I am now working as a consultant for a few different projects. I enjoy having so much more time for myself and appreciate the extra income, I am able to earn. Onwards and upwards as you used to say.

Financial Independce said...

Hey, good to hear from you. I thought once retired you will stop blogging. Good to know that you looking after your mom financialy speaking!

Peter K said...

I like your blog and just started my own. I would appreciate some feedback on:

frugal zeitgeist said...

Nice to see you posting again, and I’m glad you are such a good steward of your mom’s assets.

My mom died a few months ago and I miss her very much. She left a generous estate of a little over $1M to be split equally between my sibling and me. I’ve decided that the only thing that will change is that my goal of retiring in six years has gone from probable to definite. Hopefully health insurance will be less of a worry by then: both my partner and I have had some health problems and we need dependable medical coverage in retirement.

Will check in more frequently now that I know you’re posting again, and I’m glad early retirement has worked out so well for you.

BobbyW said...

I think charitable remainder Trusts are going to make a great comeback with tax increases coming. You have a great blog. I just found it.