Paying My Dues (Long Entry)

In June of 2008, I was working at a place in New London, CT and living 50 miles away in an overpriced, poorly insulated studio loft apartment. I was driving my beloved 1990 Nissan 240SX. My BMW Hellrot Red, RWD, Silvia-front-ended car that took me two years to find, that I rescued from the dead after some little old lady made an illegal left hand turn, and made me believe in love at first sight. Ahhh, how I miss you.

It wasn’t going to survive the commute, so I began my search for a new commuter car. Wanting to stick with Nissan, I settled on the the vehicle that housed the last of the SR20’s: An Infiniti G20. Via Bank of Dad, I purchased a 1999 5-speed touring model.


    (It is here that I would like to point out that I bought the car with the crack in the front bumper. I did not carelessly run into someone’s tow hitch. I actually know how to drive.)

Sure, it wasn’t red. And no, it wasn’t in perfect condition. And yes, it had a severely underpowered motor for the size and weight of the car, and was FWD. But I liked it, it had super low mileage, power windows, mirrors, and seats, and was going to keep me safe with multiple airbags and ABS.

Anyway, Bank of Dad financed my car for me, interest free with a payment of $100 per month. After tax, title, and everything else that you have to go through when buying an out-of-state car, we decided the final price was $6500. I paid off $1500 right away, and then another $400, and another $1500 in the next six months. I lost my job in January of 2009, and my parents told me that my car payments were suspended until I found work again. I managed to scrape together a few payments of $100 each during the 10 months I was unemployed.

In October of 2009, I found work in a law firm in Hartford, only 14 miles from my home. They also offered me 25% more than my previous analyst job was paying, and it seemed to have a great culture. Because of the money suddenly rolling in, I was able to pay off even more of my car, and six months later, am now left with a balance of $1900.

Here begins my dilemma:

My brother has been living, rent/board-free, in my parents house, since…well, since 2006. Granted, he wasn’t all right upstairs, and there were a lot of ups and downs, and now he’s been doing lots of random odd jobs for people around the community to earn some money, pay his bills, pay off his expenses (DUI lawyers aren’t cheap, you know), but he has no degree, has been rejected from 3 branches of the military, and has generally been a mooch due to his own choices.


My parents and I had screaming, crying, yelling, loud, hysterical fights during the time he was acting out. I felt like the forgotten child. The one that did everything right, graduated college with dual degrees, had a successful relationship, was a victim of the economy and came out on top…I was respectful, thoughtful, caring, and responsible. And what did I get? My belongings were “kicked out of the house” and I had to take my piano out, my storage bins in the basement, and everything else I had ever kept in RI. I was/am even getting kicked off my dad’s car insurance, something I’ve offered to pay for multiple times. (I want to stay on that insurance, and have the car registered to my dad so I can keep my cheaaaaap fleet rate insurance and my RI residence, plates, and license until I’m engaged.)

In an effort to make things more “even” between my brother and I, my parents have decided to forgive the $1900 balance on the car loan. They said they never want one child to feel left out, which is clearly the message I sent to them. I wanted a little leeway with things like car insurance, and missing 15/10,000 family events a year due to racing. They’re considering it a gift, since he’s been there, rent free, and I’ve moved out, found work several times, and have been moving forward with my life. I, however, consider it just short of an insult. And this is where you folks come in.

I am having a ridiculously hard time with this. I want to pay off my car. They keep saying that it’s a gift, and I shouldn’t pay it, and if I am going to keep mailing them checks, they’re either going to write “Return to Sender” or cash them and put the money aside for me for later. I had a long talk with my mom this morning, and she says she does, but I don’t think she quite understands why this is so important to me. Normally, people would say “Wow, almost $2k in debt and you don’t have to pay it back, and it’s just going to go away??? OK! Sign me up!” But I can’t do that. I cannot do that and sleep well at night.

I was thinking maybe it’s because it makes me feel like a mooch. And partially, it makes me feel like I purchased something I can’t afford, even though I’ve made $2200 more in payments than I had to. I don’t want to be like BadFriend, or my brother, or my cousin (or even PJ to some very mild extent) and be living outside of my means in any way. I can finally pay all my bills and my rent in one paycheck, and still eat out a few times a week (Taco Bell counts as eating out), and still race, golf, and live a decently comfortable life with a few toys and lots of fun. I am on my feet, earning and saving money, and I am financially and mentally able to repay my debt to my parents…not to mention that I want to.

They forked over $6500, I paid some of it, my dad just bought a truck, and they are still dealing with my brother living there, eating you out of house and home, putting wear and tear on the vehicle he’s using, and using your electricity, gas, and hot water. Don’t tell me money isn’t tight, and don’t tell me that you couldn’t use the extra few hundred per month. I am the largest proponent of personal responsibility I know, and there is an immense amount of pride in earning my keep. And they’re trying to take it away from me. I know their intentions are good, but I just can’t stand it. It’s making me feel very, very badly about myself.

I don’t understand why they’re so adamant about making things even between my brother and I in this manner, and I don’t understand why they’re not understanding where I’m coming from. This is important to me, and if they really want to even things up, they should talk to me and let’s compromise on a solution (like let me pay for the car, and start paying for insurance, but keep me on your policy). I don’t like this, “Oh, it has to be even, this is what we decided, and we don’t care if you’re having serious personal internal conflicts about it.” It’s never been even…why start now, and why start with something that is adding to my stress and causing me to grind my teeth at night?

Help me sort this through. Rec it to your friends, write a novel in my comments, send me a message or something….just help me a) figure out how to explain this to them, b) figure out how to convince them that this is something I need to do, for my own mental stability, and c) try to understand what the eff is going through their heads. And any other advice you can think of. I am not doing well with this whole thing.



  1. I’m not going to pull punches: I think it’s because they know what needs to be done, but they can’t bring themselves to do it, and this is the way for them to assuage/justify their actions.  Because they can’t kick your brother out on his ass, they swing it the other way by denying you your personal responsibility to make it seem like they’re doing okay by their kids, because then it’s not as if they have to live with taking from one kid and giving to another.  Helping a kid out who refuses to do things for him/herself isn’t really helping, and they’re just enabling your brother’s lame behavior.If they refuse your money, deposit it yourself.  I don’t know them, but I doubt they’d write you a check to give you back the money you gave them.

  2. why don’t you tell/write them everything you wrote here?  Some yoga and/or meditation might be helpful.If they’re still adamant about not taking your money, you can put it in a CD where it can accumulate interest and use it either for yourself or your family if the time comes.  Or you could donate it to a nonprofit towards your spiritual growth, tidings are good to help promote your own wealth as well as help others. 

  3. I agree with @whotakethmycoke – that they’re acting this way to assuage their guilt over treating you poorly and blatantly favoring your brother. I also think that the more you insist, the more stubborn they will become. Guilt makes people stubborn. Even though it isn’t right or fair to you, its what seems right to them. Is it possible that they will perceive any efforts you make to continue to pay them as petulant? Especially in light of the fights you have had in the past? Maybe you could set the money you still feel that you owe them aside? You could use it to do something nice for your parents in the future (like send them on a vacation or get them a really, really nice anniversary gift) or you could use it to pay for something they would have possibly assisted you with financially (like your upcoming wedding)?

  4. :Hugs: I got it! I know what’s goin’ on here. You said it yourself: there is an immense pride in earning your keep and they’re trying to take that away from you. Yes, their intentions ARE good, but they just don’t see (and therefore can’t don’t respect/appreciate your point of view). You can try sitting down with them and explaining your side of the entire situation (or to keep it ‘safe’, just explain the whole thing with finances). You can try telling them that you felt as though you took out a few or so loans and feel as though you NEED to pay them and you feel they are depriving you of that. Or you can try telling them, simply, you feel as though you started something and you feel you NEED to finish it. In your head: You willingly and responsibly step up and pay for your half of what’s important (insurance, bills, etc). Your parents want to ‘help’ you by telling you to forget about the $1900 car loan, which is generous, but pointless seeing as how you paid off most of it anyway and how the hell are they planning on making things ‘equal’ between you and your brother when you’ve done more than your fair share of work and done more than enough and your brother’s done next to nothing (no disrespect to him as I don’t know him the way you do). No wonder your currently stressing soIn their head: They just ‘want what’s best for you’ and do what ‘they’ think is fair/right. They think that they can ‘make things even’ by telling you to forget about the remaining $1900 car loan, which you feel you must pay off. In this respect, they think they’re helping when actually, they’re hurting you. Unfortunately, they don’t understand you position on the issue. Also, they feel your brother needs ‘parental support’, but they don’t want to neglect you. They have good intentions of you and him, but unknown to them, they actually aren’t going about it the right way.My advice to you: All I can offer is that you sit down with them and talk to them. Tell them how you feel about what they’re doing to you mentally and emotionally. You may have done this already, but what I have in mind is that they sit, listen, and not say a word, so they can attempt to take in what you’re saying and how you feel. If this doesn’t work or you feel uncomfortable somehow, I’m sorry. In any case, wishing you luck. Hang in there for as long as you can

  5. You guys are so the best…..I knew I could count on you all to talk some sense into me.@whotakethmycoke – The said they’d cash the checks and put the money aside for me. We’ve had two arguments about it already. I have to go home on Friday night for a baby shower (yeah…Friday night, I’m not thrilled), so I think I’m going to try to talk to my mom again. @Yohkom – I’ve spoken to my parents several times. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to keep the money, it’s that I wouldn’t feel right about it. Money’s tight everywhere…for the most part, I have a small cushion in case something catastrophic happens but I’m pretty much paycheck to paycheck.@MakinzyKrysteen – It’s turned into arguments in the past, so I think “petulant” is putting it lightly. I think your idea of putting it aside and then sending them on a vacation is a superb idea….as for my “upcoming wedding,” someone charged $400 on bogus stuff to PJ’s credit card, so I’m pretty sure that ring won’t be coming any time soon.@KoreaKid87 – I think parents get it into their heads that what they want for their children is always in the child’s best interest, even when said child is 25 and on her own, and has a completely different idea of what’s “best” for her. I suppose I brought it upon myself; I did scream about it and say I felt neglected an unacknowledged, but I didn’t necessarily mean financial breaks. I meant something more along the lines of being TOLD.

  6. I think you sould just keep sending the money though so that in your heart YOU HAVE PAID OFF YOUR DEBT. Now what they do with the money is up to them-you have played your part.Yeah deposit the money directly into their account & don’t send cheques.I understand where you are coming from, its just a mission to get it across to parents who are suffering from guilt. Write them a letter, THIS letter expressing your fustration. Post one, email one to each of your parents…just make sure they get it. After that, leave it. Continue to be responsible & being the sane, smart & rational human being  you are. Now go to the bank & deposit that money. Try to push this insurance money in the letter. However I’m getting my own insurance, I learnt that having stuff under your parents name  can be problematic during an accident cos you have to pay an additional excess when you make your claim, unless you guys don’t have to pay excess in the US. So I’m paying like 2 excesses & thats R7500. Not cool!I’m in a car dilema. As you know I have a tight budget for a car cos I need to replace my last car asap. I found a car with extremely low milage (16 500km), its had one owner, its a 2007 model, powersteering, aircon, central locking & mp3 for R49 900. It doesn’t have airbags. This car is sold by Honda dealers (but its a Tata indica). Then I saw another car that has had 2 owners, its the same car, same features, except it has airbags as well. It is a 2006 model. It however has done 60 500km, it cost R45 000 and its a private sale. The dilema here is do I forfit the airbags & get a car with 16 500km for R49 900 from a reputable dealership? Or do I get a privately owned vehicle, that has done 60 500km, but costs less at R 45 000 & has airbags.Muchas gracias & try not to let your parents & all this give anymore sleepless nights.Cheers sweety!

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