Lola Rolls
Advice on Life from a Former Sideshow Fat Lady

Swindling Your Own Mother

Posted By on Monday, April 6th, 2020

Dear Lola,

About 10 years ago, my mother gave me a significant amount of cash from her retirement savings for a down payment on a house with the understanding that she would live with me when she retired. I was 25 when all that happened, and a lot has changed since then, not the least of which is that I’m married now and have two small children. The idea of adding my mother to the household is completely overwhelming. Also, my husband and mother don’t really get along that well with each other.

My mother started talking about retirement in the beginning of January, but the whole coronavirus situation has put everything on hold. How can I make good use of this reprieve to convince my mother that she needs to make new plans?

–Five’s a Crowd


Dear Five,

I hope you use this reprieve to make arrangements to pay your mother back the money she foolishly gave you from her retirement. You say that her living with you is no longer a good option because of how your life has changed in the last 10 years. That’s fair enough, but, if you aren’t going to honor your original deal with her, i.e. a lump sum of cash in exchange for future housing, then you need to return those funds plus the interest she would have earned. This house you bought using her money must have a fair amount of equity in it, and you are now, presumably, part of a two-income household, so certainly you are able to pay her back.

And you need to be willing to do so as well. Honestly, I was shocked that your letter made no mention of reimbursing your mother. Had she been more level-headed and less trusting of her self-centered offspring, she would have made sure to have her name put on the deed to the house. She didn’t though. I generally shy away from pronouncements of absolute right and wrong, but, in this case, I can say that you would be wrong in the extreme if you didn’t repay your mother or, in the alternative, allow her to live with you as originally planned. In essence, you would be bilking an elderly lady out of her savings – the lowest sort of scam there is. Don’t do that. Don’t be that person.

Do the right thing.


Barbara Boehm Miller
Fiction Writer and Creator of the Character, Lola Rolls

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