Tinsel, Tantrums, Travels & Taking It All In. More Kids, Clients & Chaos…

Holiday stress is killing me this year. Seriously. My son’s big gift this year was new tires for his truck. Generally when one of our adult kids or grandkids want something expensive it’s a Christmas gift. Twelve hundred dollars in tires bumped Robbie into the “Merry Christmas” realm.

My son rarely asks me for anything and reminds me all of the time that he “isn’t like Leigh Ann or Stephaney.” He’s right. His wife’s Jeep needs new tires too but I’m planning on bumping my husband into a Grand Cherokee and gifting Cindy his vehicle so putting new tires on the truck for Robbie and Jeep for his wife will be their “big gifts” this year.

Leigh Ann’s big gift was Cindy and I sending money to cover Christmas gifts for her family and flying her and Maddy home for 6 weeks. But the list keeps growing out in sunny California for the Blais family. Leigh Ann and Alex are brand loyal. They like the best. Nike for Alex and with Leigh Ann, only the best will do. Teaching adult children budgeting continues from Fort Worth.

Last night while explaining to a client who had been referred to me by William and David a couple filmed for the sizzle reel, Texas Twins TV by Taillight about 6 years ago, my niece, Leigh Ann sent me a text asking to “PayPal her.”

Teaching our adult children the merits of budgeting and planning continues to be yet another escapade in futility. Leigh Ann is a spender. Leigh Ann loves $80 nails and $150 eyelashes. Leigh Ann needs to stop asking Cindy and I to PayPal her but Leigh Ann knows how to play us and has Cindy’s login so she PayPal’s herself regularly while Cindy gets an email notification from PayPal pertaining to the transaction. Last week Leigh Ann sent PayPal payments to herself for over $400 from Cindy’s account. Ugh. Cindy needs to say no and set limits. Wendy doesn’t give anyone her login. Cindy sends me a text because apparently Leigh Ann is texting her too. “I’m not sending her anymore money this month. She needs to budget. Who needs expensive false eyelashes and elaborate nails to run around Point Hueneme? She isn’t filming.” I agree but send Leigh Ann $50 anyway to avoid another argument between Cindy and Leigh Ann.

The referral from William and Richard is unique because this couple specifically “don’t want a legal marriage ceremony.” I already know why. One or both people are on SS Disability or SS.

I explain the option of a Unification or Commitment Ceremony which isn’t a legally binding type of ceremony. These ceremonies are similar to a marriage ceremony in many ways except there is no marriage license. There is no filing of a marriage license. There are no legal changes to the status of the couple from single to married. No name changes either.

A few weeks ago, a family friend from some 30 years ago, Scotty Craig contacted me for a similar type of ceremony. “I know you understand family law and stuff and I don’t want Brenda to lose her benefits because she collects on her husbands SS.”

Scotty was right to concern himself about the disadvantages of a legal marriage. We are planning his ceremony in the Spring.

Many people are unaware of what they are giving up by marrying because they are unaware they are giving anything up. Marriage is also the #1 cause of sexually transmitted debt. Merging finances can be a slippery slope if you have no idea of your partners finances. Ask questions. Get answers.

My son consistently barks about Leigh Ann being the “spoiled” eldest child between Cindy and I. It’s an ongoing argument that my son lights into on a regular basis. “She didn’t even more away from home until she was in her 30’s. Why does she always have the latest electronics, cars and best of everything? Because Leigh Ann has never had to budget. I live in a new house and drive a nice truck but it isn’t new because I have bills to pay. I budget my household. Leigh Ann plays you and Aunt Cindy all of the time and needs to pay her own way.”

Before moving to Point Hueneme, Leigh Ann traded in her Volkswagen for an SUV. She didn’t ask me to negotiate the deal. The Volkswagen had the negative balance of the previous car she traded rolled into the balance. The latest suv had the negative balance of the previous vehicle and the Volkswagen rolled in on the payments of the new suv. I had instructed her to pay off the debt of the first suv and Volkswagen but she didn’t listen. I advised her that a high car payment would pose a hardship but she didn’t listen. The end result is 6 years of car payments at nearly $750 a month. Cindy and I both advised Leigh Ann after this latest car purchase that “we aren’t going to make the payments. We told you not to buy a new car and you didn’t listen. Experience is a great teacher. Don’t miss a payment.”

To date we have not and have no plans to cover an unnecessary and high car payment. Leigh Ann is most likely broke all the time because of that car payment, her shopping obsession and her love of glamor.

By the time I got off the phone regarding the Unification Ceremony, Leigh Ann was FaceTiming me. This latest “situation” and explanation concerned me as much as the car Leigh Ann shouldn’t have purchased.

“We need a 3 bedroom base house without any stairs. Maddy doesn’t like to play in her room because it’s upstairs. I’m asking to be relocated to a flat with no stairs. We could use the additional space.”

What the? Leigh Ann is always overspending. They have one child, a two bedroom townhome on base within a mile of the ocean and Leigh Ann runs the A/C so much that the Navy is charging them for the additional electricity. I’m alarmed. I also text Cindy about this “latest expense that Leigh Ann and Alex can’t afford.”

Alex is a lay down. “Aunt Wendy the stairs are so hard on her. Moving would make it easier and we would have more space.”

Me “you don’t need more space and Cindy as well as I have two sets of stairs in both of our houses. We are 56 and Cindy has had heart surgery and back surgery. If we can handle the stairs then why can’t Leigh Ann? More space? That means more rent and higher utilities. Listen Alex you didn’t say anything when she bought that brand new suv or continues to over spend month after month but you need to. What’s going to happen when her mom and Aunt Wendy aren’t here to cover these continuing expenses? That $30k car is going to end up costing $60k. You kids need to create a budget and live within your means. You are creating bills you can’t afford to pay. I’m worried about Leigh Ann and these credit cards. You kids do not need credit cards. If you can’t afford to pay cash you don’t need to be buying things. I’m telling you this because we love you but being an adult means being responsible. You guys are parents now and it’s time to start living on a budget and within your means.”

Alex is always committed to “what Leigh Ann wants” or “what makes Leigh Ann happy.” Alex needs to focus on the future and the bills rolling in.

I’m hoping Cindy can talk Leigh Ann out of moving to a 3 bedroom flat on base. My words fell on deaf ears.

I’m writing this blog sitting in my suv at the racetrack in a Cresson, Texas waiting on a Pawning Planners Client who is running late today.

The client wants to trade “driving experiences in luxury cars for Christmas gifts” in exchange for a wedding/baptism ceremony in December. He bought 2 passes on Groupon. Cindy’s husband as well as mine love cars and I’m thinking a driving experience would be fun for them. The groom wants to be baptized at the wedding as he’s marrying into a deeply religious family.

I look at lots driving out here. I’m always looking at or for lots. My husband is a builder and developer. Lots are getting hard to find. 8 homes sold in November at McBee and while there are folks unaware of this, builders are experiencing rising costs and shortages of lumber and materials as well as lots.

My husband always looking ahead recently told me “we can’t keep up. The appraisals aren’t factoring in the rising cost of materials. We are running out of lots. Keep your eyes open.” I had spotted lots off 377 but at $200k each and in the deep country the developer is crazy.

Finding lots under $100k is now like finding a needle in a haystack. I call him about the lots off 377. He tells me “we’ve got two houses nearly finished in Willow Park. Drainage is and continues to be an issue at a few of these lots I’m seeing in Parker and Palo Pinto.”

My husband is a drainage king that consistently looks around at lots and evaluates the “drainage situation.” If I had a nickel for every time my husband mentioned a “drainage issue,” I would be rich by now.

My client brings his fiancée and we discuss the details. They want to marry at the racetrack where they met. An impromptu pot luck type of celebration.

I go over what they need to borrow from my inventory. “How many bridesmaids? Groomsmen? Mother and father of the bride? Number of guests? I need a number to evaluate the number of people at each table and take a look at the centerpieces I have in stock to loan you for the event.”

They are both surprised that I have an keep an extensive inventory. The only thing they need to do is show up. I even have veils for my bride who is shocked at the cost. “I’ve been looking for a veil but they are a couple hundred dollars and we need to save money for the baby.” My bride is pregnant.

Her fiancée had planned to rent a venue and have a wedding with a $5k budget but wage cuts and his fiancées pregnancy are why we decided to flip their booking to a barter.

My niece, Stephaney calls me. “Are you taking me grocery shopping today? I need to pick up a few things.”

Arriving back in Fort Worth, I run by Chateau At Forest Park to take photos of the River behind it to send to a photographer for another event coming up. I advised him ahead of time “the lighting inside the building is an issue. The best photos are outdoors and behind the venue rather than inside of it.”

The photographer is traveling from Georgia and appreciates my insight. He can’t run over and check it out and Leigh Ann can’t handle the photography because she’s booked in Dallas.

My clients are using a family member and “hobby photographer” from Georgia who is volunteering. I am always leery of hobbyists because weddings are life events and because if they don’t have at least a few nice photos the couple will be really disappointed. It’s great to have a volunteer but volunteers aren’t professionals.

I can’t tell you the number of times a volunteer officiant has screwed up a wedding because they had no idea what they were signing up for. I’ve remarried people over and over again who thought they were married because they chose to trust a neighbor, relative or family friend to marry them for years now.

Conducting a ceremony involves far more than just showing up. Hire a professional.

Arriving at the group home, Stephaney us waiting for me outside. I ask if she’s hungry and head to Whataburger. I have a list of Christmas items for a holiday party I’m needing to pick up. I order a Diet Coke and get upset that Stephaney is drinking out of my drink. I’m weird about this drinking after me stuff for valid reasons.

It was a Diet Coke that a schoolmate took a drink out of when I was 15 that caused me to contract mononucleosis and nearly die to to my spleen nearly exploding. My father wouldn’t take me to the hospital until I couldn’t walk. By the time he did take me, I was so ill that for the next 6 months I couldn’t attend school. I lost 78 lbs. I was so weak that it took two years to recover.

I don’t drink after anyone other than Cindy. I never have since that mono incident. I throw my drink out. Stephaney knows how weird I am about drinking after anyone. Everyone knows. I’m a freak about it. I am completely uncomfortable about drinking after other people.

Stephaney has no idea that after throwing our my drink that I’m about to explain finances to her but I am. She like Leigh Ann throws numerous items into the shopping cart without a care of the cost because Cindy or I are always paying.

I decide to wait to broach this subject until I’m on BlueTooth with Cindy back in my suv.

I call Cindy and say “we need to discuss Stephaney’s loss of work hours due to the last relapse and hospitalization. She now is two weeks pay short on rent for December. We just paid November. We cannot continue to pay her rent and buy cigarettes, food and other luxury items such as nails and wine or beer.”

Cindy is thinking. She didn’t want to bring this financial conversation up so I (as usual) do it for her. She asks “what do you have to pitch in on the rent?” Stephaney responds “I have $37 on my work card but Aunt Wendy said you guys aren’t buying my cigarettes and are only buying my groceries so I need the $37 for cigarettes.”

I pointed out that “buying cigarettes, food and paying your rent isn’t going to continue. You need to work and pay your own bills. Two weeks ago prior to your latest relapse, we spent $82 on a manicure and pedicure for you. Such things are luxuries and you need to focus on necessities. Beer, wine, cigarettes and luxury items are now at your own expense.”

Stephaney like Leigh Ann loves coffin nails. These elaborate mail designs are expensive. Last night on FaceTime, Leigh Ann showed me that one of her nails had fallen off and said she needs her nails done.

I said “you don’t need elaborate fingernails Leigh Ann. They are outside of your budget. I just sent you $50 to get your oil changed. I’m not going to send you another $75 to get your nails done. Budget. Learn to budget.”

Stephaney had apparently “snuck a forty” into my cart at Walmart that she pulls out in my suv. I tell her “you cannot open that in my vehicle. I told you no beer, wine, cigarettes or nail appointments. You cannot afford luxuries and I’m not going to pay for them. Your mom isn’t either. Listen I cannot stress this enough- you and your sister are going to have to reel it in on spending your moms and my money. We are going to reel it in for you if you don’t. My sons wife doesn’t have elaborate nails and eyelashes. She works but budgets things such as dining out and quit smoking to save money. Getting her nails done is a treat rather than an expectation. We aren’t your husbands. If you want to live beyond your means get a second job.”

Rather than this conversation sinking in, my niece turns to me and says “I want a car.”

What the?! My husband and I have already decided to give Cindy his Nissan Rogue for Christmas. My husband and I buy new cars every two years or when one of our vehicles hits 75k miles. We don’t trade in our other cars. We pass them into the family instead.

A few years ago, we gave Cindy’s husband, Steve my husbands Toyota Tundra when we bought the Rogue.

One of Cindy’s twin granddaughters, Maryssa can drive Cindy’s ten year old Outlander.

My ex husband gave my son his truck when he bought a new truck last year. Matthew and I always pass down our vehicles. My ex husband does too. When he gave my son his truck, the deal was that my son give his Jetta to my ex husbands girlfriends daughter, Brianna.

One of the many reasons Cindy was upset about Leigh Ann getting a brand new car is that Cindy or I are sending her money all of the time and Cindy drives a ten year old car. Think about it.

If Cindy is driving an old car to keep from having the expense of new car payments then she certainly isn’t going to make Leigh Ann’s car payments.

My husband and I don’t make car payments. We pay cash for vehicles and have for 12 years now. When we buy new cars whoever in the family needs our other car the most gets it. We’ve done this many years now.

BUT giving Stephaney my husbands Rogue rather than my sister isn’t even a fleeting consideration. Cindy deserves to have Matthew’s car. She shuttles Maryssa and Makenna to work and school. The twins are getting their drivers licenses and we need to work on getting them into cars. The insurance on twin 16 year olds will be expensive. I don’t want Cindy driving the Outlander to a prison to meet a client hundreds of miles from here. The Outlander is too old and has too many miles. It’s perfect for Maryssa to drive to work and school though. Makenna wants a coupe styled car and she’s willing to work and save up for the down payment. Maryssa is a slender. She doesn’t want to buy a car when she can drive the Outlander for free.

Stephaney needs to work two jobs and buy her own car.

Apparently, Stephaney has been counting on my husband buying a new car this year and passing his Rogue to her? Why? I have no idea.

I’m consistently baffled by the assumptions of my nieces. CONSISTENTLY.

Me “we are giving your mom the Rogue. She’s been driving the Outlander for ten years. She’s put nearly 250k miles on it. It’s time to get her into a newer vehicle. She doesn’t like the Sahara’s. They are too hard for her to get in and out of with her back problems. She will like the Rogue it sits lower and is closer to the Outlander in size and style.”

My niece is apparently already jumping ahead about the Outlander and says “well I will take moms Outlander.”

I tell her “no you won’t. Makenna has saved up for a down payment and doesn’t want to share a car with Maryssa. Maryssa will drive the Outlander. Listen we’ve bought you car after car after car and it’s time for you to pay for your own car. We already buy you a monthly bus pass and it’s nearly $90 on top of your rent, your food, your cigarettes, your nails and clothing. I’ve got a wake up call for you and it’s if you want it-work for it. We are also going to be paying car insurance on not one but TWO 16 year olds. I know you have no idea what it costs to raise twins but I can certainly enlighten you. Braces alone were $12k.”

Stephaney like Leigh Ann have always viewed Cindy and I as the bank. Breaking them out of this expectation is going to take a lot of effort AND patience. But I’m committed in a wake up call with both of them after this pandemic.

Who needs eyelashes and exotic nails to sit at home in quarantine in California? Leigh Ann does. Ugh.

I drive Stephaney to go unload all of the things I’ve bought at three stores. She wants me to drop her off at the park near the group home to drink the beer she slipped into my shopping cart. I’m not happy about this but what can I do? While driving there she calls someone to ask about buying weed. I’m lit up like a Christmas tree about this.

To say my tinsel was tangled is an understatement. She knows I’m lit too BUT has the blatant audacity to ask if I will drive her to a street I’ve never heard of. The answer is absolutely not.

My patience with Stephaney continues to be tested over and over again. I’m shocked when she asks “why not?”

Grinding my teeth and wishing my niece would get it together or listen to me or both I say “because I’m having lunch with my husband and then I’m meeting a client and I will never ever under any circumstances whatsoever drive you to some strangers house to buy weed. I can’t even believe you would expect me to. Do you have any respect for me, your mother or the consistent sacrifices we make for you? Are you unaware that we have limits?”

Stephaney decides to “pitch” a tote the note car. “Well if you and mom would put a down payment on a tote the note car you wouldn’t have to buy my bus passes anymore and I could drive myself to the weed man’s house.”

My niece is a narcissist. She is always thinking of herself. What she wants. What she needs. Maybe all addicts are narcissistic.

Maybe these “all about me” types of people never give a second thought to others or recognize that sacrificing to get what you want is reality. I just shake my head. “If you want something you need to work for it. No one owes you anything. Not your mom. Not me. You are an adult. You and Leigh Ann both need to budget and fit your expectations into your budgets. After December your mom and I won’t be paying your rent. You will. You will also be buying your own groceries and bus pass. If you want your nails done or new work shoes, you can pay for those too. I will not give you cash. Your mom won’t either. You need to be applying at jobs and working two jobs to earn money and to stay out of trouble. We cannot watch you every second. I don’t know how or where you met the person you just called but you need to lose his number. I’m serious that if you relapse one more time we are both joining the rest of the family and turning our backs on you. Dead serious. Why do you need a beer? Why do you need weed? Why can’t you go through the day sober like other people? I’m out here trying to help you and you always want beer or wine and now weed? Come on.”

Stephaney gets out and walks towards the convenience store drinking that forty. My heart hurts driving away. She could have been anything. She is still so beautiful and yet I cannot make her realize and recognize that she’s throwing her life away drinking forties and smoking pot or worse. I can’t. Cindy can’t. We don’t want her to have a car. Anytime she’s had one she had easier access to relapse. We certainly aren’t going to continue to keep paying the bills for Leigh Ann or Stephaney.

Leigh Ann is 35. Stephaney is 33. They are both old enough to budget and while Leigh Ann is a shopaholic and Stephaney has cost her mother and I tens of thousands for rehab (something my son and Leigh Ann constantly remind us of) we must close our checkbooks. This pandemic has taught me that. It’s taught Cindy too. We are both lucky our husbands were able to continue working. We are both lucky both of our husbands can finally draw their Social Security while working after 50 plus years of paying into Social Security. We are both lucky that revising bookings and being creative kept us working throughout this pandemic. Our husbands are nearly 70. They won’t be working forever.

Cutting the expenses of Leigh Ann and Stephaney is going to be a wake up call but it’s a call that’s been coming for a long time now.

Maryssa is upset that taxes will be taken out of her paycheck. They should teach teens in school about taxes and Social Security. Young kids think it’s “free money” for seniors. The truth is that it isn’t.

Maryssa is learning that and not liking it. She’s been working 3 days now.

Makenna has been working 3 months. She knows about deductions and taxes. Like Maryssa, Makenna doesn’t understand why so many taxes are taken out.

Trying to explain to the twins how much Matthew and I pay into taxes only confuses them even more.

Schools need to bring back home economics and add in classes for life skills that teens can use.

I’m as usual depressed about Stephaney not being concerned about paying her own rent among other things but it’s time. It’s time for my nieces to understand why my son gets so upset about both of them being entitled and unrealistic. The chaos and competition continues among our adult kids ya all.

I’m on the road again this week and hope Stephaney gets put back on the schedule at work. She doesn’t care that she’s missed two weeks. People that don’t pay their own bills are never aware of the sacrifices the people who are paying them make…