Anyone support their parents or in-laws?

DW’s parents are immigrants who escaped war and arrived to USA in a leaky boat. They are uneducated, don’t speak fluent English and worked the past couple decades in a factory making barely above minimum wage. If not for them, DW would obviously not be here. I married DW with the full understanding that we would help out her parents financially.

Last year our AGI after maxing out 401ks was about 200k. We are able to max out Roth IRAs, fund our kid’s 529 and also have some leftover for a taxable account. The in-laws live in a home owned by DW, and pay the mortgage, utilities, and basic living expenses. We pay for their monthly cell phone plan, monthly gym membership, any unexpected emergencies (a new phone every few years, boiler broke, vet bill for their dog, etc). Anytime we go out to eat, we pay the whole bill. They used to drive clunkers that would break down all the time, so DW gave in and helped buy them each buy new vehicles while we still drive 10 year old cars. We pay for family vacations (flights are free with CC points but the food/lodging can get expensive). I’d estimate we give them 15-20k per year.

I know a lot of people would say “cut them off” or send them to a nursing home when they’re older, but our culture is not like that and it’s not like we’re struggling. I just look at my colleagues sometimes and wonder “what if” when I see that they drive luxury vehicles, live in new construction homes, have plans to retire early, etc.

I was wondering if anyone was in the same situation?


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My hat’s off to you. The only support I give my in-laws is responding politely when they ask a question. :joy:


Well, the answer is yes. Mostly just my time though at this point. What you described is quite typical for immigrant family.

right now I don’t qualify to have my mom as a dependent but that may change in the future if she no longer can live independently.

I work with bunch of frugal engineers. some of them are native but pull themselves out of the project so I have nothing to complain about.


Cool, glad to hear it’s typical.

I’m not sure what you mean by the last comment about engineers?

I think it’s probably typical and certainly commendable to support your parents, but it’s up to you to set the limits and standards of support. I wouldn’t support brand new feature phones (get it used after a year for half price, or get a new good-enough non-feature phone, and I wouldn’t change them unless they broke down). I wouldn’t buy brand new cars either. I’d also add them as player3&4 (and/or 5&6) in the account bonus or ms game – let them earn their own travel points and extra spending cash. As far as gym membership goes, plenty of people don’t use their memberships even if they pay for it themselves, and I’d think it’'s even worse if someone else pays for it.


Yes, but on a much smaller scale. I think you are being a good husband.

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This seems backwards. When helping out family, I’d assume it would be in the form of a home to live in or other basic expenses (and that’s done while grumbling about how they blew all their own money on new cars and phones and eating out). So I think you’re actually in a better situation than most, you aren’t being guilted into providing the support under the threat of homelessness or starvation.


The new phone and monthly bill are actually not too bad. We got them a $200 mid range phone (MIL kept the old one for 6 years) and added to our prepaid group plan which was $20/more per month. The new cars were a bit of a shock to me. However her parents probably won’t be driving much longer so these would be the last vehicles they’d own. The gym membership is at the YMCA for $33/mo and I do call every few months to ask if she uses it, and she does! We have thought about opening credit cards in their names and pooling together our CC points. I’m not sure if they would qualify for the big signup bonuses, but worth a shot.

Thank you very much.

Yes I’ve read many horror stories on Reddit about stories like that, I’m sure the situation could be much worse. I should feel fortunate that her parents are covering their basic living expenses and we are providing them with a higher quality of life because we are able to.


Sounds like DW is the breadwinner and/or the decider! :wink:

I grew up with family that helped each other out, but on a much, much smaller scale. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, so I can relate to that part.

In my family, if someone couldn’t live independently for one reason or other (sometimes health-related), they lived with someone else. They didn’t get to live in a house paid for by others. (I know you said they pay the mortgage/utilities, etc. But your wife still owns it and if they became unable to pay, it would fall back on her.) Paying for a broken boiler is your wife’s responsibility, as they aren’t the owners, but effectively just tenants.

My grandfather subsidized his mother and step-father’s weekly groceries, but they never knew it. They couldn’t get out for grocery shopping, so he’d bring them what groceries they asked for. When they asked how much it was, he always under-quoted the real cost. They wouldn’t have stood for it if they had known he was paying for even a small part of their food.

New cars? No, they’d get someone else’s old car for free when that person decided to get a new car for themselves. I’m concerned about your wording, “so DW gave in”. Is she being pressured by them to keep buying them things? Wouldn’t used cars have been sufficient? For that matter, how about one car? If they don’t work, do they each need their own car, when they can’t afford to buy it themselves?

Everyone paid their own phone bills. Adding your in-laws to your group plan is fine, but can’t they afford $20 per month? We’ve always used prepaid phone plans and it’s never cost us $20 per month. I just bought a new phone last month - $119 plus tax.

A monthly gym membership is a luxury, not a necessity, IMO, especially if someone else is footing the bill. They can’t afford to pay for their phone and the monthly cost, but they can afford to feed and care for a dog, except for the vet bills. I like animals, but they are also luxuries when you can’t afford to pay for your own basic expenses.

How often are you footing the entire restaurant bill? Do you and your wife ever go out by yourselves? Family vacations? Growing up, many of my relatives had enough just trying to manage putting food on the table and keeping a roof (usually rentals) over their heads. I heard about vacations from my friends, whose families could afford to take them (or maybe not, maybe they went into debt). But it was a luxury I didn’t get to experience until adulthood when I could afford to pay for my own. Do you and your wife ever go on a vacation without them?

The problem with you paying for all this stuff for them, many of which are luxuries and not necessities, is that now they’ve come to expect it. And they’re getting nicer stuff than you are! Why are you driving 10 year old cars when they get new ones? Maybe worse, is that they’re not learning to manage money. They want something, you or your wife pay for it. You’re experiencing the consequences, not them. You’re putting their welfare ahead of your own. And it sounds like you’re starting to resent it, and understandably so.

If you’re still inclined to help, it’d almost be better to cut them an annual check that they have to learn to budget with. Then they can’t keep running to your wife asking her to keep buying them stuff. You can live your own lives and so can they. You can get together when you want to, but are not obligated to.

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To me it sounds like he’s bragging a little about what he’s doing for his family, not resenting it.

Many people would choose to put family members up than having them live with them, nothing wrong with that, especially if you already have a second house. It could even be beneficial to have someone at the house in case something goes wrong, again, if you have the second house already.

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I didn’t think he was bragging, but maybe I’m wrong. The last part of his post was about seeing others having nicer things than they have and wondering what it would be like not to “have to” support his in-laws.

There is a difference between helping out vs. the high level of financial support his in-laws are getting. It appears as though the in-laws have it better than the OP does: free phones, free meals, free vacations, free brand new cars, free monthly gym membership.

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What he’s doing is not really high level financial support. The stuff he’s paying for fit the category of “gifts” much more so than “support”. The in-laws appear to be supporting themselves, he even benefits from the equity gained from paying down the mortgage.

I’d feel like a cheap jerk “billing” my parents $20/month for the extra line on my phone plan.

OP - quick question: When going out to eat or on vacation, who is making the plans, and who is inviting who to go along?

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What counts is that the OP appears to feel like he’s “supporting” his in-laws, hence the thread title. Forget the $20 phone bill. I disagree that they’re supporting themselves sufficiently if they had to rely on their daughter to buy 2 cars. It sounds like the OP only heard about that after the fact, which is another issue entirely. A decent used car I could understand, considering OP/DW cars are 10 years old. The wording from OP (gave in) implies that his in-laws pressured DW for the new cars and wouldn’t settle for less.

Maybe all of this $15K to $20K didn’t happen overnight, but has been escalating over the years. That’s a lot of helping out, IMO. $20 monthly phone, $33 gym membership, is only $53 per month. A new phone every few years and the occasional vet bill doesn’t account for all the rest. Expenses related to the home (broken boiler, property taxes, basic repairs/maintenance/remodeling) that’s in the wife’s name shouldn’t be counted either. They’d have to pay that if they lived there or had other tenants.

Forget money for a moment. Who wants to go on vacations and eat meals out with their in-laws/parents so frequently? It appears as though OP’s wife is as much still “married” to her parents as her husband, maybe more so.

And OP is considering having them open up credit cards in their names? Who is going to pay those bills?

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I wouldnt be sure that the “$15-$20k” includes the mortgage debt being paid down on their behalf, which could easily offset half that amount.

And thus the question posed to OP, as to who initiates the vacations and dinners out. It’d be one thing if the parents are suggesting they all go to Florida for a week, then expecting OP to pay for it all. But something altogether different if he (him and DW) is making the plans and extending the invitations. In fact, there’s nothing saying that the parents pressure them into paying for any of these things at all. Even the cars, where the parents drove clunkers for year - “giving in” could simply mean they (she) got sick of watching mom and dad refuse to buy something more reliable on their own.

You are right in implying this may be more of a conflict between husband and wife, than between husband and in-laws.

I find it commendable, as long as you don’t feel pressured or taken advantage of.

As others have mentioned, the big thing that stands out is new cars for them, while you and your wife are driving older models. I’ve never even bought myself a new car and doubt I ever will because it’s generally a poor financial decision.

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It’d be nice to know what is included in that amount. OP may be confused as to what is their responsibility regarding the house his wife owns vs. what is his in-laws responsibility.

That looks to me as if the in-laws are paying most of their own living expenses, assuming groceries, clothing, car insurance, etc. are included in basic living expenses. If so, I’d say they’re mostly self-sufficient.

A broken boiler (or any other major repairs in the home) shouldn’t be the in-laws responsibility. OP shouldn’t include that in the $15K - $20K given annually. I can’t imagine how many “emergencies” (non-health related anyway) can occur every year.

I’d like for the OP to answer your questions as well, @glitch99. Maybe I’ve misunderstood the tone of the OP, but I got the impression he is starting to feel pressured, perhaps taken advantage of, in ways he couldn’t have anticipated when he originally agreed

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Seems typical to me too. We’re financially supporting my family back home but the needs are more modest due to cost of living. We pay their flight tickets home and back about twice a year. All in all only about $5k/yr.

The only thing that stands out in OP’s description is the purchase of new cars. If it does not make financial sense for me to have newer cars (ours are 12 and 18 yr old), I don’t see how I’d justify those expenses for anyone I support in my family (or my in-laws but they don’t need it fortunately). Cars are more reliable now so you can find gently used ones that will serve them well for a fraction of the cost of a new one (and also save you on insurance).

It also depends on circumstances and personalities of the family. If they act entitled to unconditional support that’s gonna go a lot less smoothly than if they are understanding of your own goals and respect your life decisions and are ready to compromise on the support your give them.

Personally, I feel bad for my husband for the support I have to provide to my family. Even though it was something that we discussed and saw the need coming from way back, I still regularly seek approval and even ask for ways to reduce the burden on our family. If DH was not 100% on board with it, I’d likely find a side gig to pay for it out of MY money. But either way I’m always sure to keep the subject as transparent as possible about our feelings on it. So for OP, if this is causing some minor crisis, I’d start the discussion on what you two can do about it to reach a compromise where everyone is satisfied.

Btw, kudos to you for having the patience to take your in-laws on vacation with you. I don’t think I could do the same for very long before an unforeseeable tragic accident strikes them and suddenly eases my financial burden…:innocent:

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This is the one thing that sounds out. Not only do you buy them NEW vehicles while you yourself drive 10 year old cars but you buy them EACH a new vehicle.

Why do they both need their own car ? ? Thats an unnecessary luxury for poor people. If they’re borderline destitute and depending on their kids for support they can probably get by OK sharing a car with their spouse.

Or if they have a legitimate need for 2 cars then should be OK enough with 1 new and dependable car and one clunker backup.