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My mom’s spending habits put strain on family budget

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a part-time worker in my 40s, and I’m worried about my mother’s spending habits.

I live with my mother and my son, who is a primary school student. She lives on a pension. As my income is also unstable, we live a precarious life. In spite of that, she buys things without planning, straining our family budget.

When I buy something, she nags me about what I bought and where I bought it.

As I work, I sometimes ask her to go shopping for me and hand her a shopping list. However, she also buys things that are not on the list and afterward demands I pay her the money she paid for them. She uses nearly ¥5,000 each time she goes out. After a few days, she says she wants to go to the supermarket again. Is she a shopaholic?

I pay most of the shopping costs. When I warn her about her shopping and other matters, she just gets angry and says: “I won’t shop for you any more. Do it yourself.”

Our bank account has dwindled to almost nothing. What should I do?

A, Nagano Prefecture

Dear Ms. A:

It seems you are really worried about your mother’s spending habits. However, I feel there is still plenty of room for you to discuss the matter. Your mother complains a lot about your shopping, but she herself wastes money. So, first point out this contradiction and start the discussion by saying, “I also won’t waste money, so please stop wasting money.”

Next, you wrote that you are worried as she demands you pay back the money she wastes. Don’t pay the money by giving in to such pressure. First of all, your mother seems to not be aware her family is so badly off. So show her your bankbook to let her know the balance of the account and tell her gravely, “We can only use a really small amount of money each day.” If she says, “Then, I won’t go shopping for you,” it’s an opportunity for you. Tell her, “Fine, then I won’t ask you anymore.” As there are many convenient ways to buy food, such as online shopping and home-delivery service, you can use them.

I have one more thing to tell you. Don’t just corner her about all this. Be kind to her sometimes, saying things like: “If we save up some money, we can all dine out together once in a while. To do that, let’s stop wasting money, all right?”

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from July 21, 2015, issue)Speech

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