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Ask Dave

Mom Isn't Paying Property Taxes

Kevin says his mother is on the verge of foreclosure for unpaid property taxes. How can he best help her?

QUESTION: Kevin in Texas from says his mother is a poor manager of money and is on the verge of foreclosure for unpaid property taxes. How can he best help her? Dave says Kevin should only help her to the extent that she will help herself.

ANSWER: If she won’t take your advice, she doesn’t get your money. I’m not going to pay her property taxes and her continue to misbehave. Let’s pretend she was doing cocaine. Would you give her money? It’s misbehavior that’s damaging to her life. If you support that, you’re damaging to her life.

Her misbehavior with money is not as egregious as cocaine, but misbehavior is misbehavior. Somehow, with money, we go, "Well, it’s okay..."

What I would do is say, "Mom, if you’ll do these two or three things that are taking you in a positive direction, I will pay part of or all of your property taxes and keep you from losing the home." Let’s say the property taxes are $3,000, and you say, "Well, if you save up $500, I’ll pay the rest. If you get on a budget and go to Financial Peace University, and you start living right."

But if she says, "You don’t have the right to tell me what to do," then I have the right to not give you any money. I do not give money to people who won’t take my advice. I earn the right—by giving you money—to speak advice to you. If it’s none of my business, then your problems are none of my business, and we’ll keep it that way.

Sound harsh? It’s not harsh. It’s loving people well. Somehow, we want to split these things apart where you can tell me you’ll take my stuff from me and continue to be stupid, but I can’t say anything about you continuing to be stupid. That’s crazy.