Etiquette School is in session! > "Why would I want to do that?"

So you want your family of 5 to live with us... for free?

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My sister (the one married to Scammer BIL) called me yesterday.  Her husband has recently acquired an actual job working as a manager for Fast Food Restaurant.  They stopped paying my mom back for her mortgage over a year ago, so my 60 year old mom is now working full time to pay off a new 30 year mortgage on the house she had once paid off years ago.  (BIL convinced her a few years ago to take out 97% of the equity in her house and lend it to him so he could get rich from pyramid schemes.  He lost it all and made his wife stop talking to me when I suggested it wasn't a good idea to do pyramid schemes and maybe he should consider getting a job)

They just had their 3rd kid and still want 3 more.

Recently, after much discussion with DH, I offered to let them stay with us in our basement for a few months, since Fast Food Restaurant he's training at is in our city.  They could pay us $400 a month for food, sister would help cook meals/keep things clean, and we'd call it fair.  Sister offered us $500 a month, but I said 400 was enough.  This was to help them get on their feet; they have little kids and I didn't want them to suffer.  At the time, they didn't say yes or no because they weren't sure which restaurant he'd be a manager at.  She and I did go over a list of 4 weeks' worth of meals at the time because I wanted to make sure we were organized (it would be 10 people in the house!) and that people liked the meals.

Now he's going to start at Fast Food Restaurant in nearby city soon.  She called yesterday and asked if they could still move in.  She then asked if they could bring their fridge, put it in our basement, and have their own meals separate from ours.  I told her their fridge won't even fit down the staircase to the basement.  She said, "Well, maybe my husband can get it to fit."  I asked her why she suddenly wanted to separate the meals. 

Sister:  You guys spend more on food than we're accustomed.  We're fine with Hamburger Helper and tv dinners.

Me:  Those have so much salt in them!  Fresh produce isn't that much more expensive.  Besides, if you guys aren't paying rent or helping with utilities, I hardly think $400 a month is too much.

Sister:  Well, we wanted to do this so we could pay off people faster.   We've been racking our brains trying to think of how to pay people back quickly.

Me:  Who do you need to pay back?

Sister:  Well... mom, of course, and a few of Jim's friends, and our brother.

Me:  You owe brother money??

Sister:  Yeah, but if we do this with you, we can pay him back before he comes home from his mission.

Me:  Okay.  Well, I still think 400 is pretty reasonable for a family of five to cover food, rent, and utilities.

Sister:  Well... um.... could we do 350 instead?

Me:  Maybe.  We'll have to think about it.

She said she had to go and would talk to her husband.  She called me back awhile later.

Sister:  Okay.  I talked to Scammer and he REALLY wants us to do our own meals.  Can we just plug in our fridge outside or something?

Me:  PLUG IN YOUR FRIDGE OUTSIDE OUR HOUSE?  No.  Sister, we've offered to let your family stay with us RENT FREE and without paying utilities.  We have a small kitchen.  You're proposing to use our small kitchen to prepare separate meals from our family during a really chaotic time, without helping out our household expenses at all.  Why would we want to do that???

Sister:  Oh.  Well, I guess we can't live with you, then.

Me:  You're welcome to come under the terms I offered.  It would still save you a ton of money.

Sister:  Scammer really wants to do our own meals.  It's just too much to spend on food.

Me:  (resisting the urge to comment on her kids never getting fresh fruit or anything because they consider it "too expensive") Okay.  I don't think this is really about money, though.

Sister:  Well, he really likes his Hamburger Helper.

I'm dismayed that my sister is still cowed by him, at the expense of her kids.  They live in a tiny basement with no AC.  They're planning on PURCHASING AN RV because their van is breaking down.  They think he can drive that to work instead and maybe some times they'll just live up there near his work.  I told her it was small inside an RV and she said she didn't care about size.  She's got 3 kids - an infant and two toddlers.  They'll care about space, I'm sure.  We live on a dead end right across from a park.  Kumquat has tons of toys, which the kids would play with too (except a few I'd put away because her kids break toys more than play with them).  I really did offer them one hell of a deal.  How much do you want to bed Scammer BIL will now say he can't pay my mom back because I was unhelpful?

Scammer is a control freak and I don't think he wants Sister learning to cook real food without his approval.

Oh, good heavens.

It sounds like you've completely nailed Scammer's character. How long would it be before he started trying to control you too?

So honestly, Glinda, I think you dodged a huge bullet. Once they were actually in your house, it could potentially turn quite horrible.

Why are you trying so hard to get them to live with you? You know it's going to be a nightmare. 

Did you at least draw up a contract/lease? I wouldnt let them step foot in the house without one, based on their past behavior. 

I'm totally confused, after all your posts about this family, why you would allow this ???

Reminds me of my aunt complaining to my mother, "oh, we can only eat fast food because we're so poor, we can't afford to eat like you." My mom was buying groceries with food stamps!

When aunt got back on her feet and started working it was, "we can only eat fast food because we're so busy." Gah! Why couldn't she just admit that she didn't like fruit?!?

GlindaBunny - I'm sorry to hear your sister wouldn't accept the terms, but I think you were right in insisting that they share meals and that no, they cannot bring their fridge. It's too bad they wouldn't accept such a great offer, but really, that was the agreement and you're NOT the "bad guy" by sticking to it.

It sounds like it's for the best if they don't live with you. I cannot see any way - based on what you've posted previously about Scammer BIL - that this wouldn't end badly. You have three children of your own, including one that needs extra care and minimal stress in her environment. As much as you love your sister, you must put the needs of your own family first.

On the food issue, I can see your sister's point. I would also balk at paying for food I did not want, like, or think was worth it's cost no matter how "good" or "healthy" it was. Again, from your previous posts, I know you've got strong feelings about food and nutrition, and you have every right to insist the food rules of your home be followed by anyone living there, but your sister also has a right to feed her family as she sees fit. She seems to recognize that won't happen if she lives with you.


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