Dear Penny: Are We Jerks if We Don’t Pay $600 for My In-Laws’ Housecleaning?

Dear Penny,

My husband’s parents have always expected their adult children to pay their way for restaurants and vacations, and whenever they need or want something that they don’t want to purchase. My father-in-law says his kids can afford it because they all have better jobs than he had, but he never paid for college for any of his four children.

The in-laws have mismanaged their money for years. My father-in-law plays golf four or five days a week whenever able, and my mother-in-law likes to make unnecessary purchases on home decor, etc. They both also seem to have a prescription drug problem that nobody wants to address.

The newest thing has been trying to get the kids to go in on gifts for them. My husband and I have helped pay for a new kitchen floor, rocking chairs for both of them, a week at a condo, etc. My sister-in -law and brother-in-law are wanting us to go in on a cleaning service for the next 12 months because they cannot keep up with their cleaning. The cost is $50 per month per family, or $600 per year.

Our oldest son is in college, and we are paying upward of $20,000 for his tuition. We also have out-of-network health care costs from my son’s recent hospitalization while he was away at school. We have not yet received a bill for the Hospitalization. My younger son will be starting college in a year and a half, and we are worried about coming up with that money, plus inflation.

How can we get out of these joint gifts now and in the future? One of my husband’s siblings is a millionaire, and another is in a higher tax bracket than we are. Help!


Dear M.,

Don’t make this about how much you and your husband are struggling compared to his siblings. Or about your in-laws’ poor decisions. You and your husband can’t afford to keep giving his parents money. end your support

This will be a tough limit to set without your husband’s support. Generally, I think it’s best when each spouse takes the lead…

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