Dealing with family issues can be complicated enough, but add money and national publicity about your family feud, and things can get downright ugly and, ultimately, just sad.
I really feel sorry for “30 Rock” funnyman Tracy Morgan and his mother, Alicia Warden. The mother and son clearly have some issues they haven’t worked through. And now Warden has gone public with her disappointment that her famous and reportedly rich son (he supposedly is worth $18 million) won’t help save her home from foreclosure. In an interview with the Vindicator, a daily newspaper serving Youngstown, Ohio, where Morgan’s mother lives, Warden said her monthly mortgage payment is $463, and she owes about $25,000 on the house.
“I called Tracy last March or April to ask him if he would help pay my mortgage,” Warden said in the interview with Guy D’Astolfo. “I never gave him an amount — I just sent him the [billing statement], and he said he would do it. But he never did.”
Morgan responded to his mother’s plight and accusations that he won’t help by releasing a statement that said, in part: “I am saddened that these untrue stories about me have people questioning my commitment to my family. For reasons that are between us, I have not seen my mother in 11 years.”
Morgan reportedly offered his mother, who lost her job last year, $2,000 to help with her debts.
Morgan’s sister, Asia Morgan, has weighed in on the situation, criticizing her brother for not helping their mother and paying off the $25,000 left on the mortgage.
As the New York Daily News reported, Asia Morgan said: ““My mom’s house isn’t extravagant, but it’s her home, Her health is failing. She has diabetes, and her legs are giving out on her. This would be a drop in the bucket for Tracy. She has a son that can do, and she’s done everything that she possibly could for her family.”
Of course there are many opinions about this story posted on various comments sections of in papers or and online sites.
“Tracy Morgan should be ashamed of himself,” one person wrote on The Vindicator’s site.
One E! online reader asked: “Why do the relatives of famous people feel that they are entitled to the money of their famous family member?”
And another said, “The bible says honor thy father and mother it doesn’t say pay their bills!”
Maybe Morgan could throw the first white flag to mend his relationship with his mother by paying off her mortgage if he can afford it.
But here’s my take: We have no idea what happened or is happening in that family. We have no idea how deep the hurt goes for either of them. There are a lot of adult children with financial means who have decided they won’t bail out a family member for good reasons and bad.
So let me ask you to weigh in on that issue and not whether Morgan is right or wrong. This week’s Color of Money Question: Have you been in a situation similar to what’s going down with Morgan and his mother, and if so, what happened? Send your responses to email@example.com. Be sure to include your full name, city and state. Put “Celebrity Cash: Family Feud” in the subject line.
Good Finance Can Lead to Great Romance
This Valentine’s Day you may want to get to know your partner intimately--financially, that is.
Go ahead and have that romantic dinner, but maybe, just maybe, you could also share some stuff about your finances, says Associated Press financial writer Dave Carpenter.
“As a couple, should you risk wrecking the mood by talking about spending and money, on or just before a day dedicated to lovers?” Carpenter asks. “Short answer: Yes!”
Carpenter offers some tips for couples that include:
-- Putting your financial priorities in writing and agree on target spending and saving amounts.
-- Not letting money disagreements with your partner fester.
-- Committing as a couple to building an emergency fund.
These are some good tips. And speaking of having a conversations with your honey, today (Feb. 9) at 7 p.m., AARP will be hosting a “Couples and Social Security” Webinar. Experts will answer questions such as how your Social Security benefit differs if you claim spousal benefits at 62 versus at full retirement age and what you have to do to claim benefits based on an ex-spouse’s record.
The event is free and you don’t have to be an AARP member to participate. Click the link to register.
Is your money tight this Valentine’s Day?
Well, Ehow.com has a list of free things can do to celebrate the holiday without spending a lot or any money. (The site directed the list to men, but we women need to participate in the gifting, too):
-- Leave some love notes. Place several notes for your honey in various places such as on her or his pillow, on the bathroom sink, or car steering wheel.
-- Call her/his favorite radio station and request a romantic song during the person’s drive time to work.
-- Show up at the person’s job with a homemade lunch, along with one a love note.
-- Change the welcome message on your answering machine to an expression of love.
I know many men (and women) may think if they don’t spend money on Valentine’s Day they will look like a miser. But some of the best gifts I’ve gotten from my husband didn’t come from a store or florist, such as the time he wrote me a multi-page letter about all the things he loved about me. I still have that letter.
Obama’s New Housing Refinance Plans
Last week for the Color of Money Question I asked: “What do you think of President Obama’s new plan to help homeowners?”
Obama unveiled a series of proposals to help struggling borrowers reduce their monthly payments and to stem the continuing slide in real estate prices. Administrative officials estimated that the proposal, which requires congressional approval, would cost taxpayers $5 billion to $10 billion. Obama said the cost could be offset by a new tax on the profits of financial firms.
“I really wish the president would discontinue this obvious political pandering,” said David Meier of Dallas. “This is fiscal insanity.”
“Another failed plan idea,” wrote Clelie Arroyo of Reno, Nev.
But Kenneth Ouellette of Randolph, Mass., likes Obama’s plan.
“For several years now we have watched the value of our home plummet like most other Americans, Ouellette said. “We bought it in 2005 at the market high, and have watched other neighbors foreclose and walk away from their homes, only to be snapped up by new buyers and investors at fire sale prices. We feel that it is simply unfair that we have to scramble to cover a $60,000 principle reduction payment to refinance to a lower interest rate. We feel that we have weathered the storm, by not viewing this house as an investment but as our home.”
Ouellette added: “We feel that we are being penalized for our creditworthiness, and this is just another example of the good guys finishing last.”
Christine Taylor of Cheshire, Conn., also hopes the proposals will help struggling homeowners. She wrote: “The homeowners who bought within their means and made better choices on the type of mortgage they took out may still be underwater on their mortgage and may be unable to take advantage of today’s very low interest rates without having to come up with a lot of cash. Why should it just be the gamblers and greedy people who get bailed out?”
--On Wednesday, Feb. 29, I will be moderating The Washington Post’s Behind the Headlines discussion, “Peeling Back the Labels: Black Women in America.” The event will be held on the campus of Howard University in the Armour J. Blackburn University Center, 2397 Sixth Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20059. The program will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is free, but seating is limited. To RSVP, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Panelists include Tricia Bent-Goodley, professor at Howard University; Carla V. James, director of the Disparities Policy Project for Kaiser Permanente; Rahiel Tesfamariam, founder and editorial director of UrbanCusp.com; and Washington Post staff writer Krissah Thompson, who covers national politics.
If you missed my last appearance on ABC’s “The Revolution,” here it is. I talked with my brother about his financial turnaround.
As the financial contributor on the show, I’m looking for people willing to share their money stories. For an upcoming segment, I’m looking for people who are concerned about their parents’ finances. Do your parents have large debts that you’re worried they can’t pay? Are they spending their money on stuff and not saving for their retirement? If you’re interested in being part of the show, e-mail email@example.com, and put “Parents Finance” in the subject line. You can also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “The Revolution” in the subject line.
Tia Lewis contributed to this e-letter.
You are welcome to e-mail comments and questions to email@example.com. Please include your name and hometown; your comments may be used in a future column or newsletter unless otherwise requested.