Warning---this post is a bit lengthy.

About two years ago, my aunt lost her job at a large international company. She had spent her entire career at this company, putting in nearly 30 years. Despite this she was let go, along with almost every other person in the company whose full retirement benefits were about to accrue. She is part of an unlawful termination class action suit currently pending against the company.

Here is the problem: This aunt is living with my parents, and has been since a few months after she lost her job. She invited herself (literally--she called my mother from the airport and said she was due to arrive in 5 hours for what my mother thought was a visit) to come live with them when her home went into foreclosure. My mother has always felt sorry for her sister, who wanted a husband and family for much of her life, but also wanted to climb the corporate ladder. My aunt made it pretty far within the company, but dedicated so much of her prime childbearing years to working that when she was finally willing to take having a family off the backburner, she found it very difficult to find an appropriate mate who wanted children in his 40s. She never did find the right one, and her window closed on having children.

Because of this, my mother feels especially guilty that she has a wonderful husband and children and my aunt, now ousted from the company she loved so much, has no one other than my mother. After enough weeks had passed that it was clear my aunt was not visiting but instead now living in my parents' home, my mother never asked her to leave (saying she "doesn't have the heart to do it.").

The issue is my aunt's lifestyle. As a single woman with a high-six-figure income, she was accustomed to many years of vacationing in expensive places, buying designer clothes, living in an exclusive gated community, driving a nice car, etc. She unfortunately did not save much of her money over the years. Obviously much of her lifestyle has been ratcheted down, but there are still things she insists are indispensable. Among these things are a membership to a yoga studio ($250 a month), top-of-the-line groceries (EVERYTHING organic, grass-fed and so on), and weekly trips to the salon. She constantly says "a woman must look and feel her best to be her best." My aunt tells my mother that she has gone without for so long because of the kids and now that we are grown and out of the house, my mother needs to "take better care of herself" and join her in these indulgences. The kicker is, my mother is not only "taking care of herself" now, but my aunt as well since my aunt is not working and has no savings left. Yes, there are TWO $250 a month yoga studio memberships, TWO sets of top-of-the-line groceries (I recently saw a receipt for $387 for what appeared to be about a week's worth of groceries and my jaw about dropped), TWO weekly trips to a pricey salon, and so on. This is not even counting the cell phone bill and other things they pay for on my aunt's behalf. My parents own a small business and while they are comfortable, they do NOT have the money to keep up the lifestyle my aunt has now brought into the house, especially since they are looking to retire in the next five years.

I think my mother is enjoying the feeling of indulging herself, as she and my father sacrificed a lot to provide for me and my three siblings. She also feels bad for my aunt. The combination of these two things has changed her for the worse (my mother had always been a frugal, pragmatic person). Two years ago, my mother would have balked at spending $3,000 a person for a week-long "cleansing retreat" at some fancy spa. Now, she has no problem booking such a trip for her and her sister, saying she is "worth it."

My father, meanwhile, is about to lose his mind. My aunt claims she will be moving out once her lawsuit wraps up and she gets her settlement money, but the lawsuit is dragging on. Her attorney says it could be five or more years before this thing plays out. My mother becomes extremely upset and defensive if my father tries to talk to her about asking my aunt to leave or curbing the spending. My dad demanded that she get a job and contribute, which she did--- she got a job working as an AT&T customer service operator, but quit after two weeks because it was "demeaning" and "draining her soul." My dad offered her a job at my parents' business, but she quit after a few days because she found working there to be "counterproductive". I don't know what she meant by that, but whatever.

Recently, my father came to me in exasperation and confided that my mother's spending has burned through their checking account, burned through their "rainy day" savings, and is about to begin dipping into their retirement fund. They simply cannot afford for this to go on much longer, but my father has no idea what to do. I certainly have no idea what to tell him. He has said that if this goes on for another year, he is going to withdraw half of the retirement money, and go live by himself. I know he does not want to--- he wants things to go back to the way they were. He loves my mother very much and just wants their old life back. Does anyone have any ideas on how to stop this train from running off the tracks? Can anyone explain why the heck my mother would work so hard for so many years only to blow it all right before she gets to the finish line? My mother isn't a stupid woman--- she is well aware that what she is doing is endangering her financial future. Help! Please. My family needs it.