Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Vacation Cabin

Every week, Danny M. Lavery and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: the vacation cabin.

Nicole Cliffe: I think this person has to decide which things make them happy and do them with a good grace and then refuse to do the things they feel annoyed by. And when they are not doing shit that annoys them, they will probably have a better relationship with their siblings.

Daniel Lavery: I’m right there with you

Nicole Cliffe: Buy the cabin and rent it out!

Daniel Lavery: Don’t buy the cabin!!

Nicole Cliffe: And pick like two weeks a summer for your siblings

Daniel Lavery: I definitely think they should not buy the cabin

also, what are liquid funds?

Nicole Cliffe: lol Danny

Daniel Lavery: I know that’s like, an expression I could expect to hear on Succession

and people say things like “I’m not liquid right now”

but then my mind just goes hazy and silver

Nicole Cliffe: They sound like they ENJOY helping their parents, and by buying the cabin they are giving their parents actual money.

While still letting their parents enjoy and use the cabin in the next few years.

Daniel Lavery: my thought there was that it was self-defeating

Nicole Cliffe: And they do want their own kids to get to build those memories.

Daniel Lavery: like, they want to be LESS financially entangled with their family

and then they also want to buy a family cabin

my thought was, if you want to give your parents money, give them money

if you want to find a vacation home for your kids, do that

if you want to buy something to rent it out, do that

but trying to combine them all in one, when you already feel frustrated with your siblings’ expectations, is a bad idea

Nicole Cliffe: They clearly delineate between their parents and their siblings. And they want THIS property because of the happy memories

Daniel Lavery: i mean, sure??

but you can make memories in a lot of places

and there are a lot of cabins in the world

i just don’t think you could buy THIS cabin without signing up for a lot more of the kind of conversations with the siblings that you say you want to avoid

and i think it would mean the “ramen-yelling” conversation would become inevitable

Nicole Cliffe: They probably cannot both give their parents a cabin amount of money AND purchase a different property.

Daniel Lavery: yeah, I agree

which strikes me as fine!

like, pick one

Nicole Cliffe: I think it’s smart to say “you get two weeks a year, siblings, trash the cabin once and you get nothing.” And then stop having all these MEALS.

Like, each meal infuriates them

Daniel Lavery: yeah absolutely stop doing these dinners

Nicole Cliffe: bc it’s the sense of being mooched and not the scale

Daniel Lavery: or if you otherwise like them, start having people host dinners at their own homes and do a potluck thing?

but you need to say no calmly and politely first before you go to ramen-yelling

Nicole Cliffe: that is way less fraught


Daniel Lavery: my main goal is to help this LW never yell about ramen

Nicole Cliffe: yes agreed

Daniel Lavery: because that will not make any of your siblings magically rich

Nicole Cliffe: no more of that

Daniel Lavery: it will not get you what you want

Nicole Cliffe: absolutely not

Daniel Lavery: and then everyone will be mad at you

but yeah, just say “I can’t make the dinner next month” if you don’t want to go

I still think they shouldn’t buy their parents the cabin, but if they DO decide to, your advice is the way to go

Nicole Cliffe: I think that buying the cabin is the smartest way to meaningfully help the parents while also obtaining an appreciating asset

from which they will also be making money on an ongoing basis

Daniel Lavery: but just like…you can safely assume, I think, that your siblings will think you’re being stuck-up and you’ll have to deal with some avoidable fallout

Nicole Cliffe: I will not give up on the cabin!

Daniel Lavery: i still don’t know what liquid funds are, Nicole!!!

will you please tell me

Nicole Cliffe: Yes

It’s literally just money

A house is illiquid, you cannot use it to buy Pop-Tarts

Remember on the Simpsons?

Daniel Lavery: “Money can be exchanged!!!

for goods and/or services!!!”

THANK YOU for putting it in terms i can understand


Daniel Lavery: wait, then so the claim that they want to buy the cabin to give their parents more liquid funds….

if a house is a solid…

Nicole Cliffe: They will be obtaining an illiquid property, in exchange for giving their parents liquid funds, but they are transforming the cabin into a producer of liquid funds by renting it out

While still owning it as an asset

Daniel Lavery: *terrified, baffled* “I see. I am learning and retaining this information.”

Nicole Cliffe: Now, depending on upkeep and so on, it will require them to put some of the rental money into the extra wear and tear of having random people in it.

But that’s the way it works

It’s still a smart financial play.

Daniel Lavery: also, I mean, we have to imagine that for the short-term at least, any sort of rental income is going to be very ???

Nicole Cliffe: Yes.

Daniel Lavery: given that no one is doing a lot of non-essential travel this month

so some of this might be moot at this point

Nicole Cliffe: But also their parents may be really in need of liquidity right now

Daniel Lavery: it IS important to drink water

Nicole Cliffe: and have limited time to obtain money before they become too old

Daniel Lavery: (I’m sorry)

Nicole Cliffe: and I suspect their parents will accept a good but below market offer to keep it a place they can still go

so even if you have meh rental income; you also will not need to be constantly cleaning it and using a cut potato to pick up broken glasses

Daniel Lavery: a WHAT

Nicole Cliffe: Oh, it’s the only way

For the little shreds.

Cut a potato in half and smoosh it on the shards

Then throw out the potato

My friend and I tried to do this drunk once after a party with an onion bc we did not have a potato: it does not work

Cut the potato lengthwise for more surface area for the glass shards

Stop yelling about ramen


I’m so upset about this

Nicole Cliffe: bc they’re so cheap, Danny

Daniel Lavery: you rubbed a CUT ONION ON THE FLOOR also, I love this

Nicole Cliffe: and emergency room visits are expensive

Daniel Lavery: that smell must have been powerful for days

Nicole Cliffe: I really did!

Daniel Lavery: but a broom! or a damp towel!

or a vacuum cleaner!

Nicole Cliffe: You will shred the innards of your vacuum!

Daniel Lavery: oh

i’m learning so much today

about sharpness

and liquidity

Nicole Cliffe: A broom will hide pieces in itself

Daniel Lavery: that sounds like an Emily Dickinson poem!

Nicole Cliffe: What a beautiful day


Daniel Lavery: “A broom—will hide pieces—in Itself.”

I think we have been as helpful to this letter-writer as we are going to be

Nicole Cliffe: I agree. BUY THE CABIN.

Daniel Lavery: DON’T BUY IT!!! your parents can have one house and still be fine

Nicole Cliffe: I knew the Simpsons line would work.