Bail Your Kids Out of Debt? Marry a Slacker? Co-Sign A Loan? – Ellie Kay’s Q&A

Ellie was on ABC NEWS, and others stations across the country again this past week. All the following people who asked questions will get a free copy of The Little Book of Big Savings!

Here’s her answers to your questions:

Q. Our son is only 20 and has $4,000 in credit card debt. He’s not able to pay and wants us to bail him out. I warned him about his credit cards because I made the same mistake when I was in my 20s and he didn’t listen to me. But I feel like a bad parent if I don’t help him out. What do you recommend?

Tim from New Mexico
Submitted via Facebook
ELLIE: Sorry to hear about your son’s decisions, Tim. NO, you should NOT bail him out. It sets a precedence and you’ll have to do it again (or do it for other kids, friends or family members). You can come alongside him and help develop a recovery plan. Or, offer to go with him to a free financial counsling center. Go to my free tools and click onto the section about consumer debt for more help. Your love for your son is unconditional, but your money is conditional. He made his own choices, now he has to deal with the consequences. You’ll support him emotionally, but you won’t fund his mistakes.

Q. Our daughter has a used car that we bought her when she was 18. She’s now 22 and newly graduated with a $30,000 a year job. She has to pay rent, insurance and all her living expenses and wants to buy another car. The one she has now runs just fine, but since she got a new job she wants a new car. However, we would have to cosign on it, what do you think?

Christine Thomason, Minneapolis
Submitted via Facebook
ELLIE: Congrats, Christine! You raised a baby girl who not only graduated from college, but also found a good job right away–well done! Now, the next step is to help her learn delayed gratification. She WANTS a new car, she doesn’t need one. The fact that she needs a co-signer indicates the bank does not consider her a credit worthy risk–neither should you. Instead, encourage her to set aside $350 to $500 per month (whatever her car payment would be) for a year. Then, she can sell her existing car, buy another nice USED car and pay cash. If she saves this way for another year, she can sell the 2nd car for a nicer used car (using her saved cash) and still pay cash. This way, she’s driving her “dream car” for free with NO car payments!
Q. We have two kids that are 14 and 16 and are on competitive basketball teams. They take a bus two to three times a week to tournaments and other competitions. We have to pay for their meals on the road and they are burning through our cash constantly. They’ll spend $15 or more (each) for a fast food meal and we’re going broke. Is there a way to motivate them to cut back on how much they spend?

Thomas Evers, New York
Submitted via email

ELLIE: Thomas you’ve found yourself in the place where you are getting played by your kids. I know what it’s like, I’ve found myself asking: “How did I get here?” when it comes to my teens running over me with their personal agendas. It’s time to regain your lost ground and be the dad. Tell your kids that you are putting them on a food budget and they will now have $10 (each) to spend on fast food. If they were eating in a nice, sit down restaurant, it would be different. But they’re not. Tell them if $10 is not enough, they can bring a sack lunch on road trips or pay the extra expense with their own money. Either way, they’re not going to starve and you won’t go broke.
Q. Our oldest daughter is suppose to get married in December. She is 24 with a good job and her fiancée is 30, has a degree in electrical engineering but doesn’t really have a job. He drives a truck off and on. It’s spooky, because when I got married, it was a similar situation and we ended up divorcing because I was the main breadwinner and he couldn’t hold a job. I don’t want her to make the same mistake. Do you think a couple has a “right” to know about each other’s finances and attitude toward money and work before they get married?
Donna Michaels from Oklahoma City,
Submitted via blog

ELLIE: History has a way of repeating itself. There are so many red flags in this situation, that you are right to be concerned as a mom. First of all, your daughter needs to go to premarital counseling with her fiancee and stress with the counselor that they want an emphasis on financial issues. If her fiancee will not go, then I think she should postpone the wedding. A couple of facts are clear: he is well educated and underemployed. The reason might be something legitimate like “the economy” and counseling will make that clear. But the other reason could be that he’s unmotivated when it comes to providing a living–in other words, he could be a slacker. So if your daughter wants to be the main breadwinner and face a life of living with a man who is underemployed, then keep the December wedding date. Otherwise, get the wisdom of a third party involved to determine the real reasons for his unemployment.
Please submit your questions and if I answer them in a blog, I’ll send you a free copy of The Little Book of Big Savings!
Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)
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