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    Should I pay off my son's debt?

    I just found out that my son has racked up over $8,000 in credit card debt during the past year. I'm not sure how he opened all the credit cards, but he did. he is past due on his payments and because of the poor credit score this has created a situation where he isn't able to qualify for student loans.

    I saved a college fund for him and he now wants me to use the college fund to pay off the credit card debts. he says that unless the debts get paid off, her will never be able to get loans to go to college so it makes sense to use them this way. I have said that if he doesn't use the money for college, then he won't use the money at all. This has made him very upset.

    Am I being to harsh? Should I help him in this situation since he has seemed to have learned his lesson? The mother in me is torn as what to do.

    #2
    No. What makes you think he has learned his lesson?

    If you bail him out, he will not learn. I know this for a fact because I was a young adult before and I put my parents in the same position. My dad said no, and I cleaned up my debt on my own. Your son will just have to man up and fix his mistakes.

    He can get a federal loan becasue they do not do credit check, so he is not stuck.

    Comment


      #3
      Depending on the interest rates on the cards, he should be able to pay them off in full in 12 months making $700-$750 payments per month.

      If he got a job, and sent every spare nickel toward the CC debt, he could get them paid off in a year. He'd learn a valuable life lesson.

      College will still be there in a year.
      Last edited by Bob B.; 08-26-2013, 06:39 AM. Reason: Re read the OP, and saw that we're talking about multiple cards.

      Comment


        #4
        Nope, I wouldn't touch the college savings fund. $8000 is still manageable debt as a student. You need to work with him to put a plan together to pay it off (get a job?) and use credit more wisely. Treat this as a learning experience.

        If he bought any assets with the card that could be sold for money; force the sale of those items to help repay the debt. If he purchased the equivalent of "hookers and blow" (aka, junk, booze, food, nothing of value) using the card, that's a hard lesson to learn.

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          #5
          I don't think that he will learn a thing if you bail him out. That money is for college. He knew that, and he probably has known that for many years now. It's just too bad that he is upset that you won't give it to him for something other than college.

          I'd go as far as helping him come up with a plan to pay off his credit card debt without touching the college money.
          Brian

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by doris78 View Post
            I just found out that my son has racked up over $8,000 in credit card debt during the past year. I'm not sure how he opened all the credit cards, but he did. he is past due on his payments and because of the poor credit score this has created a situation where he isn't able to qualify for student loans.

            I saved a college fund for him and he now wants me to use the college fund to pay off the credit card debts. he says that unless the debts get paid off, her will never be able to get loans to go to college so it makes sense to use them this way. I have said that if he doesn't use the money for college, then he won't use the money at all. This has made him very upset.

            Am I being to harsh? Should I help him in this situation since he has seemed to have learned his lesson? The mother in me is torn as what to do.
            Let him use his college money for credit card debt, then take out student loans for college? That would just be kicking the can down the road, Mom.

            The younger we are when we figure out we are responsible for our own choices, the better off we are.

            Good luck.

            Comment


              #7
              Is your son under 18 years old?
              "There is some ontological doubt as to whether it may even be possible in principle to nail down these things in the universe we're given to study." --text msg from my kid

              "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." --Frederick Douglass

              Comment


                #8
                Imagine if he was asking you to give him that money so that he could buy DVDs, video games, clothes, sports equipment, music downloads, a new iPhone/iPad/iPad/etc, to go on vacation, buy booze -- whatever college-aged boys buy these days.

                Would you give him the money to buy all that stuff?

                If the answer is yes, then give him the money to pay off his debt. Just remember that the $8,000 debt exists because your son used a credit card to buy a bunch of stuff he couldn't afford. So whether he uses the money you saved to pay off his credit card debt or to buy a bunch of stuff, it doesn't matter because it's all the same.

                If the answer is no, then don't give him the money. More importantly, don't feel bad about not giving it to him. You didn't save that money over all those years so he could blow it on $8,000 worth of crap, did you?

                It's such a cliché, but this really is a teachable moment. Not only did he rack up a lot of debt in presumably a short period of time, but he did it secretly because he knew it was wrong. At some point in everyone's lives they have to learn that there are negative consequences to making the choices that they do. This is your opportunity to not enable your son and allow him to fix his own mistake -- even though (or perhaps especially because) it's a big one.

                His spending habits are outrageous and irresponsible (I mean, what did he BUY for $8,000!?). I can almost guarantee that if you give him the money, he will pay off his credit card and then, in time, charge it right back up again. Why put off buying something until he can afford it when it's so easy to just whip out the credit card? Mom bailed him out once, why wouldn't she do it again?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Since he doesn't appear to have started college yet, can we assume that he is still in high school? What did a high school student find to spend all that money on, hopefully not drugs? As the others have said, this is a teaching/learning moment. You teach him the rules of paying off debt, and he learns why you don't rack up that kind of debt when you have no way to pay it off. He may have to skip college for a couple years while he pays off the debt plus if there was anything tangible left from all these purchases he needs to yard sale or consign them to get money towards paying off half the debt.

                  As to the college fund, so what. It isn't his money, it is your money. Don't give it to him and if he can't get his debts paid off and money saved for college so he can't go, then you have $8000 you can put towards your retirement. He may have royally messed up his young life by having done this and hopefully you weren't turning your back about where stuff was coming from that you would have known he couldn't afford. The only way to avoid this again is do the work of paying it off and it may take along time.
                  Gailete
                  http://www.MoonwishesSewingandCrafts.com

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Bob B. View Post
                    Depending on the interest rates on the cards, he should be able to pay them off in full in 12 months making $700-$750 payments per month.

                    If he got a job, and sent every spare nickel toward the CC debt, he could get them paid off in a year. He'd learn a valuable life lesson.

                    College will still be there in a year.
                    Agree with Bob B's advice 100%. He can work for a year or two to pay off the CC debt, then start college. If you want to be generous and help him out, you could allow him to continue to live at home for very low room & board (but not for free) while he works to pay off the debt. If you want to be REALLY nice and can afford to do so, you could bank what he pays in room & board and apply it towards his college expenses when he starts, or save it until he finishes college and then give it to him to pay first & last month on his own apartment.

                    The fact that he is getting upset at you tells me that he hasn't learned his lesson 100% quite yet.

                    Good luck. I don't envy you.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Quoting this for truth:
                      Originally posted by neatdesign
                      Imagine if he was asking you to give him that money so that he could buy DVDs, video games, clothes, sports equipment, music downloads, a new iPhone/iPad/iPad/etc, to go on vacation, buy booze -- whatever college-aged boys buy these days.

                      Would you give him the money to buy all that stuff?

                      If the answer is yes, then give him the money to pay off his debt. Just remember that the $8,000 debt exists because your son used a credit card to buy a bunch of stuff he couldn't afford. So whether he uses the money you saved to pay off his credit card debt or to buy a bunch of stuff, it doesn't matter because it's all the same.

                      If the answer is no, then don't give him the money. More importantly, don't feel bad about not giving it to him. You didn't save that money over all those years so he could blow it on $8,000 worth of crap, did you?

                      It's such a cliché, but this really is a teachable moment. Not only did he rack up a lot of debt in presumably a short period of time, but he did it secretly because he knew it was wrong. At some point in everyone's lives they have to learn that there are negative consequences to making the choices that they do. This is your opportunity to not enable your son and allow him to fix his own mistake -- even though (or perhaps especially because) it's a big one.

                      His spending habits are outrageous and irresponsible (I mean, what did he BUY for $8,000!?). I can almost guarantee that if you give him the money, he will pay off his credit card and then, in time, charge it right back up again. Why put off buying something until he can afford it when it's so easy to just whip out the credit card? Mom bailed him out once, why wouldn't she do it again?

                      Great post.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Quoting this for truth:
                        Originally posted by neatdesign
                        Imagine if he was asking you to give him that money so that he could buy DVDs, video games, clothes, sports equipment, music downloads, a new iPhone/iPad/iPad/etc, to go on vacation, buy booze -- whatever college-aged boys buy these days.

                        Would you give him the money to buy all that stuff?

                        If the answer is yes, then give him the money to pay off his debt. Just remember that the $8,000 debt exists because your son used a credit card to buy a bunch of stuff he couldn't afford. So whether he uses the money you saved to pay off his credit card debt or to buy a bunch of stuff, it doesn't matter because it's all the same.

                        If the answer is no, then don't give him the money. More importantly, don't feel bad about not giving it to him. You didn't save that money over all those years so he could blow it on $8,000 worth of crap, did you?

                        It's such a cliché, but this really is a teachable moment. Not only did he rack up a lot of debt in presumably a short period of time, but he did it secretly because he knew it was wrong. At some point in everyone's lives they have to learn that there are negative consequences to making the choices that they do. This is your opportunity to not enable your son and allow him to fix his own mistake -- even though (or perhaps especially because) it's a big one.

                        His spending habits are outrageous and irresponsible (I mean, what did he BUY for $8,000!?). I can almost guarantee that if you give him the money, he will pay off his credit card and then, in time, charge it right back up again. Why put off buying something until he can afford it when it's so easy to just whip out the credit card? Mom bailed him out once, why wouldn't she do it again?

                        Great post.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Not too harsh at all, you saved that much for college, not for his irresponsible decisions. I racked up some CC debt when I was younger -- not that much but still -- and if my mom would have offered to bail me out, which she refused to, I would have never learned how to dig myself out and get smart with my money. I'd say teach him a lesson, a hard one, but one that will benefit him for years to come. He can always start college later, and work hard for it. There's absolutely nothing stopping him if he really wants to go.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I really don't think so; he should get a lesson that if he is doing or going against law then he should be punished. Now he did the little further he will do more than this time. So remain him there and let him face that all.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              $8K is a HUGE debt, especially for someone this young. I mean there are families who struggle from month to month and can't rack up this number.

                              I would NOT use the college money for this. He should be happy you saved money for college. I paid mine completely and didn't expect my folks to pay anything for me. So, if he's lucky enough to get support for college, it's his problem to deal with the debt he put himself into.

                              If you are paying for it, it will mean that, whatever he does, you'll cover up. Which is not really OK. If he's gonna have to struggle to pay off for his mistakes, it will teach him a lesson and also make him more responsible. It's great that he's doing it NOW and not when he's 30 with a family to support. This lesson should help him down the road to understand the true value of money and how hard it is to pay off debt. Maybe this will be the only time in his life he'll face this. Better learn a lesson with $8k than $80K down the road.

                              I would discuss matters with him and advise him how to get off this problem. A job would work great and putting most of the earnings towards clearing out the debt. As others said, college can be paid off with other types of loans and, if not possible, the college is still there afterwards.

                              As for the kid being mad that you're 'messing' up his chances to go to college, when he wasted all this money he should have thought he's messing his chances by himself.
                              Personal Finance Blog | Dojo's PF Musings

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