Ask Dave Ramsey Healthy Finance

Dave Says: Advice on dealing with an impulsive son’s debt.

Written by Dave Ramsey

Test his resolve

Dear Dave,

Our son is 27 and he has a good job making $55,000 a year. Recently, we learned he financed an expensive car he’s now upside down on. In addition, he has accumulated over $15,000 in credit card debt. He lives in a small town and only pays $650 a month in rent, but he is asking for money. We taught him about living on a budget and staying out of debt when he was younger, and now it seems he didn’t listen very well. How do you think we should handle this situation?


Dear Bryce,

The first thing I’d advise telling him is that you and his mom aren’t going to whip out the checkbook and make his problems disappear. That may sound harsh, but he had a really good thing going until he messed it up by acting impulsively and irresponsibly with his finances. Nope, I wouldn’t take care of it for him—not at his age. This young man needs to have some skin in the game.

I’d tell him to sell the fancy car and get something way cheaper to drive for a while. I’m talking about a little beater in the $2,000 to $3,000 range. It sounds like he’ll have to get a small loan to cover the difference, but a little car debt is better than a lot of car debt. I’d also advise him to pick up a part-time job nights or weekends until he gets that credit card debt paid off.

In other words, let him wallow in it and worry about things for a while. Then, if he’s willing to accept responsibility for his actions and starts handling money more wisely, you two might help out every so often with a little extra cash on the payments.

But I’d test his resolve first. And I’d want to see proof that he’s learned from his mistakes!


About the author

Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey is a personal money management expert, a national radio personality, and best-selling author of The Total Money Makeover. Ramsey earned his Bachelor of Science in Finance and Real Estate from the University of Tennessee. A frequent speaker around the country at large-scale live events, he has a nationally syndicated talk show, The Dave Ramsey Show.

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