Hi there all! New year, new member! I am writing for advice on how best to help my young adult son navigate his way out of $4,000 worth of credit card debt.  If you have been , or know someone who has been in this situation, what strategy worked for you/them? What do you all feel about debt consolidation loans? We really need help directing him as the stress of this debt is causing him some major anxiety and panic attacks. Any suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated!

Original Post

I would advise NOT to get a loan consolidation product. Until you’ve learned not to use credit cards, I’ve seen folks get “one easy payment” then six months later, cards are maxed out. Lock up or cut up credit cards, then figure out how much you can put towards the card payments. Keep up with the payments until they are paid off. Start with the smallest balance and pay them off one by one.  

I have been in that situation and I can tell you what DIDN'T work: loaning your money to help your son, co-signing any type of loan, or just flat paying off the debt.  The reason those things did not work in my case was because my adult kid was irresponsible with money and a year or more later he was right back into another debt mess.

I finally just had to cut the rope. It took some hard knocks before he straightened out.  It's a very hard thing to do, I kept thinking about his credit rating and his future when he married and raised a family......how it would haunt him for years.  And it did, but nothing I did solved his real problem of overspending.  If you get into co-signing, you'll be jeopardizing your own credit rating and funds.

So your answer, I believe, starts with why your son cannot get out of debt and if is he responsible in managing money. 

Can he work and/or get a 2nd job?  Can he liquidate "things" to help pay off the debt? 

 

 

Unfortunately I have been in his situation and even worse at that. It was 6500 on a charged off/delinquent account. If his is in the same status (charge off/deliquent) your best bet is just to take whatever settlement they offer. If its still an active account then he needs to make some cuts in his lifestyle and pay substantially more than his minimum. A consolidation loan is an option but I would advice you against cosigning or helping in anyway other than advice and guidance. It's a tough lesson to learn but it'll get him out of that "I can pay it back later" mentality. If you help him financially he'll get himself into the same situation within a year. Nothing has taught me more about financial responsibly than having my credit ruined and being broke paying rent plus a 950 dollar a month settlement. I got myself into trouble at 18 and like I said it absolutely wrecked my credit for a time (540s) now I'm 23 with a 690 credit score and multiple cards I hard ever use. He wont truly understand how important it is to pay your bills until he wants a new car and they want 18% or he wants to move out and they want a 1500 dollar deposit. I know it's probably not the answer you were looking for but speaking  as a young kid that did the same thing the best way you can help him is by not helping him.

 

Sean, congratulations for working forward and getting your credit score up! You're the best reply, having been in the same shoes as the poster's son. There is only one way out....and you took it! 

Last edited by mintjulep

Thank you Joelle, MintJulep and Sean.  Your answers all have a consistent thread: He has to do it himself.  I guess my role becomes being his advisor, cheerleader and shoulder to cry on.  It is hard to watch, no doubt.  He is genuinely struggling, both emotionally and physically. That is the hardest part for this mama bear to watch. I have gotten him to come clean about his debt and asked some hard questions about his spending.  I am working with him on creating a budget and advised him to liquidate some of his belongings and to put the $ earned directly in to his CC with the least balance. 

Anyway, thank you all for taking the time to share your advice with me. I truly appreciate it. And Sean, it is actually a blessing that you learned this lesson so young. Good for you! =-)

PS, wishing you well and your son also.  It is very hard to watch...Mama Bear here too! You know your son better than anyone and it's really all up to him and hope he accepts your coaching and advice!

 

$4000 isn't really a lot of money. He needs to communicate with the companies he owes money to and explain his situation. Then he needs to do whatever it takes to get it paid off ASAP. You don't need to take care of his debt for him. The School of Hard Knocks is the best way to learn a lesson. (Unfortunately)

I agree, it is not a huge amount to me either. But to him?  Enormous. The temptation is there to just cover it for him, but you all are right...he needs to do this himself. Thanks for taking the time to reply. 

AnnieB posted:

Would he get fired up listening to Dave Ramsey or his daughter Rachel Cruze?

I dunno! I'll suggest it~  We are open to anything sensible! Thanks =-)

I may have missed it, but is he over 21? Does he have a job? If he still lives at home and gets a part time or full time job, that he takes home $500/month. He can drop all of that on this debt. I had to teach my son a very hard lesson.  My son was doing his residency at a hospital. He spent the weekend with friends about 100 miles from the hospital. He put on his lab coat and stethoscope and began to drive 123 mph on the interstate. He got stopped, before he could have killed himself or others. The State Trooper gave him the max $ amount possible and let him go on to the hospital. Since he was under 26, I also was notified. (His car had military I d tags) I ordered the UGLIEST custom Converse high top sneakers! Pink, zebra, day glow green, orange laces, purple bottoms. Something everyone would notice. I drove to the hospital and found him. I gave him the sneakers and took his car keys and the car home with me. He had to walk everyplace for ONE YEAR!!! I can tell you he has never had a ticket or accident to date!  Sometimes the toughest love is harder on the parent than the child. I hope he can get this paid off soon, learn that quick cash is also very expensive cash and avoids debt in the future. 

As parents it is our job to prepare our children for adulthood and let them find their purpose in life. All the prep work we do we hope has meaning and that it is carried out with actions that come back to their upbringing. That being said, you did the right thing and let him deal with the repercussions, you can advise only when he is ready to listen.

@REDCATCEC

It is interesting, isn't it? We teach our children to the very best of our ability, lead by example to model responsible behavior every single day and yet, as you say, they need to be ready to receive the message. It is tricky because they have the missing piece: free will.  I have two sons. You've heard about the one and his journey with credit cards. The other son has an opposite "problem", if you will: he won't use the one card he has because he doesn't believe in using money before it is earned. He has one card that has never had any charges made, which can be problematic for building good credit in the opposite way: How can the banks know if you are fiscally responsible if you never give them any data from which to draw conclusions? So, yes, I agree, it is my job as a parent to prepare them for the twists and turns in life an I have tried my level best to do that. That being said, as the old adage goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. 

 

I'm in this situation now, partly due to the high-paying job I had disappearing right after I took out a loan to pay for a vacation.  I'm working two jobs and throwing what I can at my debt.  I used a credit counseling service to deal with one card and the other one I'm paying all the money from my side hustle--let's just say if you can find steady work writing can be very lucrative, but get your contract in writing!

Anyway, getting into debt is easy, but getting out takes some hard knocks and hard work.  Here's my rule of purchases: calculate how many hours you have to work to afford your purchase.  When you think you have to wash dishes in a hotel for three hours to afford a pizza you're less likely to order the pizza.

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