I finished college a couple of years ago, and I have a good job making $65,000 a year. The only debt I have is about $5,000 remaining on a car loan, and I am paying that off as quickly as possible. At the same time, my mom and dad need repairs on their small house, and I am not sure they can afford to fix things. They both work hard, but they don’t make a lot of money. Plus, they have some debt. I have enough saved to pay for fixing their roof, with plenty left over. What do you think about the idea of pausing paying off my car to help them?
You’re a caring young lady with a great heart, who’s also making good money. There’s no reason you can’t do both things. Help your mom and dad with the roof, then turn around and finish knocking out that car payment and re-build your savings. From what you’ve said, it won’t put you in a financial bind, right? I’m really proud of you for wanting to help your folks this way.
I know your mom and dad work hard. And they’re obviously good people to have raised a daughter like you. But I want you to think about one thing. If you make a habit of fixing their lives without them having a hand in fixing their lives, this scenario could become a nightmare for everyone.
I’d go ahead and help them, but the only way I’d do it is if they promise to let you help them address the reasons they don’t have any money—and if they agree to get financial counseling. I can tell you love your mom and dad a lot. And I’m sure they work too hard to be broke. I’m not talking about fussing at them or shaming them, I’m talking about sitting down and having a loving discussion about the issues and what they can do to start making positive financial changes in their lives.
The fact that your folks have worked their entire lives, and can’t come up with money for roof repairs on a small home, tells me something’s wrong. The fact that they don’t have any money is the symptom. The problem is they’ve made poor decisions and mishandled the dollars they earned. Even if you don’t make a lot, you can still have a little cash set aside for emergencies if you manage it well.
Dave Ramsey, a best-selling author, personal finance expert, and host of The Ramsey Show, can be heard by more than 18 million listeners each week.
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