My husband works very hard, and he makes $25,000 a year. We’ve got $21,000 in credit card debt, plus ongoing medical bills for our special needs child. Right now, we’re living in an old trailer. My father told us he’s willing to help us pay down some of the debt and get us moved into a house if we’ll attend financial counseling. Do you have any better ideas?
If the money is going to be loan – in other words, if you’re going to have to make payments to your dad – I wouldn’t do it. The borrower is always slave to the lender, even when it’s your parents. If you want family events to feel really strange, have debt to your parents. It twists you up inside, and since it’s YOUR dad we’re talking about, the whole situation will be especially tough on your husband.
Now, if this is going to be a gift with no expectation of re-payment, that’s a little bit different. But I think your dad is right on target with making the money contingent on you guys getting some financial counseling. If you were my child, I’d definitely expect that much AND for you guys to start saving money for the future. That’s only fair.
You two obviously aren’t spoiled little brats running around spending money like there’s no tomorrow. But having a family and raising kids on $25,000 a year would be hard on anyone – even without the credit card and medical bills.
I’d also suggest that your husband map out a plan for improving his earning potential. It would be great if the two of you could sit down together and do this. Give him some support and boost his confidence. Let him know he’s smart, talented and can be anything he wants to be. Help him decide what he wants to be doing three of four years from now and the steps he can take to make it happen.
He’s a hard-working man, Cheryl. But today’s culture doesn’t always reward just hard work. We’re in a knowledge-based economy right now, one where you need to put the brain in gear on a regular basis to really get things done.
Always remember: You make more money when you PLAN to make more money!
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