DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My son just graduated college and received some cash from our family. His grandparents were very generous, and both sets gave him large gifts. We didn’t give him money, but said we would help him out with a car so he can get to his new job. We figured he would get something modest, but instead he purchased what I consider much more car than he needs, and can ultimately afford. We co-signed on the loan so he could get a better rate than he would have gotten on his own, but now I am thinking we just enabled him to go further into debt. The insurance and loan payments are what it takes him almost two weeks to make at work, and now he and his buddies are hot to get a place of their own, split four ways.
I just worry my son is going to overextend himself and get into trouble. Was I wrong to help him out with the loan? --- ACCIDENTAL ENABLER
DEAR ACCIDENTAL ENABLER: The time to prevent his overbuying has come and gone. Your heart was in the right place, but you might have had some peace of mind steering him toward a more practical purchase. Keep in mind, though, there are also positive ways to enable.
Share some suggestions on how he can economize and budget. Then, step back and let him learn from his mistakes and his successes. It’s up to him to claim them both.