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Cher, Teacher
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 90
Experience:  Extensive Experience working with Children/Teens; M.A. Teacher/Tutor 40+ yrs.; Parent of 2
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How do I help my son be more responsible for his money

Customer Reply

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
My son is 20 years old and lives at home. He went to college for 1 year and never even went to class. He has a full time job now but overspends. He maxed out his credit cards and bounces checks and get major bank charges. He doesn''t pay his credit card bills so he has bank charges every month for that also. He won''t pay his loan payments. He spends his money on things like gas, cigarettes, and he gets to the point where he feels he can''t get ahead so why try. My husband trys to help him out by putting money in his checking account to pay some bills, he just keeps writing checks and overspending his checking account. He just doesn''t seem to want to try to get ahead. We just don''t know what to do.
Expert:  Cher replied 9 years ago.

The first thing I would recommend is that your husband stops putting money in your son's checking account. Your husband is being an 'enabler'--enabling your son to continue going on as he is, NOT having to take responsibility for his actions, nor pay the consequences.

Since your son is no longer a 'minor', at age 20, he and only he, is responsible for his unbridled spending and delinquencies with bank accounts, loans, and credit card payments, unless you or your husband is on his checking account title and/or credit cards. If you are, remove your names immediately.

Since your son does have a full time job now, he has to start saving money and also paying his debts. If he lives at home, you'll have to treat him like when he was a child, and work with a 'rewards and penalties' program, and tell him if he doesn't reign in his spending and start paying his debts, you won't cook, clean, etc. for him, around the house.   

Ask him to sign a 'contract', you write up, promising to deposit a certain amount of every paycheck into a savings account, to give him some financial stability, and use the rest to start paying down his debts. He'll have to deprive himself of any 'extras' which are not necessities. Gas is a necessity, so he can get to work, and cigarettes are an addiction, so unless he's willing to quit, he can develop severe physical affects if he stops cold turkey, so you can't really take away the cigarettes suddenly. Talking him into quitting, is another battle, which you can tackle down the line.

Praise him and try to raise his self-confidence, by telling him how bright he is and how well he does his job, and encourage him to feel like he CAN get ahead, if he seeks out better employment, which will pay better, and then he can more easily pay his debts. He can see a 'career counselor', who can help him identify his areas of strength, and then look for a better job, utilizing those skills.

I also recommend seeking some professional help for your son, like consulting a psychologist or therapist, to help him identify the cause of his low self-esteem and out of control spending, plus not feeling obligated to pay off his own debts.

I hope things begin to improve soon, but realize this might take a while, so patience will be important.