How do I get my son to be financially responsible?

By Dave Ramsey

How do I get my son to be responsible?

Dear Dave,

I have an 18-year-old son at home who recently told me that he’s not too sure he’s going to go to college. All he wants to do now is make money and party?he’s not too sure about school.

I tried to approach him asking if he was going to be responsible enough to make his money work for him and he just stands there with a blank stare. He was pretty good with money until he was about 14, but not now. I’ve also got a 10-year-old daughter and I’m starting to see her attitude about money be the same way.

I also have to tell you that my son hangs out with my nephew who received a huge inheritance when his father passed away, so he sees this nephew buying and doing all of this stuff. I’ve tried to explain to my son that that’s not how it’s going to happen in our family and I want him to be in a lot better position than I am now. I’m just now starting to get on my feet financially.

How do you talk to your child about financial responsibility when all he has on his mind is work and party?


Phoenix, Ariz.

Dear Lauren,

To start with, at 18 you’re not really dealing with a child because he has control of his life. What we’re dealing with here is trying to convince someone, adult to adult, to be smart when they’re not being smart.

If someone lives in my home, they’re going to behave the way I want them to behave. If they’re not willing to do that, then they’re going to have to live somewhere else. Here’s the deal – I’d tell him, “If you’re not going to take wise counsel, I’m not going to be a part of your stupidity. I love you and I don’t want bad things to happen to you, but the habit patterns you’re forming right now are going to bring you pain and I’m not going to make it easy for you to be stupid.”

This is tough love. If they want to go out there in the world and be a big dog, then go run with the big dogs – but they can rent their own apartment and pay their own bills. If they want to continue to live with me free, here is a list of the things they’re going to do: school, work, save, and give. These are reasonable things that you can expect someone who lives under your roof to do. In your situation, you’re no longer able to influence him and now you’re enabling his stupidity by giving him a comfortable place to be dumb. Another thing you could do is take him and the 10 year old and go serve soup at the mission downtown. Tell them that you’re doing this for two reasons. One is because it’s a great thing to do to help someone. And secondly because this is what your future looks like if you don’t straighten up. You’ve got to have a game plan and partying is not the only game plan. It’s not going to work that way.

You’ve got to decide where to draw some lines, but you’ve got to draw some lines because he doesn’t see any pain coming his way for not listening.


Should I use savings nest egg to pay off mortgages?

Dear Dave,

My wife and I are both retired and living on Social Security and Medicare. We owe about $24,000 on our first mortgage and about $14,000 on our second mortgage. We have sufficient money in IRAs, about $40,000, to pay off both mortgages, but that’s our entire nest egg aside from a small $20,000 annuity and a very small pension from my company. Should we pay off these mortgages?


Orlando, Fla.

Dear Bob,

It sounds like you’re living almost entirely off of Social Insecurity. It’s tempting to pay off this house, but you’ll be sitting there with this paid for house and no money – and that scares me. I think I would pay the house off gradually. I don’t think I’d raid that little bit of a nest egg that you’ve got. If you wrote me and said you had $380,000 in a nest egg, I’d pay off that house in 30 seconds, but this scares me. I don’t want you broke and in a paid for house even though I want everyone debt free. Instead, I’d have a game plan over the next four or five years to pay the house off while I live on less than I earn.


Disclaimer: Questioner’s identities have not been verified by Dave $ays column or this website.


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