My Son is $120k in Debt … and Wants Me to Save Him


Dear Barefoot,

Twelve months ago my wife and I separated, so I am now ‘starting again’. We have nine children, and my eldest son has asked me to go guarantor, or have a joint loan, so he can consolidate his $55,000 credit card debt. He also has two personal loans amounting to about $70,000. He earns about $120,000 a year, and I earn about $100,000 myself. I gave him your book for Xmas but I fear it is not enough. His situation is crushing ‒ what can I do?


Scott's Answer

Hi John

You have nine kids?

That’s very impressive. I have a 66 percent fewer kids than you, and my life resembles the Teletubbies.

Now, with nine kids you’re in danger of setting a very expensive precedent by bailing out your eldest. Even if you could afford it, I still wouldn’t recommend it. Your son is in desperate need of a life lesson, and if you go the hook for him you’re denying him that opportunity (at best) and screwing yourself financially (at worst).

It takes a lot of guts for a parent to sit back and let their children learn from their experiences. Be courageous.

Besides, your son’s problem isn’t the interest rates he’s paying — that’s merely the symptom. His problem is that he has out-of-control spending. The sooner (and more brutally) he works that out, the sooner he’ll start behaving like an adult, take responsibility for his actions, and move forward.

There are no magic wands, but all the answers he needs are waiting for him in the book you’ve already given him.