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Why You Should Never Co-Sign for a Child's Car Loan

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I need help. My daughter just left for Army boot camp.

When she was here, she would pay for her vehicle on her own. Now that she's gone, I don't know where I'm going to get the money to pay for it.

Because she had no credit, I put the vehicle under my name and they won't postpone the payments for at least three months until she comes back.

Do you have any advice?

-- Postponing Bills

Dear Postponing,

Your daughter is getting paid now by the Army. She can still make her car payment. There are many options.

First, she will definitely have direct deposit for her pay. This means she can do an automatic monthly debit from her account to make the car payment.

Second, she can add you to her bank account and you can make the car payment for her.

Third, she should give you a general power of attorney so that you can make decisions on her behalf when it comes to her finances. However, you can still be added to her bank account without having a power of attorney.

Fourth, if she refuses to pay (as some adult children will do), you will have to make the decision to let the car get repossessed or voluntarily give the car back. Of course, this will hurt your credit too.

Finally, don't ever co-sign for anything or for anyone, especially not your children. A co-signer is basically saying, "I will make the payment because the first signer never will."

Think of it: If they paid their bills on time, if they made enough money or had good credit, they wouldn't need a co-signer.

Let me know what you decide to do.

-- Ms. Vicki

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Ms. Vicki, a native of Dallas, has been the ‘Dear Abby’ for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology. Her column has appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Ms. Vicki has retired from writing new columns for Although Ms. Vicki is no longer offering new advice on, you can still email military benefits questions to our Questions and Benefits team. Need military spouse career help? Email our Dear Career writers.