Dear Ms. Vicki,
My son is a sergeant in the Army. When he came back from Afghanistan almost 18 months ago, he had saved quite a bit of money, but he still had poor credit.
Since I love my son and I have been so proud of him for serving his country for the past 6½ years, I wanted to help him. Overall, he has been a good son until now.
I co-signed for the car and he has NEVER MADE ONE PAYMENT. Not one!
It's been one excuse after another. At first, he was getting settled in after his deployment. Then, he was getting his finances straight. He has promised to send the money, but I'm still paying the bill.
Ms. Vicki, I have to protect my credit so I have no choice but to pay the car payment. I'm stuck with no choice!
I love my son, but I am so angry with him for taking advantage of me like this. I'm wondering if I should contact his commander and let him know, or should I take my son to court and sue him for my money. What do you think I should do?
-- Angry and Sad Mother
Dear Angry and Sad Mother,
This is tough because your son is financially taking advantage of you. It's not fair.
Personally, I tell people never to co-sign for another person because if they were responsible with their finances, they wouldn't need a co-signer. But this is your son. I can understand your willingness to help your child emotionally and financially even though he is an adult.
Let me say that your son is wrong for doing this. As a sergeant in the Army, clearly he should have the money to pay his car payment. That said, you have to be ready to face the consequences for the actions you take to recoup the money.
If he were willing to make the payment, you could ask him to set up a direct deposit from his paycheck to take care of the loan. Or you could negotiate with him to pay most of the loan while you pay part for a short time. Or you could talk to the lender to possibly negotiate for extra time.
But your son seems unwilling to make any payment at all. This puts you between a rock and a hard place.
For example, you should expect your son to be very angry with you if you take this issue to his commander. He will make you feel like a bad mother and threaten never to speak to you again. Are you ready for that?
You could take your son to court and discuss this issue in front of a judge. Are you ready for that?
You could refuse to make the payments, and the car would be repossessed. This would affect your credit rating too. Are you ready for that?
Lastly, you could continue to make the payments as you are currently doing. I know you don't want to keep doing this, and I totally understand. Most Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck.
There isn't an easy answer to this problem. More than anything, I want your relationship with your son to remain strong. I won't blame you for any decision you make. Let me know what you decide.
Readers, what would you do if you were in her place?
-- Ms. Vicki