Son Asked for Money to Pay Debts

Just to keep it simple and to ask for advice.

My 20 year old son just spoke to my wife and asked for money, $4000….

Apparently he can't pay his (shared house) rent.
He lost his licence speeding and had his car impounded, then got caught driving and got more fines.
His work has cut his hours cause he didn't want to work nights anymore.

I, to be quite frank i'm not happy to just fork over my very hard earned money so he can learn "lessons" in life….

I go with out a lot in life to save my money but my wife just said to me "he is your son".

His Facebook lately is just full of pictures of clubbing and pubs.

Hi all, the out come….

Yes it was stated a gazillion times, don't lend the money but any way.

So I paid a fine for him and gave him a $2900 loan so $3370 he owes us.

He is supposed to be changing positions in his work which will be 5 days a week so he could easily pay us back.

Don't worry we put him through hell to get this money, we wanted ins and outs of everything.

If all else fails he could work for us for free lol as our best worker is leaving us soon.

Do I expect to see the money paid back? No not really but honestly I want only about half back as its his birthday soon but I'm not telling him that.

Thanks for the support or lack there of, now I've got to go and build some bridges…

Poll Options expired

  • 69
    Pay up and help him out
  • 576
    Let him deal with it

closed Comments

  • +124

    He asked your wife because he reckons she is softer (no disrespect intended). Tell him to learn to take advantage of public transport and resume working nights until his debts are paid. Why should you finance his clubbing and pubbing when he is behind on rent?

    • +9

      Sounds like he needs to get some financial counselling. Either from you or a NFP.
      "Loaning" him the cash without consequence is a recipe for disaster.

    • -9

      Taking advantage of public transport? Are you joking?

    • -8

      Im assuming the fines are probably a lot larger than this going out expenses. He's prolly blowing off some steam cuz hes stressed. He went to your wife cuz hes ashamed and embarrassed to go to u. Tell him pay his fines on credit card and do a balance transfer that will give him about a year to get his shit together, if he cant then repeat another 12month.. and another. I blew 6K partying and at the casinos in Vegas when i was 21. 6 years on still haven't paid it off (cuz its free money).

      • Uhh….this kind of a bad example

  • +50

    Just tell sonny he is a soft Kok and needs to man up 100% and make his own. That'll teach em a lesson for asking for monies again

        • +32

          @shadOzer: No you don't.

  • +29

    Tough love, $4000 isn't that much to worry about. But if you help him out, I'd sign a contract with friendly payments. I wouldn't be just offering the money

    • +19

      Hmm not sure what is the sons personality but it is possible once you help him he will expecting help forever, and will not be too serious about contract between family members.

    • +8

      Lend him the money at 20 % pa on the condition that he work nights again.

      If he doesn't pay in full, deduct the outstanding amount from his inheritance and donate it to a worthy charity.

      • +8

        deduct the outstanding amount from his inheritance

        geeeeeeeeeeez! that would be the longest grudge ever! hahaha!

  • +186

    I'd be evaluating his mental state before you say no. I just remember an episode of 60 minutes with where they interviewed a man whose son killed himself over a similar debt. The man kept saying that his sons funeral cost more than the debt he had. So you need to be sure that your son isn't very depressed and suicidal over this issue. $4000 can seem like a huge amount at that age.

    Gee maybe he needs to move back home. Doesn't sound like he is making good decisions.

    • +14

      Wish I could bump this comment to the top.

    • -14

      If the son has a suicidal mental state & doesn't have the capacity to manage his own personal affairs, then he can have son see the relevant mental health experts & argue that in front of the small claims and district court to have the debts forgiven/wiped. That way the father wont piss away $4K and the son get's the help he needs.

    • +3

      First step must be is his mental health ok (although you didn't mention any suspicions).

      Second step will be to rule out drugs or gambling (again you didn't mention any suspicions)

      Third step is to help him, but not necessarily to pay him any money he asks for.

    • +27

      His mental state is one of entitlement. Knowing he is in debt, he accepts reduced hours because he doesn't want to work nights anymore. Knowing he lost his licence due to speeding, he was caught driving again and fined again. He lifts his leg higher than he can piss.

      • +2

        You must be a damn good psychologist, being able to deduce the intricacies of someone's mental disposition by reading ~8 lines from a third party.

        • +7

          It's not psychology it's just simple reasoning predisposition inference and coming up with an possible scenario.

          If you want to practice real psychology you have to understand the person on a more intermediate level.

          Also mind-reading isn't scientific psychology, you're basically looking for common traits that applies to the general population and coming up with a very vague conclusion about the person which applies to 99% of the people with that particular trait.

        • +5


          I don't think you understood the point of my comment.

      • Totally agree, sure sounds like this is what's happening, he needs to learn there are consequences

    • -3

      The man kept saying that his sons funeral cost more than the debt he had.

      How much does a funeral cost?

      Could do with a holiday funded by the old man…


      • Cheapest I think around 2.5k, average more in the 7-10k. Depends if he likes ya ;)

        • +10

          Cheapest is $0 if you already have a shovel.

      • -1

        Yeah you might get a holiday 6 feet under…

    • -2

      His Facebook lately is just full of pictures of clubbing and pubs.

      Does not really seem like he is depress or suicidal.

      • +16

        Because that's totally an accurate indication of mental health. And because mentally ill people would never try to deal with their problems by abusing alcohol.

        • I'm intrigued by your username

        • usually drinking out of brown paper bag in a park?

        • @yannyrjl:

          Not really? What's your point?

    • +1

      Excellent point voiletmay. There are so many suicide related debts. I had small debts on 2 occasions many years ago and was very low indeed and will never forget the gentle souls who helped.

      I'm also shocked that this this thread has so many harsh comments:(

      • +1

        I can't say I'm that shocked - it's almost like living in the US here now in terms of intolerance, viciousness and general ignorance.

        I am shocked so many people would extend this behaviour to their own children though. My first thought was also they need to be taught some responsibility, but berating them and basically branding them a scumbag leech who doesn't deserve help (doesn't need to be financial…) is rather odd behaviour. I can only hope it's the "internet effect".

    • +1

      You may be very well right with the sons mental state & we all wish it not the case.
      buttttttttttttt - he could just be a typical young person these days who expect the world handed to them on a silver platter ???
      Some kids these days need to learn the hard way, to get it into their heads that things aren't just handed to them like they expect, they need to learn how to live, survive & look after themselves…….
      My personal opinion is that (a lot of) kids have it to easy these days & hence why they can be very disrespectful & want everything given to them without working for it. Just my opinion.

      • Biggest influence of such behavior and expectations are the parents.

  • +9

    I know its difficult when he is your own flesh and blood but the truth is he brought this upon him self with some very silly decisions. It not like there was a freak of nature incident or "bad luck" where you might be able to show some compassion.

    He really needs to learn some lessons here. That is the best thing you can do for him. Sure he may hate you now but its a wake up call he needs. If you bail him out now, hes going to think that he can stumble through life without consequences and there will always be a "get out of jail free card" for him.

    Truth is, by giving him this money you could be setting him up for something very dire in the future that no parent or lawyer can get him out of.

  • +36

    What about offering half the amount once he has earned the other half? Teaches him responsibility and that you wont just succumb when he asks. He'll also need to work his butt off!
    Id also be probably paying the debt for him. At least it makes sure that its paid and not dropped on something he shouldnt be spending it on.

    • +2

      I'd offer 1000$ and have him earn up the extra amount. Then when he has it give him 2k instead for being responsible for himself. Bit of spending money for getting himself out of the shit and also a kind of "well done" gift.

      Don't tell him you will give him 2k though, just tell him you'll give 1k.

  • +9

    Some really good advice here. I second the paying the debt for him to ensure he doesn't spend it else where. Also suggest him talking to the debtors to set up payment plans. Let him know he can move back home if he pays x amount of money monthly (x being half of what he's paying).

    I don't understand why people don't save up anymore…it's like they don't have any long term goals (Mine is to buy a LaFerrari but it's so unachievable so I will probably end up saving forever which is not yoo bad either).

    • +1

      I don't understand why people don't save up anymore…

      Interest rates are too low.

      • +1

        You don't need high interest rate returns to save…

        • +2

          No but there's less incentive.

        • +2

          @Scrooge McDuck:

          My parents have always taught me to save in case something happens to them…
          Someone will have to pay for the mortgage…I mean medical bills!

        • +1

          @Scrooge McDuck: Being penniless and buried under debt seems to be a good incentive.

  • +17

    I think if you lent him once, second third time will come very shortly.

    YOu should help him in getting a payment plan for me including rent, fine….

    He could come back and live with you if he is short of rent and you could check him out while he is in your home, if he refuse he will have to figure it out by himself.

    He had no money to pay rent and cut hours from work because he doesn't want to work at night instead to go party?

    You hard earn money will go to alcohol if you lent him the money and no lesson will be learn.

    But I admit easy said than done, this is also a chance for you to learn as a Dad

    • +1

      +1 to this. if you do it once then the second and third and more times will be just around the corner.

    • +1

      and you could check him out while he is in your home,

      That oughta scare him straight!! O_O

  • -1

    Try crowdfunding :-)

    My $4k would come with conditions.
    A) get him onto Airtasker to source income which goes back to you.
    B) Drug testing - ask for a weekly bottle of pee (obtained in your bathroom)
    C) Sell the car and start again saving for a low cost runabout.
    D) Ring (not text) your mother at least once a week to say thank you and "I Love You"

    • Airtasker is belong min wage.

      • Only if you set your own payment below the minimum wage.

    • +2

      You sound like my dad, I love my family however… My dad was always more concerned about making me learn the hard way than showing affection I don't blame him I think it was just the way he was brought up and the fact he was mechanic it's just a shame we don't really know each other at all.

      PS no way would I loan 4000 to my son or expect it from my parents. He needs to get a job and take responsibility. My parents would let me live with them if I needed it though. Maybe pay for resume to get done professionally as an early bday present sounds like he needs a better job and a push to get one.

      Ask him if he's got mental health issues or drug issues and make it clear you won't judge him or think less. Everyone goes through a crisis once in their life the question for you is this, is it a crisis or a handout? Sounds like a handout to me but you're the judge.

  • +46

    I'd be sitting down to talk to him to work out how it all comes out to a $4,000 figure.

    Is this the first time he's come to ask for money like this? Consider the fact that he could be quite desperate and you could be his last resort.

    There will be things that need to be sorted quickly - eg, his share of the rent. Then there are things that can be paid off in installments. My suggestion is to help him pay the things that need immediate attention and try to work out a way with him together to sort out the rest. If he really can't pay his rent and gets kicked out of his share place, there are obviously going to be consequences - would you be happy taking him back? Or would you be happy for him to be homeless?

    Once you know all the details, you could also determine whether it's likely that this is a once-off or if you can see that it's likely to happen again, then make suggestions and changes that can help him avoid this happening again.

    Regardless of everything else, he is your son and (dare I say here on ozbargain), that he's still your responsibility. The legal age is 18 for most things here, but that doesn't magically mean that people wake up on their 18th birthday being a fully-grown and mature adult.

    We should all think back to the days when we were 20 years old and put ourselves back in those shoes for a while. The social aspect of life is quite important and working late at night could mean that he feels he's missing out on a lot with his friends. Perhaps you could talk him into taking the middle ground and work a few nights a week and still have a few nights free so that he can hang with his mates.

    I'm not trying to come up with excuses for him - life is just a continuous learning curve, no matter what age.

    Also, don't believe everything you see on someone's facebook - posting clubbing and drinking pictures doesn't mean that that's his entire life. It means that he just chooses to portray himself in that way to his peers - maybe because he thinks he's cool or they're the highlights of his life so far that he wants to share with everyone else. He obviously does have a job and other stresses that he doesn't post about online because it might be considered as "boring".

    Finally, don't look at it as though you're giving out your "hard-earned cash" for nothing - if you handle this the right way, there are non-monetary gains that may not be immediately apparent - like the strengthening of the relationship between you, your wife and your son, and him having learnt some lessons from yourself (and wife). It might also mean that he'll have the trust and comfort coming to you and your wife when he has problems in future rather than hiding everything - that's something that lots of parents dream of that money sometimes can't buy.

    • +2

      perfect. just how I think too.

      I just know if it was my son I would act this way too.

    • +3

      Perfect answer. There is an opportunity between son and parent here.

    • +2

      Was about to post, and read this and thought, yep, what I would have said, but you have written it better :)

    • +1

      This is the most constructive comment.

    • +1

      Talk to him, he may need advice more than money right now.

      I would prefer my future kids be able to talk to both of us about their problems, not just their mother. Not sure how that's going to turn out, but I would want to work on whatever it is that that prevented them from doing so.

  • +5

    Well, he is your son and he is only 20. You owe to help him…with conditions.

    Get your wife to organise a friendly family chat. Tell him your concerns and given it a chance to listen to each other.

  • +1

    You need to have a good chat with your son. Sit him down and talk about a repayment plan. Tell him you want the money back as soon as possible. It would be a loan.
    He needed to make these mistakes and bad decisions so he can learn from it.

  • +13

    First a meme: Your wife's son
    Secondly being serious: What's the $4k for? I (profanity) up once in my life as a kid and my parents helped me out. And these days 20yos are basically as immature as a teenagers.
    Thirdly: Do you want him coming to live back with you?

    My motto in life is: Help out your kids because one day you'll need help from them.

  • +1

    lend him the money at 6% and write up a contract. it's a loan not a gift.

    • +1

      That's a good idea, either do that or write up a list of things he could do to earn money from you. Wash ur car, do ur lawn etc, all those basic things. But just stick to the concept there are no hand outs.

    • +18

      When you lend money to family, NEVER expect it back. Gift it to them and thats that. Inter-family debt is one of, if not, THE biggest cause of family breakdowns.

      When a family member owes you money it just feel the same sitting down to dinner with them.

      • +4

        I really like this comment - we think along the same lines!

        No amount of money will ever be able to reverse a family breakdown.

  • +5

    I'd probably get some sort of proof of the situation, sit down and work out a plan with your son, with clear expectations. My first reaction to your story is your son has a drug problem and he's probably ticked up more than he can afford, and needs some cash quick. If you're going to pay the debt I'd probably pay it direct, just for peace of mind.

    • +7

      Was just about to say this. 100% your son is on drugs. $4000 for share rent? haha. I'm no anti drugger, i love my drugs, but i'd sure as hell never owe someone 4 grand!

      • +2

        While it's useful to have some ideas to start with, it's best not to jump to conclusions and make any unfounded assumptions or accusations, especially using the worst-case scenario - this could harm the relationship and it may cause OP's son to "shut up shop" at home and try to find another way out of his problem - that could mean by way of digging a deeper hole for himself.

        Depending on where he's living, $1000/month on rent is pretty normal.

        He lost his lic speeding and had his car impounded then got caught driving and got more fines.

        And this - to score a free ticket into the impoundment lot for speeding, he would've been driving 40-45km/h more than the speed limit. That penalty alone in (Perth) is 20 penalty units (@$155.46 per unit from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017), which works out to be just over $3,100.
        Then there's the impoundment and storage costs that includes towing, storage and administration costs on top of that.
        I'm not sure about Perth, but in NSW, it's easily over $1000/month.

        I can easily see that he possibly made getting his car out of impound a higher priority than paying his rent (especially if he's got close sharemates that are happy to cover him for a month or two). Most of us mature adults may not agree with decisions, but he's 20 years old and his social life probably depends on his car.

        And I should also admit - I love my drugs too! haha

  • Would you rather give him $4k on the conditions this is a once off loan that he must repay, or would you rather deny him the loan and have him move back into your house?

    • that is the question

      • +2

        Third option. Sit down with him and work out what he can pay and what you can help him with.

        Definately dont pay the fines. Get him to call the debt recovery office and negotiate paying it off by instalments.

        As to the rent, its reasonable for a parent to help with that

        Encourage him to work at night and think strait

        Good luck to both of you

    • +2

      How about choosing neither? Show him how to repay all of it himself and help him either find cheap share accommodation, or leave it up to him to solve his own problem. The son is not a teenager, he is 20 years old and a fully grown man.

      $4K in shared rent costs is also a ludicrous story. Complete bollocks. That would be 20 weeks rent in a share situation, assuming you were stupid and lived somewhere already too expensive for your budget. You'd be legally removed by your co-tennants or the landlord 8 weeks into that failure to pay process already.

  • +6

    Be happy he's being social..
    Have him come round, ask to see the bills.
    Check out his statements, show him where's he is going wrong.
    But in the end he is family and should be helped out, whether that's paying up or not is up to you

  • +8

    As the son has money problems then maybe the son needs a financial solution.

    Son has: income + asset - debt - expenses.

    Possible financial solutions:
    - take a third job. (ie. increase income)
    - sell the car to pay debt. (ie. sell asset)
    - cut back on clubbing. (ie. reduce expenses)
    - rent somewhere within his means.

    If its about parenting then best to teach the son by explaining how you handled similar problems in the past.

  • I was thinking it should be a loan… heak he could work for us If he was serious about being sorry.

    Yes I am not giving him the money in hand, I want to see these fines with my own eyes…

    • I don't think it's a sorry situation per se, just a he's messed up and is overwhelmed situation.

  • -3

    Perhaps offer to be guarantor of a personal $4000 bank loan so that the bank can chase him if he doesn't repay….

    • +11

      so the bank will chase the OP if the son doesn't pay you mean … because that's what a guarantor is.

      • Well eventually of course, but they would chase the son first tho and he'd have automatic payments…

        Just an idea.

    • +1

      Why involve a bank where it's not warranted? You'd be hard pressed to get a bank to bother with 4k, and then at what rate? 12%?

    • Terrible idea, son has shown he can't handle money, so get him a loan? Ridiculous, you'll end up having to fork out 8k+ interest.

  • +2

    Tell your son you won't give him the money, but will work with him to develop a payment plan to slowly pay off his debts.

  • +6

    Your son may actually have a gambling problem.

  • +1

    Should you help your son? Absolutely.

    But as others have said - just gifting him $4-grand isn't helping him. By all means 'bail him out' if he needs it (hey, it may be totally legit). But it has to be a part of a wider plan that he agrees to and learns from, with everything laid out on the table, and that he takes some responsibility for.

    That will ACTUALLY help him in the long run, which I'm sure is what you really want for your son… :-)

  • +1

    20 years is enough time to learn cause and effect and the subsequent responsibility.

    • +2

      May as well just slap him in the face.

    • +2

      Very much dependent on the maturity of the individual involved. This "enough" will not be the case for every young adult.

      • +4

        He's not a teenager, he's a grown man. He's not going to suddenly learn his lesson if he get's bailed out of his laughable explanation for what's actually gone wrong. He doesn't need any sort of support other than showing him how to make a payment plan & proceed with it.

        • +7

          I agree with you completely on this.

          My ex has a son who was a sheep and got involved with 'cool' people who took party drugs. The 'cool' people moved on and he struggled. I told my ex not to help him out, let him sort it himself but no … parents kept bailing him out until he was nearly 30 years old. Only then did they stop and surprise surprise, he finally goes to rehab because there is NO backup parent plan anymore.

          But it was too late. He's 40 now and still living with his mother.

        • +2

          I still say, at 20 and esp in today's environment of PC politeness, he is not necessarily a "grown man". I do appreciate that he should be but everybody is an individual. Just to clarify I am not saying simply give him the money. There is a pile of good advice on this thread about the fact that conditions must be attached.

        • +1

          @havebeerbelywillsumo: At 20, $4k is so so so much money. I don't know if OPs son is a uni student but it can be tough to juggle full time study, rent, and other living expenses.

        • +1


          Yes he was going to uni…

        • @AMLagonda: I don't think we knew that until now. Is he actually making genuine progress with his studies?

        • +1

          Does he have to live elsewhere to go to uni, or could he live at home? Does he need a car to get around, or is his work/uni accessible by public transport/a bike?

          Plenty of people move back Home at about his age, I suggest it would be appropriate. He would lose face to his friends, but that sounds like exactly what he needs, a wake up call.

          These expenses are all directly his fault. If he needed the money because someone stole his car, I could understand giving him money, but to not be working and have racked up the fines, it's on him.

        • +1



          Did he drop out?