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Everyday Cheapskate: Will I Inherit My Parents' Debts?

Mary Hunt on

My husband and I don't know how to guide or support him through this period. We do not plan to assist him outright with money, and we definitely have a plan for the living situation.

But what steps should he take so we know he is heading in the right direction financially? We aren't sure what financial recovery looks like. -- Ron and Cidney

Dear Ron and Cidney: The only way I know to handle this kind of situation is with tough love. That being said, I suggest you create a list of house rules, which he must abide by if he moves back. Failure to do so means he must leave.

Rule No. 1: He must get a job. Any job. Maybe two.

Rule No. 2: He must enroll in credit counseling with a reputable organization (find the closest to you at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling website) that offers a debt-management program. He must keep every appointment and be fully accountable to his debt counselor.

Rule No. 3: No credit cards, no debit card. One ATM card only. Money orders will accommodate bills to be mailed.

Rule No. 4: All adult children living under your roof must pay reasonable room and board.


These four rules will force him to live a cash lifestyle and get him onto a debt repayment path that is being monitored and managed by someone other than his parents.

Last, make it very clear that you are not going to bail him out with any loans, advances or other forms of aid. That's what I would do.

As a mom, I know it will be harder for you to follow the house rules than for him. But that will be the key to his success.

I wish you well -- all three of you! This could be the turning point to get him back on track and successfully out on his own.


Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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