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I’m Thinking of Bailing Out My 30 Year Old Son and Payoff His Debts. – Irma


“Dear Steve,

Mother of only son with serious debt.

My son is 30 years old and has $10,000 in debt. All of his bills are late accruing late charges etc.
7 months ago he lost his job. He earned $50,000 / year. He is single. He bought a house and recently worked out a deal with Countrywide and lowered the mortgage payment by $300/ month.
He works a minimum wage job now and it’s not going well. For some reason it’s very difficult to find good employment.

I have “bailed him out of debt” a couple of times. His bills are “snowballing”.

Against everyone’s best judgement, I think it would be best to pay off his debts and let him start over from scratch.

Everyone tells me not to do this because it’s not teaching him financial responsibility. If I lend him the money, it won’t be a loan but a gift because he has never honored paying back any debts to me or to his grandfather.

How can I help him and teach him financial responsibilty and get the collection agencies off his back?


Dear Irma,

Honestly, the best way you can let him learn this lesson so he can be better prepared for the rest of his life is for you to let him get his ass kicked by his creditors.

I know that you want to reach out and protect him, but all you are doing is enabling him to repeat the same negative cycle.

Getting your ass kicked and going bankrupt, create something that you will never be able to do, the teachable moment. Only in the teachable moment will he learn the consequences of actions in such a way that they will fundamentally change him and his behavior moving forward.

With his pattern of being bailed out when things get bad, by you and others, he will never learn how bad it feels to hold his hand to the flame. Everyone, in the name of love, keeps blowing the flame out. Stop it.

If he goes bankrupt he will have to stand up, like an adult, and face the music about his financial situation. It will also get the collectors off his back. It will be painful for him.

The hardest thing for you to do right now is the right thing, nothing. If you want to help participate in the solution then you can help him to pay for his bankruptcy. Otherwise, even though he won’t mean to do it, his cycle will keep repeating until he bleeds you dry.

Be the parent he needs right now and let him fall off the bike. It’s the only way he’ll learn to ride. You’re not helping him by bailing him out, you’re hurting him for the long-term and I know that is not the goal you want to achieve.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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