Jan 30, 2008

An update on the car situation

Last night Jeff and I sat down and talked about what we wanted to do to get through the current car situation (as in, Mary has Jeff's car, he's driving mine, I'm without, and Mary needs financial help to get a new used car). We actually talked for quite awhile, and decided the following: 1. Mary needs to become financially independent. She makes decent money but has a terrible sense of financial responsibility. (Something, I will admit, her parents absolutely never taught her or her brother.) Our main goal should be NOT to rescue her, but to put her in a situation where she can learn from all this and become financially responsible for herself and her son. 2. With that goal in mind, we are NOT currently buying Mary a car. It will happen. But first, we are asking that she go to a local credit and budget counselling service and work with them to come up with a debt payment plan to get all her old bills taken care of. The goal is first to get the creditors off her back, and second to work with a professional in setting and understanding a budget, and, of course, to get her credit score up. Mary is not, relatively speaking, in that much debt -- about $3000 and most of that is from poor medical insurance coverage when Brayden required an ambulance and hospitalization last January. So, she is to set up a payment plan and a plan to get her credit cleaned up. Jeff would like this done by the end of next week. 3. Once she tells us what her financial plan is, we can use the amount the credit counsellor has set for her to pay off her debts as a gage for how much of a car payment she can afford in the future. They will take into account her rent, food, utilities, childcare, etc., and set an amount for debt repayment. Once that debt is paid off, obviously, that money can go toward something else. In this case, it will be a car and insurance payment. 4. Only once all this is in place and we're confident she is willing to work with it, will we decide how much we are willing to spend on a used car for her. The deciding factor will be her budget plan - how quick she can get her bills paid off and her credit score up. I explained all this to Mary last night on the phone, and she was VERY receptive to it all. She knows she doesn't understand budgeting, and she knows it will be a huge relief to get the creditor phone calls stopped. She sounds very willing to work with the credit agency and sees that this is a great solution to what could have turned into a major life problem. Yay! So I'm feeling good. I understand why some parents would not help their adult child buy a car. I do, I really do. But I do think we have a good plan in place with the goal of Mary becoming financially independent, and she understands this will be the last rescue of it's kind. Everyone needs help now and then. I know we did when we were first married (Jeff's parents often lent us money and helped us with our downpayment of our first house!). It's not a sin to need help. And it's no sin to offer help when help is needed. Both my kids are number one in my life, and always will be. It is what it is.

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