Money Moral Dilemma: Should I tell my son I've discovered he's in debt?

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  • AstonSimonAstonSimon Forumite
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    Reading the question again, you say that
    "His girlfriend started getting letters from a debt collection agency,"
    How do you know that? Did she tell you? Overhead conversation? I doubt that debt collection agencies are legally allowed to write, "YOU OWE US £2000" in large red capital letters on the front of the envelope; doing a web search on the return postcode is snooping.
    If you want to maintain a good relationship with your son and his girlfriend into the future, you need to respect their privacy.
  • gloriouslyhappygloriouslyhappy Forumite
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    Jude57 said:
    I agree entirely with @gettingtheresometime that this really needs to be discussed with both your son and his girlfriend. I'd also warn against bailing them out, mainly because it could mean all they learn from this situation is that you'll bail them out again in future. Have a look at the Debtfreewannabe board here - and try to get the young couple to do the same. If they recognise that they have problem debt then point them towards the debt advice charities recommended by MSE - StepChange, CAB, National Debtline, Tec - being careful to ensure not to use any similarly named fee-charging companies.

    It's likely this loan isn't the only debt they have so it's important to deal with everything as a whole. It's also unfortunately likely that their house purchase plans may need to be postponed as mortgage lenders will look at credit utilisation when making their lending decisions.
    This ^ Very sensible advice.
  • gloriouslyhappygloriouslyhappy Forumite
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    tobiasjug said:
    A bit too trusting (and naive) I'm afraid

    It would have been better if you were charging the full rate, whatever that is - and then saving the discount yourself as part the money needed for the mortgage. 

    If it all falls through, you still have the money. As it stands you have no guarantee they have been saving that discount, or they won't spend it. Your son could split with his girlfriend and all that would have happened is that she has had cheaper accommodation.

    If you want to be the 'Bank of Mum and Dad' then the best way is to act like a bank. Harsh, I know, but I have seen too many fall outs in families over money.
    How is it better if OP charges them full rent then saves part of the monry for them? That doesn't teach any fiscal responsibilty, just reinforces children's attitudes that parents will bail them out.
  • gloriouslyhappygloriouslyhappy Forumite
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    Was the letter left deliberately for you to 'accidentally' see it?  However this happened, the issue will have to be addressed and it's likely to be a difficult conversation. 

    It's unlikely that they're spending on socialising at the moment, so it's a worry where they money is going. 
    That's an interesting possibility, perhaps they want to discuss their situation but don't know how to open the discussion. i'd suggest thinking of a non-judgemental way to start the chat - difficult, I know - then wait for a good time and dive in. 
  • edited 12 June at 11:31AM
    PollycatPollycat Forumite
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    edited 12 June at 11:31AM
    The OP should make sure her son and his girlfriend understand what being a guarantor really means.
    Possible scenario: the girlfriend took out a loan and the OP's son stood as guarantor, the girlfriend has defaulted on payment with the son now being liable for the debt.

    For 2 people in full-time employment paying minimal rent, I'd question why a £2K loan was necessary in the first place.

    I think a frank discussion with both of them is needed.

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