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The Money Minefield

Started by justdontunderstand, October 21, 2010, 09:08:17 am

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So, here is a new wrinkle in the DIL/DS problems. We loaned our DS a great deal of money for his education with a signed note to pay it back when he had graduated and found a job. He has been working now for over two years and no payments have been made. (We just let it slide the first year because of the wedding expenses we knew they had). This year we have just limped along--ignoring it but wondering.

We just found out that despite two incomes (six figure incomes no less), DIL's student loans are so huge that they are both paying those off. We never had money issues with DS before when we made smaller loans that were paid back promptly. It could easily take them ten years or more to pay off DIL's loans (just an estimate- based on what we know of the amount). Is it fair that we wait that long? We are within five years of retirement age and would like to stop working then.

I really would like your opinions on what to do.  Is this another "shut up and don't raise it" issue?  I suppose my real fear is that we may never see repayment of the loan now since so much has changed about our relationship with DS.  (Mostly, we are terrified to raise anything that might make DIL angry and we don't even know what those things are).


I don't have any advice for you, but I think your son is being down right rude.  I think it is totally okay to ask for payment.

Good luck to you!  I honestly don't know how people sleep at night knowing they owe a family member, friend, or acquaintance money.


October 21, 2010, 09:48:32 am #2 Last Edit: October 21, 2010, 02:13:45 pm by luise.volta
Oh, this is a tough one. I helped my husband to face writing off huge "loans" when we married. Some kids and young adults think that money from parents is "different" from money from outside institutions. Some never even intended to repay the "loan." My guess, and I hope I am dead-wrong,  is that you are never going to see your money and if you ask DS to be responsible and keep his word, you will be dropped like a hot potato for even bringing it up.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Yes, this is tough and the potential for cut-off is great. I agree with Luise, but I also think MLW07 is correct to say you are "right" to expect to see the loan paid, especially since your DS and DIL have such high incomes. Indeed, how can they sleep at night?

Here's the thing: Do you want to be "right" or do you want to see your DS?

I know this advice is very late, but my DH will not loan money to anyone; he gifts it and refuses to hear another word about it. He's helped friends, strangers and family members in this manner. I guess he feels it's his way of tithing. DS has had his entire education paid for plus living expenses at the expense of some of our retirement (and we are far from wealthy), but at least we don't have to worry that he won't come around due to owing us $$$.

We never know who is going to be involved in the lives of the people we loan money to. I don't know how you are going to solve this successfully, but there are wiser minds than mine here and someone is bound to have a suggestion. Best wishes.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Quote I suppose my real fear is that we may never see repayment of the loan now since so much has changed about our relationship with DS.  (Mostly, we are terrified to raise anything that might make DIL angry and we don't even know what those things are).

If your real fear is not getting repaid, then I suppose the only way to address your fear is to ask DS how he would like to go about making a repayment plan, i.e., how much a month.   DS asked you for the loan, so it is up to him to repay you.  (As for your parenthetical fear, yes asking your son to honor a promise he made you may make DIL angry. But, if she is regularly getting angry at you anyway, and you are as respectful as you can be when asking your son how he wishes to handle his debt, then it's up to you if a shot at repayment is worth re-angering someone who is already angry anyway).


You looked ahead, you have a signed note.  Don't let this slide and DO talk to your son about this "LOAN".  It may make DIL mad, but too bad, you have the legal right to be repaid.  Letting it go isn't going to do your son any good and you sound like you need the money.  Your DIL would be a whole lot madder if you have to go the route of attaching their paychecks like any other loan owner would do.   So talking about it and getting a repayment schedule ready for his perusal would be the first step.   


Crossing my fingers, elbows and eyes!
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


That old saying never loan money to family and friends comes to mind, but with our own children  I think we sometimes forget it. As everyone has said, it really comes down to whether or not you wish to risk being cut out or not and I think only you can answer that.

Like you I made a very substantial loan to my son with the provision that he repaid it, like you that didn't happen . I honestly did not expect him to repay the entire thing but I did expect him to at least make some effort even if it was a small amount.  When I pressured him to do so, he sent a check , I called to make sure that it was ok to deposit and he assured me it was.  It bounced all the way back and I did not hear from him for months ,  I sent him an invoice for the entire amount, nothing formal just one I typed out.   When I finally did get a hold of him and expressed my disapointment in the way he handled the situation, I was told that it was wrong that a mom would send her son a bill and our relationship went into a rapid downhill spiral.  When the holidays approached, he called to tell me they were expecting a baby so to smooth things over, I sent him a letter stating that although I was disapointed in his lack of responsibility with the loan, I was closing the loan so that they did not have to worry about paying me back .  In spite of that, and without as much as a thank you, our relationship kept spiraling down to the point that he has not communicated with me or any of his family in over six years.

I guess it really comes down to whether the loan and his responsibility of it is worth losing your relationship over because it definately could come to that.  Best of luck to you and I hope it all works out


If I really needed the money for retirement then I would tell him exactly that.  Tell him that you loaned it in good faith and with retirement just a few years away you need to know that you can count on the money being repaid.

If you don't absolutely need the money then it is up to you to decide how much it is worth to potentially put additional strain on the relationship.

My middle daughter wasn't always responsible and I had been burned by her so when she asked for me to co-sign a student loan for her, I declined.  I had also paid for other training for her that she didn't complete.  I did agree to deposit the money into a 5-year CD that secures the loan.  Once she has made a set number of payments after she graduates, I will be free to withdraw the money.  It's a compromise of sorts though my money is still at risk if she defaults but, I decided to trust her.  She knows that the Bank of Mom will be permanently closed to her if she burns me again.  She also knows that as a single, 47 year old woman I cannot afford to lose that money for my retirement.


I expect my children to repay their loans, or at least make an attempt.  My DD never has and never will. I refused her last 3-4 '...but the baby needs..cash only,please...' . I know that's part of the reason she ran off. She claimed the kids on her taxes, then used the refund to buy herself things like a $3500 TV.(For $3500, that TV better have my coffee ready with the morning news!) Problem is she didn't have the kids, I did.  The IRS is not amused. I'll let them handle it.  ;D

OTOH, my son's gf never failed to offer something every payday. DH was so shocked, he gave her a car. LOL. 


Jomama, your daughter claimed YOUR children on her taxes?!  Wow.  That requires serious chutzpah.
This too shall pass.  All is well.


I know everyone handles this differently. I have two plans. The first is the loan gets paid back as agreed upon or no more loans...(which has worked very well) and the other is to never loan money to someone not able to pay it back. The money as a gift...end of story. That has worked, too. It's never been hard for me to tell which formula works best, although a few of my sort-of-kids, of which I have seven...have passed back and forth from one category to the other.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


After I got severely burnt on a loan to my brother (still hasn't been paid back, 4 years later) I decided I'm not loaning money again.  And I'm not giving anyone money that I can't afford to lose. 
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


Yes, when you give it...it has to be something you can do fine without.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Quote from: elsieshaye on October 22, 2010, 09:58:46 am
Jomama, your daughter claimed YOUR children on her taxes?!  Wow.  That requires serious chutzpah.

LOL, it probably crossed her mind. No, I meant I still had custody of her children. I should have been clearer. ;)