Dear Penny: I Helped My Daughter Buy a Car and Now She Won’t Make Payments

Dear Penny: I Helped My Daughter Buy a Car and Now She Won’t Make Payments

Dear P.,

Your daughter can either do the mature, adult thing and make the payments she agreed to. Or she can keep driving her car for free knowing Mom is legally on the hook for the loan.

Unfortunately, the choice is hers. I wish I had a better answer for you.

If you want to get rid of this loan, your options are to pay it off or let the car be repossessed, which will destroy your credit. 

As long as you and your daughter aren’t on speaking terms, your chances of getting her to contribute one cent toward helping you pay off this car are approximately 0%.

So I think you should reach out to her — but leave the loan out of the conversation at first. (Other things to avoid include “You’re a disappointment” and any mentions of how much better her siblings are at adulting.)

But eventually, you two need to have some honest talks about your financial situations. You may find that your perceptions about the other’s finances aren’t exactly accurate.

Assuming your daughter actually said the words “you have a BMW and enjoy a life of leisure:” Did you counter by telling her that your medical expenses are rising and you need to scale back? 

If your daughter thinks of you as a rich lady in a Beamer, it’s much easier for her to dismiss what she owes you. After all, it’s way less scary to say “nope, can’t pay” to your mom than, say, your landlord. But if she knew you were struggling, maybe she’d make these car payments a higher priority.

Also consider that your daughter’s a relatively recent grad. Chances are she’s not earning much. Neither of you knew what her salary would be or whether she could afford the car payments when you signed this loan. And while rent increases or unexpected expenses may sound like excuses, they can break your budget when you don’t earn a lot.

None of this excuses your daughter, of course. She made a promise that she should make good on.

But until you break this stalemate, you have a car payment and you’re estranged from your daughter. It’s a lose-lose for you.

If you can start communicating, maybe you can work out a compromise. If your daughter really couldn’t afford $343 a month but could commit to $100 or $150, would that be acceptable? It would ease your burden a bit, while also allowing her to accept some responsibility.

There are no guarantees you’ll get anything out of your daughter. But your odds of success are a lot better if you can approach this as a financial problem, rather than evidence of your daughter’s shortcomings.

Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder and the voice behind Dear Penny. Send your questions about money disputes to AskPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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