Money Manners

Son needs to take responsibility for car loan

King Features Syndicate

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: In 2011, my son lost his job, his home and his credit. Needing a car, he asked me to co-sign for an auto loan, and I obliged. Since then he’s been in and out of work, and I often get stuck making the car payments. When I refuse to, the loan company sends me letters threatening to take my home and bank account.

I am in my 70s and did not realize that the loan won’t be paid off until 2017. It’s bleeding me dry, and my son cannot sell the car because he owes more than it’s worth. If we let it go to repo, my credit will suffer and my bank account will be attached. How can I get the loan company off my back? — Frantic, Greater Kansas City

DEAR FRANTIC: We’re very sorry to learn of the situation you’re in, but don’t blame it on the loan company. What was your son thinking when, having lost his job, home and credit, he bought a car and left his septuagenarian parent on the hook for the payments? And having done that, why has he not made paying for the car priority one, instead of leaving you to fend off his creditor?

This said, if the loan company is overstepping in pressing you for money, the state office for consumer affairs should be able to help. Plus, you should talk to the people at the state adult protective services office, which looks after the interests of seniors. They may be able to help you get your son to take responsibility for the debt with which he has unconscionably saddled you. We know you feel sorry for him. But it’s time to start insisting that he make things right.

When expensive gifts become patronizing

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: My daughter “Hannah” mentored a younger child at her school for the past two years (it’s a school requirement). When Hannah graduated from eighth grade, her mentee, “Grace,” gave her a lovely card, a charming scrapbook and about $1,000 worth of electronic goodies.

While Grace’s folks can easily afford the gift, I was horrified by their excessiveness, and I want Hannah to return the electronics. But my husband says, “What’s done is done,” and he wants to let it go. Who’s right? — Jennifer

DEAR JENNIFER: You are. In giving Hannah such a wildly expensive gift, Grace’s parents are patronizing your family (whether they mean to or not) while simultaneously showing off to Grace’s classmates and their parents. Not only should your daughter return the electronics — with a nice note of appreciation to Grace — but you should tell the principal what happened. He or she needs to explain to these folks that their conduct is inappropriate.

Stock tip’s success doesn’t equal profit share

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: When my cousin told me he’d gotten a bonus at work and was looking for a way to invest the money, I recommended a stock I’d been following. Long story short, he bought the stock, it went up 40 percent, and he sold it, making several thousand dollars on the deal. Shouldn’t he be offering me a piece of his profit? Without me, he’d never even have heard of the stock. — R.R.

DEAR R.R.: So how much of your cousin’s losses were you prepared to absorb had the stock tanked? We’re not kidding.

If you liked the stock so much, you could have bought some for yourself. But since you risked nothing — since you’re talking about an investment that only your cousin paid for —you have no more claim on his profits than he would have had on your money had he taken a loss.

On the other hand, if your cousin fails to show his appreciation by, say, taking you out for a meal, that you can complain about.

Email your questions about money and relationships to

| King Features Syndicate