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Ask Dave

A Free Ride?

Tonya's college-bound son needs to learn a lesson, and a car opportunity has come along to make it happen.

QUESTION: Tonya’s son is going to college, but has never had a job. His uncle offered the son his used car for $3,000, which would be a huge deal. Tonya’s husband doesn’t want to give him money for the vehicle, but she thinks this is a great deal. Dave thinks it’s silly to just give the money away, and has a great plan for her son.

ANSWER: Your husband is right in this case. Your child needs an automobile, but apparently not bad enough to get off his butt and work for it. If you get this car for him, you are teaching him that Mommy and Uncle bail him out whenever he needs help. That’s the lesson he’s learning.

Now, if a kid is behaving and doing a good job and willing to work hard, that’s different. But this kid is playing video games at 18 years old. When you and your husband started out in life, you didn’t start rich. It’s not the car deal that’s the problem here, it’s the lesson to be learned. It’s silly for him to not want to work for this car, and you and your husband need to be in his face about it. If he chooses not to work for the car, then he chooses to walk. I'm not going to reward him for not showing diligence.

My 16-year-old son is in the building right now packing boxes, and last year he painted the stairwells in our building. This is how you learn about working. If you don’t teach him to work now, one day he’ll be 30 years old and living with you, doing the same thing. This good automobile deal isn’t so good because it doesn’t teach your son to work for it.