Q&A: This son’s failure to launch is hurting his parent’s finances

Dear Liz: I have a 24-year-old son who has been trying to get through college for nearly seven years. I have helped him with direct gifts and by co-signing loans, but I am pretty tapped out. He tells me he has one year left but has no way to pay for it. He is disorganized and not particularly motivated, although he does talk about things he’s learning and I think is at least somewhat committed to school (he maintains about a B to C average at the state school he attends). He has moved back home to save money and is working full time but had gone many months without a job in the last year. He accumulated credit card debt and generally is a financial disaster.

Do I take out a second mortgage or co-sign another loan, which would be a stretch for me, or do I watch him drop out of school, which seems a really harsh life lesson? I know he might be able to take a year off and then go back, but let’s be honest — if he takes a break, it becomes less likely that he’ll ever return.

Answer: You sound like you’re more than tapped out. You already may be overextended because those private education loans you co-signed are just as much your responsibility as his — and he doesn’t sound like a terrific credit risk, at least at this point. Doubling down by borrowing more money doesn’t seem like the wisest choice for either of you.

Taking a break from school could increase the chances he won’t get his degree, but it also could give him time to get his financial life in better shape and perhaps tackle some of the issues impeding his progress. His disorganization and slow pace through school could point to an underlying problem such as a learning disability or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). His college may have a counseling center that could connect him with resources to help, or you could ask your family physician for a referral.

Q&A: Keeping pace with retirement saving

Dear Liz: My wife is distressed by your recent column about how many multiples of salary are needed to retire. She interpreted the column as saying you must have the sum total of those numbers. So if you need one times your salary saved at 30, three times by 40, six times at 50 and […]

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Q&A: Claiming an ex’s benefits

Dear Liz: You recently answered a question pertaining to divorced spousal Social Security benefits. Social Security told me years ago that I had to wait till my former husband died before receiving a part of his benefits. We divorced after a long-term marriage, and I remarried after age 60. Is this still true for remarried […]

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Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 7 things college freshmen don’t need – and 10 they do. Also in the news: Stocking up for school can be eco-friendly and economical, what to do when back to school bites you in the budget, and how to get rid of your back taxes. 7 Things College Freshmen Don’t Need — […]

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Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Teach your teens about college costs long before they apply. Also in the news: Haggling for vacation souvenirs, getting cheap car insurance for new drivers, and what to do with unexpected money. Teach Your Teens About College Costs Long Before They Apply Prepare them for reality. Save Money on Souvenirs: Learn to […]

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Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How your vacation spending can help fund next year’s trip. Also in the news: How much you’ll really pay for that student loan, the 5 best and 5 worst states for retirement, and what NOT to buy on Amazon Prime Day. Record Summer Vacation Spending? Pay It Forward to Your Next Trip […]

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Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Stocking up for school can be eco-friendly and economical. Also in the news: Why this Southwest Airlines card is a solid choice for budget travelers, how to choose a secured credit card, and the best tip calculator apps. Stocking up for school can be eco-friendly AND economical Look for freebies first. Why […]

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Teach your teen about college costs starting now

Many families struggle to pay college expenses for one or two kids. Certified financial planner Sarah Carlson, mother of two sets of twins, will soon have all four of her children in college at the same time. The older twins are already there, to be joined soon by the younger two. But years ago, Carlson […]

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Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 good times to shop for almost anything. Also in the news: How one woman ditched $36K of debt, how to nag new coworkers to save for retirement, and saving on airline booking fees by buying your ticket at the airport. 5 Good Times to Shop for Almost Anything Spend a holiday […]

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Q&A: Escaping California’s tax auditors is tough even after leaving the state

Dear Liz: My husband and I will be trying out several different areas after the sale of our Los Angeles area house, which will be some time this summer. What happens if we end up renting in three different states? I’m under the impression that we need to be able to prove that we resided […]

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