Dave Ramsey says: Enabling parents adding to trouble

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 20 2011 9:54 p.m. MDT

Dear Dave,

My older sister hasn't worked in two years. She hasn't even looked for a job, she's 36, and she's been living with our parents the whole time. They want to set her up in an apartment and pay the rent, but I think this is a bad idea. I love her, but what can you do for someone like this?

Dee

Dear Dee,

First of all, your parents aren't helping matters. She needs a job and a future, and she's not going to find either one as long as mom and dad are enabling her irresponsible behavior. It's sad for parents when they see their children harming themselves through their own stupidity and laziness. She's being both stupid and lazy, and unfortunately, these things aren't illegal.

There may not be a great ending to this story, because it all rests on your sister. She has the entire family tied up in knots, and in a sense, she's controlling everyone right now. But if you want my advice, here it is. Give her the address of the nearest homeless shelter, and send her on her way.

Right now, she's not just lazy and irresponsible, she's arrogant. And arrogance can only be erased after someone has been broken. When she's been broken, then she'll be coachable. In situations like this, you have to love someone enough to let them be broken. Otherwise, they'll continue in the same destructive behavior pattern.

This is sad, and I wish none of you were involved in such a mess. But she's had the opportunity to stop this inappropriate behavior at any point during the last two years. Chances are, if she'll change her attitude and become more humble and trainable, she can build from there.

—Dave

Dear Dave,

We're working on our debt snowball and are scheduled to become debt-free except for our home a year from now. The problem is I've got a very old car that's on its last legs. Would it be okay for us to put the debt snowball on hold for a month or two, and save up money for a newer, inexpensive used car that's in better shape?

Jonathan

Dear Jonathan,

I'd hold on to it if your car can make it a while longer. But if it's really on its last legs, and you're about to fall through a rusted floorboard, you might consider your plan. You need to ask yourself if you're just whining, or if it's an actual situation.

It sounds like you guys are doing a fabulous job so far of paying down your debt. Even if you take a month or two off to save up for a better car, you'll still have everything paid off except the house in about the same period of time. I'm not going to fuss about a couple of months' difference in this kind of situation.

Doesn't it feel great when you actually sit down and take a moment to think and formulate a plan instead of just wandering around lost? You guys have thought this thing out, and now you're ready to move ahead with a sensible idea!

—Dave

For more financial help please visit daveramsey.com.

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