Dear Dave: Our son is about to graduate from law school. He took out a loan to cover the cost, but we’ve always been debt-free and have been paying on it to help him out while he finishes his studies. The balance on the loan right now is around $30,000. He has a job waiting for him after he graduates, so we’re thinking about telling him it will be his responsibility to finish paying off the loan at that point. Is that wrong?
Dear Pat: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a young law school graduate earning a living and paying off his own debt. I hope he appreciates how generous you both have been, but you shouldn’t feel as if you’re obligated to continue making these payments after he finishes school and begins working.
Now, if you decide to pay it off for him as a gift for successfully completing law school — and you’re in a financial position to do so without hurting yourselves or your future — that’s fine, too. It would be another incredibly generous act. And in my mind, generosity of that magnitude should be met with gratitude and appreciation of equal measure.
If you choose this route, let him know how and why you were able to give him this gift. Don’t hold it over his head or beat him up with it, but stress the importance of being wise with money, saving and investing and staying out of debt in the future. Let him know if he’ll follow your example, he might be able to do the same kind of thing for his kids someday. That would be a wonderful thing to see, wouldn’t it?
Dear Dave: I know you advise most people to buy used cars. Do you have a rule of thumb for a mileage limit when it comes to buying a used vehicle?
Dear Paul: No, not really. Sometimes mileage alone can be a good indicator of the quality of a used vehicle, but that’s not always the case. I would also advise doing a little research and maybe letting a trusted mechanic have a look to determine if there are any issues that might give you trouble soon.
The more inexpensive and cheaply made a car is, the more likely it becomes that it would be worn down by higher mileage. Some vehicles start to get a little ragged at 100,000 miles, while others — some of the better makes — are just getting a feel for the road at that point. Of course, a lot depends on your budget, too.
Overall, I would advise you to look for something that has a good reputation, a solid history and as little mileage as possible. There are good used cars out there that will last for years!