I’ve never had to ask my parents for financial help, but I’m afraid the time has come and I am so annoyed with myself and also worried I’m in for a lecture from my dad. It’s not like I have a major excuse either, like a job loss or disability. I stupidly cosigned a credit card with my boyfriend and, now that we’ve broken up, he’s bailed on his debt and I am on the hook to pay for it. Between that and paying rent, my monthly bills and some unexpected car repairs last month, I’m running on empty for the next four weeks or so. I estimate I’ll need about $800 to get me through the month. How do I even begin to ask my parents for help?
I wish you had written in earlier – preferably before you co-signed with your boyfriend on a credit card. Unfortunately, you’re learning the hard way that doing so can turn into a major financial burden.
For those who may not know: When you cosign a loan with anyone, you are equally on the hook for the payments if the primary borrower goes AWOL. I hope you’ll make good on the payments and learn to think twice before taking on this risk again. While you’re at it, get yourself removed as a cosigner so that if he makes future payments you won’t be responsible for his debt.
To answer your bigger question, asking your parents for a bailout is never easy, especially for someone who’s been so financially independent up until now. Here’s my advice on how to get out of this rut and still maintain your parents’ pride:
1. Come Up With Plan B
Imagine if your parents were not able to help you. What would you do to solve this immediate financial problem? Would it mean hunkering down and eating ramen for three weeks while carpooling or taking public transportation? Would it mean selling some of your jewelry or other valuables? Imagine a world where it’s just you and your ability to save money. Can you come up with the money yourself? You can probably come up with some fraction of that $800, no?
2. If Not, Ask As Soon As Possible
You have financial obligations with deadlines. One of the worst things that can happen is missing those deadlines. Give yourself enough time to ask your parents so that (if they oblige) you can get the assistance you need to pay your bills on time.
3. Ask for Advice
When you do muster up the courage to ask your parents for financial assistance, start by asking for “advice.” Be honest and explain your situation. Your parents are likely going to have a lot of questions, so come prepared with good answers to show that you’ve learned from your mistakes and how you are struggling to turn this ship around. Explain that you’re doing everything in your power to address your finances, but that you’ve done the math and have calculated you’re x dollars short this month. Let them know you’ve considered and are working on Plan B, but that you need a little more help to get over this hump. What would they do if they were in your situation? They may offer to help you without you having to ask.
4. Speak Specifically
If you need $800, what specifically will that help cover? Parents want to know that you’re being honest with them. Is the $800 a need or mostly a want? Have a list of your expenses and prove that the money will not be spent frivolously.
5. Have a Repayment Plan
If it’s decided that you parents can and will help you out for the month, don’t just take the money and run. Show your maturity by proactively explaining how and when you will repay them. The sooner, the better. If they push back and offer to help you for free, make sure to repay them somehow, whether it’s treating them to a nice dinner or spending a Saturday cleaning out the attic. It’s your daughterly duty.
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