Over 2 years, ago, I said we’re free of consumer debt, but I was sort of wrong.
When I graduated high school, I had no financial plan for college, and my parents were already taking out loans for my sister’s first year. Along with the student loans I took out (about $20,000 worth), my parents also took out at least the same or more to pay for my room and board and some tuition.
When I graduated college, I promised my mom that when I finished paying off my student loans, I would pay off the portion she took out on my behalf. Back then she told me I didn’t have to, and she stuck to it.
However, over the last couple years, I sent 2 payments that paid off 2 different loans (there were about 8-10 loans total just for me). But after having some chats recently with my mom about their finances, I decided it was time to use our discretionary income to just pay off the last 2 loans. I knew my mom would put up a fight against it, but I had a response already planned.
Now, the payoff wasn’t a huge amount (a low 4 figures), but it did coincide with her birthday time and a major health scare within our family, so my mom was already emotional. When I called to tell her “I have a late birthday present for you”, she didn’t think anything of it. But then I told her I sent her a check to pay off the student loans, she couldn’t believe it, and, of course, she said “you shouldn’t have”.
But then I told her “my current financial success was because of her and dad taking out the loans”. She started to break down, but responded that it was my studying and good grades, but then I countered with “but I couldn’t have afforded college without you taking out the loans“. That won the argument. She accepted the gift and now my student loans will be officially paid off, including those taken out by my parents.
Granted, if we all had planned better, from my birth through scholarships, grants, etc., I could have probably gone to college for much less or even for free, but we didn’t. However, my income in the last 10 years has MORE than made up for the cost of college (about $40,000 or so total). If I didn’t have other debt and only counted standard expenses, I would bet the payback period would have been in less than 5 years.
It felt good to know I was helping out my parents while also taking care of my promise and obligation. How about all of you? Would you pay off your parents’ loans after you paid off yours? Or would you let them deal with it and just work on your investments, savings and/or have fun with your money?
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