I have a relative who recently entered a rehab center to treat her drug addiction. I’ve been trying to help with things on the outside, and recently I discovered she has about $20,000 in debt. This is in addition to the rent owed on her apartment. I don’t have a lot of money, but do you think I should start trying to pay some of these bills for her?
I’m really sorry to hear about your relative. Addiction is painful thing for the addict and for their family and friends. While what you’re suggesting is noble, my advice would be to leave the debt alone. I would, however, notify her landlord of what’s happened. If he won’t hold her place, then get her stuff out and turn over the keys so he or she can find another tenant.
As far as the debt obligations are concerned, just let her creditors cry and whine. They’re going to do that anyway, and you’re in no position to help financially at this point. Once she’s out and healthy again, one of the first things she’ll have to do is recreate her life and income. When that’s been done, then she needs to go back and make arrangements with her creditors.
But right now, she needs to concentrate on herself. And as her family, you need to pour as much love and support as you can into the healing process. You’ve got a great heart, Jeremy, but the money stuff can wait until she’s out, healthy and established again. Then, if you want and have been able to save a bit, you might gift her a little money to help her get started again.
God bless you guys.
* Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He has authored five New York Times best-selling books. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 8.5 million listeners each week on more than 550 radio stations. Dave’s latest project, EveryDollar, provides a free online budget tool. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.