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Your Money: Supporting good behavior now pays dividends later

Dave Ramsey: Supporting sister in pursuit of a college degree is a good investment in her future as long as she keeps making good decisions.
BY DAVE RAMSEY Published: April 8, 2013
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DEAR DAVE: My younger sister moved to Atlanta, and she came to live with my husband and me a few months ago. She's 19, has a job, and is attending a local college. But even though she's working, she hasn't said anything about helping out with utilities or paying rent. We don't need the money, but do you think it's time for us to push her out of the nest so she can start living as an adult?

Molly

DEAR MOLLY: The way you've described your little sister makes me think she's a pretty good kid. She's doing all the right things for someone her age, and it doesn't sound like you've got a party animal or drug addict in your home. In my mind, this is the kind of person you want to help.

In a sense, you're acting as surrogate parents to this young lady. If it were my little sister, I'd let her live in the house without paying rent as long as she was living smart and moving in a positive direction. To me, this includes working, saving money, and going to college. At the moment, you're enabling good, positive behavior. You have a chance to be her biggest cheerleader and prepare her for the future.

But if things change and she starts behaving irresponsibly or living a lifestyle you don't approve of, then it'll be time to put the brakes on the deal. But right now this kid's a rock star. Thanks to the generosity and support shown by you and your husband, she can gain traction for a successful launch into the world as a smart, responsible adult. I think it's awesome!

DEAR DAVE: I have some old debts that have been forgiven. Should I still pay these if and when I have the money?

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