A reader wants to help her son start a pool-cleaning service, but he refuses to let her.
Question: I bet you don’t get many questions like this one, Mr. Dvorkin. How do I persuade my stubborn son to accept my donation toward his new pool-cleaning service?
Here in Florida, there are many pools, and they all need frequent cleaning. Of course, there’s much competition among these cleaning services, and my 18-year-old has worked for several since he was quite young. Now, while he’s a high school junior, he wants to see if he can launch his own business.
I offered him $2,000 so he could afford the equipment, which can cost a pretty penny. I told him he wouldn’t need to pay me back — no strings attached. He said no, he doesn’t want any help. So he’s not only going to school, he’s working nights so he can save up for the equipment.
So please, tell me how I can change his mind!
— Eleanor in Florida
Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…
After more than two decades as a CPA and financial counselor, I’ve learned that money is not just a financial instrument, it’s often an emotional condition.
Financially, your son is foolish to refuse a donation of $2,000 toward his new business. Emotionally, he wants to make it on his own. While that may frustrate you, I firmly believe you should be proud of his decision: You’ve raised a son who doesn’t want a handout. I’ve found, in my own career, that business people with this trait end up being the most successful in life.
I can, however, propose a middle ground.
Your son obviously doesn’t want a donation, but how about a loan or an investment? If you check out Debt.com’s peer-to-peer lending page, you’ll see interest rates as low as 9.33 percent for 36 months. You could offer him something similar. Even show him that web page so he knows you aren’t offering him any “family discount.”
Another option is to invest in his business as a silent partner. You could negotiate with him on terms. I’d suggest you and your son look up Junior Achievement and find the branch nearest you. JA has taught millions of young people about how to start and run a business, and as a fellow Floridian, I know there are many branches in the state.
Bottom line, Eleanor: Be proud of your son, and realize the rest of what we’re talking about are the details.
Have a debt question?
Email your question to email@example.com and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a CPA, chairman of Debt.com, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.