Stand up for nonprofit news & help us reach our $100,000 goal! GIVE NOW
Ask Money

A car and a baby

Chris Farrell Dec 18, 2009

Question: christmas gift: my husband & I plan to give his son a car due to the fact that he will need a vehicle once his child is born in March next year. sigh. he does not currently have a vehicle and lives in a area with no pubic transport. bigger sigh. is there a way I can insure he will not use this vehicle to trade up to a bigger, better (read: more expensive) car? he has NO money sense and I am afraid this car, after he has it for a while, just won’t be good enough for him and his girlfriend. it is basic reliable (and safe) transportation – and was good enough for me!!! any advice for me in my quest for the stepmother of the year title? Gail, Alexandria, VA

Answer: Well, I think it’s a wonderful gift since we were without a car and had a new baby many years ago. (He’s now in law school. The cliché is true; they grow up really fast.) It wasn’t all that bad for us, though, since we lived in Brooklyn at the time.

I’m sure there is a lot more going on than I understand or can address. Relations can be tricky between parents and adult children even without the added stress of a stepparent. Just looking at the financial aspect there really isn’t anything you can do to prevent your son and girlfriend from selling the car and going into debt to buy a bigger, more expensive vehicle. It’s a gift.

My advice is for you and your husband (with your husband taking the lead role) to simply say why you’re giving them the car and that you’re doing it to help them out with a new baby. I’d stay low key, and remind them that a gift like this frees them to put their money elsewhere, especially toward the baby. Good luck.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.