The bumper sticker is pretty funny the first time you see it: Get Even: Live Long Enough to Become a Problem to Your Kids. Haha, right? Well, not really. Today’s first question comes from a reader who feels like this is happening right now and her parents are not even that old.

Black sports car with insolvent parents bumper sticker

INSOLVENT PARENTS

Dear Mary: My husband and I have been debt-free for three years. My father has recently been very ill, and my mother spilled the beans about their debt. They have two bank credit cards plus several store cards—all with large balances. They also have a mortgage, HEL (home equity loan) and a big car payment.

I’m frustrated, disgusted and heartbroken to find out my parents have so much debt in their 60s. My husband and I paid off one major credit-card account for them that had a balance of several thousand dollars. Afterwards, my mother went out and bought a new outfit on that card—something she did not need.

I’m not willing to do that again or to go into debt to pay off their debt. I explained to her that with that kind of debt they will never retire. Am I wrong? I would appreciate any advice you might have for us. Julie

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