By Dave Ramsey:

Myth: By cosigning a loan, I am helping a friend or relative.

Truth: Be ready to repay the loan.

The bank wants a cosigner for a reason—they don’t expect the friend or relative to pay.

Think with me for a moment. If debt is the most aggressively marketed product in our culture today, if lenders must meet sales quotas for “loan production,” if lenders can project the likelihood of a loan going into default with unbelievable accuracy—if all these things are true and the lending industry has denied your friend or relative a loan, there is little doubt the potential borrower is trouble just looking for a place to happen. Yet people across America make the very unwise (yes, dumb) decision to cosign for someone else every day.

Why We Sign

The lender requires a cosigner because there is a very high statistical chance that the applicant won’t pay. So why do we appoint ourselves as the generous, all-knowing, benevolent helper to override the judgment of an industry that is foaming at the mouth to lend money, and yet has deemed your friend or relative a deadbeat looking for a place to fail, or at least a loan default looking for a new home? Why do we cosign knowing full well the inherent problems?

We enter this ridiculous situation only on emotion. Intellect could not take us on this ride. We “know” they will pay because we “know” them. Wrong. Parents cosign for a young couple to buy a home. Why do they need a cosigner? Because they couldn’t afford the home! Parents cosign for a teenager to buy a car. Why would parents do this? “So he can learn to be responsible.” No, what the teenager has learned is: if you can’t pay for something, buy it anyway.

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Dave Ramsey is a personal money management expert, an extremely popular national radio personality and best-selling author of The Total Money Makeover. Dave is changing the face of America by helping people get out of debt and build wealth. For more information about him, log onto http://www.daveramsey.com