Betsy and Gino’s son-in-law of eight years, Alfie, wants to open a restaurant, but he doesn’t have enough income to qualify for the loan that would make it happen. Now Alfie is asking his in-laws to be co-signers on the loan, and they don’t know what to do. The argument against is that restaurants are an iffy proposition at best and Alfie is neither an experienced restaurateur nor an experienced entrepreneur.
If the restaurant doesn’t make it, Betsy and Gino would be on the hook for the remainder of the loan, which would make their retirement a whole lot less comfortable. The argument for is that their daughter is pressuring them to help her husband realize his dream, and they worry she’ll hold it against them if they say no. Should Betsy and Gino follow their head and adhere to Benjamin Franklin’s famous edict, Neither a borrower nor a lender be, or should they follow their heart and help out the young couple?
The Panel Weighs In
Parker: I’m a soft touch, so I would give Alfie the loan. It’s my daughter’s future we’re talking about here, after all. However, I would attach lots of strings to the loan, such as insisting Alfie go through small business training.
Louise: No, no, no! This is a lark. If Alfie were serious about the new venture, he would have apprenticed at a restaurant and saved up for his new business. I would risk my daughter’s estrangement rather than put my own retirement at risk.
Rob: Betsy and Gino are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. I guess I’d give the kids some money but not so much that it jeopardizes my own future.
Franny: Oh, why couldn’t the kids have asked Alfie’s parents, instead? His request puts Gino and Betsy in such an awkward position. Ultimately, they should turn him down rather than become his business partner and banker—a sure recipe for disaster.
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