ONE OF THE GREAT blessings in life is grandchildren. In fact, as I think back on our childrearing years, skipping the children and going right to the grandchildren would have been great. Just kidding, Rick, Chris, Caryn and Craig.
Here I sit as a retiree on a Saturday morning, what to do, what to do? Are you kidding me?
When you have 13 grandchildren all living within an hour or so from your home,
ONE OUT OF FOUR Americans lives in a household with three or more generations under one roof, according to Generations United’s 2021 report. The number of folks living in these multigenerational households has increased sharply over the past decade, from 7% in 2011 to 26% in 2021. Although “multigen” households come in many shapes and sizes, the rarest type is a four- or five-generation family living together.
For most of my pre-teen years, I lived in a four-generation household.
IT’S CLEAR I AM a dinosaur when it comes to my views on money matters—and apparently several other things as well, but let’s not go there.
When I read in blog posts and articles that a married couple should separate their finances into his money and her money, that one person pays for this and the other for that, and never the twain shall meet, I’m shocked. Some articles indicate a severe division of money matters.
MONEY MAY TALK—but couples have a harder time, often struggling to agree on financial matters.
I’ve been a clinical psychologist for almost 50 years. I’ve counseled many couples who are mired in financial conflict and seen the quality of their relationship corroded by their squabbles.
How can we avoid such damage and start to reverse it? Let me tell you about two couples. These couples are hypothetical—remember, there’s this thing called patient confidentiality.
WHEN MY WIFE AND I were young, it was common to receive savings bonds for major events, such as birthdays and religious celebrations. We carried on the tradition with our two sons and we’re planning to do the same for our grandchildren.
With our sons, we bought savings bonds to mark significant childhood milestones. We held on to those paper bonds for many years, and gave them to our sons when they graduated college.
LAST MONTH MARKED 40 years of wedded bliss for my wife and me. I’m amazed at how fast the time has gone. I still remember the day we met. It was at a party celebrating her high school graduation. I gave her a ride to pick up a pack of cigarettes, all the while lecturing her on the dangers of smoking. I believe I saved her from a lifetime of smoking. She saved me from everything else.
EVER SINCE OUR OLDEST was born three years ago, my wife and I have had to confront the cold reality of paying for childcare. We visited four different daycare providers in the Boston area. None was below $2,300 a month. The gap between what we saw as the best and the worst was only $200.
Our monthly childcare outlay—now covering two kids following the birth of our second child last October—is close to $5,000.
APRIL IS FINANCIAL Literacy Month. If that doesn’t excite you, imagine how your children feel.
Still, consider this an opportunity to begin or reinforce your kids’ financial education. Many of my students told me one of their parents was into “finance,” but when I asked how the parent handled the family money, students would just shrug and say that was all they knew.
Children don’t like a straight-up lesson, especially from a parent. The trick is to make it seem casual and as blended into everyday life—theirs,
AFTER THEY MARRY, some people discover their spouse has hidden debt. We had the opposite situation.
Several years after we were married and while living in Illinois, my wife got a letter from the New York Secretary of State saying she may be the owner of an unclaimed savings account in the town where she was raised. This was before the internet. We had no idea how New York found her. Neither my wife nor her parents remembered the account.
MY WIFE AND I ARE blessed with 11 grandchildren and two step-grandchildren. They range in age from six to 18. Amazingly, as we get older, they’ve gotten older, too. We’re fortunate that all of our family is no more than an hour and a quarter’s drive away.
How I miss the days when they were delighted to play with Pa. We went to parks, to playgrounds, to see koi in a pond. We made sandcastles,
FOR 10 YEARS, my wife and I have given each of our four children $5,000 to $6,000 per year for them to put in their respective Roth IRAs. So far, we have given each of them about $60,000.
They were amazed a few years ago when their investment gains for that year exceeded our annual contribution. Today, their Roth accounts are now each worth about $125,000, so their cumulative growth—about $65,000—now exceeds our total contributions.
OUR FOUR CHILDREN are adopted.
After we’d been married several years, we were dismayed that my wife hadn’t conceived. Through testing, we found that we were both essentially infertile. As one doctor put it, “It’s good you are married to each other.” We decided not to pursue surrogacy, in vitro fertilization or similar options.
I thought our life was on an even keel until one day my wife asked, “When you get to be 65,
MY WIFE AND I recently re-watched a video made by one of our nephews. In the video, he interviewed his grandparents—my wife’s parents—about their lives. He wanted to understand what they’d done or taught that built such strong family bonds that lasted over such a long time.
My wife is one of five children: three boys and two girls. Each of her four siblings is married with at least two children—11 kids in total.
EVERY YEAR AROUND this time, I think about one of the most memorable events in my life.
As a child, I was fascinated by trains. My father was a railway tower signal man during the Second World War and later a station master. My first toy trains were plastic and battery operated, not true electric trains. One year, I pleaded for a real set. To my surprise, American Flyer trains were under the tree Christmas morning.
ONE WAY TO MAXIMIZE long-term family wealth is through a teenager’s summer or after-school job. How do these small paychecks add up to serious money? Probably the best investment we can make for our children and grandchildren: Stash their earnings in a Roth IRA.
A teenager’s Roth has three things going for it: little or zero taxes owed on the small bits of income earned, 70 or 80 years of investment compounding, and zero taxes owed when those gains are withdrawn.