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I wanted to give my kids a good start in life so I made the pricey decision to pay for their education and had to put a mortgage on my house to do it. I still view it as one of my better investments.
I was an immature kid – I did a tour of state schools of Ohio before finally finding my footing. My middle class parents gave me no financial help; I worked part time at low-wage jobs through many years of undergrad and took out a few loans. For me, this turned out to be the best gift. The long tour through school (and unemployment – still with no help) allowed me to mature and focus. When I was finally done and landed a great job at a great company, my self esteem was sky high and I knew I could accomplish anything.
I have many friends who’s parent’s wealth derailed their personal lives because they lacked perspective. No job was ever good enough, no potential mate was ever good enough (for the wealthy family) and their spending was out of control – so even trust fund kids are hurting now.
Now school is impossible to pay for without help or huge loans.
Assuming my daughter is able to focus appropriately (not sure, she’s a little immature too), I plan to pay for undergrad, but expect her to earn some money during the summer.
We are much older parents and plan to leave her a meaningful inheritance. But despite our estate attorneys suggestion, she won’t get it until she’s much older; I do not want to derail her career or the self esteem that comes with it.
It’s so much an individual choice, based on the parents, their financial status, their children, and their children’s choices. Beyond the emotional bonds, I feel a moral duty to help prepare them for the world they will face. Sometimes that means financial support. Many times it’s something else entirely.
We are giving far more to one child in the way of education; we’ll be giving far more to the other in terms of lifetime security (he has special needs.) I’m not sure there’s a way to treat them equally, but we can help them each get to where they can stand on their own.
My partner and I have one child who has chronic health issues. The level of financial help we aspire to provide for our child is lifetime financial security. Saving for our retirements has been our first priority for many years, with the hope that we can leave enough after we’re gone. We are now looking into an ABLE account and trusts.
I like your description of how you are supporting your two children in different ways, each according to their needs, R.A.! It is a different experience to provide financial help to a child with special needs, one that I have found to be a great source of anxiety. I’m glad you wrote about it here.
I never received any help from parents, never asked and they were not able to assist in any case.
Perhaps that’s why I feel the opposite. I see it as an obligation and in a way a privilege to be able help children if they truly need it from time to time. That’s especially true for college.
We are also helping to modestly fund 529 plans for 11 grandchildren. If I can help it, I don’t want anyone to get a degree going nine years at night while trying to raise a family as I did.
My parents helped me with college, but when I said I was thinking about taking a year off to see the world, my father said, “As long as you are preparing for life, I’ll help. Once you decide to have a life, you are on your own.” Not only did that encourage me to stay in school and finish, but I used the same outlook with my sons.
i helped our kids early. Taught them about money and credit beginning in junior high. By the time they had to make financial decisions they were armed with knowledge they hadn’t learned in school. If you young parents will do this you’ll likely find they need no help once the are on their own.
My general rule of thumb is to give help (both financial and non-financial) enough to help them be self-reliant. I go by this famous quote “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”
For my family, we have taught the two boys how to fish by supporting them through the highest levels of education they want to pursue. We paid for all their bachelor’s degrees’ expenses. If they want to pursue a graduate degree, we would be happy to support them as well. Although it turned out that either one didn’t want to pursue a graduate degree.
I also want to add that this attitude is more common in Asian families like mine. My parents supported all their four children’s college education so obviously, I’ve inherited this culture and tradition. I also think that with the rising cost of college educations, it is much tougher and maybe even impossible to do so nowadays.
Give what each uniquely needs, and only if you are able. Not having to support your parents late in life is an important form of financial help to children.
This is a very tough question, and very individual. I think it is important for parents to be financially secure. Otherwise they can become the ones who need the financial help. After that, it’s up to each parent to decide what they want to do. I would want to make sure the children were responsible, with a work ethic. I wouldn’t want to create dependence, or too great an incentive to not work. As with most things in life, it requires judgment.
I can’t answer this from the standpoint of a parent-I don’t have any children-but I can say as a child, I certainly haven’t ever expected any financial help from my parents. My family didn’t have a lot of money so I grew up knowing I’d need to make it on my own, so to speak.
I paid for college with no financial help from my parents or any other relatives. My parents did allow me to live at home for the first couple of years of my college education so that helped me save some money. I didn’t own a car of my own until I was in my mid-twenties and holding down a full-time job. The first house I owned cost less than most luxury vehicles do today.
Ask me and I’ll tell you I think too many parents subsidize too much of the child’s lives. I’ll tell you I think grit and dogged determination are built from enduring struggle and making sacrifices. I’ll tell you I think children appreciate what they earn more than what they are given.