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Kid question......
Old 03-15-2007, 09:00 AM   #1
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Kid question......



We have 2 boys, both in college, one is a junior and one is a freshman. We are paying for their college, room, board, and other things. It’s been a real struggle trying to teach them how to be responsible with money and we’ve had our share of parenting challenges to say the least.

I can’t wait until they’re done with school and our major financial commitment to them is completed, I find myself counting the days. It just seems like this is an endless money pit that doesn’t have a bottom to it. I know there will be other things that arise and we’ll support and help them all we can but I want this chapter in our lives to be done with. I want to move to another phase of our lives where my wife and I focus on us, and living life for all the gusto and enjoyment we can get out of it. We are working very hard and want to stop and smell the coffee, much sooner then later. As I have these thoughts, and I have them more and more, I start to feel guilty and selfish. My question is this….Has anyone else with kids been down a similar path and are these feelings normal? Thoughts and comments?
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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-15-2007, 09:12 AM   #2
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Re: Kid question......

Quote:
Originally Posted by spark0506
We have 2 boys, both in college, one is a junior and one is a freshman. We are paying for their college, room, board, and other things. It’s been a real struggle trying to teach them how to be responsible with money and we’ve had our share of parenting challenges to say the least.
As I have these thoughts, and I have them more and more, I start to feel guilty and selfish. My question is this….Has anyone else with kids been down a similar path and are these feelings normal? Thoughts and comments?
Parenting-- a lifetime sentence without parole. There's not even any time off for good behavior, and recidivism is higher than any other crime.

We have the same thoughts but we're doing the happy dance. We're counting the days, and we frequently do it in front of our kid. We tell her that we spent our entire careers training Navy sailors and enjoying watching them go out in the world and carving out their own successes. Now we're enjoying the process of watching her leave the nest, and cheering her on at it.

We want her to experience the same independence that we craved at her age (and still crave), and it'd be stiflingly bad parenting for us to want to swoop in and take care of her for the rest of our lives. Successful parenting is supposed to produce successful adults, not dependents. Then we remind her of all the good things that'll happen for her when she leaves our sphere of influence that will never happen if she stays under our roof.

She's also getting old enough to understand that we make the decisions that are best for her, not necessarily the decisions that she enjoys/wants/"needs".

Your subsidizing of your kid's lifestyles is supposed to end when you want it to, not necessarily when they graduate from college. If they won't learn financial responsibility from you then perhaps it's time they taught themselves...
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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-15-2007, 10:28 AM   #3
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Re: Kid question......

I have two boys, one is done with grad school, has a job, married & our two grandchildren(!). It never stops. I just set up a fund for the two grandchildren, one a DRIP and one a VG fund, not much, just $50 each a month. Our younger son is a senior in high school. He has applied to a number of CA state schools so we will see how that goes, so far the three that responded have been acceptances but the UC schools have not replied yet. So we are looking at state tuition & costs. I promised my son 1/3 of *any* school he was admitted to so I expect I could cover most of his state college costs. I have 'delayed' (in the sense that I could have technically retired at 55 last year) my retirement to address the education concern but I expect I will go this year or next and have saved $20K for younger son's schooling and should have enough of a cash flow from pension & investments to just cover costs as necessary. Younger son seems like he will be good with money, he works part time at Subway and that has been a learning experience. He knows funds can be tight and suggested not having a car when he goes off to college.
My wife retired last year and she wants me to retire so we can take longer trips. I expect we will do this more when younger son goes off to college. Fortunately I like my work. its a great job with OK pay. Lots of issues but paying for the kids education is a purpose not a burden in my life. As long as I see the kids going in the right direction I will support them in any way I can.
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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-15-2007, 10:31 AM   #4
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Re: Kid question......

Quote:
Originally Posted by spark0506
I can’t wait until they’re done with school and our major financial commitment to them is completed, I find myself counting the days.
I've been at this a while! One left in college. I am looking forward to the last graduation day. Compared to many other kids, our kids have been responsible. Actually, I need to give them credit - very responsible. I think the key was to start "financial responsibility training" at an early age. Near the end of the high school years, for example, is too late! Not that if it was left to then, that it is too late to try, because it's your money!

One of my youngest's college friends is a kid who he knew since jr. high. His parents just slather the money on. A brand-new car to go to college with, and in younger years had every electronic toy that was hot. Big big allowance. Even our kid has said it's excessive, that as a parent that it is a bad thing to do. The slather-money-on kid is very intelligent, but is immature and is not making real strides to maturity. As far as his parents, ye shall reap what ye has sown...

Our's calls us up to check on bigger expenses first, to find out if it's ok to proceed. Almost all expenses other than tuition and fees paid directly to the school are paid via a shared-account credit card that has the monthly statement sent to us. We see and pay the monthly bill. All receipts are collected and mailed to us, and we track expenses. So I have a good handle on what is going on. Last summer, for example, I noticed that food expenses were getting well out of line. The expenses for the shorter summer term were the same as a regular term. Our at-home food expenses were not showing a similar large increase, so we knew it wasn't inflation as the cause. A word or two from Mom corrected the situation, Fall term was back in line.

A phrase I like that I saw on the web "There are no loans for retirement".
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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-15-2007, 12:24 PM   #5
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Re: Kid question......

sounds like you might consider setting up better boundaries with your kids?

if they are sucking up resources - it is not likely they will stop without much effort - if you are "giving" to the point where you are starting to resent it - then it is not good for you or the kids and not your relationship with them. Giving them the best at the expense of your and your wife's happiness is not a good lesson for them.

my youngest sister is the least resourceful because she had the most given to her. my dad still refuses to cut her off and she is 25, going to an expensive school (she already has her BA) and my parents are paying for school and most of her expenses...she works a few hours a week and that is her spending money - and my parents are knee deep in debt!

so lesson here is if you don't teach them to walk, when you push them out of the nest, they might not fly - so start prepping them - start out with one or two bills - say now you will cover car insurance, then in 6 mths be prepared to cover x, y and z...

i worked throughout college and many kids do - it's a good lesson in responsibilty and prep for life in general - that is a gift you give to them too...

good luck!!!
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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-15-2007, 12:33 PM   #6
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Re: Kid question......

Quote:
Originally Posted by bright eyed
sounds like you might consider setting up better boundaries with your kids?
Yep.

It's really hard saying no to your kids - risk that they might reject you, get into trouble, etc. But sensible boundaries or maybe some conditions attached to the money go a long way.

You've done your job, now wean them. They'll get it.

Repeat 100 times: We love you guys more than anything, but at this point we really need to provide for our own retirement so that you don't have to support us down the road. You'll have to figure out a way to pay for that yourselves (or, we'll loan you half the money if you pay it back within 3 months etc.). We'll also be there to offer advice since we want you to avoid the mistakes we made, but we won't offer the advice unless you ask for it.

We didn't always succeed in following the above prescription, but always tried. Now they are independent, still love us, and are secure with their own growing families.
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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-15-2007, 12:33 PM   #7
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Re: Kid question......

Quote:
I can’t wait until they’re done with school and our major financial commitment to them is completed, I find myself counting the days.
Wow, Spark, when I read this, I literally checked to see if this was one of my own posts that had gotten bumped to the top of the thread list. Our financial divorce from DD will occur on Jan 5, 2009 when I write the last check to the University. After that we can have a relationship with her that isn't focused primarily on money.

Current system: We pay for tuition, room, and the cheapest meal plan. She has a job during the school year and pays for everything else.

Check out this thread: Teenage Money Issue. I might post an update to this.

Quote:
Your subsidizing of your kid's lifestyles is supposed to end when you want it to, not necessarily when they graduate from college.
That's technically true, Nords, but it's a little hard to put into practice. "You went on a ski trip, and incurred more overdraft fees, so we're not paying for the last two years of college. You'll have to quit." IOW, once you commit to a college, you're pretty much stuck until graduation.
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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-15-2007, 12:38 PM   #8
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Re: Kid question......

It amazes me to read how kids are "bleeding" Mom and Dad for "education and education related expenses", in some cases, today. We did not marry our kids, did we? I had 4 kids and they all worked from the time they could hold a lawn cutting implement. Worked through High School, worked their college spring breaks AT HOME. No spring break stuff, no cars at school until the Senior year, and they when AWAY to school. They all knew they were going to go to college early on and they all knew it was a "partnership plan". All of us, kids, schools, and Mom and Dad had a part to play, but the main responsibility was theirs. Scholarships, savings, loans, work effort had to come from them; after all it was THEIR education. Anyway, all four of them today have college educations, 2 daughter RN's with BSN's and one is a Nurse Practitioner, 2 sons, one a CPA and one a career military officer with a MS.

Not easy, but I will always be the first to admit THEY did the vast majority of the work and furnished the majority of the funds. Mom and Dad did the pushing and the shoving and provided the guidance and advice.

It may be too late for OP at this stage as the effort MUST start early -- kind of like ER plans.

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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-15-2007, 12:53 PM   #9
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Re: Kid question......

We're still a few years away from college for our kid, but I'm leaning towards working directly with her on funding and school selection. We'll probably start once she gets to high school. She'll have a budget to work with, and she can pick a school within those budget constraints. She'll own the funds once she gets to college. When they're gone, they're gone.
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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-15-2007, 01:45 PM   #10
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Re: Kid question......

Thanks for the helpful replies.

I have struggled with the parenthood thing….I can easily manage 50 employees but the kid stuff can get to me. I'm better about saying no and I’m working on getting them “weaned” away on dependency but sometimes it’s not pretty.

I have been somewhat resentful because I truly feel that many times they have no idea what it takes to get money….not borrow money, acquire money. I have worked on trying to enlighten and educate them in this area but I think they’re just going to have to learn some of it on their own for it to really sink in.

TromboneAl……I love the term “financial divorce”, so appropriate.

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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-15-2007, 03:51 PM   #11
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Re: Kid question......

If so many parents didn't try to go to Harvard vicariously through their children things would go a lot more smoothly. Some people will be able to make anything work, and more power to them. But for most, if you want to retire in your fifties while your kids go to school, move to College Station or Bellingham or someplace and let them go to the local school. Tell them you'll feed them and give them a place to stay. They can borrow enough at an in state school, work enough to buy gas and sundries and still have a life.

If I had had a job I could stand I might have put my kids through college, but I didn't so I didn't. There are huge advantages to this, since as a parent you must find a relationship of equals with your children. Because once you stop paying the bills, they are your equals.

I can imagine how I would have reacted if I were scrimping and worrying about my security while my son was buying a new car or a $4000 mountain bike. Better this never occur. Also, I don’t think we could expect to get much empathy from college loan officers or financial aid people when we tell them we retired at 39, or 42 or whatever so we could enjoy life unmolested by workday drudgery. But we want our kids to have the best, just not on our dime.

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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-15-2007, 03:58 PM   #12
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Re: Kid question......

One of the toughest things I've had to do with Gabe is see him about to fall over something or run into something and letting him do it so he'll learn to watch out for that sort of thing on his own instead of discovering an amazing lack of gravity with a background sound of helicopter blades.

Time to let them trip over a few financial roots and learn how to avoid them.
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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-15-2007, 04:11 PM   #13
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Re: Kid question......

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
One of the toughest things I've had to do with Gabe is see him about to fall over something or run into something and letting him do it so he'll learn to watch out for that sort of thing on his own instead of discovering an amazing lack of gravity with a background sound of helicopter blades.

Time to let them trip over a few financial roots and learn how to avoid them.
This is hard. We really want to spare our kids pain, as well as spare others that we love. But like you say, better for them realize that rocks are hard, stoves are hot, etc- as soon as they reasonably can profit from it, and while they are under our watchful eyes.

I have 2 successful sons 6 years apart. Yesterday the younger one was telling me how he likes to find answers on his own, rather than asking. He said when he was little he would ask big brother how to do something. (I guess he already knew who might be able to help him best )

Then big brother would say "I know you can work that out for yourself, so do it". Younger son said he really felt rejected and hated this answer, but he looks back and credits this full freedom approach with helping him develop intellectual and other forms of self reliance.

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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-16-2007, 10:56 AM   #14
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Re: Kid question......

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
That's technically true, Nords, but it's a little hard to put into practice. "You went on a ski trip, and incurred more overdraft fees, so we're not paying for the last two years of college. You'll have to quit." IOW, once you commit to a college, you're pretty much stuck until graduation.
I hear you, and ya gotta know your kids.

My colleges were "free" and I haven't paid for our kid's yet, but I have this fiscal fantasy that I'm paying room & board to the institution and depositing the kid's allowance in her checking account. She already knows how to spackle, paint, solder, clean toilets, & do yardwork so she's on her own...
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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-16-2007, 11:57 AM   #15
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Re: Kid question......

Very interesting topic. This year will be the first time for me, although I have mentally prepared myself for quite sometime now.

Both my kids will be in college this fall. We are still waiting for the final financial packages, but we have already started the elimination process. Several pricey private colleges have been eliminated purely based on academic rating in the engineering field. UCLA, a state but non-resident tuition, was also eliminated based on the same criteria. UT Austin and A&M are now at top of the state schools.

I have the Texas Tomorrow Fund for both of them. So tuition & fee are 100% covered for Texas State Schools. Room and board should be around 10K each, annually, and already allocated for. So if UT Austin and/or A&M is the final decision, my kids are all set. They only have to work for personal spending/entertainment money.

We still haven't heard from UC Berkeley and Columbia. The selfishness in me is hoping for a rejection. I honestly don't know what to do yet if one or both of my kids get accepted there. I do know that I will not discourage them from going to either school. Should they be responsible for the full difference in cost? 75%, 50%? The thought of carrying a 40K student loan for a bachelor degree is not pleasant.

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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-16-2007, 12:12 PM   #16
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Re: Kid question......

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam
The thought of carrying a 40K student loan for a bachelor degree is not pleasant.
Why not? People go to college to get a leg up in the working world. If there is any value added at all by these schools it ought to easily amortize a $40,000 student loan.

If it won't one perhaps should question its utility.

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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-16-2007, 12:32 PM   #17
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Re: Kid question......

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam
Should they be responsible for the full difference in cost?
That was my stance when my two daughters were choosing colleges. I agreed to pay for tuition, fees, living expenses, even provide a car (used, of course) to any state U. Anything beyond that was going to be their responsibility. Both attended state schools (UT and TT) but one wanted to go the sorority route. She did so on her own nickel, working summers to pay for it.

Both graduated, have good careers...and still speak to me.

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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-16-2007, 12:40 PM   #18
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Re: Kid question......

REWahoo,

What's "the sorority route"? Why is it more expensive (if I'm reading you correctly)?

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Both graduated, have good careers...and still speak to me.
I know you're joking. My kids know that I made decisions not to please them.
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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-16-2007, 12:47 PM   #19
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Re: Kid question......

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REWahoo,

What's "the sorority route"? Why is it more expensive (if I'm reading you correctly)?
She wanted to pledge a sorority and party enjoy the Greek life, which would be considered by many LBYM types as a waste of money (dues, etc.). Turns out she got into one that truly supported academics and the peer pressure helped keep her grades up.

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Re: Kid question......
Old 03-16-2007, 02:24 PM   #20
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Re: Kid question......

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She'll own the funds once she gets to college. When they're gone, they're gone.
This is what my parents have done with me. I am currently is my 2nd year of college and all my college money is sitting in my Etrade savings account. I know that once the money is gone then I am on my own.
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