Sort of a S/O. How much do you think "helping" your children is actually "helping?"

Discussion in 'Community Board' started by 1GoldenSun, Apr 15, 2019.

  1. 1GoldenSun

    1GoldenSun DIS Veteran

    Jun 17, 2017
    The thread about "life-changing" amounts of money got me thinking abut what I WOULD do if I came into a life-changing sum of money. Helping your children seems to be a common response on that thread.

    How much help do you think is actually helpful as opposed to doing too much for your children? Obviously something like the Lori Laughlin affair is going too far, but how far do you think you can go to help your kids before it becomes more detrimental than beneficial?

    My husband and I differ on this sometimes. We both grew up with less than what we have now, and sometimes what I view as giving our children opportunities we didn't have, he views as spoiling them. I'm talking about things like summer camps and extracurricular activities, but also material things to an extent. These are things we can very easily afford.

    Right now the kids don't really have any earning power so everything they have is compliments of Mom and Dad. So it's not really a question of how much we "help" them but how much we "give" them. But soon we'll be talking cars, college, etc. I would be happy to "help" with these expenses, but DH feels they need to figure out how to pay for these on their own. I see his point; I don't want them to be lazy and entitled and expect life to be easy. But if we can afford to make life easier for them than it was for us, should we?

    What do you think? How much would you be wiling to "help" or give your kids if money weren't really much of a factor. For those of you who went through something of a struggle during the "lean years" when you were just starting out (like DH and I both did!) but are doing well now, do you think those difficult years made you stronger and were worth the struggle? Do you think you would have turned out as well if someone had been there to help out when your car needed brakes or your new job required a wardrobe you couldn't afford? How much should we let our kids struggle when we can afford to help?
  2. Floridaman999

    Floridaman999 Livin' the life

    Dec 29, 2017
    As our oldest began adulthood, my wife and I very quickly realized we had made, and were making things a bit too easy on him and his younger brothers. We changed our strategy a bit and let them learn some difficult lessons a bit earlier than we had the oldest and I think it has worked out well.
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  4. mjkacmom

    mjkacmom DIS Veteran

    Feb 20, 2006
    I have 5, so it’s hard to go overboard. One one hand, we try very hard to fund activities they are passionate about. On the other hand, they pay for their cellphones, going out with friends, and get $15 a week for lunch (which doubles as allowance). They get clothing and shoes as needed (not wanted), and on sale.

    I wish we could afford to pay 100% for college. Dd22’s in state public college tuition was over $100,000, DH went to the same university 30 years ago for about $30,000. Ds21’s in state college will amount to over $120,000, same for dd18’s out of state public university (after $18,000 a year scholarship).

    Dd22 and ds21 received old beaters just because relatives died. Dd totaled hers and had to replace it herself, ds is still driving his, but the transmission is shot, so no highway driving. I might give in and get a beater once the twins turn 17, as it's a struggle sharing right now with just dd18 (she is currently driving the kids she babysits to the doctor with my car).

    My parents had $ to do more for my sister and I than they did. They did pay for our education (but it was SO much cheaper back then).
    firefly_ris likes this.
  5. cvjw

    cvjw DIS Veteran

    Dec 22, 2005
    We purchased our kids new cars when they got their licenses and paid for all their school expenses that weren’t paid for by the Georgia hope scholarship. We have not expected our kids to work while in college, their job is to get good grades.

    Both are thriving and succeeding, so us making life easier for them hasn’t been a detriment.
  6. firefly_ris

    firefly_ris DIS Veteran

    Nov 25, 2015
    Here's what my parents did for me -- I am an only child, and they both worked (my dad full time, my mom a little bit more than part time), and both had good careers. So the two "big" things - they purchased a used car for me (at the time, it was a 3 year old, 1997 Ford Taurus, that my dad was able to get at an extremely deep discount as it was a company car that was being offered to employees). They were also able to pay for my college education. I tried to keep it generally "cheap" -- I went to community college for 2 years first, then transferred to a local, state 4 year to finish, and I commuted there daily. Because they were able to do this for me, I graduated with zero student debt, which is enormously helpful, IMO. They also paid for a cell phone when I turned 16 and was driving (at the time the very sturdy Nokia that everyone in the world had).

    To counter that, I started working part time when I was 14 years old. My dad taught me how to do an "envelope" system with my $80 paycheck -- I had an envelope for Gas, Car Insurance, Christmas, Free Spend. So each paycheck I was taught to wisely divide it up. I paid for gasoline in my car, and I paid for half of its auto insurance. They paid for repairs and maintenance on the car, except for "extras" (I installed a few after market radios/CD players in it, upgraded the speakers, etc, that was on my dime). Christmas was so I could buy my parents and friends gifts. Ultimately they would have covered me if I for example spent my gas money on something dumb and didn't have enough gas to get to school, but that never happened, I think because my dad was very adamant about teaching me not to spend money I didn't have. Then when I entered college, they helped me apply for a credit card and taught me all about that.

    Now, I have 3 kids, my DH and I don't make anywhere near what my parents made, and my DH still has a (small, but still there) student loan that he pays on. So, while I am trying to set aside funds when I can, I seriously doubt I will be able to pay for my childrens' entire college education.

    What I can do is help in other, non-monetary ways... we work on the value of hard work, working as a team (house chores, yard work, loving and helping our family and siblings), we don't spend more than we have, they can earn money through work (chores) and get to choose how they spend it, even if it's a totally dumb thing and they regret spending it (I tell them, hey I've done that too). I also try to teach independence -- my 9 and 7 year old can now make their own cold or hot breakfast, using the toaster oven, and they are responsible for making sure their folders, snacks, lunches, etc. are in their backpacks before school, and so on. They are in charge of certain chores -- putting their laundry away, keeping their rooms clean, and they wanted a rabbit, so as a team they are in charge of his care.

    Now, if circumstances were different, or we won the lottery -- I'd want to fund their education, and help them with first cars, but I'd still do most things similar to what my parents did... so still helping a lot, but with lessons in self-maintenance, and in charge of funding certain things, just not everything.
  7. Floridaman999

    Floridaman999 Livin' the life

    Dec 29, 2017
    I did tell them all that their allowance was stopping when they turned 30. They were not happy at all.
  8. abdmom

    abdmom DIS Veteran

    Apr 6, 2008
    It used to be that a student could work their way through college. Those days are long gone. The cost of college in the US is $30K - $75K/year. They can only take out loans of up to $5500/year. Kids can't pay for it on their own.

    I am sacrificing to give my kids the best education they can have. My parents didn't do that for me and it really hurt our relationship.
  9. Brett Wyman

    Brett Wyman DIS Veteran

    Mar 30, 2018
    My parents couldn't afford to send me to college so I had to work full time and take out loans. I know for a fact this affected my grades and time it took to complete college(not to mention the post college debt). I definitely DO NOT want my kids to work just to pay their bills in college. A short part time job or internship is fine of course. I want them to be able to learn while they are there without the stress of money. But at the same time it is also the time to learn to pay bills on your own and budget(even if the paycheck si coming from om and dad).
    jodifla and momto2girls like this.
  10. leebee

    leebee DIS Veteran

    Sep 14, 1999
    DD25 is our only. We have never had a lot of disposable income, especially as I ended up being significantly underemployed for about 12 years. DD's love of dance class turned into pretty serious training at a local studio. She ended up spending about 30 hours a week training in the studio and has danced professionally with two companies. We paid for her training, classes, pointe shoes, etc. We also paid for her to have a tracfone while in high school, and she knew if she went over the minute allotment, that was it for the 3-month period. She had no car- in fact, she didn't get her license until she was 20. She went to college at our local university, living on campus. All school loans are in her name, although DH worked there as an adjunct during the spring semesters so there was a 25% tuition discount for those semesters. When she moved off-campus senior year, she paid for her own rent, food, and gas (we handed down our 2003 PT Cruiser to her in 2013, so a pretty old car). DD moved to another state 3 years ago with her fiance and is completely independent of us. We let her keep the Cruiser until it died, and she has since purchased her own vehicle. Obviously she has a job and pays for all her own stuff/life, but we are paying her college loans. We weren't in a position to help much with college (maybe $7K a year) so we are making the loan payments ($260 a month); seems like it's the least we can do. We could have made different choices with how to spend our money while DD was growing up so that there was a college fund (i.e., no ballet training, fewer vacations, etc) but this was a good choice for us and is working out (especially as now I have a real job with a decent salary).
    superme80 and momto2girls like this.
  11. ronandannette

    ronandannette I gave myself this tag and I "Like" myself too!

    May 4, 2006
    Overall, we've been far less indulgent with our DS than my parents ever were with me but waaaay more supportive in every way than what my DH experienced. We never really set out for it to be this way; we've played it by ear and hope we've made decent decisions along the way.

    Our DS is 22 and has, for reasons both within and beyond his control, basically "failed to launch". He's had fits-and-starts but has not managed to permanently move much past where he was when he finished highschool. It's been a very difficult four years for all of us. Infuriating for us when he makes a jackassed decision against all advice that is to his detriment, heart-breaking when he does everything right and the results are disappointing, and just plain old giving-me-grey-hair the rest of the time.

    We've set our boundaries pretty firmly - we won't put him out on the street but beyond a roof over his head and food, we've given him virtually nothing (other than modest birthday and Christmas gifts that we would have given regardless). It's hard - extremely hard, not to be more forthcoming but we've had to keep the pressure high enough to finally separate out what he can't do from what he won't do. Honestly, we though this approach would be more effective and much faster than it has. :sad2:

    There's hope today though - he's got both a job interview and a meeting with a university admissions officer. If/when he gets accepted to a program this fall, he will need to take student loans (not near as onerous a proposition here in Canada as in the States). One of the consequences of his "gap-year" turning into 4 years is that what we had set aside for his schooling has been depleted in other ways and we make no apologies for that. He can continue to live at home rent free if he chooses. We intend to help financially but his opportunity for a full-ride came and went.

    DH has two adult daughters long-since married with families of their own. The decisions about how and when to help them financially over the years have been difficult also. Not near as hard though because we don't feel like we're still responsible for parenting them and trying to teach them life-lessons through our giving (or lack thereof). And for all of them we give only - never lend. It's either a complete yes or a total no.
    firefly_ris and Searc like this.
  12. indimom

    indimom Are We There Yet?

    Jul 18, 2008
    We are giving our daughter help with college, but not everything. She's got some skin in the game, but will not have more than 15,000 in loans when she finishes her bachelors. That we planned. But she now says s planning for grad school and we're not sure how far we're willing to go assisting with school since we never thought that far ahead. She'll be the first in our family to go to grad school. We will be playing it by ear, but will probably help in some way.

    Our son chose the Air Force so we haven't decided what to do with his "college fund". For now we're waiting to see if he's going to make this a career. If he does, we will probably gift him the same amount for a car or down payment on a home or whatever works.

    Beyond that, we provided cars and phones for both.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
  13. lifesavacation

    lifesavacation DIS Veteran

    Jan 24, 2016
    I know you're just joking, but my son felt it was "harsh" of us to expect him to start paying his phone and car insurance when he graduated college (no student loan debt) and got a full time salary earning job. And we didn't expect it right away either. Our time frame was within 3 months. He's a great kid with a good head on his shoulders, but his response really surprised us. We've always been financially generous to the point that my husband and I went without so the kids could have what they needed and wanted. I'm fairly certain I would not make the same choices today if I got a do-over. I'm not sure what the right answer is honestly. We'll have weddings and houses coming up and I know my kids will ask us to pitch in.
  14. Floridaman999

    Floridaman999 Livin' the life

    Dec 29, 2017
    I understand completely. The things our oldest expected made my wife and I realize it was time to change our ways. It is still a guessing game for sure, but we're trying to make them ready for the world and not make the world ready for them.
  15. Searc

    Searc DIS Veteran

    Aug 12, 2018
    They can ask all they want. It doesn't mean you have to say yes. ;)
    LongLiveRafiki, Kitty 34 and tcufrog like this.
  16. neverlandsky

    neverlandsky DIS Veteran

    Sep 7, 2017
    We don’t want to enable nor do we want to be taken advantage of, yet we want to give them a jumpstart for a better future. We have a son and daughter.

    *Right now its braces: $11,000 for both.
    *Allowance: $20 monthly until high school graduation.
    *Dates: You have to pay for yourself. Exception of where we pay is if it’s a middle/high school function.
    *High School Graduation: We’re paying and loading their prepaid cell with a 1 year service card. After that on you’re on your own. Plus $1,000 cash gift.
    *Car/Insurance: Provided by us until 18.
    *18th Birthday: $1,800 cash gift.
    *Birthdays until 21: $100.
    *First Place & Home: $1,000 cash gift.
    *College: Can live at home rent free. We’ve had long talks on how to go to college debt free. We’ll help here and there, yet they need to be accountable and responsible here.
    *No college: Rent contract and $100 rent charged with a move out planned by 21. Going to put money in savings and reimburse them the total paid on move out day.
    *Boomerang Back: Not happening unless it’s to find a place or waiting for a house to be built.
    *Marriage: $5,000 lump sum cash gift. We’ve made it known up front this is what it’s going to be. We’re not footing a wedding bill nor do we want to be involved in the planning. Just tell us what to wear and we’ll always be there.
    *Christmases after 18 single or married: $100.
    *Christmases/Birthdays grandkids: $50.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
    firefly_ris, bianca and PollyannaMom like this.
  17. kdonnel

    kdonnel DVC-BCV

    Feb 1, 2001
    As my daughter finishes her first year of college I am thinking in some respects we made it a little too easy but in others we did just right. Glad to hear it worked out well for you, I hope for the same.
    PollyannaMom and Floridaman999 like this.
  18. Kitty 34

    Kitty 34 Hums in her sleep

    Feb 16, 2000
    Oh shoot, I told my boys 40..............I've just been hoping they have been saving up their allowances to help me and Pa once we turn 70!! :rotfl:
    Floridaman999 and ronandannette like this.
  19. disykat

    disykat DIS Veteran

    Jun 5, 2000
    Our kids started doing odd jobs at 12 and got jobs at 16, so their small allowances stopped at 12.

    Their cell phones and plan were generally their birthday gifts from age 16 through college. (admittedly the age would probably start younger now, but at the time it was reasonable. Prior to that they took their dad's cell if they were going to be somewhere they'd need to call for a ride, etc.)

    We put a 3rd car into the mix so they had access to a shared family vehicle. Even in college they took turns taking a vehicle with them when they had internships. Because they were two years apart the needs worked out perfectly. As they graduated from college each one inherited an old vehicle. One was a '96, one a '02. They still have them. (Don't know what we would have done if we'd had three kids because we had no intention of buying them vehicles, it just worked out we had old ones.)

    We helped them get through a state school debt free - with their participation working of course.

    Oldest just got married and we gave him 5K towards the wedding and threw a 2K limit rehearsal dinner. Other son knows that's what he'll get as well.

    We had no intention of helping with homes. We ended up loaning older son 10K for his downpayment when he bought because he was that close to not having to pay mortgage insurance. He had us paid back within a year because he was renting out rooms to roommates to cover the mortgage. We'll offer that same 10K to younger son if it works out that way - but it would be a loan only.

    My kids will probably get some inheritance eventually that will help with their retirement because we are inheriting some from my parents, but I certainly don't want them counting on it. On the other hand, it's always been a mystery to me and my siblings what my parents's money situation was. We're being a little more open with our kids so they'll at least know what that picture looks like as it gets closer.

    Other than that - we followed pretty closely the model my parents set with me and my siblings. Sort of a "we'll give you this and your responsibility is this" strategy. DH's family didn't have much money, but when they did they were much more likely to spend it on their kids than themselves. They gave DH a car at 16 "because he was a boy." They threw his sister a wedding because she was a girl. My parents negotiated, his parents did the big gestures. We tend to be negotiators.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
    PollyannaMom likes this.
  20. tvguy

    tvguy Question anything the facts don't support.

    Dec 15, 2003
    My kids are adults. If I had the funds I can see giving them each the maximum amount allowed that would not trigger income taxes, so $30,000 for each child a year, $15,000 from me, $15,000 from my wife.
    Every few years my mom would treat my wife and kids to trips (cruises etc) that she would go on too. She said she was giving us a little of our inheritance while she was still around to enjoy the money too. I think the most expensive trip was $6,000, so less than what I'm talking about. But for DW and I, this kind of thing is just what families do for members of their family. And yes, we covered all our kids college expenses, but that was a decision we made before we decided to start a family.
  21. barkley

    barkley DIS Veteran<br><font color=orange>If I ever have a

    Apr 6, 2004
    students can still work their way through college to offset costs, it just depends on the college they choose to attend and how they choose to attend. those cost figures that colleges publish/get cited in reports are more often than not inclusive of all means of living throughout attendance-including housing (generally the cost of dorms), meals, 'personal needs' and transportation. many of these costs can be greatly reduced or eliminated entirely by opting to live at home and commute or live in much lower cost shared off campus housing. the pure net cost of college (tuition/fees/books) is generally much lower-

    our in state universities yearly cost of attendance (the one dd graduated from)-$23,014 but tuition/fees/books only equate to $7543.

    granted our state has worked to lower costs but even a more spendy systems like the u.c. system in california currently shows-

    uc davis cost of attendance is $36,026 per year but tuition/fees/books only equate to $15,650 of that. yeah, that's a chunk of change but if a student has done any jobs in high school and saved, works even part time during college and applies it to expenses they can graduate with much less student debt than the obscene figures that are routinely reported in the media (and i can attest to the abundance of jobs on college campuses earmarked entirely to the student population, jobs that pay above minimum and will schedule hours around your classes-many go unfilled b/c of students who CHOOSE to never be employed during their attendance-we still get email blasts from dd's university soliciting students to apply).
    LongLiveRafiki, Pea-n-Me and wenrob like this.

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