Ask Paul: We can pay all costs for our uni student daughter, but should we?
Our oldest daughter will be starting university next year. She will be living with us at home as she is going to study in our home city.
How do you suggest that we teach her about financial independence while still living at home? She will be studying a lot, as she is doing a degree with heavy contact hours. She has a part-time job already.
She is naturally frugal and very helpful around the home, something which I doubt will change. We can afford to subsidise her fully, but feel that will not help her prepare for the independent financial life we wish for her. - Georgina
Ha, ha, Georgina, I know exactly what you mean. This is an area where angels fear to tread. But the good news for us both is that you have already done your job, so I can wade in enthusiastically without causing offence.
You have given me a beautiful snapshot of your oldest daughter.
She has obviously committed herself at school to get to university and tellingly she has chosen a "heavy contact" degree in terms of hours. This tells me she is studying engineering, a science-based degree, architecture or one of the degrees I avoided as they looked too hard.
She is naturally frugal (which, incidentally, is not natural - she has followed your lead), has a part-time job and on top of that is helpful around the house. Now that is impressive. Our three kids stack up OK on the earlier attributes your daughter has.
But as they move into their late 20s and early 30s, although we love to see them at home, they still leave the kitchen trashed!
Frankly, I don't think it matters if you subsidise her fully or not. She already has all the hallmarks of a financially independent young woman. Seriously, you have done your job.
I think parents get it really wrong with kids when it comes to self-discipline and self-reliance. If you can afford to, parental help does not hold them back - it lets them grow.
Sure, as we always told our great kids, we're not funding lounging around on the couch doing nothing.
But (despite the state of the kitchen when they visit) we've found that parental support well into their 20s and 30s and a bit of "bank of dad and mum" to help them on the property ladder has assisted their personal and career growth, not hindered it.
I get the whole "spoilt brat" thing and too much support may not be good.
But the argument that giving little or no support may build self-reliance and independence does not resonate with me. I hear quite a bit that the treat-them-mean, tough-love sort of stuff may build them into stronger adults.
I'm just a dumb money bloke, but personally I think that is rubbish. Tons of love, support and sensible financial help, if it is available, to support long-term goals such as education and housing are in my view the way to go .
One thing is for sure, if either Vicki or I make it to 90, we see little point in giving money to them when they are around 65. If you are in a position to do so, why not do it when it is most valuable to them?
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