Ask Paul: My daughter has saved $40k more than her husband for a house


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My recently married daughter, aged 28, is in a quandary with respect to equally contributing to first home buying savings (with the aim to buy in the next 12 months). Both her and her husband (aged 30) have secure, well-paying jobs and are trying to get a decent deposit together.

They are aiming at a $120,000 deposit to avoid lenders mortgage insurance. They currently have a joint home savings account of some $60,000 that is a result of equal contributions. They top this up when they have spare and equal savings in personal savings accounts.

My daughter, being the more frugal of the two, has an additional $40,000 in her personal account. She would like to offer this $40,000 as part of the deposit when they find a place (as it will likely take her husband longer to save this equivalent amount), but is struggling with what would be fair and/or what "payback" arrangements would be appropriate to make overall contributions more equal.

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A further consideration is that in a year or two she may need to take time out of the workforce for having and raising a baby or two (no paid parental leave scheme available through her work; government minimum payment only) and would need her husband to maintain any housing loan instalments during this time before returning to her work.

She has asked my advice on how to manage the inequality of such a situation, but my experience was much different in my time.

Col, we are in the same situation. Chatting about money issues with my kids makes me feel like a dinosaur!

I have to say, though, that I like the independence of both guys and girls when it comes to money and also the more pragmatic attitude to "tagging" financial contributions made by both parties.

This, I think, becomes a bit blurred once kids come along. If one is caring for a child and the other working, surely this is an equal, if hard to measure, contribution.

Anyway, with your daughter's $40,000, one thought is to simply add it to their pot as a non-interest-bearing loan. If this is documented, then her additional contribution would be reflected if something were to happen to their relationship.

This is a hard one for us parents, isn't it? In our day it was a different world with money, jobs and kids.

Valuing roles such as work versus child rearing is all too hard for me, though when we had three young kids I thought Vicki made the more valuable contribution. But I do think more substantial contributions such as the $40,000 can be easily documented.

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Paul Clitheroe AM is founder and editorial adviser of Money magazine. He is one of Australia's leading financial voices, responsible for bringing financial insight to Australians through personal finance books, the Money TV show, and this publication, which he established in 1999. Paul is the chair of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and is chairman of InvestSMART Financial Services. He is the chair of Financial Literacy at Macquarie University where he is also a Professor with the School of Business and Economics. Click here to ask Paul your money question. Unfortunately Paul cannot respond to questions posted in the comments section. Please view our disclaimer here.

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