Why I'm not giving my kids a house deposit


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Back in the good old days, and I'm talking the Middle Ages here, there were no such things as children. Just pause for a moment to think about that, and soak up the serenity.

"Children" didn't exist because society treated them merely as small adults, who could just bloody well go to work like the rest of us.

Today, of course, children are worshipped, wrapped in cotton wool and helicoptered over by parents who think of them as deities rather than the largely ungrateful little brats they are.

why im not buying investment properties for my kids

They are also, in far too many cases, financially insulated from the harsh realities of life by people who seem to believe that their own hard work and struggles were undertaken purely so that they could pass on a life of low-stress and even lower effort to their offspring.

I'm talking here about the kind of people who are so upset about how hard it is for kids to get a Nike Air Jordan-clad foot on the property ladder that they go out and buy investment properties and then hand the keys to their children.

I am distant associates with one couple who have four children and have bought enough land to build a townhouse for each of them to inherit as soon as they turn 18.

No, this is not like buying your children their first car, or giving them half the money for their first overseas trip, this is absurdly unnecessary and almost certainly psychologically damaging.

I'm not saying that all trustafarians (or trust-fund kids) are bad people, just that all the ones I've ever met are.

The struggles of real life, the ability to understand what a dollar is worth and how difficult it is to accumulate enough of them to make something of yourself is, arguably, one of the most important lessons any of us ever learn.

How many sweaty, oleaginous shifts at KFC is your child going to volunteer for if they know they've already got the keys to their first home dangling in front of them like a big, flashing invitation to move into Lazy Town?

How hard does anyone work if there is no fear of failure? If they know that if they fall, they will not land on hard times but on a giant feather bed stuffed with easy money?

Frankly, I don't think this whole sad scenario is driven by the enormous cost of property today - or even the fact that Boomers have made so much out of the house-price explosion that they just don't know what to do with all their profits - it's more indicative of the idea that today's children are somehow different, more precious, more in need of protection from any kind of challenges or even negative thoughts.

You can see it in every corner of society, from the fact that many children's sports now refuse to keep score - so that neither side has to suffer the indignity of losing, ever - to the millennial malaise of employees who feel it is their right to leave any job that has not given them at least two promotions in their first six months in a new role.

Apparently, there are restrictions these days on what age children can go to work - the Middle Ages recruitment agencies would be appalled - but by age 13 I'd already been sweating my backside off on a milk run.

My memories of that time aren't, however, of the backbreaking slog of chasing a milk truck driven by a sadist while juggling a dozen empty bottles in each of my hands, but of the sweet, rich moment at the end of the night when I was handed a tiny envelope filled with cash.

Work equalled money, I could see, and working harder, or smarter, could lead to even more.

Yes, it's possible that my ideas are as outdated and unimaginable to today's teens as the concept of fresh milk turning up on your doorstep every evening, but the bad news, for my children, is that I'm not willing to let go of them.

Nor am I likely to buy them an investment property each.  The only leg up they'll get from me is a foot in the backside.

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Stephen Corby used to sit next to the staff of Money magazine, back when he was the editor of Top Gear Australia magazine, and he really wishes he'd listened to all of their helpful financial advice, instead of revving his engine and pretending he couldn't hear them. Stephen likes to buy and sell shares, has bought and sold several properties and believes that negative gearing is a very good thing, but that stamp duty is evil, particularly if you live in Sydney, as he is blessed to do.
Kerri Moore
April 3, 2021 9.27am

Great article my brother is a prime example 3 kids all in good jobs and he still pays their health insurance

Register their cars and a lot more At 60 his future will be the pension and looking after grandchildren

Can't see the forest for the trees

Paul Eardley
April 3, 2021 9.43am

Well written . Agree totally. Lazy with too many entitlements.

Waiting for your next article.


Nadja Warner
April 3, 2021 9.52am

Well written! Thank you.

David Hogan
April 3, 2021 11.38am

You haven't held back here mate & I applaud that

There are valuable lessons learnt in all hardship & the best

thing you can do as a parent is to educate in finances, & encourage your kids to continually up skill themselves in financial wellbeing as well

Pauline Lawton
April 3, 2021 2.06pm

Stephen, with an attitude like yours, please please run in the next parliamentary election. Australia is desperately needing more people to think the way you do.

Chris Reimers
April 3, 2021 6.55pm

Great article. Breeding an 'entitlement' generation doesn't help them build resilience.

Bev F
April 12, 2021 6.03pm

To give your kids too much early on is to deny them the opportunity to achieve financial goals for themselves. They will never know the satisfaction from buying a property they can afford and making the sacrifices needed to pay it off How satisfying is it to do that?

Why short change them and feather-bed them? They'll get the money later in life So let them have a crack first and learn the value of earning/spending/saving.

Pettina Eckart-Watts
April 15, 2021 10.50am

My wife and I have raised a financially fit daughter who has purchased her first property a 2-bed, 2-bath unit at Yeronga at 22!

She was taught from a very young age to help out where she could. She started work at K-Mart at 13years and 10mths.

It is our job to look after US financially so she will never have to worry about her parents retiring and struggling to make ends meet.

It is HER job to do that for herself. We have been generous parents, sending her on an overseas trip to the USA, bought her a car, bought her a fridge for her new place, but that is not buying her a house or even going guarantor!

Wake up parents, give your kids the satisfaction of knowing the pride in achieving something for themselves and do yourself a favour by knowing you are in the best position to achieve a financially independent retirement.

Samantha Mullahy
April 30, 2021 4.38pm

Well said Stephen.

Give your kids an education and a leg up.

Not handouts from the bank of Mum & Dad.

Before they leave the nest...Teach them to fly.

They'll be fine.

Too many brats strutting around with a sense of entitlement and no motivation to work for their wealth.