Confessions of a Errant Parent

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colsave W e parents are hard enough on ourselves. Why, just this past weekend when my dad visited us, no fewer than twice did he start a sentence with, “There are a lot of things I regret; things that I wish I’d done differently.” And though I did my best to ameliorate any bad feelings he has, I know that this is simply one of those things that each parent feels as he or she gets older.

So, it really bothers me when we parents, as a whole, make it seem like there are things that other parents should be doing; especially when those “things” are not endangering the child’s life, or for that matter, even making the child sad in any way.

Here I am then, about to admit to something that has been plaguing me since my kids were born–something that I’ve (we’ve) not been doing that I’m sure many folks out there will frown upon and which might possibly shock some considering that according to U. Sam, we don’t deserve a government “pre-bate.”

Here it is:

We’re not saving for our kids’ college!

There ya go. Fire away. I know we’re scum. No, we’re worse than scum, we’re incompetent parents who apparently can’t think 18 years down the line well enough to know that we’re jeopardizing our children’s future–nay, our children’s children’s future even.

Ok, in the name of theatrics, I might have over-stated the situation a bit. We do in fact have savings accounts (with ING) for each of our kids where we deposit all the checks from the various family. What we don’t have is a dedicated college savings account.

Call me crazy, but right now, the $20K we’re spending each year on daycare pretty much sucks up all the free money we might normally have to put in a fund. Add to that gas prices, food prices and just simply the cost of “living” (i.e. satellite TV so the kids can TiVo Iron Man and The Superfriends), and we’re pretty much just treading water here.

Now I will say that once these boys are in school (probably public), we’ll start funding those accounts more heavily but right now we’re not and quite frankly, I’m not losing too much sleep over it. I didn’t go to college until I was 29, and though I wish I’d done it right off, things turned out OK for me.

But I’m wondering how many other parents out there are carrying around a dirty little secret that wouldn’t really be dirty if society weren’t such a pain in the arse about it.

Care to come clean?

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6 thoughts on “Confessions of a Errant Parent

    Allison said:
    May 27, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    I let me kid drink chocolate in her milk. Not just on special occasions…all the time. I also let her have lemonade with sweetener in it.

    Regarding the college thing…we started a 529 plan and it didn’t fare any better than your ING account last year (actually, your ING probably did better…though our state at least has a nice income tax credit for the effort). I struggle with the concept of whose responsibility it is to pay for college. My parents weren’t able to pay for my college…I relied on scholarships and student loans. I don’t feel 100% responsible to pay for my daughter’s college, but I will do what I can to help. I think you have a more vested interest in your education if you’re paying for some or all of it out of your own pocket anyway. I saw plenty of people there on their parents’ dime blow school off completely.

    Father of Five said:
    May 27, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    We too don’t have a college savings fund going.

    #1 of 5 is 20 now and has NO INTEREST in college… Heck, he has no interest in working, or paying his bills either.. but that’s a whole different story.

    #’s 2, 3, 4, and 5 of 5 are going to private school right now, and that is costing close to 10K a year. When they are done, it will allow us to save more for their future – but by the time #2 of 5 is ready for college, #5 of 5 will still be in elementary school.

    I did not have a savings account when I went to college (nor did my sister). I worked my way through college, and ended with ZERO student loans.

    Instead, my parents helped me out when things got really tight… Sure, I paid my tuition, and my bills.. But when my car needed new tires, or needed a significant repair – they helped me out. They provided me food, and shelter (at no cost) way past my college days…

    I’m sure I’ll have something for the kids when they finally “get there” – but it will certainly not be a “free ride”. I will be there to help them out once and a while when they need it (and some times “just because”).

    Re: That’s the way it should be I think. (sshhh) Don’t tell CareerMom I said this, but I feel, thanks largely to CareerMom’s parents pretty much paying her way through undergraduate school, she didn’t “get” finances. Then, when she went to Grad school, she went crazy with the credit cards, for which we all ended up paying for later! Even today, despite my having gone to a “state” college and she having a Masters in Biz, I still have to watch her spending. It’s mind-boggling. Let ’em learn on their own for good or for bad!

    MyBestInvest said:
    May 27, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    There are three ways to pay for college – before, during or after. “Before” meaning saving. “During” meaning funding it out of your cash flow or having the kid work during school. “After” meaning student loans.

    With that said, there’s only one way to pay for your retirement – by saving money ahead of time.

    Your first responsibility is to keep the bills paid today and sock away some money for your own retirement. If you have the means to help the kids with college, that’s gravy.

    RE: Yeah, retirment comes first (I’m selfish that way). I also don’t believe for a second my uncle (Sam) is going to be around to help me when I’m old and gray, unless it’s to stick me in an underfunded, state retirement home where I’ll whither away to nothingness. Not a future I have in mind!

    Mamatomany said:
    May 27, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    We have 4 kids and we are not saving for them for college. We have parents, grandparents and the like that buy them savings bonds, which is pretty much all we have in the way of college savings.

    I paid my own way through college (with no financial aid or student loans) with 2 jobs and carrying a full course load at a community college and I think I am a better person for it. I really know the value of a dollar!

    I am also not completely sold on the idea that ALL people need to go to college. My kids may not even decide that college is for them and that is fine with me too. I am not currently using my degree and I don’t really see a time in the future that I will.

    My oldest wants to be a hairdresser, which may not seem like a fabulous job to some, but if that is what makes her happy and she can make a living, then that is what I want for her.

    I don;t think not havingcollege savings for your kids make you a bad parent. I think handing your kids everything so they don’t know how to make it in the real world does.

    RE: Before I went to college, I too was a “Eh, college…not for me” kind of person. And frankly, I made as much working contract work before getting my degree, as I do now, but I also know that I could more easily find work now and I’m probably more likely to climb higher than I would have without one. So, I’m torn. But I think you’re right, for some, college right after high school is a big waste. Woulda been for me. Having waited, I actually cared about my grades (even though my employer didn’t) and I was responsible with my money. Lot to be said for that.

    Sam said:
    May 28, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Well, I was fortunate enough to be at University back when Uni was paid for us by the government and there were still grants (not loans!) to be had! So my parents didn’t need to save for me, neither did they save for my three younger brothers, but my youngest brother has just graduated with a whole bunch of loans!

    One of my brothers is currently paying extortionate fees for nursery for both my niece and nephew so I do think that it is a bit much to expect him to be saving for University for the both of them at the same time!!

    RE: Daycare is crazy expensive! And we’ve found that ours is by far NOT the most expensive around. But…only one more year before MLI is in kindergarten and then we’ll only have one in Daycare. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but ONLY paying $10K for daycare a year will seem like a blessing!

    fayezie said:
    April 27, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    umm, yeah, when i get through paying for private preschool, and private instruction for the autistic one, then maybe once that bridge to college is on the horizon, i will have to start turning over couch cushions to save what i can in order to help with college. my parents didn’t really have a “plan”, they just paid for what they could (which for them wasn’t difficult on a physician’s salary), but still, my philosophy is deal with one thing at a time. I’m on loans, and hey, it’s great. fine. first degree was with loans. got em paid off. no big deal. i could spend my days in anxiety over the fact that i don’t have that special account started, but since i ain’t gots no money to put in dat account right now, it ain’t goin’ to do me NO GOOD. LOL… yeah, oh, the one thing i do guilt over is getting something started for my autistic daughter. but again, one small thing at a time…

    (i’m just postin’ all over your blog… think you’ve got a new reader.)

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