(2 minute read)
“To buy a gift is kind, but to give a gift for free that brings a lifetime of ever growing reward is pure genius.” –Jamie Cearley, PhD
I was not deprived as a child. I had nice clothes, cool shoes, and a car of my own. I confess, most of the time I got what I wanted.
By all accounts I was a successful high school graduate. I had a good GPA. I would be attending an excellent private four year liberal arts school out of state on a combination athletic and academic scholarship. There I would receive an outstanding education both in life and academics.
Yet, without one special gift my parents gave me upon graduation, to this day it would have been a disaster. It is the only gift I remember getting from them for graduation. I am sure there must have been some money in there somewhere; or a book filled with wisdom. Perhaps I got one of those fancy Cross pen and pencil sets that were so popular, I don’t know. I do remember getting some towels for my dorm room. Why would I remember the towels? Because I still have a semblance of one of them in my rag cabinet after all these years.
While the towels lasted as long they weren’t as valuable as the other gift I remember. A gift every kid deserves to have. A timeless gift that will benefit them for a lifetime.
Best of all it’s free.
For the first time in my life I was managing my own money flow; or should I say trickle. I got $100 a month deposited into my bank account at school and the rest was up to me.
My mom had helped me to calculate the cost of my needs and to keep track of my spending the summer before I left for school far away.
Allowing me to live with an unlimited flow of cash, or worse yet plastic would have been the single greatest long term disservice my parents could have done.
No one lives on earth for free and the younger a person has this principle embedded in their mind the better.
Learning to not spend more than you have is a priceless lesson at any age. But, college is a time when the credit companies are like piranha after you.
Whether you’re child goes away to college, stays home and attends the local school, or works to acquire a trade, help them set up a budget and put a cap on the amount of money put into their account each month.
I would also encourage you to not allow adult children to continue to live at home for free.
There are more adult children living with their parents in America than ever before. Many of these are living there for free, creating an unfair financial burden on their parents. What’s more, many of them spend their days playing video games and such like and at best have a part-time minimum wage job and yet still contribute nothing to their care.
There is no greater disservice to a child I can think of. They are being set up for a lifetime of hardship and disappointment. At a minimum they should pay rent in an amount disproportionate to their income. Why disproportionate? Because they need some motivation to improve their circumstances in life. Becoming financially independent, which by the way is my definition of a true adult, should be attractive.
To all those out there with a dependent graduating this year. Give them the gift of a lifetime. Give them a budget. They will thank you for decades to come.
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