Sad to Glad: Helping Kids with College Expenses
Recently, another financial blogger I follow, headlined that the kids were on their own when it comes to college, and saving for retirement was her priority. I guess the children didn’t come in at priority 2 or lower when reading her posting. I was sad to see that, but it made me think of my experience.
When my children were young I was in the military and it was hard to save for retirement, much less college, but we tried. My speech to our two boys was please find a way to pay for college and if you do, I’ll buy you a new car. Why at a new car? It’s was easier to finance a new car than taking out loans for college.
If I knew then what I know now I would have done it differently. We probably wouldn’t have bought the homes we purchased and spent more than 30% of our income for housing, but it was a beautiful place in a high-cost area and the quality of life looked good. Also, the family lived close by.
A unique California recession and collapse of the market where I was working (commercial real estate) depleted our savings and home equity just as our children were looking forward to college. Luckily where we rented for five years was located near the community college and our children took advantage of modest costs and guaranteed transfer to a University of California campus close by. We were lucky.
So back to our fellow blogger. It was a matter of not talking about our priorities and agreeing what our obligation was to our children and our retirement. I recognize our mistake. Beautiful house, quality of life including nice year-round weather and closeness to other family members, led to a lack of ability to save for retirement, much less college.
Our self-sufficient children made it through the college years and now we have five grandchildren. From day one we’ve been saving for our grandkid’s college education so our children can focus on their retirement savings after they have purchased their first homes.
We can’t go back in time and change decisions, but we can make it up to our children by helping them launch their kids with a good college education. If only we had a financial planner back then to help us make smart financial decisions, but I’m glad we saw the light and we’re working hard to help others make those financial priority decisions and achieve their financial goals.
My favorite website for college savings help: savingforcollege.com