This morning I heard a shocking statistic on the radio. I hope it is not accurate. The DJ stated 9 in 10 parents are unable to save anything for their children’s future. Not unwilling, but unable, which is quite a different thing. They also stated the national average cost per child per month is around $800. This cost is mostly due to daycare expenses for young children, though I imagine sports leagues and clubs make up the cost as they grow older.
This unnerves me. Perhaps it is striking too close to home. We are actively paying off D’s truck as quickly as possible and have plans to tackle the mortgage next. We are also still recovering our savings from the foundation repair. With that said, we are not in a great financial situation, but we are putting aside $20 a month for Rie. Right now that does not seem like much, but by investing and increasing that amount once our debts are paid, she should have something to start her adult life.
Some people argue that children shouldn’t have any savings gifted to them by their parents. Maybe they are putting all of their hopes on scholarships. What I have heard argued, however, is that kids need to find jobs and figure it out on their own. I agree to a point. Kids should not be taught to feel entitled to the fruits of their parents’ labor, but they also need a little help to get ahead. My guidance comes from Proverbs 13:22: “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children” (NIV).
My personal financial dream, since before she was conceived, has been to pay for Rie’s undergraduate degree. This means that when she has an entry-level job she won’t have student loans stopping her from buying a house or going to graduate school, or traveling the world, or whatever. If she decides college is not for her, I hope the money we save can be put toward some other investment, such as a house, or a fund for her children.
What does this have to do with leading a minimalistic lifestyle? Everything. Every tube of lipstick I refuse to purchase is another bit saved or paid toward the mortgage. Every time I bypass the paper napkins in the store and use cloth I am keeping money in my pocket (and having classier meals). Every time I resist the urge to buy a cute, cheap, toy for Rie, she has another drop of financial wealth in her future.
Let me add a note to point out being minimal does not mean going without. For example, my merino wool tee-shirts, of which I have two, are absolutely luxurious. Because they last longer than cotton tee-shirts they will save us money in the long run. We have everything we need plus some nice indulgences – without the throw-away, meaningless fluff. It is the lack of meaningless fluff that will pay for Rie’s college.
2/28/14 Edited to add: D read this post and thought it sounded awfully judgmental on parents who do not save for their children’s futures. I was very sorry to hear that and hope no one else thought that is what I meant to communicate. The purpose here is just to state what works for our family and why. Thanks for reading!