In a recent post, we discussed the wisdom of buying a home for every child. Buying at today’s prices, and letting the tenant and the tax office do much of the heavy lifting involved in paying it off, has real merit.
But perhaps we should add a simple note of caution: maybe it is for the best that you do not tell the kids about your plans. Look out for them, but keep it secret.
Recently, one of the staff from our licencee sent us this message, which I will reproduce in full. The author is a financial adviser who specialises in doctors and dentists, and he has this story to tell:
“I can recall meeting with a then 60-year old GP about ten years ago. We met on a Sunday because he would not take any other day off work. He worked 6 days a week, 51 weeks of the year, every year, and that was that.
I could not believe his first question: “should I work Sunday’s too?”
Suppressing my immediate reaction, I simply asked “why?”
He told me his 30-year old son, a state public servant, wanted to buy a home for his young family, but did not have a deposit. The doctor wanted to work Sundays, save up a deposit and give it to his son.
Further suppression of immediate reactions was needed. Instead, I asked why the son could not work Sundays to save up that deposit?
He said his son was too busy playing cricket and football.
I could no longer suppress my immediate reactions. From the recesses of my memory, I instead found myself instead calmly recalling something I once heard at a wedding I attended:
“When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways.”
That is actually a religious tract. The wedding was in a Church. But I interpreted it more bluntly: “time to grow up and get a real job”. We discussed things for a while and he eventually saw things the way he should see them. That is, that he had been over-fathering his son and this had been detrimental, and that both of them had slipped into bad habits, with an almost mutual dependency.
The good news is he took my wedding memory on board and had a good long chat with his son. The result ten years later? Excellent! In a meeting last week I cautiously asked how his son was and was delighted to hear he had hung up his cricket and football gear, enrolled part time in a law degree, completed it, and was now working as a solicitor with a government agency.”
This just shows that the best financial planning advice does not involve financial products, and much of the time it is not even really about money.
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