Thursday, July 7, 2011

Investing in Your Child's Future. Or, You Know You're a Dad When Your Wallet Starts Emptying

You know you’re a dad when… your wallet starts emptying. I’m joking. Sort of.

As my 18-month-old son continues to grow, and my wife and I fall into our respective roles as parents, I feel like an anthropologist watching male-female gender role patterns play out before my very eyes. Which means my wife is doling out kisses and I am doling out money.

Of course, being a dad is more than just spending money. I cherish doing my share of day-to-day care for our little guy; I read books to him, play silly games, and I show him lots of affection. All in the hopes that someday he will have enough money to pay me back for all of this. Just kidding!

And of course my wife doesn’t just shower our child with love - she is as much a financial provider for the family as I am, and she spends money, too. Like when she bought that Kiss-o-matic 76™, which allows her to kiss our child more. Again, I kid – such a machine does not exist… yet.

But in all seriousness, we just opened a college savings account – a 529 plan – for our son. It was yet another in a long line of events that have made it very “real” that I am a dad. You mean, one day I am going to have a child in college? And it will cost how much? (For those of you wondering, the average cost of one year at a private college is estimated to be $76,406 in 2027; public college, here we come!)

The interesting thing about this process is that my wife really pushed me to take the lead in opening our account. Like it was “dad’s job” to do this. And I think, on the whole, dads are the ones who take care of this sort of thing for their families. That’s why most investment and insurance companies market to men and/or fathers. It speaks to our instinct to provide for and protect our families.

Interestingly, the guy who I worked this all out with is a new dad himself. You may know him as this guest blogger on this very blog. Sean and I observed together that now that we are dads, we have to take very seriously the need to plan ahead for our families.

And that is a central part of being a dad – sacrificing the “now” for the future. Gone are the days of using that extra money to buy cool (but useless) gadgets, fancier cars, and expensive nights out with your friends. That extra money is for our kids now.

Do you have any examples of how you had to sacrifice in the present to make for a better future for your kids? Please share!

1 comment:

  1. My family and I live in Canada. We started a Canadian RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan) for our baby, right after he was born. My wife does not generally like extremes, but she was adamant that we contributed the maximum possible for the baby’s education since day one. The baby is 26 months old now and he already has quite a little bit of money in his account (government grants included). Education is huge for us. I was born in poverty from a teen-aged single mother, who didn’t finish elementary school. Education “saved” me. It allowed me to have the good life I now have. Coincidentally, I was watching yesterday night the movie “Waiting for Superman” (borrowed from the library) and it reinforced the notion of how crucial education is in “saving” people. Whenever I come across a new dad, I ask him casually if he already opened an RESP for his baby. Responses are mixed. Sacrificing the now for the future is sometimes difficult to do and people sometimes are left with hard choices. I feel grateful that we are fortunate enough to be able to afford saving for what we consider to be very important. And now our baby is expecting a little brother or sister. That means doubling the amount we save monthly for college education. Oh well. Who said you needed to take vacations every year. Cheers. Eli.


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