“Please help I’m broke” – where does responsibility start and end

By Jul 28, 2017 No Comments

Some of life’s truths are hard to swallow. One of these lies in the old wives’ tales such as “children don’t grow on love”. While love is life and the cornerstone that keeps us together, a lot is required to raise strong independent young adults who are capable to learn and think of solutions that can transform this world into a better place.

Although not the only route, education is a potentially powerful tool to help equip future leaders in gaining wisdom, securing sustainable jobs and acquiring independence. It does however come with a hefty price that may involve student loans and other forms of debt to get by. These loans may linger on their credit profile and last for many years after graduation.

What many parents with “flown and grown” kids don’t realise is that even after graduation, your young adults may be genuinely serious when they say “please help, I’m broke”. This can be particularly so with the social pressures to buy a befitting new car, corporate wardrobe and rapidly “upgrade” their lives from student to working adult. Here’s what parents can do to help, without being over bearing.

Beware of helicopter parenting

There is an instinctive feeling to protect your child at all costs. It often starts from the moment that they are born and it’s hard to relinquish the sense of responsibility.

It’s all too easy to get involved to the extent that you take over their student loans and try to solve everything for them at all costs. Yet, one must remember that the intention is to raise independent children who can make good decisions even when the parents are no longer around.

Rather than just taking over all the payments and settling all their bills – or ignoring this and leaving the worries entirely to your children – it’s important to communicate with your young adult kid and use this as a learning curve. Here are a few tips on how to avoid being a helicopter parent (or the other thereof) in connection with your constantly broke young adult.

  • Encourage them to get a job while in tertiary education as this will teach them responsibility and balancing work and play.
  • Don’t be too quick in sending money; if they ask for money to buy stationery and books that you’re not sure are valid, rather buy the books and stationery yourself, instead of sending the money.
  • Encourage thrifty spending of money, especially for this stage of their life; purchase second hand books, thrift store clothing and living within their means.
  • Promote positive incentives; when they pass a test or achieve a goal, teach them to find other ways of rewarding themselves that don’t involve spending.
  • Don’t overcompensate for your parenting flaws by promoting unrealistic gifting and spending.

Get involved

A lot of money for student loans goes towards interest. Rather than splurging on Christmas gifts and unnecessary holidays, rather help them to repay this student loan. Here are some ways to go about doing this:

  • Use your savings to release some funds
  • Cash in on some of your shares, stocks and/or other investments
  • Take a portion from your pension fund
  • Consider re-mortgaging your property
  • Ask for a promotion and/or get another job

This time in your life can be used to bond with your growing child and help you get to know them so much better. Talk to them about budgeting tips and listen to them.

The reality is that students can spend many years repaying their student loans. Some loans can be converted into bursaries if they perform well and this can be a shot to encourage them. Knowing that you believe in them can make all the difference to your child.

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