interested in hearing about others' experiences dealing
with the families of their "less than monied" (for lack
of a better term) spouses. My husband and I are trying to
figure out a way to help out our nieces and nephews on his
side (there are eight of them, ranging from ages fourteen
to twenty-three). We've thought of setting up an education
fund, but some of our nieces and nephews have dropped out
of school and have no intention of returning. We would like
to help in an equitable way, while considering their individual
needs. It's kind of like setting up trusts for our own kids,
but we don't want to fall into the role of acting like their
Amy's question about how to share the wealth with "less
than monied" extended family. Might we also say that of
"less than monied" friends?
had a simple, yet novel idea. How about at a certain age
(let's say twenty-three, since that's the oldest of your
nieces and nephews) you offer them the opportunity to apply
for a grant from you, based on their values, for a certain
amount of money? The grant-writing process would allow them
to think through what they would do with a hunk of money.
One might go to graduate school; another might take five
years of art classes after work; someone else might make
a down payment on a home; another, a trip to India . . .
Perhaps they would know they could expect this opportunity
at ages eighteen, twenty-three, and thirty.
this idea better than just giving them $10,000 a year, which
can easily become an expectation. Maybe I'll try this with
my two kids.
many aspects of Jody's idea, but it seems to me that after
soliciting a friend's grant application, it would be very
hard to turn it down. Perhaps that's not a problem, since
the friends may broadly share your values and think carefully
about what you might find supportable, but with some friends
it could be a difficulty.
- anonymous author
that after receiving a grant request from a friend, it would
be hard to say no. Although, in theory, proposing a grant
application to a friend sounds great, I'd feel uncomfortable
doing it. First, it would make me feel as if I were asking
my friend to jump through a hoop to prove need. Then, after
getting the presentation, I'd have a hard time turning it
down unless it was clearly something frivolous.
how to be generous to the next generation: tinkering with
the language of making grants, I'd suggest that you offer
to make an investment in a young person. Something along
the lines of, "We really believe in your talent, your hopes,
and your dreams, and we would like to invest in you." The
language of "support you" has a subtext of wondering whether
that young person could make it on his or her own. "Investment"
implies affirmation and expands the notion of family wealth,
i.e. that our family's wealth is comprised not only of our
financial resources, but also of the talent, energy, and
future of our youngest members.
offered each of her college-age grandchildren a trip anywhere
in the world. The requirements were that we had to stay
in one place, be there at least two months, and learn something
(in the broadest sense). The only request that was ever
turned down was to ski in New Zealand. I went to West Africa
on Crossroads Africa. It was a life-changing experience.
My older brothers went to the Negev on an archeological
dig and to summer school at the London School of Economics.
My younger sister parlayed the offer into an entire year
in Paris. My mother is about to continue the tradition with
the kids have all heard our stories, they started imagining
what they might do by the time they were ten. Although they
have all traveled widely, the "grandmother trip" seems to
have special significance, maybe because they have to make
a proposal and have it accepted (and also because they are
deliciously independent of parents). Several of the cousins
plan to do it together.
cousin in my generation, who has never married, takes each
of her godchildren on an amazing trip when they turn eleven.
So far, the trips have included China, Kenya, and South
America. At her fiftieth birthday, the toasts of gratitude
given by the six kids she has taken (now teenage and collegeage)
gave me goosebumps.
the "siblings" $10,000 yearly and have said we'll pay for
their college tuition, but have lately been thinking more
along the lines Jody proposes. What about putting a dollar
amount on what a college tuition would be-say, $25,000 per
year for four years--to be applied toward some form of "training"
for life skills?
several thousand dollars to each of my siblings with no
strings attached. I wrote a generic letter saying, "This
is for you to use to have fun or pay off some bills." Of
course, the ones I hoped to pay off bills ended up buying
toys. From that experience, I learned that I'm not the type
to "let go" of the end result, so I need to be specific
when I give, in order to feel comfortable with the outcome.
trying to decide what to do about our nephews and nieces.
So far, we haven't set aside a college fund, though we may
still do that. I see a big advantage to the Section 529
funds that grow tax free if used for educational expenses.
However, if we do this, I wonder if it will give their parents
less motivation to save. I am starting to feel better about
this, though, since I had a straightforward conversation
with the father, who has since stopped buying expensive
toys for the kids. I said, "We will be happy to help with
college expenses, as long as you have also saved as best
you can. We would feel resentful if there is no college
savings and the kids have expensive toys (like motorcycles)."
He reacted positively and is now looking into different
investment vehicles. It helps, too, that we don't buy our
own kids expensive toys.
excerpts printed with permission.
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