I am the mother of twin boys who are currently experiencing their terrible twos. My husband and I have been having conversations about their futures and how to best plan for them. Sam (an alias) is convinced that we need to set up a college fund for each of the boys into which we and family members can regularly contribute. I don’t necessarily agree with Sam. The rising costs of tuition and the increasing concern of the value of a degree even in today’s job market seems to suggest this is an outdated idea. Even Elon Musk has stated that people don’t need a college degree to work for him.
Sam’s parents are convinced that he is correct and have offered to establish a college fund for each of the boys. I would rather see that money used to pay for the boys to have real world experiences today. They have the right to grow up without the pressure to achieve lofty goals and meet expectations placed on them by society. I do not want them raised to believe that their success, or value, is measured by degrees and outmoded status symbols. My parents are not willing to take a side in the debate and have simply told Sam and I that they will support us in whatever path we decide is best for the boys. What are your thoughts? Am I completely off-base?
Torn in Topeka
Are you completely off-base? No, but you are in danger of striking out. You and Sam have an incredible opportunity to provide “options” for your sons that the majority of parents can only dream of for their children. Keep the term “Options” in the forefront of your mind.
Education does one thing . . . it provides an expanded knowledge base. That knowledge base increases opportunities and the various Options for one’s future. While Elon might not care if a talented coder does or does not hold a degree . . . I guarantee you that he cares a great deal whether his expensive lawyers and accountants are well-credentialed. It’s all about context.
No one knows what the job market of tomorrow will look like. We do know that in the next 10 to 15 years millions of jobs will be replaced by artificial intelligence. Truck drivers, coders, doctors and lawyers will all be impacted. You need to ensure that your sons have Options.
The best advice for any parent in this environment is to invest in your child’s future. Yes, establish a fund of some typeset aside so that in 16 – 20 years from now your sons can make an informed decision to choose from the various Options available to them in that context. If you don’t, their Options will be limited.
In the meantime, by all means raise your sons to understand that their value lies in their character – not their wallet or diplomas. Provide them with experiences that teach them these lessons. Just don’t borrow from their future to provide those experiences. In the end, you as their mother will be a far greater determining factor as to the type of men they will be. Based upon your letter, I think the little dudes are in pretty good hands.
I do recommend that you and Sam consider looking into a source of knowledge that will assist you in setting up the funds for your sons and how to invest the money. Go to the Library on this site and check out “The Simple Path to Wealth” by J.L. Collins together with his accompanying blog.
All the Best,