My parents paid for my siblings and I to complete our bachelor’s degree if we so chose. All this time I thought they had saved enough money to pay for 4 years of school for all 5 of us. As missionaries who struggled to raise support for most of the years I remember (my teenage years), I have always been in awe of this.
Now don’t get me wrong. I know my grandparents contributed in some part for each of us. At one point, before my 16th birthday, I was shown a check for $10,000 made out to me. It wasn’t given to me, but explained as a contribution to help with my car or college or something. My memory is fuzzy.
While I was growing up, I knew there were times we struggled with money. My mom was frugal to a T, scouring grocery ads and visiting numerous stores to get the best deals. It was exhausting. And I remember the tears and fear. Most of the time, those were just my impressions, but a few times, I saw it.
But the only money talk we ever heard from my parents was “Give 10%, Save 10% and then…” with the rest. And that mantra would supposedly end up with what I saw my parents doing.
And I never thought anything of it. I just trusted this advice. (Not that I followed it.) But I always thought that doing this formula would result in savings to pay for 5 kids first cars and 5 kids to go through college, etc.
In fact, during college, I never once thought of or even saw the cost of my schooling. I never heard them discuss the thousands they must have paid for room and board and tuition. They just let me make decisions on housing and meal plans and classes and they paid the bill. I have no idea how much those years of idyllic living cost them.
It’s just been in the past month that I learned the reality. My dad would borrow money for college tuition and then pay it back at some point. I don’t know what platform he used to obtain these loans or even how long it took him to pay them off. But finding this out made me look back to a very different reality.
Not a blame game
I’m not writing this post to blame anyone for my choices. But hearing how my dad paid for our school, just made what I had believed my whole life a falsehood.
I wish my parents would have been more open about the costs and payments they made for me. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for those idyllic college years where I didn’t worry a thing about money. But I really believe I would have a completely different view of money if I had been more exposed to reality.
That is something I have done with my kids. Exposing them to our household finances, being open with them about my mistakes and also showing and explaining finances as they change and I make better decisions.