Updated on 09.03.09

Reader Mailbag #83

Trent Hamm

Each Monday, The Simple Dollar opens up the reader mailbags and answers ten to twenty simple questions offered up by the readers on personal finance topics and many other things. Got a question? Ask it in the comments. You might also enjoy the archive of earlier reader mailbags.

I recently graduated college and have 2 student loans to pay off:
Loan 1: about $4,000 left on it with a 6.8% rate
Loan 2, Part 1: about $3,000 left with a 6.8% rate
Loan 2, Part 2: about $7,000 with a 4% rate
Loan 2, Part 3: about $6,000 with a 5.3% rate
The kicker on loan 2: I was ‘automatically selected’ to pay off both part 2 and 3 before I can even start paying off part 1 (with the crazy high rate).

I have asked around and done a bit of research on my own. Really the only thing that I keep coming back to is Ramsey’s idea of paying off the smallest loan first, while still making minimum payments on the other loan (so I don’t default). I have already built up an emergency fund and am trying to decide how to tackle these loans that would be the most profitable in the long run.

Any and all advice will be welcomed. Please and thank you in advance!!
– AReynolds42

The first thing you need to do is figure out the true interest rate on that second loan. Effectively, you need to treat loan #2 as one loan – ignore the separate “parts.”

It’s easy – multiply $3,000 by 6.8%, $7,000 by 4%, and $6,000 by 5.3%, then divide all of it by $16,000. You get 5.0125%. Then, compare that interest rate to the other loans and start paying off either the one with the smallest total (the first loan) or the one with the lowest interest rate (again, the first loan), depending on whether you’re using the Dave Ramsey plan or the mathematically superior plan.

The answer’s easy for you – pay off the first loan first and just wait on the second one.

What is your process of reviewing books? Do you read the whole book and then do the review? Do you have any advice for writing good book reviews?
– Jules

I usually read the book chapter-by-chapter or section-by-section and jot down my impressions afterwards. Sometimes, I focus in on the big point of the section – at other times, I end up jotting down the individual point that sticks with me the best.

Once the book is done, I write down a few final notes on it and ask myself whether it was a worthwhile read.

From those scribblings, a book review comes together pretty easily. The real time investment is in the reading. I tend to put two hours a day aside for just that purpose – reading for the purpose of learning more about personal finance, careers, and so forth and writing reviews of those books.

Uh…you think emergency funds should have no limits? So, if I was a college kid with a $50,000 emergency fund in a savings account, you wouldn’t suggest I do something with that money?

One should never stop replenishing an emergency fund, yes, but that’s because emergencies keep using it up.
– Michael

Michael, it might be useful to put away your “jumping to conclusions” mat that you like to pull out all the time.

Yes, I think an emergency fund should have no limit. No, it doesn’t necessarily need to all sit in a savings account. Put some of it into CDs or bonds or short term treasuries.

An emergency fund shouldn’t just be used for negative emergencies. Life often throws us opportunities (or positive emergencies), and our emergency fund should be there to easily help us with those, too. That means the typical “six month emergency fund” – intended to just help with negative emergencies – isn’t enough. You need more. And given the number of opportunities we have in life, the more the better. If you keep your ears and eyes open, life is full of great opportunities.

In the past five years, three of my grandparents have passed away, having had the usual run of health issues, and having been helped tremendously (at near-sainthood levels) by their respective children – my parents, aunt and uncle. My sister is on the verge of getting married, and we’ve been debating the merits of having children. I love children, and hope to have several of my own. My sister doesn’t much like children, and doesn’t consider herself good “mom” material. But we both agree there are lots of times in life when having family support is necessary, and old age/failing health is the biggest. We always expected that the grown children would take care of the parents. But what if there are no children? Seeing the number of families where the kids grow up and are completely estranged, unwilling to help take care of aging parents, there’s no guarantee they’ll take up the task either.

My sister says raising kids and paying for college is expensive, and that amount of money invested wisely could pay for a great deal of home health care when the time comes. Does that work? We have a family friend in her 90’s, never married, who has had a home health care aide (let’s call her Jane) for years, who does all the cooking, cleaning, personal care and PT. How do you estimate how much to save for that? I suppose it’s like planning for retirement, but sadder.
– TheOtherKathi

If you have children and raise them in a loving and supportive environment, they’re often there for you in your dotage. I’ve seen it time and time again in my own family and in my wife’s family as well.

If you don’t have children at all, you simply don’t have that support. You don’t have children popping in to check on you or calling you every day. All you have is you (and perhaps your spouse).

That’s not a reason to have a child. If you’re not capable of being a good parent, your children won’t be capable of being good children. Don’t have children unless you want to have children.

Another caveat: it’s a bad idea to plan on your children helping you. Instead, you should focus on not being a burden to them in your final years – they’ll often still help you, but it’s impossible to predict how much they’ll help you.

Do you dream in color or black and white? Do you remember your dreams?
– Ashley

I dream in frighteningly vivid color. Sometimes, I have dreams that remind me of Yellow Submarine, actually – I don’t know how else to describe them. Many of my dreams are more reality-based, though.

I tend to remember one dream a night or so and I usually write them down in as much detail as possible in my journal. For example, last night I had a dream that my wife and two kids passed away and I wound up remarrying a very short woman – I never did see the woman’s face. She had also lost her husband in an accident and we found each other in a support group. She had a teenage son (that I do remember) who practically demanded that we get married.

I usually write these dreams down because they become the basis for short stories later on. I read through these recollected dreams and every once in a while, one will become the source of a piece of fiction.

Me and my partner are planning to go to live in Southeast Asia for up to a year (or longer – it’s very open-ended). We both have roots there, and think it would be one of those life-enriching experiences that we’d never forget and would thank ourselves for later on in our lives. We’re planning to use about 20k in savings to pay for basic things, and then try to start a little business (English tutoring, guest house, or online service). However, we’re both concerned that when (if?) we get back to the US, we’ll have to resort to office/other drudgery again. Also, our parents are getting to that age where they need more of our financial and emotional support. Being in a traditional family, they’d like to see us buy a home to which they’d most likely move to as well. Do you think it makes sense to travel now or to hold it off until we save more?
– Ty

Travel now.

Here’s why. The older you get, the more likely you’re going to be entangled in many different demands in your life. Your parents will be in worse health. You may wind up with children whether you intend to or not. You’ll become a part of a community and more attached to the people around you.

And travel will seem less realistic than it does now. It’ll be harder to take such a leap.

The best time to do such a thing is when your entanglements are few, and they’ll never be fewer than they are now.

If you’re dreading returning to “drudgery” when you return, you should consider a different career. What do you consider to not be “drudgery”? Think about that and try to find work in that direction.

Do you ever write fiction?
– John

I try to write a short story a week. I’d love to be able to write more than that, but fiction writing is harder to find success with today than nonfiction and memoir writing (which is what The Simple Dollar is, for example).

I’d love to be able to primarily write fiction at my own pace, but that’s a future that seems a long way off. My plate is happily full at the moment, so I mostly work on fiction to keep myself from getting completely rusty.

I haven’t written anything that I feel is publishable yet, but I may be too hard on myself.

May I know what you consider as the best personal finance book for people in their 30s that you have read so far?
– Joy

It depends on what you’re looking for.

If you want a book that focuses on the nuts and bolts of investing and money management, I’d probably vote for Get a Financial Life by Beth Kobliner.

If you’re re-evaluating your whole relationship with money, nothing beats Your Money or Your Life.

If you’re at a career crossroads, look at something like Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields.

Those all speak well to thirtysomethings, I think.

How much money does a person have to have before you consider them rich?
– Kelly

There’s no set dollar amount.

For me, a person is rich if they can wake up each morning and do whatever they want to do. It might be some kind of work or it might not, but the person has the freedom to choose between work and play and define entirely for themselves what work is and what play is.

That, to me, is what it means to be rich. It doesn’t mean a huge number of investments or a fleet of expensive cars. It just means freedom.

Did you enjoy Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box? You tweeted about it a few times.
– Kathy

It’s just as good as the first Professor Layton game, if not better.

For those unaware, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box is the second in a series of games for the Nintendo DS. The games are simple adventure games (with amazing graphics and voice work) that involve solving a huge number of puzzles – 150 directly in the game and a few very engrossing puzzle-based side quests.

Both games are well worth playing. They only have between five and ten hours of gameplay in each one, but it’s some of the most enjoyable gameplay around. It’s great to pick up for fifteen minutes, solve a few puzzles, dig a bit deeper into the story, and then put it down.

Got any questions? Ask them in the comments and I’ll use them in future mailbags.

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  1. Johanna says:

    You didn’t answer TheOtherKathi’s question. (Also, way to equate not wanting children with not being capable of being a good parent.)

    If anyone out there DOES have an answer to TheOtherKathi’s question, I’d be interested in it, too.

  2. Kevin M says:

    @Johanna – I think Trent was referencing Kathi’s sister’s thought that she wouldn’t be good “mom material”, thus she didn’t want children. I didn’t get the idea that Trent meant not wanting children = no capability to be a good parent.

    About her question, it would be tremendously difficult to estimate the amount of money spent raising a child, and thus how much extra you would have saved for your elder care if you didn’t have that child. Do you use the mainstream idea of a couple hundred thousand, or whatever crazy number it’s up to now, or something lower? One can spend as much as they want on a child – providing them with every material good they want. Or just provide them with needs – food, shelter, clothing. It’s impossible to know where each person falls on that spectrum and thus how much more he/she would have if there were no children.

  3. Jen says:

    No matter how well you raise and love children, and how much they love you back, it is entirely possible that circumstances may not allow them to support you in your old age. Have them if you want them, but plan to provide for yourself just in case.

  4. Johanna says:

    @Kevin M: That wasn’t really the question that was asked either. First of all, in the case that’s relevant here (Kathi’s sister’s, mine), “if there were no children” is not the counterfactual – it is the reality. Second, the central question here is not “how much more money will I have than I would if I did have children” – it’s “how much more will I *need* to pay for the care that children might otherwise provide?”

  5. Craig says:

    You know, I never miss a chance to kick Dave Ramsey, but I think you’re a bit quick to call paying the highest interest debt “mathematically superior.” Sure, if the only thing you care about is total interest paid on all loans–but it’s very rare that one variable sums up everything that matters in life.

    Paying off the lowest balance first eliminates a mandatory payment from your budget altogether. Paying off half of a larger balance on a fixed-term loan does nothing at all for your monthly cashflow. A person with many debts is often stretched near the breaking point and poorly prepared for whatever little crisis life has in store next. Paying off lower balances gives a person more flexibility and more options if it becomes necessary to rethink the “debt snowball” because the car just died or Junior broke his leg (the scamp). That’s one key reason I support Ramsey’s “snowball” concept, even though it doesn’t look as good in terms of the one variable you emphasize.

  6. Amy says:

    I’m in agreement about moving abroad/traveling while entanglements are ‘few.’ I may have an opportunity to move to Europe for a couple years, thanks to my employer, who will cover a lot of expenses. What advice does everyone/Trent have about the logistics of such a move? We’d be leaving behind our home and most possessions and still paying the mortgage, so we have a place to come back. In the meantime, how does one manage paying for a current life in Europe while also managing assets back home? I’m thinking it’s not easy to just transfer funds back and forth so I can use an ATM and pay bills in the Republic of Ireland and still pay bills in the U.S. Ideas for cell phones, credit cards, managing money?

  7. George says:

    I trust you spotted the “thought error” (a large word typo) when you wrote, “pay off the lowest interest loan first”?

  8. Rosa says:

    Having kids is a total gamble, financially – aside from whether your kids will feel responsible for you as adults is the fact that you could have a child with disabilities who will have higher expenses as a child and also be a dependent adult.

    There is absolutely no way to estimate the financial impact of children not yet born or met – you don’t know anything about them yet.

  9. jc says:

    Trent, I would say concerning your reference for Michael that clearly you’ve been watching Office Space too often lately. But of course, there’s no such thing. Kudos to breaking it to him gently (I can’t think of a still more tactful way to handle it)!

  10. K says:

    As far as Michael’s question, you may have meant to say that while an emergency fund may not have a dollar amount limit, at some point it should only be a percentage of your net worth. I think that Michael’s point was as a college student with $50,000 in assets, some of it would be wisely invested in index funds for retirement or future major purchases.

  11. K says:

    Amy – you may want to start looking for a friend that you trust to rent your home while you are gone – someone who would be renting anyway. Then not only would you get some help with your mortgage, but the home would be occupied, which would help with preventing burglaries and maintenance surprises, someone to mow the lawn, etc. You may even be able to set up a bank transfer so their rent goes into your account right away.

  12. LisaS says:

    So far as having children … it’s definitely not either a financial decision, not a decision about having someone to support you in your age. my advice, having gone from being a teen/20something who thought I’d never reproduce to being a mom of grade schoolers, is to follow your heart on that one. if you feel your life would be incomplete without kid(s) then have them. if not, don’t.

    The same goes for the couple considering living abroad. Do it now, before kids, while your parents are still relatively healthy. We did a bit before grad school, but kick ourselves for not going back after grad school. It’s not about finances or your parents’ desires, but about the values you have for your own life. Just do it.

  13. LisaS says:

    oh, and Trent–every time I see the news that it costs $350k or whatever to raise a kid I think of you. how is that figured? I don’t see it in my life quite yet, & we’re almost to middle school …

  14. Alexandra says:

    Hi Trent,
    would you consider making another blog or on occasion posting a few short stories? I enjoy reading short stories a lot and I’m sure many of your readers would be interested in reading a few of them.

  15. Steven says:

    @5 Craig

    And that’s why it’s the mathematically superior plan, you pay less interest over time. And this doesn’t take into account inflation/stagnation/deflation of currency.

    Dave Ramsey’s plan is not mathematically superior, but it has it’s own merits, which you have named a few.

    There is no “one size fits all” plan. There is no right or wrong, there is only the plan that you are comfortable with and will stick to. Doesn’t matter how great a plan is if you don’t stick to it.

    Michael wants the most “profitable” solution, which is the least amount of interest he will need to pay and therefore agree with Trent’s answer. Plus, he’s already established an emergency fund, so I’m assuming that he’s not struggling to pay the bills.

  16. Jessica says:

    Is there any reason why all the parts on the second loan and the first loan couldn’t be consolidated (in the first question)? The way it is asked makes it seem like that second loan is a yearly Stafford or something. If they are federal loans, a company like AES will consolidate them and charge an interest rate that is an average of the others with consideration for current loan rates, so maybe 5ish% Doing the math, that might be cheaper and easier to pay off.

  17. liv says:

    I am playing Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box right now and it’s awesome!!!!! …except this one trash puzzle which made me want to cry.

  18. Sheila says:

    If I were the sister, I’d invest in long term care insurance with a home health option.

  19. Sandy says:

    @ Amy,
    Find out in advance what company will pay for. For us (we’ve done the corporate expat thing 3x, plus another stint during hubby’s grad school), the stages of our life made the difference to “how” we did it.
    the last time, we were (and still are)homeowners.
    the company paid for a real estate group to find quality folks to rent the house out to while we were gone. They took a detailed look at our expenses stateside (mortgage, taxes,utilities, etc..)and that was the amount subtracted from my husband’s paycheck. The company paid for all living expenses abroad (sweet deal…huge apt in great Paris location!)for the amount of our (NEOhio) cost of living. They also paid for private school for the girls. Plus I got a stipend. Plus a trip stateside once per year. Plus car +expenses.
    Check the policy of your company, and don’t let them swindle you out of anything…I knew a couple whose company told them that since they were living in the heart of Paris, they didn’t need a car allowance, due to the great public trasnport system. Well, technically, they were right. But almost ALL expat assignments come with a car, and since they were already there, it was harder to make their case. Likewise, on our first go abroad, the company said that they would pay for one trip home per year (Akron, in our case) OR anywhere else in the world if we could be price nuetral. We got to go to Thailand and Egypt due to this expat rule, free to us…we just hopped a couple of cheap flights home when we needed to. Bottom line…scour the details on any move abroad…your employer could be extrememly generous, or extremely chintzy. Good luck!

  20. plonkee says:

    I’m in the UK, so my numbers might be a little different to yours, but nursing home care runs at around £25k per year and people last on average 2 years.

    Otherwise, if you assume that you’ve a reasonable chance of ending up infirm, but in your own home a couple of hours a day of help is in the region of £5k-£7k per year. Plus you might need to pay a handyman to do things like change lightbulbs and so on, and for supermarket delivery and so on. Make it an even extra £10k a year.

    This means, you’d need to save something like £400k to cover your additional care that you’d otherwise be persuading your children to do. That seems to work out at something like £650 a month for 20 years (plus another 20 years compounding) – easily what you could spend on one kid. And of course, if you’re paying for the care you have more control.

    All the numbers above are back of the cigarette packet and no accuracy should be assumed.

  21. KC says:

    The obvious answer to how much is considered rich is “more than I have now”. LOL! Actually studies have shown that the answer to how much is enough was always more than the person had whether they only had $10k in their accounts or $10M!

    But I agree with Trent – rich is freedom to do what you want. There were times when I was in bad jobs, but I couldn’t afford to leave them. That’s when I knew I had to get myself financially independent. I’m still dependent on a job, but have enough leeway with my money to get myself out of a bad job situation even if it means a period of unemployment – I feel like I’m rich or at least headed there. Eventually I don’t plan on being dependent on a job – even though I may still work if I want – now that is truly rich.

  22. Can’t think that the emergency fund will last forever because it’s true, things keep coming up.
    Out of the dark they creep!

  23. kristine says:

    If you want your children to take care of you when you are old. take care of your parents at home if you can. Make stopping by, checking on, and finally caring for your loved elderly a part of the family life, and it will come more naturally to your children when it is your turn.

    My grandmother died when she fell asleep after my mom’s goodnight kiss to her, at home, in her own bed. My mom endured 2 years of wet sheets, and rolling her over every few hours at night. She closed her small business temporarily to do it. Two years in exchange for a lifetime of caring of live seemed a modest offering to us all. Grandma had a chance to tell us each what she thought was most important in her final days, because we were around. That does not happen with the hired help.

    Children learn mostly by example.

    It’s good to teach your children to listen to the elderly, even thought it sometimes takes forever for them to get a sentence out. A lot of people talk over the elderly, missing out on a lot of wisdom and learning. I mean- you want your kids to listen to you when you are old!

    I myself will do my best to prepare to be autonomous, as I plan to live rural off the grid, and my kids love the city! I have no expectations based on my financial investment in them, and am aware that most women outlive their mates.

  24. Shevy says:

    “You didn’t answer TheOtherKathi’s question. (Also, way to equate not wanting children with not being capable of being a good parent.)

    If anyone out there DOES have an answer to TheOtherKathi’s question, I’d be interested in it, too.”
    “That wasn’t really the question that was asked either. First of all, in the case that’s relevant here (Kathi’s sister’s, mine), “if there were no children” is not the counterfactual – it is the reality. Second, the central question here is not “how much more money will I have than I would if I did have children” – it’s “how much more will I *need* to pay for the care that children might otherwise provide?””

    First, Kathi asked 3 questions. They were:
    But what if there are no children?
    How does that work? (i.e. investing wisely the amount you would have otherwise spent on raising kids and paying for their education)
    How do you estimate how much to save for that?

    “If there were no children” is taken directly from Kathi’s question. It’s not necessarily the ultimate reality for either Kathi or her sister.

    Clearly, Trent answered that. If there are no children (which there will probably be in Kathi’s case and may or not be in her sister’s case) then there is no one to support you in the way that many children support their elderly parents.

    The answer to the second question seems to be self-evident. You have to invest that money wisely. The other aspect of this is that you have to have a way to estimate the amount you would have spent on children, had you had them, hence the 3rd question.

    This one is really impossible to answer definitively. Each person spends a different amount on their kids (and different amounts on different kids, depending on their individual interests and the parents’ changing financial situation). Plus, what you think you will spend on a child is not necessarily what you will actually spend.

    As for the parenthetical comment, that was just totally off base. Trent was, as has been pointed out by others, referring back to Kathi’s sister’s belief that she isn’t ‘good “mom” material’. If she doesn’t want to have kids and doesn’t feel she’ll do well raising them she should not have them anyway in the belief that they will support her in her old age. (This is the flip side of what we were talking about last week regarding developing countries, where there is no realistic alternative to having kids if one wants to be taken care of later.)

    And the central point of the 3rd question does, in fact, depend on how much money a person would have “saved” by not having children rather than how much may be *needed* for long term care since there will not be more money than that available regardless. It’s irrelevant that you may need more. You can’t create the money from thin air, only by making different choices as to how you earn, spend, save and invest throughout your life.

  25. prufock says:

    I’d like to do some traveling as well, now while I’m young, but I’m also 50 grand in debt. I can’t justify giving up a well-paying job and spending a load of cash to get around. I’m 28 now, I’ll definitely be in my thirties before I’m all paid up. Hopefully I won’t be too entangled by then.

  26. mary says:

    I think the question of “How are you going to manage aging or disability?” deserves its own post. I have volunteered for Meals on Wheels for several years and have certainly seen some situations that I don’t want to be in. While financial planning would certainly help, I’m not sure I’ve seen an article here or elsewhere that parsed some common situations.

    Staying in your own home, for example – Home health care aides aren’t covered by Medicare unless there is a medical need, and if you can get them, they won’t be covered indefinitely. It’s difficult to get people to stay overnight. And you may not be capable of dealing with juggling caregivers and bills, either mentally or emotionally. If you’re without family, what are your options? Do you form a collective with similarly situated friends?

    Do you plan to retire to an assisted living facility with the option to move up to skilled nursing care when the time comes? What will that cost, both in financial terms and in terms of your personal freedom? Lots of food for thought.

  27. Pankaj says:

    Hi Trent,

    I recently got a flyer for ING’s Orange Mortgage. They offer incredibly low interest rates. But the structure looks surprisingly like a ARM. What am I missing here?

    Thank you,


  28. Michael says:

    Oh…so now it’s not an emergency fun, it’s an emergency + opportunity fund? Yes, I suppose there is no limit to opportunity.

    I think the issue is more that you keep pulling the “jump to conclusions” mat away every time I jump. Thanks for answering my question, though.

  29. Dennis Robert says:

    I like what you said about the emergency fund, but I don’t know if I would classify it the same way. I have every intention to give more than my “good Christian” 10% tithe. I’m so strongly passionate about so many issues, I can’t picture not giving more and being satisfied with my actions. Heck the other day I walked out of Cold Stone and saw a homeless guy. I felt like that $6 was a waste and selfish. Anyways that was a sidetrack. To me, an emergency fund is for emergencies. I would classify the rest of it as savings, whether it is for philanthropy, a great side business opportunity, a “flip”, or whatever you have in mind that isn’t “the car repair” or “dishwasher.”

    Thanks Trent for all you do! I read most every post.

  30. Shevy says:

    I get a new Executive Director every 2 or 3 years. They come from overseas to handle fundraising for the non-profit I work for. Most of them are couples, sometimes with kids still at home. Generally the ED comes for a week or 10 day crossover visit before the previous guy finishes. During that time, in addition to learning as much as possible about the donors and the city, they usually start looking for a place to live but they usually don’t settle on a place until after the whole family arrives. The place is paid for by our organization, which has some say in terms of what is appropriate, maximum rent, etc.

    Generally, they either put the bulk of their things in storage and ship over a small amount or they ship pretty well their entire household. This is because they almost always rent out their home in their native country for the duration of their stay here. A relative or family friend usually manages the property for them and keeps in touch about things that need to be done, etc. One thing to be aware of is that they generally have to do some work on the house prior to moving back in. Tenants, even good ones, don’t usually take as good care of your place as you do.

    The things that don’t make sense to ship are electronics (because they work on different power overseas and, even with adaptors, things often don’t work correctly).

    They usually come with their own credit cards but one of the first things they do is open a bank account and get a Canadian credit card. If they come with kids, their children’s tuition at a local private school is paid for. Sometimes the spouse goes back to school here, sometimes they do volunteer work. Rarely do they get a job as well, because their visa doesn’t normally allow for them to work.

    They get a car leased for them and are given a cell phone, which is paid for by our organization. They have to pay for some of their other expenses on their credit card but submit an expense account each month and get some of that money back. Since, presumably, after the first month or so they aren’t using the credit cards they brought from “home” there aren’t new charges but they would have to make arrangements to pay down on any outstanding balance.

    In this particular instance, they have certain tax advantages after being away for a minimum of 2 years and are able to import certain things duty-free when they go back. This is one of the perks of the job and they usually take advantage of it, shipping back more than they came with.

    I hope all of this is helpful to you and your question about living overseas for a couple of years.

  31. Rachel says:

    Obviously children looking after aging parents is the most traditional setup for the next generation looking after the previous one, but just as Trent pointed out that the relationship has to be nurtured if the children are going to do this willingly, and that it can’t be counted on, there are other relationships that can be nurtured even though they are not parent-child.

    My mother has an elderly aunt (turning 90 next month) who never had children (not actually her choice), but was always actively involved in the lives of her siblings’ children. She is currently very lucid and healthy (and we wish her many more years that way), but I have no doubt whatsoever that my mum and her sister, I and my brother and my cousins and even more distant relatives will do everything we can to help her if and when she needs it. On the other hand, I am also sure that she is not completely counting on it, and that she has been putting something away for health and care issues.

  32. Karen says:

    I agree with Sheila – post #18 – look into long term care then you don’t have to depend on anyone

  33. A.J. says:

    LisaS (#13) – $350,000, divided out by 18 years, is only $53/day or so.

    Counting up food, clothes, field trips, housing, etc. that you pay for your children, would $53 a day sound like an unreasonable number?

  34. Amy says:

    Thanks to the commenters for the advice on moving overseas. I hadn’t thought of a couple of those things yet! I think I will have my housing and vehicle covered in the EU, a plane ticket for each of us yearly, even moving the dogs and shipping stuff. I feel lucky to be part of a large co. with a substantial relocation program.

  35. McKella says:

    Foods prices fluctuate so rapidly these days. What are your suggestions for keeping a pricebook for when store prices change so much?

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