Lessons From The Great Recession

by Louise

Totebaggers, it seems like The Great Recession happened eons ago. I still think about how bad things could have been for us as a family. We were lucky in that we had no job loss during that time.

Lots of changes took place in the financial services industry. Some Totebaggers have described changes to their jobs and lives because of the crisis.

How did the Great Recession impact you? Did it change your spending habits, your assumptions about the value of real estate?  What about the role of government?

Discuss…

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244 thoughts on “Lessons From The Great Recession

  1. The main effect in our family is just the value of our home. We bought high in 2007 & the estimated value still hasn’t risen to break-even. *sigh* This is all really just on paper though as we likely wouldn’t have moved anyway, but having relatively little home equity 8 years into ownership definitely colors my thinking about real estate/mortgages/moving/renting, etc.

  2. I think it just reinforced our belief that you should save aggressively during the good times, because things like the stock market, real estate, cars, everything really, go on sale during recessions. I wish we had had more money to put into the market in 2009 and I wish we hadn’t had to sell our old house because it would have made a decent rental (we needed the equity for our 20% down payment unfortunately).

  3. This is hitting home. This week we find out which of us survives the possible 2000+ job cuts of a large retailer. I might be living in my own recession.

  4. Real estate prices remained fairly steady in our area, but we have relatives who are still underwater on their homes (bought in 2007, homes are now worth about 60% or 70% of what they paid).

    Atlanta, my DH also wishes he had held more cash leading up to the recession. One of his jobs at the time was very countercyclical, so made us *more* money during the recession than it did in the couple years after. We both kept our jobs, but my salary was cut and is STILL not up to what it was in 2008. Grrr.

    Our relatives who came out of school in 2009-2010 were the most impacted, with dead end jobs and unpaid internships and additional grad school to avoid entering the labor market.

    One odd side effect: with low interest rates, our clients have really done well on their grantor trusts from 2008 through now.

  5. you should save aggressively during the good times, because things like the stock market… really, go on sale during recessions.

    Is there any data to suggest that makes sense? The attempt to time the market, I mean.

    Option 1: Dollar cost averaging into an index fund over the long haul.

    Option 2: Spend years accumulating cash with the goal of dumping it into the market when there is the proverbial “blood in the streets?”

  6. Lemon, DH and I have been thinking about you guys. It must be very stressful. I hope it works out for both of you.

  7. Rhett – we were thinking more of an option 3. Continue dollar cost averaging into your 401k and investing in a taxable account, but not everything (hold back some cash).

  8. Jobs – We lost one job – permanently, now retired – to product being moved overseas just as the recession was hitting. WIth a growing pool of applicants and his approaching retirement age, even with an agressive job search, no job after 20 months. He took early social security and became stay at home dad. The other job changed to a lower paying one. Employer was cutting back and her job was on the chopping block – moved before the ax fell, but had to take a pay cut, but was able to maintain benefits that were especially needed for one child.

    Overall effect – We have always been frugal and had no debt – house and cars paid off, credit cards paid off monthly. We cut back on some expenses, with family vacation/travel taking the biggest hit. He is still a SAHD, her job has changed again, overall making slightly more than before the recession.

  9. but not everything (hold back some cash).

    How much cash? To make a meaningful dent in your long term rate of return it would have to be fairly sizable. Also, do you have the balls to pull the trigger when their is blood in the streets? And, looking at the chart of the S&P 500 – when do you pull the trigger? August, 2008 when we are down 20%, October when we are down 30%, February 09 after a sickening plunge takes us down to -50%?

  10. February 2009 of course.:)

    I’m thinking more along the lines of 70% into the market, 30% held back in cash of annual savings.

  11. Anon for this–the situation that you described is one of the reasons that we have been frugal. DH’s job is very risky and unstable.

  12. Good luck, Lemon.

    The Recession made us more financially conservative at a time when we were making some big spending decisions, so that’s good, I guess. (We’re very frugal… ;) to Rhett)

    OTOH, it maybe made us more conservative in terms of investment allocation when we should have been anything but. Oh well.

  13. Milo–what’s your allocation? Ours is 70-30 stocks-bonds. Our financial advisor says it’s too conservative, but it works for us.

  14. February 2009 of course.:)

    Just to put your decision into perspective lets run some numbers.

    October 1, 2007 you have $1 million in 401k/IRA retirement and $500k in a brokerage account with a 70/30 stocks to cash split.

    In February, your retirement balance has fallen from $1 million to $450k and your brokerage account balance is down from $500 to $304k and the economy is shedding nearly 1,000,000 jobs a month. At that point you’re going to pull the trigger?

  15. It made me appreciate the role of luck a little bit more in career and life in general, and moved my politics slightly to the left on some welfare-related issues. I saw, for instance, how something totally out of your control like the year you graduate can have longstanding effects on your income and career success, by looking at the trajectories of 2005 vs. 2008 vs. 2012 grads.

  16. Houston – It’s over 90% stocks, but we also paid the mortgage very aggressively, which, in terms of balancing risk, is kind of like buying a long-term bond. (Alluding back to the discussion about volatility, that’s one of the reasons I think that discussions that are only about percentages often miss the bigger picture.)

  17. At that point you’re going to pull the trigger?

    Next time, yes. This last time we just closed our eyes and kept up with our regular investment pattern. I knew better than to sell, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to buy extra. A guy I know (very successful in advertising, btw, just to tie this to yesterday’s conversation) was gloating about having extra cash to push into the market as it plunged. I knew he was right, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. And of course now he’s better off than ever.

  18. Thanks Risley. It has been a stressful week. If we get the bad news, I’ll be paying close attention to today’s topic.

    L- I’m curious if your relatives who delayed entering the job market by going to grad school have ended up with well paying jobs? I know of a few who did the same and then ended up taking low level entry jobs and have a long way to climb, even with a grad degree.

  19. I have said this before here: As I was getting out of my car to start this job there was a report on Merrill saying they were writing down the value of mortgages they held on their balance sheet. I view this as the start of the recession.
    Unfortunately for us, I had been un(der)employed for about 3 years leading up to this, so our cash reserves were pretty thinned out. The new job, continuation of the frugality of the prior years, and the need to do so has enabled us to keep growing our savings/investment portfolio.
    We survived the recession fairly well because we had enough of a cushion going into my employment struggles + me landing this just at the right time.
    I have been thinking about moving our current (new money) contributions to cash for when the inevitable next down cycle comes so we can be “ready to pounce”. I put that in quotes because I am very unconvinced about my/our/anyone’s ability to time the market consistently. The only thing I am doing now is going more into equities…we were at ~72% stock; now we are more like 79%…I think our overall time horizon is long enough to merit this.

  20. Rhett – the hope is you do like RMS says. You learn from the last cycle and you just hold your nose and do it.

    We did the same, didn’t sell anything, but couldn’t bring ourselves to put more in. Part of this was a timing issue, as we were hoping to move and I wanted to keep that cash safe for a down payment. It probably worked out as we ended up buying our house at close to the bottom and now have a decent amount of home equity but we learned that cash really is king.

    Lemon, good luck!

  21. FWIW,

    My point is to keep the invested money in stocks because they outperform bonds over the long run. Holding bonds or cash in an investment account makes sense if you want that account to have x dollars in on x date. No one here has really said I need x. If you want to maximize returns, then stocks.

  22. Lemon – hope things go your way!!!!

    Yes, the relatives who delayed also had trouble. The grad school (masters) and/or finishing degrees/changing majors to get a different degree seemed to take them forever, and they had to bounce around with a few temp positions. It seems like their delay was more like 4-5 years than the 2 it took them to finish the masters. The 2009 graduates from *grad* school took 1-2 years after that to find a ‘good’ job.

  23. We have about 90% equities and 10% cash/bonds in our invested accounts. Total value of our real estate is more than the value of the liquid assets, but the mortgage brings it down to approximately the same amount.

  24. I had been laid off about a year before the recession, due to a company takeover. Almost everyone at my company lost his or her job. I was a year into a new job, in the eminently sucky field of healthcare IT. My DH was at a hedge fund. We literally had front row seats for the meltdown – for example, the night before Lehman went under, most of the traders and IT support people were at work all night unwinding transactions furiously, trying to get out of Lehman. There was a round of layoffs at his company about 2 months later – in fact, one of my colleagues who had been laid off from MY company had been hired by the hedge fund, and managed to get axed again. In any case, we both managed to keep our jobs. I had to listen to my evil manager walk around the cubes telling us that he could treat us any way he wanted because there were no jobs out there for us to bolt to. Charming. I was the first to bolt, a year later, but every single person in my group was gone within 3 years. I think we were more hireable than he assumed.

    We were fortunate to have bought our house in 1999, so today it is worth far more than we paid for it. We refinanced the mortgage twice, and now have a really low interest rate, and are paying it off faster than the original mortgage. Since 2008 we have focused a lot more on savings. When we met with the TIAA CREF financial planner, he told us that we are in far better shape than most of the people he sees. Of course, since he works for TIAA CREF, most of his clientele are probably underpaid, clueless academics so that may not be saying much

    I was just listening to a WNYC interview with an economist who follows NYC trends. He said that NYC, in fact NY as a whole, suffered far less in the recession than many other states, and has been a much better than average performer in the years since then. Evidently, the only NE state that is doing badly is NJ, due to a number of basic problems that they have. So I think we NYers may not have a sense of the magnitude of what happened in the 2008-2010 years and beyond.

  25. Rhett – the hope is you do like RMS says.

    Keep in mind the story is going to be different next time and you’ll likely to be either close to retirement or actually retired.

  26. Good luck, Lemon. I know a bit about your situation since many years ago H and I were both working for the same employer that was undergoing waves of massive layoffs. The atmosphere was heavy, needless to say. We both got axed, but I actually had to ask to be terminated since we wanted to move away and pursue different careers. (I probably would have been let go another six months or year later.) That was my big lesson in the vagaries of employment, and the lessons learned have served us well. Our favorite response to the question “how was your day” is still, “Good, I didn’t get fired today. :)

  27. For me the recession and recovery timed out very well. Nov 2007 I bought my home at a good but not rock bottom price. (Prices were already down 15% from 2005, but by last summer the recovery is such that two neighbors, who bought at the peak, sold and made a 10% profit). In 2009 I got mercifully laid off from my last full time employment (the one I took after the forced early retirement). The job was a terrible fit, and I am still slightly embarrassed that I cashed 18 mos of paychecks from it. Of necessity I discovered contract work soon after, which was a much better fit for the last five years in the workforce. Mom died May 2008, so I got maximum step up in basis, sold tons of stuff at a loss, established cap loss c/f’s, and redeployed over the next year at the market bottom.

    What did Iearn from this? Well, I had lived through previous recessions, high inflation, gas crisis, unstable income, 4 college tuitions. My “lifetime job” had been taken away by a corporate takeover. I worked like a dog to pay off all my debt and most of my kids’ college debt. I already knew enough to marry a guy with an iron clad pension and to buy a modest dwelling. I amassed 100K in cash deposits, not even money markets. All this before the full recession hit. You never know.

  28. “I had to listen to my evil manager walk around the cubes telling us that he could treat us any way he wanted because there were no jobs out there for us to bolt to.”

    Cracking up at my desk picturing that.

  29. CoC, my husband says that too, or a variant “The company didn’t go under today”

  30. Of course, since he works for TIAA CREF, most of his clientele are probably underpaid, clueless academics so that may not be saying much

    Jack: So what are you gonna do with your money? Put it into a 401(k)?
    Liz: Yeah, I gotta get one of those.
    Jack: What?! Where do you invest your money, Lemon?
    Liz: I’ve got like twelve grand in checking.

  31. Lemon – Hope things work out for you!

    Graduated in 1985 – job market was soft, went directly into grad school even though that was not the original plan. The delay helped – grad degree qualified me for a job I would not have had 2 years out of school and the salary was just slightly over what I would have made if I’d taken the post-undergrad offer.

    In general, I think delaying makes sense when you are clear about how the second degree (either second bachelors or masters) will actually benefit you, vs a general more education is better approach.

  32. I graduated into the serious recession of the early to mid 80’s, and gave up on finding a job after 9 months of searching. And yes, I had a degree in CS,with good grades and some summer internship experience. I went to grad school and am really glad that I did. Not only did I meet DH there, but I gained a lot more knowledge and skills (really!) that I did not have coming out of undergrad. Most of my grad school friends were there because of the recession, most stayed only for their MS, and all got great jobs when they finished. Those of us who stayed for PhDs also got good jobs at the end. I should note that we were all funded either as TAs or off grants as RAs. I did a bit of both, and I even taught for a while as a FT instructor, making a good bit of money while I went to school

    I think the pros and cons to grad school have a lot to do with two things: is the field of study actually worth it, and can you get a TA or RA so you don’t have to take out loans?

  33. We bought at the height of the market in 2007, but sold at the same time. We’re currently re-financing our mortgage again and are waiting for the appraisal to see if we are back to what we paid initially. I think we are. We put a chunk of equity in at the time so are not underwater. DH was laid off for 6 months or so in 2009 but got a shovel ready Obama funded contract job, which he’s turned into regular employment and has gotten two promotions since. I’m at the same job, working more for the same (and much less than Biglaw), but still with good/flexible hours.

    We aggressively beefed up our cash savings, with the help of no longer having a nanny and sending the kids to public school. We also max out 401K retirement options and fund what we can for the kids’ 529 accounts. Our next focus after some home repairs and travel, paying down the mortgage. Boring and frugal.

    One of my SILs was laid off from a construction company during the recession and tried a few other jobs, but has since gone back to school and gotten a teaching degree. She’s now working her first year as a teacher. I’d say she’s late to launch, but finally has. She moved back in with her mom during all this and has ended up staying. Curious to see if she moves out.

    My other SIL – well she’s a financial mess but most recently has a steady paying gig, is paying her own rent (as far as I know) and still has time for her true passions. No idea how she’ll end up.

  34. Our house hasn’t recovered but our finances have.

    We both had some touch and go moments during the recession. DH got a stable job (still grant funded but with a man who has a nice grant nest egg). And my PhD magically got funded and I could finish. Our fear came when I graduated.

    We made our plans, crossed our fingers and I got my job. RI is still lot recovered from the recession. It’s slowly climbing out. DH and I are thankful we didn’t lose our jobs or house. Now we are digging out of some debt and building up the savings as fast as we can.

    I wish you well Lemon. My fingers are crossed for you.

  35. Conventional wisdom on funding grad school on loans vs TA/RA: if you have to pay for it, they don’t really want you there. I don’t think this applies in business or law school, but I’ve never heard of an arts & sciences degree in which it didn’t.

  36. Yeah, in fact law and business schools are cash cows for most universities. In the sciences, a lot of the funding comes from grants. I don’t know what they do in the humanities.

  37. Thanks for all the well wishes. We are still holding on, but it is much like the Hunger Games. One at a time. Trying to keep positive that it is only one company laying off and not whole economy. But I would like to keep our rainy day fund increasing and not have to draw on it.

    Interesting about the arts and humanities “if you have to pay for it, they don’t really want you there.” This makes sense when I think about people I know who did that route and paid for it. Their jobs post graduation are the entry level type with slow growth.

  38. We might have made a mistake by refinancing with cash out to buy a new house and converting the old to a rental, all at the peak in 2006. But both homes seem to have held their value rather than losing it, so we should come out OK in the long run. My engineering business was mostly in long-term state & municipal projects, so the banking crisis in 2008 only affected a few commercial clients and we kept rolling along. The real problems were delayed a couple years as state & local budgets bottomed out and very few new projects were started. In that highly competitive environment for design & construction, I did not win a few big proposals in a row and got laid off in 2011. That was the morning after my grandmother had a stroke and then she died 2 days later. The small cash inheritance I got at that time was perfectly timed to help with expenses in the 6 months of unemployment that followed. Unfortunately, I decided to change industries, and have taken salary reductions in the 3 jobs since then. However, I think I’m finally where I want to be, and it should be fairly stable, with opportunity for growth, if I can do a good job. DH had joined a startup in 2007 that has been immune to the recession and just keeps growing, his salary along with it to the point that he now makes double what I do.

  39. Wondering if I should still call him DH? He’s neither an ex nor a dear these days. :-)

  40. @ Lemon – good luck.

    We were lucky. DH was extremely panicky imagining doomsday. It seemed like he wanted me to panic too. I continued to save as I normally did. The only thing we put off by a few months was buying a new car. We have gotten even more Scrooge like since then and DH has gotten more frugal. This is even though our incomes have increased, house is paid off and we are healthy. It’s like living with MMM.

  41. MM, humanities also have grants. Shocking, I know, but there are apparently funders who think that thinking is worthwhile. Of course, as the US moves ever rightward, Congress is in tune with the anti-intellectual public mood that says if it doesn’t make money, it isn’t worth investing in, and so NEH and NEA have been gutted, but there are other grant sources, and seeing as we already have the most valuable equipment for most studies–an educated mind–the equipment costs for humanities are much lower than sciences (speaking in generalities, of course) Humanities intro courses tend to be required in most universities, so departments need TAs.

  42. Yes, I know there are grants in the jumanities but I think the amounts are far less. In STEM, grants are often for a million or more, and fund armies of RAs and postdocs. I know that TAs are needed in the humanities, and for good reason, but that is usually university funding.
    Don’t forget – we do some thinking in STEM too :-)

  43. Louise, I positively hate this topic. :)

    The great recession damn near killed me. It certainly killed my real estate business because I really had no real idea that real properties really could not be sold at any price if necessary. If I could have unloaded, I’d have been injured, but not critically.

    And the recession hit at a bad time professionally. I had just started working at a crappy, non-stable mid-level firm that did not survive. (Good riddance!) I was also down to one income.

    I’ve yet to crawl out. And I’m not exactly at the right age to start over somewhere or at something else. I also no longer access to capital to rebuild what had worked before, although I frustratingly still see the opportunities.

    I am not too happy with the Wall Street types which many of my friends are. I am surrounded by wealth. But I can no longer play. I find myself really liking Elizabeth Warner.

    But the strange thing is that I think I am happier. I really like this parenting things. I like my almost retirement and my pro-bono and volunteer activities.

    I guess I emerged okay.

  44. Mooshi, of course you guys think. But most science research requires additional equipment beyond the mind–spectrometers or really cold refrigerators or super-collider or really fast computers or rows and rows of experiments or whatever. Humanities generally don’t require that additional equipment, so grants don’t need to be as big. We need time to think & a place to write, and travel to interview people or examine archives. Those costs tend to be lower than buying the equipment beyond the brain. Einsteins thought experiments are famous because they are the exception, not because they are the norm.

  45. BTW, I saw a great article yesterday on how Northeastern University has gone from being a sort of low rent commuter school to a highly desirable university with lots of students applying. Of course, the coop model is a part of it, but they have always done the coop model. The thing that changed was that Northeastern decided to focus completely on building up research in several key STEM areas. They won lots of grants, money poured in, they built up their facilities, and voila. It helps that a lot of the research has been high impact and very visible.

  46. I have no idea if this is true, but anecdotally, it seems as if low-COL areas had bigger bubbles (at least as a percentage of house value), lower troughs, and have yet to recover. I have a friend in the distant Philadelphia suburbs who bought (new) 10 years ago. They are preparing to sell and are thankful they never used any equity — she is pretty sure they can sell without paying any money (and they finished the basement into a MIL). We bought in 2007, at peak for our low-COL area outside a regional high-COL. We saw our house lose half of its value in a year. It was supposed to be a starter-house — we thought we could sell in two years, when a graduate program was finished. Fortunately, it was much less house than we could afford, so we were limited in our exposure that way. Also, as much as I moan about my job, it is incredibly recession proof. DH had 5 years post-college experience in a high-demand industry, so his employment proved stable as well (not so true in the 2001 recession).

    The 2007 house is currently valued at 60% what we paid for it. I think it may take 20 years to recover.

  47. MM, interesting because I keep hearing Northeastern pop up in conversations with my friends. They think their kids will have a much better chance of getting a job immediately after college. So many of their kids like the appeal of going to school in Boston too.

    The recession impacted my job because so many of the deals that I managed on my team blew up. I didn’t create these deals, but my team was responsible for the deals after they closed. It was like putting out fires all of the place in all different types of asset classes.

    Also, our managers essentially said the same thing as Mooshi’s boss…there were so many people out of work that they knew we couldn’t leave, and we knew that we could replaced easily since so many experienced people were looking for work.

    Our personal assets have recovered because we never got out of the market. Our house is about even, but we bought in early 2000s. We haven’t made much on this investment.

    We were always trying to live on one salary, but we realized how much this helped us because our comp went down even though we didn’t lose our jobs. We were fortunate that both of our firms were much stronger financially than other firms.

  48. We bought in 2003, a lot of folks were moving up, and. therefore, out of this neighborhood. We saw a large percentage of properties for sale; lost several against people bidding over asking; but, got this house at asking. It was priced lower than some others and our bid was in 8 hours from when the sign went up. It gone down as low as 30K below what we paid and is now about 90K over what we paid. Our neighborhood, due to commute location and sort of an odd niche area does not move (up or down) nearly as much as other areas. Also, our neighborhood, unlke several others, is not dominated by people all working for the same employer. Those neighborhoods really suffer when their is a downturn for those employers.

  49. Mooshi and Lauren have put their fingers on the biggest reason I left academia. For every tenure track position, there are 250 people lined up behind you waiting for it. My department chair and dean just looooved gloating about how they could put me on as many committees as they wanted, and make me jump through as many hoops as they pleased, because I was easily replaced. You should have seen the slack-jawed expression on my department chair’s face when I told him (after two years) to take the job and shove it.

    And the person they replaced me with was terrible, didn’t get tenure, and then they lost the position and had to go to adjuncts. Ha ha.

  50. For the parents of college aged children–how concerned are you that a lot of the teaching is now done by adjuncts and TA’s? I went to a SLAC, so I was taught by real professors in small classes.

    My DS will likely go to state flagship, due to choice of major. When I hear about teachers not being able to speak English, or that most classes are taught by adjuncts, or that that really good profs don’t teach at the undergrad level, it’s concerning.

  51. Houston, I went to college in the late 90s at a big state flagship, so my experience may be outdated. First and second year classes were usually large 500+ auditorium that would have the prof lecture. The TAs would teach the smaller break out classes, as well as handle the prof’s office hours. In other words, you never had the chance to communicate directly with the prof. Once in my major, the classes were almost always taught by the prof, and significantly smaller. Over the course of 4 years I would say that half the TAs were very difficult to understand, however I put in effort to learn the material and listen. Most of the students who did the loudest complaining of not understanding the TA were those that sat in the back of the classroom and did the daily crossword and were too hungover to try.

  52. Houston – Well, when was an undergrad, profs taught everything. I don’t remember bad profs or maybe I just could not tell the difference between good and bad…TAs ran the labs/study sections (large state quasi-flagship).
    Thus far DS1 has had more adjuncts at his school ~5000 undergrads, than DS2 ~9000 undergrads. Bigger issue, and only DS2 has faced it, is profs who really cannot speak English well.

  53. Thanks Lemon and Fred. I think you validated, not alleviated, my concerns–I appreciate the info.

  54. Houston – I went to a large private LAU in the 90s. I only had one TA who was difficult to understand. About 90% of my professors were native English speakers and the remainder of the classes were taught in a foreign language.

  55. Houston– I went to a large state school, and the freshman classes being taught in big groups by the professor with discussions led by TAs was the norm. BUT the profs held their own office hours, if you dared to approach them, and most wanted to know students. It took effort to get to them and you had to care to do it, but it was possible.

    We bought our house in 2006 and watched it lose money for a while. Around 2009 or so we put a big chunk of cash we’d been saving into the house to pay it down enough to hit 97.5% equity (that hurt) and get a better interest rate. These days our mortgage payments are about 2/3 of what they were when we first bought the house. Haven’t worked on paying it off faster simply because we aren’t sure we’re staying here and it makes more sense to save the money elsewhere right now. We are bounding quickly, though, and houses in our neighborhood like ours are selling for about 20% over what we paid. Given what we’ve paid in renovations, etc. over the years I consider it a wash, but we could leave with enough to put a good down payment on a house somewhere else if we needed to. We are currently debating a move, so that’s been on my mind.

    Our jobs were secure during the recession, but seeing how it hit everyone made me feel a bit more chicken little about the job market for new graduates. It also reinforced our approach to maxing out the SEP-IRA and the 401K, keeping a good chunk in cash available as an emergency fund, etc. I’m jealous of those of you with good 529 plans. CA doesn’t tax advantage any of them, and so we haven’t seen any real benefit to a 529 plan over a standard index fund, so we have a separate fund that we call the college fund for the 3 kids, but with fewer restrictions.

  56. Houston, I experienced what you are describing in undergrad in the early to mid 1980s as a freshman. By junior year, all my classes in my major were taught by profs and their English (for non-native speakers) was not an issue. I think it is part of trial by fire…the goal is to weed out those who will not do what it takes to persevere.

  57. The big lecture/TA model is most common at big research universities. Even there, though, the person lecturing is often a 1 year temp person – not really a PT adjunct since this is usually someone who is fulltime. A lot of research universities also have “instructors” who are fulltime, teaching oriented employees – these people often do the freshmen intro courses.

    However, you will also find true adjuncts at the big universities too. English comp is largely the domain of adjuncts these days, as are low level math courses and language courses.

    Once you move past the research universities, you will find adjuncts everywhere. I think around 40% of our classes are taught by adjuncts. That is not uncommon at your midtier, less research intensive schools. They don’t have armies of grad students to serve as TAs, so they use adjuncts instead.

    I think only at the very expensive SLACs will you find that most courses are taught by real professors.

    The big problem with adjuncts is that they have no extra time, so no office hours and no advising. They also bounce around a lot, so it is hard find an old instructor when you need a recommendation. And there is not a ton of quality control – trust me, I am responsible this year for doing adjunct evals.

  58. My brother was nearly convinced that we were seeing Peak Oil. I still make fun of him about that.

  59. “I think only at the very expensive SLACs will you find that most courses are taught by real professors.”

    And Academies, fwiw.

  60. At the state flagship where I did my PhD, and at my first academic gig at a R1, we used year to year instructors to teach the freshman sequence in my department, and all service courses. I think that is very common.

  61. During undergrad, in the 80s, at the almost flagship land grant university, most classes were taught in large 500+ lectures halls, or smallish 60+ classrooms. Discussion sections were taught by TA’s. Soon enough, everyone learned to avoided the classes taught by TA’s who didn’t really speech English. The only class I remember where the professor actually taught the class was an English one.

    When I got my PhD at the research university, no one was interested in teaching, not the professors, not the TA’s. Teaching was viewed as a not very important chore to get out of the way.

  62. Houston – we took our kids to a terrific SLAC in the state south of us and one thing the tour guides went on about was that professors do the teaching, some classes are more like seminars, w/ 6 ppl, etc. It sounded like such a dream to me and DH. My DSD was horrified. She wants to go to Lemon’s alma mater, partly so she can hide in the back of the auditorium behind 500 other kids and never be called on, or even recognized by a teacher. If this means the teachers are TAs versus actual profs, that’s totally fine with her. DH, who went to a SLAC, is beside himself about this — or he was. He’s come to accept it now.

  63. “Northeastern University has gone from being a sort of low rent commuter school to a highly desirable university with lots of students applying.”

    They’ve also raised their academic profile with aggressive use of merit aid. Yes, they are one of the colleges that offer packages to NMF.

  64. Murphy, the experience of a school like Northeastern I think shows why no one in universities cares all that much about teaching. You don’t go from third rate commuter school to top choice university by stressing teaching (except a little bit in the advertising materials).

  65. hide in the back of the auditorium behind 500 other kids and never be called on, or even recognized by a teacher.

    In my case being recognized by profs got me jobs, internships, special advanced classes, tutoring opportunities, etc. Is she worried it’s going to be like the scene with John Housman in The Paper Chase?

  66. I have a friend who sent his kid to Northeastern this year for exactly that reason – the merit aid. But you have to have money to hando ut merit aid like candy

  67. You don’t go from third rate commuter school to top choice university by stressing teaching .

    So, the value in a top rate school is mostly (or almost entirely) in signaling?

  68. Also, I think the school’s career center should not be overlooked. Yes my classes were huge and my interactions with profs limited, however the career center for business students was awesome. Not only did they actively seek out companies for recruiting, but set up networking events, offer classes for resumes, networking, and practice interviews. That center was probably the most important part of launching me into a career (and self supporting). FWIW, the 18 year old me when not have done well in the 6 person seminar, I needed to be “lost” in the crowd those first few years.

  69. “I think it just reinforced our belief that you should save aggressively during the good times, because things like the stock market, real estate, cars, everything really, go on sale during recessions.”

    We took advantage of the recession to pull the trigger on our remodel. We’d been planning and saving for it for years. It was much easier to get contractors to talk to us than it had been a few years earlier,

    We also pulled the trigger on a new car.

    I’ve long thought that governments should do the same thing.

  70. Rhett – she’s worried about being told, “Good morning,” at the start of class and having to respond in kind. ;) Believe me, DH has tried reasoning with her, along the lines of what you’ve said wrt the benefits of getting to know people. No dice.

  71. And one other thing – to keep the best students, you have to have good equipment and labs on campus. Those cost a lot of money. Industry gives a lot of money, especially to engineering schools like Northeastern. They don’t give it out of altruism though. They give it to get access to research and to professors. Northeastern actually had deep ties with area industry because of their coop program, and once they realized they could milk those ties for research opportunities, the money started flowing in.

    Industry doesn’t donate money to provide for idyllic seminars with undergrads. They want R&D, and access to students who have learned using state of the art equipment. That is another reason why universities have learned to stress research.

  72. “You don’t go from third rate commuter school to top choice university by stressing teaching .”

    Isn’t that part of the approach of schools like Oklahoma, Alabama, Arizona, etc., that, in addition to aggressively offering merit aid, also have honors colleges to entice the kids that will enhance their academic profiles?

  73. Lemon – I really should have sent DSD on a campus tour with you. Might have prevented the hives DH suffered over there … ;)

  74. ” Industry gives a lot of money, especially to engineering schools like Northeastern. They don’t give it out of altruism though.”

    It’s probably more cost effective than having to provide that training to employees on their payroll.

  75. Finn, every two bit college in the country has an honors program. My school has an honors program. I don’t think those generally do much to raise the profile of a school

  76. Finn, even back when I was a grad student, I remember that the advanced computing labs that undegrads used were entirely paid for by a certain large defense contractor….

  77. Besides just raising their academic profile, one reason schools aggressively recruit with merit aid is that will make them more attractive to industry as recipients of grants.

  78. Hm, thinking back, I guess my alma mater had an honors program, but it was irrelevant to me because the honors classes weren’t related to my major.

    But the honors colleges at the places I mentioned, which are touted as “school within a school” with lower student/prof ratios and their own faculty, are a lot different than the honors program at my alma mater

  79. I went to a large research university where the freshman classes were huge. The usual set-up was lectures 2x/week with 500-1000 students for something like Econ 101 or Chem 201 with tenured professors and then small groups/labs taught by TAs 2x/week. I loved it. You can easily ride the curve that way. Once I was taking classes in my major, the classes were small and professor taught. I strongly preferred the large classes.

  80. I really liked the curve in the big classes. All you had to do to do well was go to class and do the problems sets. It was much harder in the small classes where I couldn’t hide.

  81. As an undergrad, only a few of the freshman-level courses in my major weren’t taught by profs. Nearly all the labs, however, were taught by grad students, most of the FOB, and one of the students’ biggest complaints was the lack of English proficiency of the TAs.

    Several years ago, when I was on an advisory committee for my major department at my alma mater, student surveys indicated that was still the case.

    The domestic grad students seemed to be able to get RA positions, or just paid the tuition.

  82. Oh, and honors colleges also tout SLAC-like environments with classes taught by profs.

  83. The domestic grad students don’t “just pay the tuition”. The problem is, in many fields, there are almost NO domestic grad students. And the few that are there often are offered more lucrative instructor positions because they can speak English. They also can help the professors write grant proposals and papers more effectively, so they are more likely to get RA positions. But mainly, there are so few of them. When I taught at the R1, I think domestic grad students were around 10 to 15% of the grad students in my department.

  84. Speaking of the anti-financial crisis. Bill Clinton’s last economic briefing as President included grave concern among economists about the fact that the national debt was expected to be paid off my 2012 and how would the financial system react to a world without the safe haven of US gov’t debt.

    http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2011/10/20/LifeAfterDebt.pdf

    Oh well, voters decided that tax cuts and war were more important…C’est la vie

  85. Yeah, yeah, we advertise the small classes in our honors program. But once a student gets into his or her major, the reality hits. I’ve seen many honors programs, and I just don’t think they work well.

  86. At my large land-grant state U in the 1990’s, I had a mixed experience of large lectures with TA-taught labs, random instructor-taught courses (like technical writing and public speaking), professor-taught in-major courses, and even a few honors classes. I didn’t get good enough grades freshman year to stay in the honors program, but I really enjoyed the small political science classes I got to take for my humanities requirement that year. In Chemistry 1001, I was the one who wanted to hide in the crowd.

    By the way, I have it on good authority that tomorrow’s topic will be a continuation of the SLAC discussion based on the recent announcement that Sweet Briar College will close.

  87. Mooshi, When I was working for a big government contractor, they were trying to entice US citizens to come to my school for grad degrees in your subject and related engineering disciplines because they could not hire any of the foreign nationals for security reasons. It was a pretty sweet deal for anyone willing to spend a couple years here – grant money to fund their fellowship, get security clearance while in school, and a guaranteed job when they finished.

  88. Mooshi, thanks for the perspective on Honors programs. I’ll pass it on to DS if he considers one of those schools.

    Quite a few of my domestic peers went on to grad school. About half of them continued at my alma mater, and the other half went elsewhere. Most stopped at MS, but one classmate and another guy a couple years behind are now on the faculty at alma mater, and the few PhDs have been in industry since finishing.

    When I was on the advisory committee, I got to know quite a few of the students, and quite a few of them also went on for their MS.

    In my past career, a fairly large %age of the STEM professionals I worked with, both domestic and FOB, had grad degrees. I’d guess in the ballpark of half the domestic professionals had grad degrees. E.g., when I was in a small group, of 5 domestic STEM grads, there was 1 PhD, 3 MS, and 1 BS.

    However, a lot of the domestic MS were sponsored by their employers for their MS programs and thus weren’t in the TA/RA pool.

  89. Oops, my guess is that over half the domestic STEM professionals where I worked previously had grad degrees. Especially if you count the MBAs, most of whom were in marketing or management.

  90. TAs are grad students. Some will be from the US, some will not be. There has been a push for about a decade now to have more profs teach intro courses, so there are fewer intro courses taught by TAs and more that have the large lecture by prof/smaller breakout groups led by TAs model. As long as the US continues to operate on the model that advanced degrees are a benefit to the degree holder only, and that it doesn’t do the country any good to have doctors, diplomats, or others with advanced degrees, most grad students will need to pay tuition as well as rent and grocery bills. Countries that support grad students financially have fewer of them teaching.

    In considering the value of having a prof in the classroom, I think it’s important to remember that research and teaching are different things that require very different skills. If someone has a knack for a particular subject, it may be difficult for that person to understand how others could not get it, and teaching will be difficult. Some universities hire temp instructors on a semester by semester basis, and the instructors float from one school to the next. At other institutions, there are semi permanent positions, maybe 5 years, for instructors who are not tenure track and probably don’t receive benefits, and who are lower paid than TT faculty. Their specialty is teaching. I know of a couple people who lived that way for several years, and who received teaching awards; that was their focus, and they did it well. Your tour guide won’t know their way around these different way of setting things up, but it may be worth asking faculty members.

  91. I guess I am like Risley’s DH and prefer smaller classes. It’s nice to hear that people actually liked and thrived in the large classes.

  92. Doctors are a poor example in the comment I just posted, because M&D students generally don’t teach. Chemistry researchers would have been a better choice.

  93. I concur with everyone else about some TA’s with limited English skills in introductory classes and having to be selective. If your child is dealing with that, I recommend choosing TA’s with Indian last names over Chinese last names- Indians study in English in India and tend to talk fast but understandably. Chinese grad students tended not to study English in school and had much poorer English skills. If your child is motivated, he can find out where the TA’s sit and go talk to them the prior term to find out who will likely be TA’ing what class, whether he’s knew to TA’ing that course, and listen to whether his English is understandable.

    There is limited benefit to a PhD for US citizens- defense jobs are not steady employment outside of the DC area, because which projects get funded, and at what level, is heavily dependent on the political climate. Who wants to spend 10 years in school for a PhD in engineering only to get laid off 2-3 years later when the government/your employer cancels your project? (My employer frequently does this and then complains about how there are “no people with the skills they want available to hire”. Well, why should people train for 6 years toward a job that lasts for 3?)

  94. Actually, it is true that lots of people in my field get their MS’s on their employer’s dime. So that further thins the ranks of available TAs. People who get their MS’s while working, though, usually go to very different programs. There are a number of schools – NYU in particular, also Pace and some others – that specialize in part time evening MS programs in CS and other STEM fields. These programs are often quite different from the fulltime MS programs at large universities.

  95. Milo,

    I love the comments. The 64 year old lady who hasn’t worn deodorant in 30 years because she claims vegetarians don’t stink.

    I do agree that the “Prelling” of everything has gotten out of control, but as always some nut has to take a grain of truth and blow it all out of proportion.

  96. Count me as another who enjoyed the big classes at a state university. I really wanted to prove myself at a big school. My small town high school (all 4 grades) had less than 200 people, and I wanted to know that I could cut it where there was more competition.

    However I realized while reading some of your comments that it was also probably about being more anonymous. Not entirely and not in a bad way. I still was able to get to know my professors in advanced classes and took a couple of honors college classes.

    I think I mostly wanted ‘different’.

  97. I just realized a problem with my earlier comment about countries that support grad students not having them teach. Looking mostly at the GDR, FRG, and Sweden (which modeled many of its policies on the GDR), grad students did/do teach, but a normal university degree is. Masters. (Bachelors have been introduced relatively recently.) So grad students teaching are getting PhDs. That’s a much smaller slice. Teaching loads for humanities & social science profs tend to be much lighter, so I imagine grad students wouldn’t be teaching so many classes either. Then again, the PhD engineers I know from the FRG & GDR (yes, him again) each taught full semesters of intro courses in large lecture halls, as opposed to the team teaching I’ve seen in UK and FRG geography classes, where an individual is responsible for a few modules of the course, but not the whole thing.

  98. FWIW I went to a small liberal arts school not part of SLAC. I never had a TA. It was fantastic for me to be in a small class environment. I still am awestruck that one prof I had for one class my freshman year remembered me, shook my hand and congratulated me on graduation day. ‘Saac probably knows the school.

    In my field, teaching has just started to become important. The classic training has been research only, leaving students high and dry on the teaching front. I hope the teaching trend continues tho. STEM fields need good communicators and teaching helps those researchers become better communicators.

    Milo- can you make the second pic on that article your avatar? It’s fantastic!

  99. Suggestions for Rhode’s avatar:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Portal:Rhode_Island/Selected_picture

    http://www.aradergalleries.com/detail.php?id=2894

    http://www.careeroverview.com/usa/rhode-island/

    http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/Rhode_Island/flag_rhodeIsland.html

    Rhett, what happened to the pic of Scrooge McDuck popping his monocular?

    Friend, if you keep a moniker because someone else wants you to, would you take on an aviator for me, maybe the one I posted for you once?

  100. Finn, it probably depends on the university. Mine had many more masters programs than PhDs. They never had full responsibility for a course, but science labs were taught soley by TAs, as were the first few semesters of foreign languages (profs set up the syllabi, met with the grads regularly, and the tests were written jointly by everyone teaching the same class).

  101. “I still am awestruck that one prof I had for one class my freshman year remembered me, shook my hand and congratulated me on graduation day.”

    I know the feeling. I took one class from a very famous prof, a fellow of the IEEE and well known in industry and academia for his contributions in his field. In the immediate aftermath of my graduation ceremony, he came to me, shook my hand, congratulated me by name, and introduced himself to my parents.

    I also was congratulated by I guy I’d been in Cub Scouts with, who was a domestic student in the midst of his PhD program in the same department. We’d never crossed paths at school, but he saw my name on the program and guessed it was me.

  102. Good morning all; just wanted to share a little creative writing. ;)

    Mom-to-be reads post,
    “The Experienced Parent,”
    Saves favorite parts.

    Now finding the zen
    In pre-dawn newborn demands.
    Goes by fast so soon!

    IOW: DD arrived Saturday morning! She is lovely and doing well, though she hates being put down (which can be tiring). I’m pretending to be a capable philosopher by remembering the contradictory totebag wisdom of “this too shall pass” and “it all goes by so quickly–you will miss it!” :)

    All of you have certainly shaped my approach to parenting for the better (and most likely made me more relaxed about the journey!)…Very excited to apply and share!

  103. Rhett – I agree. I just read a few comments, and stopped at the woman sponge-bathing with vinegar. I can’t imagine how she doesn’t smell like a bag of French fries.

    Rhode – how do I do avatars? And do I really want my avatar to be a naked boy?

    Sheep Farmer – do you have bobcats? Do they ever attack the sheep? I’m pretty sure that one is roaming around here, and it woke me up with its incessant and unholy screaming. It’s like a cat’s meow on steroids, and a little more like barking. It was doone the same thing last night around 8:30, so matches habits suggested on Wikipedia.

  104. Congrats MidA ! It is contradictory advice :-), for bad days – think “this too shall pass”. When things are going right – use “it all goes by so quick”.

    I read Millionaires Next Door and the section that struck me, was the gift giving to kids while parents are still alive via paying for private school tuition for grandkids, outright money gifts per month to kids etc. Is this done to reduce the estate so that it is not subject to as much tax ? He recommends not doing this because kids and grandkids get used to a lifestyle they themselves cannot support. Thoughts ?

  105. Milo,
    We have had a bobcat show up on our game camera on two separate occasions in the past four or five years. A quick check on the Virginia DGIF page shows that they are in almost every county of the state and that breeding season is in full swing, so my guess is that you are probably hearing one that is looking for a mate. We have not lost any sheep to bobcats. An adult sheep is too big and this time of year when the lambs are being born, we put the sheep in the barnyard at night for their protection and will continue to do until the lambs are of a size when they are too big for most predators.

  106. “He recommends not doing this because kids and grandkids get used to a lifestyle they themselves cannot support. Thoughts ?”

    Conflicted. My first rule is that it should only be done with earnings on capital, not the capital itself. Then additional consideration should be given as to whether such spending is likely sustainable for the THIRD generation, the point at which most wealth stereotypically dissolves.

    Then there’s the tradeoff of how much the support may be handicapping the recipients. I definitely think it’s a real thing (as just one example, SoFL has mentioned young-adult children of people she knows who have simply decided that it’s preferable to stay home in the parents’ mansion then to go where employment is more lucrative but standard of living would go down). On the other hand, an extremely successful businessman can’t realistically expect that each of his kids, even with just the right amount of carrots and sticks, can necessarily replicate his success. So there’s really no way to know how much of the kids’ regression to the mean is due to lifestyle support, and how much is simply due to their own personalities, choices, differences in job market opportunities, and preference for leisure. Maybe withholding the economic support would have motivated them to go out and grab a piece of success on their own, but maybe not.

  107. “An adult sheep is too big”

    How does an adult sheep compare to a three-year-old?

  108. I tried to set up an avatar once, but the problem is, it then shows up on other blogs where I might comment and don’t want to be tied to this one.

  109. Congrats, Mid A!!

    I don’t believe in supporting my adult children’s lifestyles with gifts. However, I hope to be able to help fund my grandchildrens’ college accounts and take the whole family on a big vacation every year or every other year.

  110. Very happy for you, MidA! Next up is June, in a month or so?

    “I don’t believe in supporting my adult children’s lifestyles with gifts. However, I hope to be able to help fund my grandchildrens’ college accounts and take the whole family on a big vacation every year or every other year.”

    I have an open mind. What if I saw my grandkids attending a lousy school or unable to pursue extracurriculars? I might want to step in. I do hope to subsidize extended family vacations in the future.

  111. Milo,
    Sheep stop growing at about 14 months of ages. Depending on the breed, most female sheep weigh between 115-150 and the males usually weigh up to 220 pounds. We have lost a few lambs (probably 35-50 pound range) to coyotes over the years and I have talked to one sheep farmer who lost several sheep to bears, but I don’t know anyone who has lost any to bobcats. The other night I heard coyotes yipping, but I have not heard a bobcat before. That is really neat that you are hearing one.

  112. “THIRD generation, the point at which most wealth stereotypically dissolves.”

    That’s a thing? It makes logical sense, but I didn’t know it was typical. Actually, by the third generation it seems the number of descendants has typically increased to the point that it’s highly unlikely most would match their grandparents’ wealth.

  113. MidA – Congratulations.

    Louise – For the typical millionaire next door, the Fed estate tax exemption ($10mil per couple) is now high enough to make the yearly gifts to reduce the estate a non issue, unless you happen to live in one of the few states with estate or inheritance tax – where the levy usually starts to kick in at about one million. So if that is a prime concern, move in retirement – the weather will be better elsewhere, and COL lower. If the combined estate is expected to be greater than 10 mil, one can afford professional advice.

    On the theoretical issue of supporting or enhancing the lifestyle of non disabled adult children and their families in anything other than short term emergency situations, that is a personal matter.

  114. Milo & Mooshi, you set up avatars with “Profile pictures” under Profile on WordPress. If you don’t want it to be connected with other accounts, use a different email address. I put my screen name as my first name too. So far it works, as long as I log out of the profile before commenting on other WordPress blogs. I find it much easier to keep this one contained than keeping my gmail account from hooking up things I intentionally set up separately.

  115. I agree with Milo (surprise!).

    From my mother’s perspective: She and my step-dad were the beneficiaries of a life-changing bequest when she was in her late 70s and he in his mid 80s. They are both still healthy enough to enjoy the largesse, and they were doing just fine without it, but as my mom says while they toast the benefactor whenever they do something they might (probably) would not have done if they hadn’t gotten the gift, it would have been nicer to enjoy the (event) with him when they were all younger.

    She has been passing the legally allowed gift to me and my sister annually since they came into the $$, and funding a portion of my kids’ college costs. I’ve been investing my part, since I really don’t NEED it, and plan to spend a portion of it on a special experience as yet undefined for our family sometime in the not too distant future. At this age, it’s nice to have. I think the younger me, say until we had kids, would have just used the gifts as extra income to spend on stuff.

  116. Eh, my parents gave us substantial cash gifts a number of times when we were adults and it didn’t present any issue in our own ambition, etc. We saw it as spectacularly generous and we did various things with the money and got back to work.

    I would totally do that for my kids.

  117. I am not registered with WordPress and don’t want to be – don’t want my email address associated in any way.

  118. So there’s really no way to know how much of the kids’ regression to the mean is due to lifestyle support, and how much is simply due to their own personalities, choices, differences in job market opportunities, and preference for leisure.

    Well, and luck. Many entrepreneurs spend a fortune trying to replicate their original success and prove to the world that it wasn’t a fluke. They often don’t succeed.

    For me, any hint of trustifarianism and they would be immediately cut off. But, if they are making a solid effort within the limits of their ability? It’s probably better to get some enjoyment out of it now vs. your 95 year old widow leaving it to your 70 year old children.

  119. Congrats, MidA! Hope you are feeling well!

    “within the limits of their ability” – I struggle with this in giving advice to clients. Who is to know whether the “lazy layabout child” with “personality issues” isn’t just struggling against the (formidable) force of his/her parents? I think this comes into play more with the 2nd/3rd generation, when the 1st generation has passed away and the sons/daughters are free from under their parents’ thumbs.

  120. Yeah, I’ll keep my email out of WordPress, and I also figure that if I were a child in the Information Age, a picture of me in the bathtub published in the Washington Post is more than enough exposure.

  121. Milo- my brain associates your name with Milo and Otis. That picture was the first human association.

    MidA- congratulations!!!! One day, the totebag babies should set a play date.

  122. FIL has spoken very admiringly of the Mars family.

    And the Mellons who are on their 8th generation and richer than ever.

    Part of it, of course, is the simple ratio of original wealth creator to # of grandchildren. And taxes.

    And charity like Pete Campbell’s father in Mad Men. If you want the money to last across the generations you can’t be giving it away.

  123. Congratulations MidA! Hopefully you can get out & enjoy the weather a little bit this week even if it is just pushing the stroller around the block. That helped me tremendously. And I agree with Louise – when it’s a bad day – this too shall pass. When it’s a good one – soak it in. :)

    I loved going to a small college – I feel like it’s such a personal preference.

  124. I suppose it should’ve occurred to me before now, but I’m sure I’m talking about significantly different amounts than the group is discussing. My parents aren’t the Melllons.

  125. Or, of course, you could be like the Rockefellers or the Phippses and have your own family office (although now they accept outside investors):

    In 1882, John D. Rockefeller established an office of professionals to organize his complex business and financial operations and to manage his family’s growing investment needs.

    After nearly a century, the office incorporated, registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as an investment adviser, and began providing investment advice and asset management services to select investors outside of the Rockefeller family. Today, Rockefeller & Co. has responsibility for approximately $43.1 billion in assets for individuals and families, family offices, nonprofit organizations, foundations, endowments, and global institutions

  126. LOL at little Milo. And Oliver is another great example of the mildly pretentious, not-quite-hipster-but-I-want-you-to-know-my-child-is-special name category. Basically exactly the kind of names you’d expect from the author of an article like that. Or the Totebag crowd- I bet we have lots of kids here with those types of names.

  127. Intergenerational wealth: and oftentimes the entrepreneur who has poured his heart and soul into a business for decades, and reaped the significant financial reward, wants to maintain control of HIS MONEY from the grave, so he sets up trusts that keep the money out of the hands of his heirs as long as possible…which in NJ I believe can still be in perpetuity. So, while the money is there for expenses the trustees agree are necessary (vs fun/frivolous), the heirs really don’t get to ‘enjoy’ the money.

  128. Speaking of mildly pretentious, not-quite-hipster-but-I-want-you-to-know-my-child-is-special names, this site is always good for a laugh:

  129. CoC–yes, less than 2 months to go! I think Providence may be due before me, though.

  130. Milo,

    Reminds me of one of my favorite movies:

    Trendy Man: Mr. Melon, your wife was just showing us her Klimt*.

    Thornton Melon: You too, huh? She’s shown it to everybody.

    Trendy Man: Well, she’s very proud of it.

    Thornton Melon: I’m proud of mine too. I don’t go waving it around at parties, though.

    Trendy Man: It’s an exceptional painting.

    Thornton Melon: Oh, the painting.

    * Speaking of Klimt, I really wanted to see “Women in Gold” with Helen Mirren after seeing the portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer at the Neue Galerie. But, looking now all the movie reviews are terrible.

  131. Re: whether giving money to your kids can condition them to expect a fancier lifestyle than they should, I think it partially depends on timing. I agree there is some danger of that if we’re talking about a constant stream of cash from college on. But if they’re established adults and we’re talking about paying for grandkids’ school or even just occasional cash gifts, I think it’s extremely unlikely that you will turn otherwise responsible adults into spendthrifts who routinely live above their means.

  132. “But if they’re established adults and we’re talking about paying for grandkids’ school”

    Sure, but what happens when Grandson grows up and says “I don’t get it, my Dad was a regular old CPA, my Mom SAH, and they sent us to nice private schools. It wasn’t a big deal, it was just ‘what we did’. I’m a CPA now, too, AND my wife is working, and there’s no way we could afford to do that for our kids. Or take the fancy annual vacations that we always did with my grandparents. What happened?”

    And Dad (2nd generation) is kind of like “Ummm, well..yeah, your grandparents were paying for all that.”

  133. Thanks, everyone!

    June– *passes baton* I hope that you are settling in well after your move and feeling good in the home stretch.

    Rhode–Baby MidA would love a play date with Baby Rhode! We may be in Newport late summer/early fall, so it could be a possibility. :)

  134. Giving money to adult kids sort of depends on their personalities, but I would also not give money to one kid and not the others. I have seen that done and it definitely leads to resentment. We have friends from law school who are well employed and didn’t need extra money, but the husband’s little sister got a paid for townhouse upon graduation from college, while they were on their own. I think the parents felt that the son and DIL’s employment prospects were better both being lawyers, but that seems unfair.

  135. Milo, you think grandkid will have a problem with having gone to a better school? What would that child prefer the grandparents do with the $$? Hang onto it longer?

  136. Milo, I don’t see that as being a big deal. I have friends my age whose parents paid for private school and are now paying college tuition, pay for extended family Europe trip every year, etc. They are very open about how grateful they are, and that the grandparents willingness to do that allowed her to be a SAHM, etc. Her kids have grown up knowing where the money for that came from. (Friends aren’t hurting – they have a lake house in addition to their very lovely main home, boats, etc. This is just how the grandparents wanted to do things.)

  137. “What would that child prefer the grandparents do with the $$? Hang onto it longer?”

    No, I blame the 2nd Gen for it. They should have done a better job preserving it. Spending down the capital is greedy, and it’s stealing from your kids. And that’s exactly how I feel.

  138. I don’t think it’s the end of the world, but I think it could lead to disillusionment and feeling inadequate for the Grandson. That could manifest in resentment and a chip on his shoulder. Now rationally he has no reason to resent having a nice childhood, but it gave him unrealistic expectations. I know I keep harping on the hedonic treadmill, but I really think there’s something to it.

  139. Milo, I guess I understood the concern to be more an issue of “what if I encourage sloth in my kids,” and less an issue of “what if my grandkids find out that they have to do more to achieve the same standard of living as their parents.” I do see how the latter could be an issue–but in theory, in this example, helping with grandkids’ school could set up your kids to help their own grandkids. (Again, assuming we’re talking about established and otherwise responsible adults.) But certainly there are no guarantees.

  140. do that allowed her to be a SAHM

    That reeks of trustifarianism to me and would be grounds for immediate termination of cash gifts and possible disinheritance.

  141. What happens: dad has to explain to son that the grandparents were bankrolling everything, but they ran through the money, or grandparents needed it for their own long-term care, or whatever. OR perhaps the grandparents don’t really like this grandson and don’t want to give him $$? Either way dad has to explain things. This is why you are supposed to talk to your kids about money and where it comes from – so if they are in a private HS and their grandparents are paying for it, you should tell them!

    I think the gifting unequally comes more into play with situations like Atlanta describes, more in the rich-but-not-super-rich level, like $1 to $5M or so, and sometimes even below that. Resentment over unequal treatment happens when there is not enough money for everyone to have “enough”.

  142. “in this example, helping with grandkids’ school could set up your kids to help their own grandkids.”

    It could, if they’re not greedy.

  143. “so if they are in a private HS and their grandparents are paying for it, you should tell them!”

    Telling them isn’t enough. Telling a 14 yo that I’m spending the money that my parents gave me on your school, over which you have had no real say in the matter [and I’m not going to be able to do the same for your kids] is a cop-out. You’re not pulling your weight.

    You don’t have to make as much money as your Dad did, but you have a responsibility to preserve and grow what was passed down. Otherwise, you’re a net taker.

  144. “Spending down the capital is greedy, and it’s stealing from your kids. And that’s exactly how I feel.”

    I think this is going a little too far. While I would hold myself to that standard, I think it’s a lot to expect from everybody else unless the ones who left the money made that intention known. My mom recently received an inheritance and it’s never occurred to me that I have an inherent right to any portion of it.

  145. You don’t have to make as much money as your Dad did, but you have a responsibility to preserve and grow what was passed down. Otherwise, you’re a net taker.

    I agree.

  146. Milo – I thought we were talking about the situation where the grandparents controlled the purse strings – so they were giving money for grandson’s tuition, etc. – not that they had given outright gifts to the son himself and then the son had used it to pay for the private school.

    Agreed that if your parents give you giant chunks of cash and you squander it, that’s on you, but usually that’s not how it happens.

  147. Milo, you say that as though the middle generation had a choice. It doesn’t always work that way–sometimes the older generation even intentionally changes the rules to get the later generations’ lives more in line with what they want. Had I understood the rule-following required, I would have turned aside their advice not to worry about retirement and college.

  148. Rhett and Milo–a “taker” would not have spent the $$ on something that brings benefits primarily to another person, as education does.

  149. Milo- what if the money is “squandered” on charity? My mom for instance feels like she doesn’t really need the money and is considering donating it to an organization that helps foster children. If she decides to do that, would that, ironically, make her a “taker?”

  150. Many families around us have grandparents footing private school tuition. It seems that they can commit to paying for maybe one or two kids and the parents foot the bill if they have more kids. In case of blended families grandparents foot the bill for their biological grandkid so one kid will go to private school and the rest go to public.

  151. “so they were giving money for grandson’s tuition, etc. – not that they had given outright gifts to the son himself and then the son had used it to pay for the private school.”

    It’s convoluted for tax purposes, but the parents still make the decision to send the kid to the school. And presumably, if the grandparents are paying that money for private school, then there’s other money coming at some point. So unless Grandpa is ONLY willing to pay for private school, and 2nd Gen doesn’t inherit anything else of substance, 2nd Gen screwed up big time if they can’t pass on the same or more.

  152. Eek Louise, that blended families situation sounds really messy and like it could create a LOT of resentment. It’s already difficult figuring out how to make things fair between families when kids have drastically different numbers of grandkids.

  153. Rio – That’s a little bit tougher, but in a way, yes it does. Moreso if this money is from your grandparents, less so if it’s from her lifelong spinster friend.

    “a “taker” would not have spent the $$ on something that brings benefits primarily to another person, as education does.”

    Of course they would. Because the alternative to private education is not no education.

  154. “In case of blended families grandparents foot the bill for their biological grandkid so one kid will go to private school and the rest go to public.”

    Oh this sounds like a disaster.

  155. Milo – your last sentence is very, very often how it happens. The parents don’t get anything until the grandparents both pass away. If Grandma is still lingering at the nursing home or with private nursing care at home in her 90s, the parents could be late 60s, early 70s by the time they see any significant $$, and at that point the grandkids are in their 30s. Most clients want to keep all the $$ until they die and sometimes after – as Fred noted, dead hand control is still A Thing.

  156. Milo- what if the money is “squandered” on charity?

    Then she is stealing food out of the mouths of generations of Rios yet unborn. Charity begins at home.

  157. It is money from her parents. They left no directions on how to spend it, and she didn’t expect it would be nearly so much. Part of her motivation is that her parents, who were not wealthy, used much of their money helping poorer, more distant relatives afford college educations. We have no one needy in the extended family anymore, so she feels like to continue the spirit of her parents she would need to give outside of our family.

  158. “In case of blended families grandparents foot the bill for their biological grandkid so one kid will go to private school and the rest go to public.”

    That is a mess. I think I would decline on the private school offer if that was the case.

    One of my neighbors is a divorced mom of two. Her parents bought her the house when she was getting divorced with cash so no monthly mortgage. The son has some issues and now goes to a very expensive school for that (I’m guessing around $30K). The mom now wants the daughter to go to private school (even though we live in a good school district) but can’t pay for it (and I assume the grandparents aren’t stepping in for some reason and the ex husband isn’t willing to pay for it) so she’s set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for the daughter’s tuition next year. It is so bizarre. I mean is she going to do this every year?

  159. Milo, I don’t know how families do it, but my parents absolutely use money to control the shots. My sister and I got into a little heated discussion recently–her son & 3 friends spent a few days at my parents over spring break. My sister mentioned that they might go to my parents private beach. I pointed out that some of the guys were on a really tight budget and might prefer to use the money out parents would pay for the guest fee to do something different–there are plenty of public beaches. We both agreed that our parents would never give the money outright, but whereas she felt it rude to tell the amount one is spending and rude to wish to have control over it, I much prefer open communication and think the gift should be about the recipient, not the giver. It goes this way in bigger things too, with my nephew pulling Dad aside sometime during Christmas festivities to discuss some changes in classes/tuition.

  160. Milo – we’re in a similar situation to the one you describe, where my in laws have made it known that they’ll pay for a very meaningful portion of college costs for all of the grandchildren. We’re saving as though that were not the case, with the expectation that either we’ll fund grad school (DH and I were on our own for that) or we’ll pay it forward and pay to educate our eventual grandchildren.

    My ILs don’t come from the sort of background where they would have expected to be in this position, and we’re doing our best to teach our kids how hard they worked for the comfortable lifestyle the now enjoy.

  161. “the parents could be late 60s, early 70s by the time they see any significant $$, and at that point the grandkids are in their 30s.”

    Good. Now the 2nd Gen should look to see how they can pass some of that money on to the third in a way that they themselves benefitted at similar points in their lives.

    “Then she is stealing food out of the mouths of generations of Rios yet unborn. Charity begins at home.”

    Agree 100%. It wasn’t entirely hers to give away.

  162. “Part of her motivation is that her parents, who were not wealthy, used much of their money helping poorer, more distant relatives afford college educations. We have no one needy in the extended family anymore, so she feels like to continue the spirit of her parents she would need to give outside of our family.”

    You’re giving me the best possible example to challenge my views, but I’ll say this:

    1) If your grandparents wanted it to go to charity, then they certainly could have done that in their will.

    2) If your Mom wants it to go to charity, then she is free to donate the inflation-adjusted earnings on capital every year for the period of time during which she is the steward.

  163. Ps, the beach fee is just $25/ Not big money, but enough to rent a jetski or buy a souvenir. Discussing something so small let us keep the emotions low.

  164. 10:17

    True. I would probably not make that decision in her shoes. But she feels the choice is between people who have a concrete need for that money NOW vs. a hypothetical future. (She has not actually donated anything yet and I suspect it’s because my dad is of Milo’s philosophy. Works out well for me.)

  165. I was thinking more of the situation that L described, where living grandparents specifically want to pay for grandkids’ schooling (and aren’t just generally handing out wads of cash). I think rejecting your parents’ desire to pay for their grandkids’ school because the “whole amount” would be spent on that would be a very strange stance to take. And I think I would feel the same about inheritance money that the benefactor specifically earmarked for a desired purpose. But if we’re talking about general sums of money or an inheritance, I do see that somewhat differently–although I don’t agree that in every case, the only moral option is to pass the principal to children. I do agree that in many cases, that is likely to be the best option to choose.

  166. 2) If your Mom wants it to go to charity, then she is free to donate the inflation-adjusted earnings on capital every year for the period of time during which she is the steward.

    In other news, Milo will be using perpetual trusts to entail his estate in perpetuity.

  167. “my parents absolutely use money to control the shots.”

    Takes two to tango. You and your sisters and nephew are free to not take their money.

    “We’re saving as though that were not the case, with the expectation that either we’ll fund grad school (DH and I were on our own for that) or we’ll pay it forward and pay to educate our eventual grandchildren.”

    Perfect. I’ll sign off on that, just show me the form. :)

  168. Rio / Milo –

    I dunno, I think quite a bit of the value we provide as parents is in the example we set for our children. If Rio’s mom thinks her children are set up to be able to provide a nice life for their own families, she might be pretty comfortable that the $ can do more good for the charity she selected than in funding high-end extras for grandchildren (I’m assuming the 2nd gen Rios can already afford Totebaggy lifestyles for their children).

    And there’s something to be said for showing kids/grandkids the value of charity and helping others.

  169. “I think quite a bit of the value we provide as parents is in the example we set for our children.”

    Absolutely. If Rio’s Mom wants to volunteer at the senior center, or tutor underprivileged youths, or even get a job at this point in her life and donate her earnings to worthy causes, I’m all for it.

    But just to take your parents’ money and give it away because you don’t think your kids deserve it is neither difficult nor noble, and it’s not an example anyone needs to emulate.

  170. I get your point, in theory. But does that hold true, no matter what the amounts?

    If I were the patriarch of the Hilton family, would I have an obligation to pass my inheritance down to my kids, who already have more than enough money – or would I be justified in giving it to some useful organization? [I know Rhett would disinherit those Hilton kids in a hot second for bad behavior, but do you agree?]

  171. The difference is that I don’t think that the money is “the kids’ money”. It is the parents’ money to donate to charity or squander on living on a cruise ship or whatever they please. I feel I have zero claim on my parent’s money, even if it was partially inherited.

    How do you feel about Warren Buffett donating most of his wealth to charity upon his death? Is that okay because he was the original wealth creator, or does he have an obligation to pass huge amounts of wealth down (which then must be passed down in perpetuity according to your approach)?

  172. I definitely agree with Ivy for large sums of money. For families of more moderate, Totebag-type means, it gets more complicated because there is a real possibility that in only a generation, private college for instance may be out of reach. Whether there is a greater obligation to keep Totebag kids in the UMC or to help poor strangers, is in the realm of philosophy and religion I guess.

  173. Milo–DHs parents inherited a substantial amount from a grandparent, are enjoying it, and will be leaving the balance to their favorite charity. C’est la vie. There’s nothing we can do about it, and at least we aren’t counting on it.
    In any event, they hate me so they wouldn’t leave anything to us anyway:)

  174. Milo, as I said just above, if I had understood their expectations, I would have turned down their “we’ve got it covered” offer. Also, you will remember that in the current scenario, they made sure I would not be able to turn it down–another 6 weeks rent paid for, DS signed up for a 3 week seaside allergy treatment, with me along, all paid for by a German social security, various friends we could visit or run to if the kiddo did something awful in public and the CPS was coming to get him (a real possibility after you Baker-act someone). But it all seemed so complicated & unsteady. Having a familiar place to stay in while we settled down and I picked out a school with what he needed in a place that had what I needed just sounded so good! It wasn’t until we had crossed the Atlantic that they withdrew that and laid out something completely different. At this point a major part of the appeal of going back to Germany is the generous college stipend and retirement Benis. My sisters have no problem with the way things are. The younger one has trained her daughters to do the smarmy “thank you” she perfected as a kid (please don’t be a sucker for your daughter’s eyelashes!!) and I’ve heard the other ones husband brag to a stranger about how good it is.

  175. “Is that okay because [Buffett] was the original wealth creator”

    Yes.

    “[I know Rhett would disinherit those Hilton kids in a hot second for bad behavior, but do you agree?]”

    Absolutely. Not just disinheritied, but they would have been cut off from their allowances long ago.

    “But does that hold true, no matter what the amounts?”

    Here’s an exception. 2nd generation parents are blue collar, hardworking types, always sacrificed for their kids. They inherit something small, like $100k or $500k–the paid-off house after Grandma passed away. Their kids are all reasonably affluent white-collar professionals with no money concerns. 2nd Gen, now in their late 50’s, is perfectly free to just enjoy that money.

  176. Milo. It is very clear to me that I don’t want to deal with the strings, and it would not surprise me if that gets me cut off entirely. No clue. (I would not be rude to them, but just exercising the ability to control our own lives would likely offend them) But having the rug pulled out from me like that,’suddenly losing the bit of control I had over our lives, then hearing mom agree a few years later that they had intentionally kept us from DC and the school she chose had nothing special for Isaac just really emphasized my powerlessness and has been really, really hard for me to deal with. I’ve got to get my act together, get out of here, and find other sources for the things I should’ve been saving for. Strangely enough, my mother still seems to think I should be spending more money, because many of the things that are important to her don’t matter to me.

  177. The difference is that I don’t think that the money is “the kids’ money”.

    It’s the family’s money, you are just the custodian.

  178. “I’ve got to get my act together, get out of here, and find other sources for the things I should’ve been saving for.”

    Why does it have to be all or nothing? It seems like that’s setting the bar at a nearly impossible level, and it becomes even harder with each passing year. Continue to take the money, play nicely, help out as they age like you’re already doing. And simultaneously, for your own sense of independence (and Social Security eligibility), just do something, even if it’s far “below” what you’re capable of.

    “My sisters have no problem with the way things are. …I’ve heard the other ones husband brag to a stranger about how good it is.”

    Why would they have a problem with it? What are the stipulations?

  179. ““My sisters have no problem with the way things are. …I’ve heard the other ones husband brag to a stranger about how good it is.””

    It’s kind of funny, I just started listening to “The Firm.” It’s from before my time, so I never read it and only vaguely recollect seeing a scene or two from the movie, maybe if it was on TV.

    And yet this is sounding almost similar.

  180. If any/all of my kids are employed but not making a lot of money, I think we will likely fund their lifestyle. Once we are dead, they can do whatever they want with it once they hit a certain age. If they spend it all frivolously and leave nothing for their kids, so be it.

  181. That’s so bizarre.

    That a family should work, over the generations, to build up a cushion of capital to ensure themselves and their descendants a degree of comfort and financial security?

  182. If I’ve got title to the money, it’s mine. Don’t be such a Communist, Milo. It doesn’t belong to the gene pool. That’s metaphysically bizarre. I will do what I can to leave money to my stepson, but if I need it for medical care or a decent assisted living facility, then sorry — that’s where it goes.

  183. It doesn’t belong to the gene pool.

    That was how the world was structured from time immemorial – it can’t be that bizarre.

  184. Welcome to the industrialized West, Rhett!

    West? No. America? Yes.

    This sort of thing is much more common in other industrialized countries.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meyer_Werft

    You’ll notice the company was founded in 1795 and the current CEO is an 8th generation descendent. That’s fairly common among the Mittelstand that form the backbone of the German economy. In the east you have Japan’s keiretsu and the chaebols of Korea.

  185. Congratulations, MidA! You’re just under a month after me.

    I’m late to the party, but if I could afford it, I would be more willing to help out with “unusual bad stuff that happens” than “stuff that you should reasonably plan for”. A couple of my friends had parents/grandparents who paid for fertility treatments. In the view of the 90ish grandparents, “You’d be getting this money in 5 years anyway, but you need it now and we can afford to give it now, so go ahead and try to have your baby.” Also, we’re talking buy-a-vehicle amounts of money, not endow-your-family amounts of money.

    In my extended family (think 100 people), there are three mentally disabled people who received/will receive all their parents’ assets and some/most of the grandparents’ assets. Within the family, I suppose, we’re “socialist” and people who can’t make it on their own will get what help can be provided.

    My parents inherited some money in their mid-to-late sixties and I’m pretty sure they’d like to pass down what they can sooner than late sixties- my dad observed that getting money while your kids are at home affects your life, because you can buy a new vehicle vs. stressing about repairs on an old one, don’t have to take a slightly-higher-paying-job requiring extensive travel and can instead coach your kids’ soccer teams, don’t have to stress about medical expenses, etc. Assuming my kids are responsible, I share his view.

    This topic ties in with RMS’s recent observations about the kids being alright. My thought that day was, “If the parents can’t support their own families without grandparent-provided free childcare, they are NOT alright, unless you think grandparents have an observation to provide ongoing support, i.e. a multigenerational model of family financing.” Many/most of the families I know with even a moderate second income have some level of grandparent-provided childcare here. I don’t view a time subsidy for childcare as different from a monetary subsidy, other than in extraordinary cases where something comes up. (See previous comment about unusually bad stuff that happens.)

    I was also struck, talking to local middle class families a couple decades older than we are, at how much they are struck by the economic decline locally. The area was hit badly by the decline in logging, but took another blow in 2009. They’ve observed that there are almost no young middle class families and educated kids move elsewhere for employment. It’s like where I grew up.

  186. WCE, that’s an interesting observation about the grandparents for childcare. I see it as part of a larger family tradition. The kids get medium-paying jobs, but they stay close by, go to the same church as Mom and Dad, and in exchange Mom and Dad provide childcare, help with home/car repairs, etc. It’s a different model for surviving in the world than the one I had, and I couldn’t personally have made it work, but they do.

  187. Rocky – It would seem like your DH is going to pass down a lot more than he, or the two of you, have ever inherited. So you’re probably off the hook.

  188. “and in exchange Mom and Dad provide childcare, help with home/car repairs, etc”

    And 20 years later, the adult children are building wheelchair ramps, driving them to doctors’ appointments, making sure that the health aide from the County is showing up when she’s supposed to, taking care of house maintenance, taking them to church and out to dinner on Sundays, shoveling the walk, bringing them groceries…

    It all comes around.

  189. “It’s kind of funny, I just started listening to “The Firm.””

    Isn’t that an exercise video?

  190. ““the parents could be late 60s, early 70s by the time they see any significant $$, and at that point the grandkids are in their 30s.”

    That’s largely how my parents handled it, although they did set up college accounts for their grandkids. For me and my sibs, they paid for our undergrad educations and expected us to take care of ourselves after that.

    They held on to most of their money so they would be able to pay for LTC if needed; one of my mom’s biggest fears was being a burden on someone in her old age, and our family history includes many whose bodies outlived their minds and required long stays in LTC. That in itself is a gift to me and my sibs.

    I’m not sure what I’ll do with what I inherit when that time comes. It could mess up the planning I’ve done to maximize eligibility for need-based financial aid for my kids; there was a poster who discussed a similar situation a while back.

  191. “Whether there is a greater obligation to keep Totebag kids in the UMC or to help poor strangers, is in the realm of philosophy and religion I guess.”

    I’d call it personal choice.

  192. “Within the family, I suppose, we’re “socialist” and people who can’t make it on their own will get what help can be provided.”

    No need for the quotes. Yes, socialism can and does work for families that care for each other. It breaks down without personal connections.

  193. Most of the families in my church do what RMS describes and that’s how most of the world works, with young grandparents giving care when the grandkids are young and then receiving support in their dotage. It’s a good model in many ways. But like some others on here, I am too different from my Mom for it to work for me- there’s a reason I moved out at 17.

  194. Our kids know quite a few kids who are being subsidized by grandparents, whether it be private school tuition, vacation travel, or living with their parents in their grandparents’ home (often remodeled to make room for grandkids).

    “In case of blended families grandparents foot the bill for their biological grandkid so one kid will go to private school and the rest go to public.”

    We see the public/private dichotomy too, but frequently that’s because some sibs get accepted to private school and some don’t. Private/private dichotomy is also common, where some sibs get into a more selective private and the others are at a less selective private.

    Many of these sibs end up at the same school by HS, as the privates’ class sizes increase with grade.

  195. “Hopefully you can get out & enjoy the weather a little bit this week even if it is just pushing the stroller around the block.”

    The vitamin D will be good for both of you, and UV can help prevent jaundice.

  196. It would seem like your DH is going to pass down a lot more than he, or the two of you, have ever inherited. So you’re probably off the hook.

    Not really.

    But it doesn’t matter. We merge our money. His gene pool will get whatever was in my family’s estate. Probably some of it (small amount) will go to his nieces and nephews. We’ve really got to have our attorney go over our estate plan again now that DSS is well over 18 and married. Last time all the angst was about custody.

  197. And why is it my DH’s money? If your wife decided to go for it and really earn a lot, would it be her money? If we’re married, isn’t it our money? He couldn’t earn as much as he does if I didn’t wait on him hand and foot.

  198. Rocky – I was writing that focusing on what I figured each of you had inherited, and for some reason, I didn’t think it was significant compared to what someone in his position is earning.

    It’s unedited and awkwardly composed, but you know by now that I fully embrace joint property in marriage.

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