Being a parent and offering financial help

Being a parent and offering financial help

Unless the student has savings before they start the course, their only choice to allow them to study is to ask for parental financial help.

I am well into my mid-forties with two children, aged 18 and 13 years old.

I thought the hardest time financially for our family would be when the children were preschool age. As expensive childcare was a necessary evil to enable me to continue to contribute to the household income and ensure I had a career.

How wrong was I!

Our finances are more and more squeezed by their demands. Along with the pressures they are put under by their friends to have “what everyone else has”.

Our eldest child enrolled in her first year at University in September. The cost of helping out your child who is trying to improve their own employability is ridiculous. Fortunately at the moment we are able to provide financial help, but not every family can.

It’s easy to say to your child you can and will help them financially – but this isn’t the case for all families. Parents are put under a great deal of pressure. Parents feel bad if they can’t provide money to help with their child’s accommodation and food costs. Costs that aren’t sufficiently covered even when they request the maximum Student Subsistence Loan available. At some Universities the student is forbidden from taking paid work during term time. Unless the student has savings before they start the course, their only choice to allow them to study is to ask for parental financial help. This situation does result in some young adults being unable to take offers of studying because they and or their parents can’t cover the living costs.

It would be easy to always say yes to your child’s requests for financial help. I wouldn’t want to use all my savings up-I have kept them for a rainy day!

My credit rating is good enough to enable me to obtain funds-but any loans would need repaying eventually. What would happen if my circumstances changed? What would happen if I couldn’t repay as payments in the future fell due? I wouldn’t want to rely on an IVA or bankruptcy, if I was to get into financial difficulties, when all I was trying to do was offer my child a better life.

From my experience, as your children enter adulthood, quite often they copy their parent’s attitudes to finance. I hope I am instilling good financial habits in them. I hope I’m also able to explain “you can’t always have everything you want”.

Sometimes situations happen through no fault of your own- one may encounter temporary or long-term lack of funds. I hope that I am able to instill good values in my children to enable them to weigh up their options when they encounter financial dilemmas in the future.

By Jackie Alsop

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