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How to not overstep boundaries: Financial Education

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  • DMFA
    replied


    Although I do not agree with all of Dave Ramsey’s teachings, my brother (and the rest of my family) would really benefit by following his baby steps.
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    That's the point of Dave Ramsey - and even though he's wrong about a lot of things, he's a generally positive force because his target audience is not the formula-grinding, tax code-reading wonk like me, it's people who are clueless about money and don't even realize it.  It's an exercise in financial epistemology, really - getting the ones who don't know they don't know to take safe, effective steps to rein in their spending, focus on their debts, and maybe put a bit away...but paying off a mortgage before retirement investments and expecting 12% a year in growth funds?  C'mon man...

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  • StarTrekDoc
    replied
    Ah -- the Messiah complex.  It is hard especially with family.  Perhaps instead of 'baiting' your brother, have you sat down with him and simply talked finances, your concerns, and that you'd like to help your nieces in some form or matter to 'learn how to fish'?

    Another option:

    My mother's family routinely swapped kids during our childhood to help out raising them in different environments.   My aunt brought me over to Brooklyn during my childhood when she was shocked I lost my Mandarin and becoming a total ABC and wasn't having any of it.  She put me to work that summer month and it was a changer.    Likewise, my mother brought over another aunt's cousin to get him out of some trouble and more personal 1:1 attention that my aunt couldn't give with her business dealings---and that was a game changer.

    Perhaps an offer to take your niece on for a little bit or some form of attention like that may rub off a little --- if you and your brother have such a relationship to support this.

    If it's a more hands off with your brother -- perhaps the best choice is wait for the ask and be ready when it does occur.  You can certainly setup a 529 for the next generation for your kids/niece/nephew to access without any consent needed.

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  • ChristopherMD20
    replied


    survivor guilt.
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    Interesting that you bring this up. Funny thing is the people I grew up with largely are critical (or jealous) of me in a "successful" profession. People treat me very different now that I have an M.D. but I haven't changed much aside from maturity that comes with age/experience. Interestingly, my wife is an immigrant from China who had, in my opinion, a more challenging childhood given the inherent financial/cultural/language struggles. However, everyone is very supportive of her success and readily give praise. It is funny how cultures differ in that regard.


    the choices they make do not necessarily make them unhappy
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    My brother has a lot of stress/unhappiness from financial pressures, but he has not taken the bait when I have tried to offer subtle advice and sources. Although I do not agree with all of Dave Ramsey's teachings, my brother (and the rest of my family) would really benefit by following his baby steps. I have  sporadically sent youtube links saying "this guy has some pretty interesting financial insight" but he never takes the bait. You can't force people to change but I am trying to provide ways for him to figure it out himself so he is motivated to make changes. He is quite intelligent  and naturally draws attention to himself through his extroversion and superb social skills (and street smarts to be frank). I just see so much potential in him I just wish he could see it in himself.



    You have to make sure you are not using them in a proxy war with your brother, that is a common dynamic in situations like this although obviously I’m not accusing you b/c I don’t know the situation.


    That is definitely something that people do, but thankfully is not the situation here. However, that is part of my concern. I do not want him to interpret it as me trying to "one up him" or imply he isn't a good father or can't provide for his family etc. My brother and I are very close now, but he is very jealous of me so I have to tread carefully so he doesn't misinterpret things.

    All in all this is a me issue-- I do not know how to not concern myself with other people's issues. It would be much easier if I could just focus on my wife and me and be pseudo-selfish. I am just not wired that way... I always put others over myself. You fine people aren't going to be able to fix that via a forum thread

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  • Donnie
    replied
    There are folks with more tax expertise on this forum than me, but I believe you can set up a 529 in your own name and change the beneficiary to a qualified family member or split the 529 into multiple 529s with multiple qualified family member beneficiaries.  I believe nieces and nephews are qualified family members.  So go ahead and save into a 529 if you want.  You don't have to tell anyone to get started and you can change your mind later.

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  • MPMD
    replied
    As others have noted I think where the rubber meets the road is if you are willing to start saving for these kids. If so, you can do that in various ways even if 529 seems unavailable to you.

    You have to make sure you are not using them in a proxy war with your brother, that is a common dynamic in situations like this although obviously I'm not accusing you b/c I don't know the situation.

    One of my favorite lines about things like this was from the great John Dickerson on Slate's Political Gabest. If the mild profanity can be excused, his line on the role of the uncle/aunt is "kids need someone who isn't their parents to tell their ************************ to." I would try to be that person.

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  • q-school
    replied
    survivor guilt.

    you are a nice person and will have challenges with this all your life.

    it's great that you want to help.  when they are ready, they will listen.  if not, they have their own lives to live.  the choices they make do not necessarily make them unhappy, even if you don't agree with them.  it will be even more difficult as you become financially independent and the opportunity gap widens.

    good luck!  if you figure it out, please let me know. 

     

    Leave a comment:


  • DMFA
    replied
    I have a ridiculous messiah complex.  It sucks and is difficult to control.  I used to weigh in on all sorts of things I had no business doing, even with people I didn't know that well.  I'm better at it keeping it under control now, but it still comes through.  The best place I am with controlling it, however, is with my family, because the consequences are obvious.  Sometimes you just need to bite your tongue when your relative wants to finance a car they don't need, get whole life insurance without utilizing tax-advantaged accounts, puts the family's life savings on Bitcoin, etc.

    I had the idea for to make 529 contributions to my brothers' kids for Christmas.  Now I have the info and can contribute whenever I want [evil laugh] despite having to use cheques made from dead trees and snail mail...

    ...anyway, that mentality probably led me to do medicine in the first place, and now it has led me to my next business decision (personal financial planning, once I pick a university program), so maybe I'll be able to make good on it from people who actually solicit it from me.  But even in the absence of knowing anything about money, people can still feel strongly about their decisions and opinions about it (see Dunning-Kruger), so unsolicited advice can be very poorly received.

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  • RogueDadMD
    replied


    I believe I need their SSN to start it for them. I guess I could start a generic one and transfer it to their names later in life.
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    I didn't mean to do it surreptitiously.  Just tell them that you would like to make that the birthday present for all of them in 2018 and ask for the SSNs.  They can type it into the websites themselves if they want.  It's straightforward, honest, and avoiding preaching about your other concerns.  Just make it clear that you are the owner of the account so they understand how the money works and how it can be accessed.

    They will likely be curious about the balances (and I believe they have a right to know), so if you start putting tons of cash in there it's going to catch their eye, so be prepared for that discussion.

    However the new tax plan says you can open a 529 for a fetus, right?  They don't have SSNs, so maybe you don't need one anymore to open them.  Or maybe that provision didn't make it through...

    Leave a comment:


  • ChristopherMD20
    replied
    I agree with you that I am trying to insert my own value systems on others and that is not right. From a personal standpoint I see how much stress living paycheck to paycheck has had on my family members. I deduce that educating my nieces on what I perceive as "the best chance" at avoiding that would positively impact their QOL long-term. However, you are correct I should not insert my own beliefs on them. I may do more harm than good. Yes their hardships would negatively impact me but perhaps I should grow thicker skin and have the mind set "they reap what they sow." Appreciate the input and perspective.

    Leave a comment:


  • Donnie
    replied
    Eventually either people learn or they don’t.  Not everyone’s goal in life is to amass the largest net worth or retire early.  I don’t really get why people are so concerned with other people’s debts.  It’s not like we have a massive elderly homeless problem because people took on too much credit card debt.  My relatives look at how I live and probably feel sorry for me.  I’m sure they think, “wow, that guy works hard, but they live in a small house, he dresses shabbily, and he drives around an old beater.  How pathetic.”

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  • ChristopherMD20
    replied


    It takes either an extremely confident person or an extremely pathetic person not to at least be somewhat annoyed by getting lectured about parenting from a family member, especially if the person doing the lecturing doesn’t have any kids of his/her own.
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    Yes I definitely do not want to get all preachy especially because I do not know how to be a parent. My family are the type of people to run up 5 or 6 figure credit card debt and I hate the foundation financially that would set for their future. I agree it is not my place if not given permission.


    It could be the best lesson the kid can learn about money is when the parent tells the kid that the kid will need to figure out his/her own way to get through college since the parent has no savings.
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    This can cut both ways though. I know a lot of people who borrowed $100k to get a philosophy degree (and not use it for income) and are much worse off than my friends who learned a trade out of high school. They are technically adults when taking out the student loans, but many do not know what they are actually signing up for...


    Did anyone actually ask for your help?
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    I do not think they will. I had to beg my sister-in-law to sign up for WIC to help for expenses because of they were too proud.


    just start the 529s as a gift.
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    I believe I need their SSN to start it for them. I guess I could start a generic one and transfer it to their names later in life.

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  • Donnie
    replied
    It takes either an extremely confident person or an extremely pathetic person not to at least be somewhat annoyed by getting lectured about parenting from a family member, especially if the person doing the lecturing doesn’t have any kids of his/her own. An end run around the parent directly to the kid without the parent’s consent will likely end up even worse. Tread carefully. It could be the best lesson the kid can learn about money is when the parent tells the kid that the kid will need to figure out his/her own way to get through college since the parent has no savings.

    Leave a comment:


  • VagabondMD
    replied
    I think that you can be a valuable mentor and trusted advisor to your nieces and nephews, but you can’t fix everything, and it is really not your responsibility to do so. I think that once you truly understand this, you can free yourself of the guilt and obligation that you feel and just do what comes naturally to “do right” by them. You obviously care, but you also risk alienating everyone by overstepping your role.

    Did anyone actually ask for your help? Perhaps that is the place to start, by asking your siblings if they would like help. If they agree to it, go slowly. If they disagree, walk away. You can still be there later, for the children, but if you meddle too much, you could as easily be cut out of their lives.

    Leave a comment:


  • RogueDadMD
    replied
    Those are difficult circumstances and it’s admirable you want to help.

    Unless your brother is going to actively refuse any help, then just start the 529s as a gift. You don’t have to discuss it as making up for anyone’s past mistakes. It’s just family helping family — it’s really common for grandparents to do for their grandkids, and I am sure in many other relationships.

    You get to maintain complete control of that money and can always repurpose for your kids or grandkids if your brother for some reason later turns it down (though whether he should be “allowed” to decline it is a separate discussion).

    Leave a comment:


  • How to not overstep boundaries: Financial Education

    Hello all. This forum has been a valuable asset and a wonderful outlet from the stress of work. The first post I did on here I got excellent advice about securing my own family's financial well being before helping out my family who may not make the soundest financial decisions. For that, I am grateful. However, I cannot change who I am overnight so I will need to continue to be talked out of acting upon my "messiah complex."

    I want to help educate my family's next generation. My wife and I do not have children yet, but we are certainly going to employ techniques so they understand personal finances so I am not worried about our future children (aside from not making them spoiled brats).

    I do want to educate my brother's children about these concepts. My only brother who is 5 years older than me has straightened out his life considerably, but there is little hope for him to have an epiphany and become financially saavy even if he considerably increases his income. The difference between "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" concepts will be applicable between my brother and me. We did not learn intelligent financial strategies from our parents. Therefore, I do not want my nieces to fall into the figurative quick sand financially that is ubiquitous throughout our immediate and extended family. I want to educate them (when they are old enough) about basic financial concepts and even consider doing an "uncle match" similar to what WCI does with the "daddy match" for his children. I am not sure how to tactfully do this without alienating my brother and sister-in-law. They are proud to the point that I am even hesitant to start a 529 for my nieces for their annual birthday gift.

    My angst results from how my nephew has "turned out." He was born to my brother (age 17 at the time) and his mother (different than sister-in-law, age 14). He already was fighting an uphill battle. My brother was still dealing etc. when my nephew was young. My mom raised him until he was 8 then he bounced around with his mother and father-in-law (abusive, alcoholic). He seemed to be doing well until he started getting suspended and expelled for heinous actions in HS. I am not sure if he is even going to graduate. He's too far gone for me to help... he needs professional psychiatric help.

    I have a lot of guilt and anger because I just sat idly while this happened. I know I couldn't do anything to prevent this because I was just an uncle (and only 12 when he was born). I just don't want to see others whom I love go down the wrong path in life. I see my nieces as a "do over" to be a better uncle. I do not want these things to happen to our next generation. But how can I help without overstepping my boundaries? As we previously hashed out in another thread, giving people money is the worst course of action, but how do I impart knowledge and wisdom to the next generation when I am not going to be the one raising them?
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