We never really start from scratch. Everyone has a past. When we look back on our lives with hind sight, we all know we could have done things smarter. As a parent of two teens, I am about to witness the creation of their whole financial being. My children truly are starting their finances from scratch. They have some youth accounts at the bank, but they don’t even have a credit score. I want to help them, not by micromanaging all of their finances. What I want is to get them through college, build their credit score, help them accumulate easy miles/points/cash, and give them the structure to manage their finances. I also want to survive all this without wrecking my wife and I’s finances.
Objective: To give my kids a jump-start from scratch toward becoming college-educated young adults with low debt, financial accounts, financial tools, high credit scores, and a stash of airline/hotel points and miles.
Recent, recurring stream of thoughts that cycles through my head:
Holy Crap! It is time to pay for college! 25k$ per year for a public university! My wife and I only make 100k a year. People do this all the time. How the hell do they do it? I am typically calm and collected, but I am freaking out! I must stay calm. My family cannot see me panic. I feel happy to have banked about 100k$ bucks over the last 20 years. My 2 kids need 200k$ in the next 7 years. My wife and I need to be left with some money. I need a plan. People do this all the time. How the hell do they do it?
That was the clean version of what rolls through my head. The version I hear has a lot of foul language sprinkled in, especially before the numbers 25k and 200k.
I am writing to document the details of one family’s struggle through the process of turning teens to adults through the college years with a focus on finances.
Goals along the way
*Put both children in a position to get through college with low debt, while not straining our finances too badly.
*Find the right college/s for my children and the way for them to attend at the best price.
*Build an efficient money management system for my kids to handle their finances.
*Build my kids a high credit score by college graduation.
*Abuse Take advantage of credit card and bank promotions in order accumulate miles/points/cash, and customer/hotel/airline status that my kids can enjoy after graduation.
My wife and I are both teachers at public schools. I teach high school physics and my wife teaches kindergarten. We have both taught over 20 years, and are both on vacation unemployed every summer. My son JumpStart Jr. is a senior, and my daughter JumpStart Juniorita is a freshman. They attend the school where I teach.
I graduated college licensed to be a bio teacher, but I have not taught bio in 10 years. I am pretty good with numbers, and have been teaching physics exclusively for the last ten years.
I worked construction throughout high school and college, and am very good at home renovations, for a teacher. Compared to professional contractors, I am not too hot. I am satisfied with a “pretty good job” as long as I save a lot of money, do it myself, and learn new skills in the process. I hate dealing with detailed plans, permits, insurance, sub-contractors etc. I have started several projects on my properties without a cost estimate, a time estimate, or the logistics completely figured out.
Our house in Virginia is close to a century old, and I have remodeled much of it. We bought a townhouse at the beach in South Carolina in 2013. Since then, we spend most of our summers there. We have only done minor projects on the townhouse.
My hobbies and interests are intense and tend to burn out or change often. Some of these obsessions have included home improvement, woodworking, couponing, Texas hold-em, scrabble, taekwondo, coaching soccer, and surfing.
One of my hobbies/obsessions is scamming earning miles/points/cash from bank and credit card companies. I have been involved since Feb of 2013 and it has allowed some greatly enjoyed travel.
I am not a financial expert. I have never taken a business or finance class. Most of my outlook and decisions are based off things I read in articles and blogs.
With some better choices I could have saved more, accumulated more, and earned more money. Although I really have no regrets. I am blessed with a great wife, great son, and great daughter. My family and my in-laws are supportive and are positive influences in our lives. I have never worried about unemployment, food, or housing. I have done my share of traveling and spent more than my share of days on beautiful beaches. I have had the time and money to remodel my home and beach townhouse. I have spent quite a bit of time in front of a grill, and made lots of homemade pizza. I enjoy teaching and work at a top notch high school. JumpStart Jr. will graduate in June from that school. He will have a solid foundation, a high GPA, lots of college options, and unlimited potential. JumpStart Juniorita has just begun high school, and her future is just as bright. This truly is a terrifying and exciting time. And so begins my story of giving my kids a JumpStart from Scratch.