mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Ewww, I think this kid is spoiled...

Last weekend was move-in weekend at the college I work at. I stopped for coffee and a copy of the Baltimore Sun, which I began to sort through, taking out the ads and the couple sections I read - one of which is real estate. The front page of the real estate section had an article about parents who buy houses for their college-aged kids (bugmenot to buypass registration).

Now, the article looks at two types of house purchases. One of them is actually pretty reasonable - buying a house, having your kid share it with a few other kids who chip in for rent, and then renting or selling it when they graduate. Many parents already pay for their kids to live on campus or in an off-campus apartment, so why not put that money towards a house and have some equity to show for it in the end? I'm not so sure about the details - I can't imagine, as a sophmore, trying to find roomates, collect rent from them, and make mortgage payments. Heck, I lived off campus my senior year, and we were once so late with the rent that we had to pay a penalty and make payment via money order - not because we didn't have the money, but because we would forget to pay. We also got gas turnoff notices from BGE a couple times.

But the article also profiles a 23 year old MBA student at U Baltimore whose parents bought her a condo in Hunt Valley. The dead-tree version had a pic of the (rather attractive) girl sitting in a condo that looked like something out of a home decorating magazine - huge living room with 2-story atrium, beautifully decorated. A nicer home than most grown people with real jobs can afford, let alone a 23 year old grad student.

Now, my parents paid for a large chunk of college for me (the part not covered by scholarships or student loans), and paid for most of my living expenses (clothes, food, gas, insurance, ect). They didn't have to, and it was a sacrifice for them to, and I'm greatful. But they said they wouldn't pay for grad school for me - and I think that's reasonable. I'm currently working on my MBA, and my employer is paying for it - working at a college has perks.

I can understand if a parent can afford to pay for grad school, and wants to. I'm not sure buying your adult child a bling-y condo for grad school is a wise idea - at some point, you have to leave the nest, and you have to work your way up. It builds character, it lets you understand how the world works, it keeps you grounded, and it teaches you responsibility

Another thing that makes me wonder is MTV's show sweet 16, which profiles spoiled teenage girls and their spoiling parents. In the episode I linked, Sophie, a very nasty girl, has a party thrown by her mom. Mom spends $180,000 on the party, including buying her daughter a new car (which was hard to see in the episode, but looked like an Audi A8. The car is a surprise, given to her during a trip to the dealership where they tell her, much to her disgust, that they are buying her a 4-year old used car.

The college I work at has some wealthy kids, and I'm amazed sometimes at the cars I see in student parking lots. Many are what you would expect college kids to have - mom's old minivan or Camry, used beaters, newer civics and corollas. But in the last couple days I've also seen Infinit G35's, Mercedes ML-350's, and Escalades and Yukons sitting on dubs.

Now why buy your kid a $50,000 car for college? At the risk of sounding like a geezer, when I was in college, I drove an '87 LeBaron sedan. My senior year of college I bought the PT Cruiser I now drive, with me putting the down payment down and my parents picking up the first 10 payments.

But if you get an A8 in high school, where do you go from there? When I first got my job, I started buying all the things that I had always wanted but couldn't afford - a laptop, a Playstation 2, a fancy coffeepot, a ReplayTV, a flat panel monitor. It was a great feeling to finally be financially secure - to be able to write out checks to pay bills without having to wait until there was enough money in the account so it wouldn't bounce. Now that I've been working a couple years and saved some money, the wish list is bigger - a house, a new car. But part of the nice thing about becoming an adult and having material possesions is the fact that you know what it was like to want things and not be able to afford them. It also helps you keep things in perspective - that plasma TV may look cool and make watching your faviorite shows more enjoyable, but you were still happy when you were a poor college kid watching them on a 13" Panasonic.

I'm not against wealth - in fact, I'm all about it. I think most wealthy people have earned their wealth, and deserve it. If they want to spend it on buying everything their kids want, that's their right. But I think they should put some serious thought into it, and consider that buying everything their kid wants, and never letting them try on their own, may not breed the best, most hardworking, or most social kids. The trick is to find the right balance - to make them comfortable without making them spoiled.


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