Talking to Kids About Who Pays for College and Weddings

Last year, I wrote a post about how I don’t dream about my daughter’s wedding day. I’m not in Dreamland these days. But assuming my daughter gets married, I’m curious about what kind of bride she will be. Will she be low-key or a high-drama mama? Will she go for something traditional or break the mold?

Wait for a second, does my daughter expect me to pay for her wedding? And while we’re on the topic of mom and dad’s pocketbook, do the kids expect us to foot the bill for college, too?

When you don’t talk to kids about paying for college

When you don’t talk to your kids about who will pay for college, weird things happen. They might get this idea that you’re going to pay for the whole thing. Meanwhile you only planned to pay for a third of tuition or nothing at all.

Your child may even have it in their head that your family cant afford college. This notion can show up in lackluster grades, a little effort on standardized tests, and no interest in the activities that make students attractive to colleges and scholarship committees.

If you dont have the college money talk, you also rob your family of the chance to devise a plan. Thats right. Were talking about an all-hands-on-deck family plan to conquer college costs. Depending on the age of your child, your family might:

  • Estimate your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) with a free EFC Calculator
  • Research Scholarships for Kids Under the Age of 13
  • Team up to pay down debt and improve cashflow
  • Figure out which schools will give your student the most free college money
  • Talk about the importance of college choice, early and often

If your kids dont know where you stand on paying for college, its time to have the talk. Your three-year-old might not understand, but your 13-year-old has probably heard about this thing called college. And I promise the college finance talk wont be the most awkard conversation youll have with your kids.

Are the bride’s folks still on the hook?

Again, I’m not picking out color palettes for my daughters wedding. But the personal finance side of me wondered if the brides parents were still supposed to pay for the wedding. I had to do a little digging.

With the traditional approach, the brides parents pay for the ceremony, reception, transportation and photography. The grooms family biggest costs are the honeymoon and wedding rings.

With couples getting married later in life, there seems to be a shift from parent-financed weddings to couples taking on much of the costs. Music to my ears.

Did you know that banks will finance your child’s wedding? Let’s keep that our little secret.

Will you be giving up your dough?

College, much like weddings, comes down to choice. You can pay for your child’s entire college education, pay nothing at all, or somewhere in between. You can pitch in on weddings or keep your cheddar in the bank. But you have to make a choice.

Once you know your philosophy on who pays for college (and weddings), don’t keep it a secret. Talk about it with the kids, and all will be better off.

Readers: So who is paying for what at your place? What do you think is a good age to talk to kids about college costs? Leave a comment below.