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Spending a School Fund

Mar 02, 2010

Q: Having decided not to go to college, our son Kyle wants us to give him the money we saved for his education. He says that since we paid to send his sister to school, he deserves a comparable sum. Could he be right?

A: Contrary to what your son may believe, your money is not his money. True, parents often try to be equally generous with their kids, out of a sense of fairness and a desire to keep the peace. And one day you may decide to give Kyle a leg up -- say, by helping him buy a house -- just as you've done for his sister. But that's your choice, not your obligation. Being fair means taking everything about your children into account, not doling out identical funds.

Our advice: If your savings are in a 529 plan, investigate the tax ramifications of not using them for college. And tell Kyle that if he wants money, he needs to find a job.

Questions? Email Money Magazine’s ethicists – authors of “Isn’t It Their Turn to Pick Up the Check?” (Free Press) – at FlemingandSchwarz@right-thing.net.

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