Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mind-Boggling Costs

Maybe I should quit reading this book

Once upon a time, the insurance salesman was pressing upon Gary and me the importance of planning ahead for the children's college educations.  We had to put money aside.  College is expensive and getting more expensive.  We have to prepare when they're little. 

We told him that our financial situation didn't allow it.  He still pushed.  We said we could put money aside for their college, but that would mean not feeding the munchkins.  Don't feed a kid for 16-18 years, and ... you know what?  You wouldn't have to pay for college because the kid would've starved to death by then.

Seriously, some financial planners don't seem to understand the financial situation some regular folks are in.  (Or maybe we weren't regular folks.  Maybe we were really very poor ... and merely passing as middle-class.)

So this book I'm reading talks about making a life-plan for your special-needs child.  The author makes some great points.  But some parts leave me scratching my head.  For example: job-coaching.  If your kid needs a job-coach, it may cost $1000-2000 for an evaluation and initial help.  Then it would probably run you $50/hour.  And the job-coach should be alongside the person the whole time he's working for the first several weeks, then weaning off contact slowly over the course of a few months.  Do the math:  we're talking about an $8000-10,000 pricetag for someone to help a young adult learn job skills at a half-time fast-food job that pays minimum wage.  Hey, I think it would be great to provide that opportunity.  But who's got that kind of money?

Similarly, the author talks about the importance of living independently.  (Now, his version of "living independently" might be in a group-home, or in an apartment with a full-time care-giver.  It's just important, says he, that the special-needs person NOT live with parents.)  Here too, he makes some good points -- particularly when he says that a child may outlive the parents and will then have to face independent living during a time of mourning and other upheaval.  But the price-tag here too is eye-popping.  He's talking about $35,000--50,000 per year for room and board.  For one person! 

Several chapters into the book, I cut to the last page.  In the conclusion, the author admits, "It is not easy, and for some, limited by economic circumstances and insolvable constraints, their hopes and dreams for their child may not be possible." 


So do I keep reading, in hopes of finding a few helpful tidbits? 

Also, I had to laugh at the section where he's talking about how to choose a good financial planner. It's really important that we find someone who can give a good estimate of investment returns because, oh, y'know, regular folks like us can't figure that out very well. 

Far as I can see, over the last 10-15 years, no financial planner has done a very good job finding high-returning investments.  Loads of people were assured returns of 10%, or even 15-25% annually, and are now getting returns of 1-4%. 

So if we can't provide for ourselves, much less continue to provide for our children after our deaths, I guess maybe, just maybe, we'll be reduced [gasp!] to praying, "Give us this day our daily bread."  In our home, we haven't gone hungry yet, and objectively there's no way we should still be afloat financially.  God has provided.  Remember when the Lord Jesus took those five loaves and two fish and fed thousands?  Yeah, He still does stuff like that.


  1. Susan, Sarah still lives with us. She's 39 years old, working and riding the bus to work every day. She's managing her own money, has her own friends and is way beyond what I ever expected. She's still living at home, going to church, sharing her love of God with her extended family there. She has nearly the entire Bible memorized, so much so that Pastor often asks her for chapter and verse of a scripture someone remembers but can't find. Plus, I find whenever we plan our lives, God has a way of changing the plans. He keeps reminding us that He's the author and finisher of our faith, not us. His ways are not our ways... etc. I check in on you every so often to see how you are doing. You amaze me. You are in my prayers. Barb M from Upstate NY

  2. Hi, Barb! I've been wondering how your family's doing. Good to hear from you! Nice to hear that Sarah found another job; if I remember right, last time I heard from you, she'd been down-sized through no fault of her own. Thanks be to God that He has maintained her faith (and ours and yours) and has given her so many blessings of family and community and job!

    As for this author I was reading, a few times he slipped into betraying his political viewpoint. It's not one I agree with. Besides, I guess I'm hippie enough that having a commune with my adult kids sounds like a good thing, not something to be avoided-at-all-costs. Or maybe that's not hippie; maybe it's just really old-fashioned. :-)