Frugal Son--a recent graduate--has asked me this a few times: Why do parents let their kids spend extravagantly in college and then--at graduation--insist on immediate financial independence? He went on to say that many of his friends, many of whom are from families more affluent than ours, lived a snazzy college lifestyle, with cars (and insurance!), lots of clothing, meals out, and so forth.
Then, according to Frugal Son, upon graduation, the ultimatum comes: You must be independent within x months. So from the upper-middle class lifestyle of riches . . . to rags, especially in this scary job market. Frugal Son said that for some of his friends, the ultimatum came suddenly upon graduation.
Frugal Son and I were discussing the fact that it might be better for mom and dad to put a rein on the student's spending during the college years. This would teach the student how to survive a somewhat less opulent lifestyle than the one they had growing up. It would also allow the parents some time to secret away bits of cash that might otherwise have gone to meals out and clothing purchases college-style. What a gift it would be to give the graduate a small dowry of sorts to make the transition easier!
So: do you think our idea--the dowry for the recent grad--is just MORE parental over-indulgence? Or is it sensible for parents who can squirrel away some extra money?