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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Keeping Money in the Family: Family Capital

I've read here and there on the blogosphere thoughts on social capital, which seems to be a fancy way of saying do unto your community, so your community will do unto you. There's not as much of this around as in days of yore: we each seem to be living in our households, every kid with a full library of identical toys and Disney tapes.

Recently, I've been thinking of family capital. This probably means trust funds for those who have them! I'm thinking of my own more humble family version.

Miss Em, for instance, has been cutting my hair for several years. After witnessing my misery with professional cuts, she said, "I can do better." Even aside from the psychological benefits, I save, perhaps, $150/year. I can't remember when she started, but I suppose she has at least $600.00 in her family bank account. She cuts Frugal Son's hair too.

Meanwhile, I'm cooking up some freezer meals to bring her.

i suppose I'm the one who benefits, since when she saves money, I save money, and Miss Em remains under parental support at the moment. Still, we had the money to fund her course in Italy last summer.

I don't know how to transform the virtual family savings account into something "real." Mr. FS says that it is good to promote the idea that we are all in this together: that what benefits one family member, benefits all.

That is why Mr. FS and I fantasize about babysitting for our (at present imaginary) grandchildren. We could be adding at least $10/hour to our children's virtual bank accounts. Tax free for both worker and employer!

Does your family engage in similar money-saving activities?


Marcela said...

Does checking contracts for all family count? I do that, through email because we live far away.
That kind of solidarity is something that is still very common in Serbia, from my experience. When my sisters in law prepare something like marmelade, cakes, etc, they separate jars/pieces of cake for all members in the family and sometimes for friends too. I have seen friends arrive to my sister in law's house with 5 litres of a traditional wheat based drink they had just made.

Duchesse said...

One of the definitions of social capital is "people who trust and assist each other" so I see a family as a subset of the social capital pool, with the distinction that the people are related.

Today, this is much stronger in ethnic (and often immigrant) communities, and faith-based or affinity groups.

You can monetize the services, such as paying for your haircut, but I don't think we should monetize everything. Barter or no-strings gifts (of time, skills or tangibles) is equally or more valuable. As Mike Phillips said in the classic "Seven Laws of Money", "There are worlds without money."

Kay said...

My mil came to Canada from India and helped me with our daughter for 4 months!! Even though we don't see eye to eye on most things and are polar opposites, I cannot and will not monetize that help and I'll always love her for that.

There's plenty of love and support in the family vault. :)

Frugal Scholar said...

@Marcela--I guess anything counts as long as you count it. Interesting about Serbia--I have relatives there that I've never met. On my to-visit list.

@Duchesse-I don't monetize the haircut (except in my mind). I would if Miss Em needed the money, however. The gifts of her time and skill save me time and money. Assigning a value is kind of a family joke at this point.

@Kay--i totally agree. Yet if a relative NEEDED the money and was babysitting for me and hence unable to take a job--well, then I would compensate that person.

Kay said...

Absolutely agree with ya!!!