Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

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mojave
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Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by mojave » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:16 pm

We have our first baby on the way so I've started looking into saving for college and the different options available.

When I was a kid my paternal grandmother showered my sibling and I with crap that we didn't want or need. It drove my mom crazy because we would have to find a place to put everything, and we didn't want it anyway (not that we were ungrateful, it was weird stuff like little porcelain figurines in a series, "collectible" dolls or collections of those state quarters - things we had no interest in at all). My mom still talks about how much more useful it would have been if grandma put that money into investments for college, it would have probably amounted to a decent amount.

I fear this behavior with my in-laws. Between my MIL and one of my husband's aunts (especially the aunt) I know we're going to have to constantly push back on them giving our kids stuff. I know people love to buy kids things, and I understand that. But for example, this aunt bought about 20 toys for our nephew this Christmas, it was to the point where my BIL and MIL were hiding unopened gifts and they asked her not to do that. My MIL will probably be this way too but to a lesser degree, she has already admitted to buying baby several things and I'm not due until July.

I will of course be thankful for anything they provide us with. I probably can't bring this up to the aunt, but I would like to suggest to my in-laws that we would appreciate 529 contributions over toys. As I'm the first in my family to have a baby, I don't know if discussing 529s is a taboo subject like most financial conversations. We have a good relationship with my in-laws so I don't feel weird approaching them with this, I guess I just want to make sure it's a normal thing for grandparents to do and want to broach the subject without sounding ungrateful or something? My mother has already brought up this subject with me so this is just an in-law question.

barnaclebob
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by barnaclebob » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:25 pm

Have your spouse breach to topic. You might want to see if there really is a problem first.

ResearchMed
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:27 pm

Because these are your in-laws, the first person to discuss it with is your husband.

And regardless, if you do decide to suggest college savings to them for your baby (or any other similar "investments for the future"), this is their grandchild, and perhaps their first?

Please do let them have the pleasure of buying *some* "fun things" for their grandchildren.
It would be ideal if you could all agree on a sort of split (based upon their preferences and finances) between the practical and the "fun".

RM
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:27 pm

Hand the aunt a few 529 deposit forms. Look at a college like MIT for total cost of attendance and mention how much you will need to save to put the child through college.
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randomguy
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by randomguy » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:31 pm

For the passive aggressive approach, sign up for UPromise and then ask the grandparents to. They will at least then be exposed to the idea of saving for college.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by Gnirk » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:35 pm

Have your spouse plant the seed about contributing to a 529 plan. Most of the grandparents we know, including us, brought up the subject ourselves to the parents. We always gave a small gift for them to open on their birthdays, and a check for the parents to deposit to the 529. Christmas was a bit more generous with the gift, and the same amount for the 529.

We found that with one set of parents, they bought their kids so much stuff, that any gifts we gave them paled in comparison. :(
But the 529 we funded is now paying for college for our granddaughter.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by flyingbison » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:39 pm

I think you have every right to enforce limits on the gift-giving to your kids, but personally I think it would be poor taste to ask for money/donations instead.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by ThankYouJack » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:44 pm

With a new baby you'll get tons of toys, baby gear, books , clothes, advice and other many things you'll probably not need or care for. It's part of the job. Then you take that stuff and pass it on to the next victim :)

But more seriously anything that you receive and don't need, you can donate it to the goodwill, write it on off on your taxes (if you choose) and put that money towards a 529.

If your parents or in-laws are looking to help considerably (thousands of dollars), then I think it's ok to mention a 529. But if they're just buying $10-$50 on clothes and toy type things, than I personally would feel out of place with my family saying "thanks for the gift, but instead of giving this to my daughter, I'd rather put the money to pay for 0.00001% of her college 18 years from now."

Maybe with your aunt you could mention ahead of time that "we have plenty of toys, but we could really use is a 12-24 month jacket" or diapers...or whatever else you need?

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FelixTheCat
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by FelixTheCat » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:56 pm

Why don't you buy less "stuff" and accept what the relatives give to you? That way you can focus on the 529.
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rjsob58
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by rjsob58 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:04 pm

Won't directly help, but take a look at UPromise. I have a UPromise MasterCard that gives my "cash back" into 529 at Vanguard. I don't actually use the card much any more cause I get better rewards on other cards. However, it does let you invite others to link their credit card purchases to your UPromise account.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by claudia » Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:14 pm

Let your in-laws know that you have a 529 account and that you are diligently contributing monthly. Let your husband casually explain to them that you guys prefer contributions to the 529 then toys. Other than that, I would not do anything more and say anything more about the gifts...... as it is their choice.
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BL
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by BL » Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:16 pm

FelixTheCat wrote:Why don't you buy less "stuff" and accept what the relatives give to you? That way you can focus on the 529.
Yes, see how it feels to "deprive" yourself of the pleasure of buying for kids or grandkids. I only know of one person who wouldn't let his mother give gifts to his kids, and everyone thought he was just a cheapskate who wanted to inherit everything she had.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by Leesbro63 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:32 pm

I've experienced this. What you are missing is that the grandparent(s) wants instant gratification. He/she/they are willing to sacrifice some of their own consumption in order to experience little Johnny having a live pony brought to his birthday party. But not willing to sacrifice personal consumption for the intangible gift of putting away for college that won't happen for umpteen more years...very possibly after they (the grandparent) is dead. To many of us Boglehead types it's an abuse of money. But to those who are conditioned by "the American way", spoiling little Johnny is just another way to consume right now/future be damned.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by Altephor » Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:41 pm

What I would do instead, if you're worried about stepping on toes, is to take those things that they buy out of YOUR budget and put it towards a 529. For instance, my nephew was just born a few months ago, and we have been going light on toys and other things (the useless crap you spoke of), and more towards giving things like diapers, clothes, bottles, pacifiers, etc. Perhaps ask your inlaws if they could provide items like this, and use the money you save by not having to buy them to fund the 529. This way, your inlaws still feel included and get the gratification of buying gifts, and you still put away some money.

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binary13
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by binary13 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 5:07 pm

My son is about two and half now... We've been extremely blessed by friends and family with hand-me-down clothes and toys, to the point where we've had to buy very little ourselves. Because of this, we've been very upfront with people when they ask what they can get our son for Christmas/Birthday/etc. -- "We really don't need any more stuff." If they persist, we'll mention college savings. Since we were the last of my wife's family to have kids, we've already established a precedent by contributing to their kids' college savings for past years' occassions.
I don't really know what they say behind our backs, but so far it's been fairly effective. Sure, our son will get toys as gifts (too many toys, usually), but usually less than otherwise and accompianed by some amount of money for college. We've worked to get him as excited about the money for college as the more immediately fun things.

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Be smart

Post by davebarnes » Thu Jan 29, 2015 5:14 pm

Forget the 529s.
Go for Roth IRAs.
A nerd living in Denver

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BL
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by BL » Thu Jan 29, 2015 5:15 pm

binary13 wrote:My son is about two and half now... We've been extremely blessed by friends and family with hand-me-down clothes and toys, to the point where we've had to buy very little ourselves. Because of this, we've been very upfront with people when they ask what they can get our son for Christmas/Birthday/etc. -- "We really don't need any more stuff." If they persist, we'll mention college savings. Since we were the last of my wife's family to have kids, we've already established a precedent by contributing to their kids' college savings for past years' occassions.
I don't really know what they say behind our backs, but so far it's been fairly effective. Sure, our son will get toys as gifts (too many toys, usually), but usually less than otherwise and accompianed by some amount of money for college. We've worked to get him as excited about the money for college as the more immediately fun things.
Yes, if they ASK, that is the time to make these suggestions.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by bengal22 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 5:18 pm

I think one should just be grateful that the grandparents want to share in their kids life and to give them presents. I can see that look on my granddaughter's face if she saw that she got a 529 contribution. Woo-pee. I plan on contributing to her 529 and her college but dang if I am not going to give presents as well that she can enjoy in the "now." Have the son tell them once of the opportunity to donate and leave it at that. Unless in-laws are over the top and inappropriate do not tell them how to gift please.
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Leesbro63
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by Leesbro63 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 5:30 pm

bengal22 wrote:I think one should just be grateful that the grandparents want to share in their kids life and to give them presents. I can see that look on my granddaughter's face if she saw that she got a 529 contribution. Woo-pee. I plan on contributing to her 529 and her college but dang if I am not going to give presents as well that she can enjoy in the "now." Have the son tell them once of the opportunity to donate and leave it at that. Unless in-laws are over the top and inappropriate do not tell them how to gift please.
The issue is the amount. I agree that grandparents enjoy spoiling the grandkids and it's a good thing mostly. But large indulgences at an early age are often, at best, not understood or appreciated to the extent of the value of the indulgence. As per my own experience referenced a few posts above...if these types of grandparents can't get immediate gratification from seeing junior enjoy the gift NOW, they aren't going to give it. Doing 529 plans from grandparents, who might have more than they'll ever spend, is largely about utility of wealth, not so much about opening the package and seeing the "whoopie" reaction.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by TDAlmighty » Thu Jan 29, 2015 6:18 pm

I feel like this is such a generational thing. The current generation of parents (at least the ones I hang out with) have a large amount of student debt, so they associate raising a kid with saving for college. Perhaps if the current grandparents had saved a bit for their college then they would not be in this position.

There seems to be a fair amount of responses above from the grandparents point of view. so let me offer one from me current parents point of view, back off and respect your child's wishes. It Is their kid and they are free to raise how they want and you should support them in their choices.

To the OP, The way we handled this was to do an Amazon gift list. We told the grandparents and other relatives they could buy something off the gift list, contribute to the 529, or give us gift cards. We told them we did not want anything other than that.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by FelixTheCat » Thu Jan 29, 2015 6:29 pm

BL wrote:
FelixTheCat wrote:Why don't you buy less "stuff" and accept what the relatives give to you? That way you can focus on the 529.
Yes, see how it feels to "deprive" yourself of the pleasure of buying for kids or grandkids. I only know of one person who wouldn't let his mother give gifts to his kids, and everyone thought he was just a cheapskate who wanted to inherit everything she had.
Huh? How does your response solve the OP issue? The OP wants the relatives to buy less stuff and get them to contribute to a 529. I'm suggesting a modification. The OP can cut back on buying things, let the relatives buy the stuff and the OP focus on 529 contributions. It's easier to change your own actions.
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TRC
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by TRC » Thu Jan 29, 2015 7:10 pm

When you become a grandparent, would you like your child's spouse to tell you what you can and cannot buy for your grandchild? I'd be thankful they are so generous to your kids.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by Beth* » Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:21 pm

Gnirk wrote:We always gave a small gift for them to open on their birthdays, and a check for the parents to deposit to the 529.
Why did you give the parents a check to put in the 529 Plan rather than opening a 529 Plan yourself? My first grandchild was born a couple of months ago and I have been thinking about opening a 529 plan for him. It hadn't occurred to me that there was a reason it would be better if I gave the parents the money and had them do it. I want to do this in the way that is most advantageous for everyone. Thanks!

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by masteraleph » Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:39 pm

Beth* wrote:
Why did you give the parents a check to put in the 529 Plan rather than opening a 529 Plan yourself? My first grandchild was born a couple of months ago and I have been thinking about opening a 529 plan for him. It hadn't occurred to me that there was a reason it would be better if I gave the parents the money and had them do it. I want to do this in the way that is most advantageous for everyone. Thanks!
There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Grandparents own 529 with grandchild as beneficiary: FAFSA based aid doesn't notice the account. But when money is taken out to pay for things, FAFSA sees it as income for the child, so things that rely on it very significantly decrease financial aid (public universities, for example). Note, though, that if the money is taken out in 2nd semester of Junior year or later, presuming that graduation will be in 4 years in the spring, that money never gets taken into account (e.g.- child graduates May 2016; FAFSA 2015 asks about income in 2014, and FAFSA 2016 doesn't need to be filed). This kind of account is most useful when the child attends a public university and is looking for financial aid, and the parents can cover the tuition for the first few years without tapping the 529.

Parents own 529 with child as beneficiary: FAFSA will see it as the parents' asset. That means that it will get taken into the calculation, but less than if it was the child's money. So it will reduce financial aid, but not by as much as if the grandparents owned it and money was being taken out in freshman year.

Note two other caveats:

1) Ownership transfers of 529s can be a pain and can involve tax. While there's always a chance someone could pass away, it's probably more likely for the grandparents to do so than the parents.
2) Private universities tend to use an additional form that asks about 529s the grandparents may own, so they're not really useful for sheltering money in that fashion. In that case, the benefits of the grandparents owning the account goes away.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by TDAlmighty » Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:47 pm

TRC wrote:When you become a grandparent, would you like your child's spouse to tell you what you can and cannot buy for your grandchild? I'd be thankful they are so generous to your kids.
Just listen to what you're saying. It is more about you than it is the parent or grandchild. I have run into so many peers with kids under five that have run into this same issue with the current generation of grandparents, the grandparents feel like they have certain rights or something.

Let me put it another way, the grandparents should feel privileged each time that they are included in their grandkids lives.

I think it would be an interesting study for a sociologist, I think it may have something to do with the fact that the initial helicopter parents are becoming grandparents.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by nisiprius » Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:49 pm

claudia wrote:...Let your in-laws know that you have a 529 account and that you are diligently contributing monthly...
+1.

I think this is all that needs to be said. Of course if they look blank you may need to explain that it is a college savings account.
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by TDAlmighty » Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:52 pm

FelixTheCat wrote:
BL wrote:
FelixTheCat wrote:Why don't you buy less "stuff" and accept what the relatives give to you? That way you can focus on the 529.
Yes, see how it feels to "deprive" yourself of the pleasure of buying for kids or grandkids. I only know of one person who wouldn't let his mother give gifts to his kids, and everyone thought he was just a cheapskate who wanted to inherit everything she had.
Huh? How does your response solve the OP issue? The OP wants the relatives to buy less stuff and get them to contribute to a 529. I'm suggesting a modification. The OP can cut back on buying things, let the relatives buy the stuff and the OP focus on 529 contributions. It's easier to change your own actions.
I wish it was this simple. Unfortunately the grandparents have no idea what to buy unless you tell them. They either buy something you already have, something that has fallen out of fashion, or a version of something that you don't want.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by TDAlmighty » Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:58 pm

claudia wrote:We have a sort of agreement with their parents--their parents say it's OK for us to buy them toys IF the toys stay at our place and don't come home and clutter THEIR place.
Oh my god that is awesome. I need to try to sneak that into our grandparent agreement.

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Re: Be smart

Post by randomguy » Thu Jan 29, 2015 9:09 pm

davebarnes wrote:Forget the 529s.
Go for Roth IRAs.
I don't know a lot of kids with earned income at 6 months.....

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by Texas hold em71 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 10:40 pm

I would wait to see if there is a problem first. I would have your husband broach it if there is a problem. I have an acquaintance who told all grandparents that they were limited to one gift per holiday and if they wanted to do more, to put the money in a college fund. The grandparents were miffed but they got over it.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by DonCamillo » Thu Jan 29, 2015 10:42 pm

TDAlmighty wrote: I wish it was this simple. Unfortunately the grandparents have no idea what to buy unless you tell them. They either buy something you already have, something that has fallen out of fashion, or a version of something that you don't want.
We buy very little for our grandchildren without clearing it with their mother first. Usually, we ask for suggestions. Our gifts are often the "big gift" at Christmas and Birthday. Sometimes, the parents ask us to contribute only part of the cost of a big item so that the child has to save from several gifts to get a special item. But we also support goals that the parents cannot afford, like music lessons and summer camp. We buy instruments, have the piano tuned, and pay for weekly private lessons.

Personally, I have a golden principle for dealing with sons and daughters-in-law; Never upset the person who controls your access to your grandchildren. :happy
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by staythecourse » Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:11 pm

flyingbison wrote:I think you have every right to enforce limits on the gift-giving to your kids, but personally I think it would be poor taste to ask for money/donations instead.
I would agree.

You can say no, but can't say, "no, but I would rather have this from you." By definition a gift is without expectation of anything in return. Any other answer would be solicitation.

Don't worry about too many presents. Just don't open all of them and you now have presents to regift to other first time parents you will start becoming friends with when you have yours.

Good luck.
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by TDAlmighty » Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:16 pm

DonCamillo wrote:
TDAlmighty wrote: I wish it was this simple. Unfortunately the grandparents have no idea what to buy unless you tell them. They either buy something you already have, something that has fallen out of fashion, or a version of something that you don't want.
We buy very little for our grandchildren without clearing it with their mother first. Usually, we ask for suggestions. Our gifts are often the "big gift" at Christmas and Birthday. Sometimes, the parents ask us to contribute only part of the cost of a big item so that the child has to save from several gifts to get a special item. But we also support goals that the parents cannot afford, like music lessons and summer camp. We buy instruments, have the piano tuned, and pay for weekly private lessons.

Personally, I have a golden principle for dealing with sons and daughters-in-law; Never upset the person who controls your access to your grandchildren. :happy
It is so refreshing to hear a different, supporting approach from a grandparent. With that approach, you will definitely be included in more of their lives than the "take-it-or-leave-it" grandparents-know-best attitude of other posters (and my inlaws).

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by TDAlmighty » Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:31 pm

staythecourse wrote: Don't worry about too many presents. Just don't open all of them and you now have presents to regift to other first time parents you will start becoming friends with when you have yours.
.
Does not work that way. What about when you are flying to the grandparents house for XMAS? What about the gifts you receive that are personalized? What about when the kid takes the toy out because grandma is waiting with her Polaroid at the ready...

We were given at least 20 blankets. Not many parents use baby blankets anymore...and I am not paying the $20 shipping to regift them. Garage sale hopefully, most likely Goodwill. Probably $400-$500 dollars down the tubes on blankets.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by ThankYouJack » Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:00 am

TDAlmighty wrote:
staythecourse wrote: Don't worry about too many presents. Just don't open all of them and you now have presents to regift to other first time parents you will start becoming friends with when you have yours.
.
Does not work that way. What about when you are flying to the grandparents house for XMAS? What about the gifts you receive that are personalized? What about when the kid takes the toy out because grandma is waiting with her Polaroid at the ready...

We were given at least 20 blankets. Not many parents use baby blankets anymore...and I am not paying the $20 shipping to regift them. Garage sale hopefully, most likely Goodwill. Probably $400-$500 dollars down the tubes on blankets.
You were given over 20 blankets for having a baby? Did everyone just completely ignore your registry? And people didn't include gift receipts? Maybe the thread should be geared more towards some people being really bad gift givers instead of all the anger towards grandparents splurging on grandchildren :wink:

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by TDAlmighty » Fri Jan 30, 2015 5:52 am

ThankYouJack wrote:
TDAlmighty wrote:
staythecourse wrote: Don't worry about too many presents. Just don't open all of them and you now have presents to regift to other first time parents you will start becoming friends with when you have yours.
.
Does not work that way. What about when you are flying to the grandparents house for XMAS? What about the gifts you receive that are personalized? What about when the kid takes the toy out because grandma is waiting with her Polaroid at the ready...

We were given at least 20 blankets. Not many parents use baby blankets anymore...and I am not paying the $20 shipping to regift them. Garage sale hopefully, most likely Goodwill. Probably $400-$500 dollars down the tubes on blankets.
You were given over 20 blankets for having a baby? Did everyone just completely ignore your registry? And people didn't include gift receipts? Maybe the thread should be geared more towards some people being really bad gift givers instead of all the anger towards grandparents splurging on grandchildren :wink:
Funny you should mention that. MIL insisted that she spend hundreds of dollars having a fancy print shop do the baby/shower announcements. She spent several days stressing everybody out over this, got them ordered late, and they were still screwed up. No one could find the registry due to mispellings and the overall quality of the announcement was a joke.

We had suggested from the beginning that we should do something simple/inexpensive online---OH NO! Not for my grand baby! Grandma knows best!

1/3 of the gifts were blankets, i do not remember more than a handful of gift receipts among any of the presents.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by market timer » Fri Jan 30, 2015 6:05 am

Given that parents are expected to pick up the tab for college (up to their Expected Family Contribution, at least), I'd view a contribution to a 529 account as a gift to the parents, not the child. I think it's not a good idea to ask for a gift for yourself instead of the child.

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by GoldenFinch » Fri Jan 30, 2015 7:49 am

As a parent who has watched her children receive a lot gifts over the years I have a few thoughts.

Remember that the grandparents are getting great joy out of buying/giving gifts and this is a special time for them too. Receiving unwanted gifts presents an opportunity to exercise good manners (be gracious and send a thank you card). How you respond to gifts, wanted or unwanted, is a teachable moment for your child as he/she grows up. Being gracious pays dividends in teaching good manners. (It's a good exercise to wonder how others receive our thoughtful gifts.)

Because these grandparents are in-laws, let your husband deal with them about this issue (maybe he wants to, maybe he doesn't). Accept the outcome and move on. Paying for college is a parent responsibility, grandparents already did that (or didn't/couldn't) for their own children.

Babies could not care less about gifts or money they just want their needs met and lots of love, but older kids probably enjoy the gift more than the college money. I think all the baby gifts are really the most fun for the gift giver.

As someone with kids ranging from in college to in kindergarten I've learned that grandparents will do what they can and what they want for their grandchildren when they think it is appropriate and it is better to be grateful and never expect anything. :happy You are doing a GREAT THING saving for college already and soon you will be too busy to think about this stuff.

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bengal22
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by bengal22 » Fri Jan 30, 2015 8:23 am

GoldenFinch wrote:As a parent who has watched her children receive a lot gifts over the years I have a few thoughts.

Remember that the grandparents are getting great joy out of buying/giving gifts and this is a special time for them too. Receiving unwanted gifts presents an opportunity to exercise good manners (be gracious and send a thank you card). How you respond to gifts, wanted or unwanted, is a teachable moment for your child as he/she grows up. Being gracious pays dividends in teaching good manners. (It's a good exercise to wonder how others receive our thoughtful gifts.)

Because these grandparents are in-laws, let your husband deal with them about this issue (maybe he wants to, maybe he doesn't). Accept the outcome and move on. Paying for college is a parent responsibility, grandparents already did that (or didn't/couldn't) for their own children.

Babies could not care less about gifts or money they just want their needs met and lots of love, but older kids probably enjoy the gift more than the college money. I think all the baby gifts are really the most fun for the gift giver.

As someone with kids ranging from in college to in kindergarten I've learned that grandparents will do what they can and what they want for their grandchildren when they think it is appropriate and it is better to be grateful and never expect anything. :happy You are doing a GREAT THING saving for college already and soon you will be too busy to think about this stuff.
Well said. To me that sums it up completely.
"Earn All You Can; Give All You Can; Save All You Can." .... John Wesley

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BL
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by BL » Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:32 am

GoldenFinch wrote:As a parent who has watched her children receive a lot gifts over the years I have a few thoughts.

Remember that the grandparents are getting great joy out of buying/giving gifts and this is a special time for them too. Receiving unwanted gifts presents an opportunity to exercise good manners (be gracious and send a thank you card). How you respond to gifts, wanted or unwanted, is a teachable moment for your child as he/she grows up. Being gracious pays dividends in teaching good manners. (It's a good exercise to wonder how others receive our thoughtful gifts.)

Because these grandparents are in-laws, let your husband deal with them about this issue (maybe he wants to, maybe he doesn't). Accept the outcome and move on. Paying for college is a parent responsibility, grandparents already did that (or didn't/couldn't) for their own children.

Babies could not care less about gifts or money they just want their needs met and lots of love, but older kids probably enjoy the gift more than the college money. I think all the baby gifts are really the most fun for the gift giver.

As someone with kids ranging from in college to in kindergarten I've learned that grandparents will do what they can and what they want for their grandchildren when they think it is appropriate and it is better to be grateful and never expect anything. :happy You are doing a GREAT THING saving for college already and soon you will be too busy to think about this stuff.
I believe this is really a "first world" problem as well as a current generation problem. Be grateful that your parents can afford to be generous and want to give something to the kids. As for directing gift-giving, I can see setting limits for one present if space is actually a problem (is it really?), but would you really tell them to gift you or your child money? When they ask for advice, give it. Maybe they should just give to a charity instead, where it would be appreciated. As a grandparent, I mostly give money gifts because it is easier at a distance (to let the child buy what they want or save up for something they want), but it really is fun to watch a young child open a present you have selected for them.
Last edited by BL on Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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mojave
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by mojave » Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:40 am

Thanks everyone. A lot of food for thought here, and a lot of things I didn't even think about. Great to see it from different perspectives.

Some points:
- Some interpreted it this way, but I don't mean for this to be something where we approach the grandparents out of nowhere and ask for college money. I don't expect them to contribute to college savings. This is more about them putting their money where it will actually make a difference, if they want to spend it on Jr. I am not saying they should forgo all gifts, but be reasonable.

- I'm a minimalist, which is a big part of this concern. I hate clutter and piles and won't keep anything in the house that is unused. I also am against over spoiling kids (and this is coming from someone who would open 50 gifts every Christmas and even got several toys on holidays like Easter). If a toy goes unused for a few months it's going to Goodwill, and there won't be storage bins and closets full of unused toys at my house. If this makes me a prison warden, then I'm in good company - my grandpa was one in the south for a few decades. (Random unrelated tidbit, he befriended the Birdman of Alcatraz at the end of Birdman's life)

- I like the idea of "you can buy as many toys as you like, but they get to stay at your house".

- I also like the suggestion of using this scenario as a teaching moment if I can't curtail it. Great idea.

- I really don't care if hurts the grandparent's feelings if this gets out of hand and I have to tell them to stop. This is my child, not theirs. They need to respect my wishes as the parent. Thankfully, I can't see this being an issue with them.

Thanks everyone!

kaneohe
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by kaneohe » Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:50 am

bengal22 wrote:
GoldenFinch wrote:As a parent who has watched her children receive a lot gifts over the years I have a few thoughts.

Remember that the grandparents are getting great joy out of buying/giving gifts and this is a special time for them too. Receiving unwanted gifts presents an opportunity to exercise good manners (be gracious and send a thank you card). How you respond to gifts, wanted or unwanted, is a teachable moment for your child as he/she grows up. Being gracious pays dividends in teaching good manners. (It's a good exercise to wonder how others receive our thoughtful gifts.)

Because these grandparents are in-laws, let your husband deal with them about this issue (maybe he wants to, maybe he doesn't). Accept the outcome and move on. Paying for college is a parent responsibility, grandparents already did that (or didn't/couldn't) for their own children.

Babies could not care less about gifts or money they just want their needs met and lots of love, but older kids probably enjoy the gift more than the college money. I think all the baby gifts are really the most fun for the gift giver.

As someone with kids ranging from in college to in kindergarten I've learned that grandparents will do what they can and what they want for their grandchildren when they think it is appropriate and it is better to be grateful and never expect anything. :happy You are doing a GREAT THING saving for college already and soon you will be too busy to think about this stuff.
Well said. To me that sums it up completely.
Agree. Somehow asking for 529 money instead of gifts seems to me similar to newlyweds asking for honeymoon/retirement $$$ instead of stuff.
If done "well" or if you are lucky, perhaps good results happen. I picture a mad scientist mixing two mysterious ingredients together. Most of the time, interesting or perhaps boring things happen but on occasion, unintended and/or explosive results happen even if you think you understand the two elements.
Perhaps a third unknown catalyst sneaks into the picture. Tread carefully.

jstrazzere
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by jstrazzere » Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:56 am

mojave wrote:I will of course be thankful for anything they provide us with. I probably can't bring this up to the aunt, but I would like to suggest to my in-laws that we would appreciate 529 contributions over toys. As I'm the first in my family to have a baby, I don't know if discussing 529s is a taboo subject like most financial conversations. We have a good relationship with my in-laws so I don't feel weird approaching them with this, I guess I just want to make sure it's a normal thing for grandparents to do and want to broach the subject without sounding ungrateful or something? My mother has already brought up this subject with me so this is just an in-law question.
As a grandparent, I can tell you that we enjoy buying gifts for our grandchildren. We don't go as crazy as some, but our son and daughter-in-law accept all gifts graciously and always thank us. That makes us feel good and want to do more.

I have opened 529 plans for each of my grandchildren myself, and add funds to it on special occasions (birthdays, Christmas, etc). With Fidelity, they now have the ability to create a "micro-site" for each child, allowing others to contribute even more easily. I let the rest of the family know about it - making this choice available and more obvious to aunts and uncles. While we all still enjoy buying things (and more important enjoy seeing the grandchildren wear/play with them), their 529 funds are now gaining some steam.

You might consider creating your own micro-site (or having parents or inlaws do the same) and letting people know it exists, without trying to suggest that you are telling others what they must do.

BanditKing
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by BanditKing » Fri Jan 30, 2015 10:19 am

Just have the adult conversation with them. You're trying to be more minimalist. Relate your childhood of junkdom. Encourage them that college savings is as wonderful a gift as stuff. Turn them into Bogleheads!

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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by fposte » Fri Jan 30, 2015 10:45 am

mojave wrote: - I'm a minimalist, which is a big part of this concern. I hate clutter and piles and won't keep anything in the house that is unused. I also am against over spoiling kids (and this is coming from someone who would open 50 gifts every Christmas and even got several toys on holidays like Easter). If a toy goes unused for a few months it's going to Goodwill, and there won't be storage bins and closets full of unused toys at my house.
That may also be a way to frame it--not "Don't give your grandchildren gifts," but "We have a tight household space limit on toys, and we won't be able to keep anything over the limit."
mojave wrote: - I really don't care if hurts the grandparent's feelings if this gets out of hand and I have to tell them to stop. This is my child, not theirs. They need to respect my wishes as the parent. Thankfully, I can't see this being an issue with them.
If it does become an issue, though, make sure your spouse is on the same page as you before declaring stern rules. Otherwise you're going to end up becoming the bad guy and in vain.

jstrazzere
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by jstrazzere » Fri Jan 30, 2015 11:19 am

mojave wrote:- I really don't care if hurts the grandparent's feelings if this gets out of hand and I have to tell them to stop. This is my child, not theirs. They need to respect my wishes as the parent. Thankfully, I can't see this being an issue with them.
Ouch. When you say "I really don't care if it hurts the grandparent's feelings" I worry. Please, please be kind, thoughtful, and careful here, and make sure your spouse is deeply involved with his parents - you can handle your own. Yes, this is your child. This is also their grandchild. You don't want things to turn into a power struggle and drive a wedge between you and your in-laws to the detriment of your child.

We are blessed with a terrific daughter-in-law. We respect all of her wishes, and she respects ours. Thankfully, she is very easy going, so she is willing to respect virtually all our important requests, and we respect hers.

As a parent, you'll learn the principle of "only fight *important* battles" with your child. You can't have everything your way with kids, so don't sweat the small stuff.
The same applies to parents and in-laws, particularly when they turn into grandparents.

Enjoy your children - they will be a wonderful part of your life!
Enjoy your children's grandparents - they will be a wonderful part of your children's lives too!

ne2ca28
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by ne2ca28 » Fri Jan 30, 2015 11:20 am

TDAlmighty wrote:...grandparents feel like they have certain rights or something.

Let me put it another way, the grandparents should feel privileged each time that they are included in their grandkids lives.
To the OP, The way we handled this was to do an Amazon gift list. We told the grandparents and other relatives they could buy something off the gift list, contribute to the 529, or give us gift cards. We told them we did not want anything other than that.
I do not want to start a fire here but Rights? Privileged? We 'told' them? This is first world problems at its finest. Some people are grateful to have people in their lives that care enough to want to be a part of their lives. Many people may have an overstepping in law, and obviously every one will want what is best for their children, but let's put things in perspective here. Perhaps if this is a third tier step mom or dead beat prison dad who had a change of heart, I think its safe to say that the person that raised you or your spouse has *some* rights.

If they are overstepping and negatively so (for instance the invite situation) then sure, but calling them privileged or questioning their rights is beyond me. Especially so if the kid loves them and the attention.

kaneohe
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by kaneohe » Fri Jan 30, 2015 11:36 am

ne2ca28 wrote:
TDAlmighty wrote:...grandparents feel like they have certain rights or something.

Let me put it another way, the grandparents should feel privileged each time that they are included in their grandkids lives.
To the OP, The way we handled this was to do an Amazon gift list. We told the grandparents and other relatives they could buy something off the gift list, contribute to the 529, or give us gift cards. We told them we did not want anything other than that.
I do not want to start a fire here but Rights? Privileged? We 'told' them? This is first world problems at its finest. Some people are grateful to have people in their lives that care enough to want to be a part of their lives. Many people may have an overstepping in law, and obviously every one will want what is best for their children, but let's put things in perspective here. Perhaps if this is a third tier step mom or dead beat prison dad who had a change of heart, I think its safe to say that the person that raised you or your spouse has *some* rights.

If they are overstepping and negatively so (for instance the invite situation) then sure, but calling them privileged or questioning their rights is beyond me. Especially so if the kid loves them and the attention.
Agree......all the talk about rights and privileges is scary to me. Sounds like a prelude to a lose/lose outcome instead of a win/win.

TDAlmighty
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by TDAlmighty » Fri Jan 30, 2015 11:54 am

ne2ca28 wrote:
TDAlmighty wrote:...grandparents feel like they have certain rights or something.

Let me put it another way, the grandparents should feel privileged each time that they are included in their grandkids lives.
To the OP, The way we handled this was to do an Amazon gift list. We told the grandparents and other relatives they could buy something off the gift list, contribute to the 529, or give us gift cards. We told them we did not want anything other than that.
I do not want to start a fire here but Rights? Privileged? We 'told' them? This is first world problems at its finest. Some people are grateful to have people in their lives that care enough to want to be a part of their lives. Many people may have an overstepping in law, and obviously every one will want what is best for their children, but let's put things in perspective here. Perhaps if this is a third tier step mom or dead beat prison dad who had a change of heart, I think its safe to say that the person that raised you or your spouse has *some* rights.

If they are overstepping and negatively so (for instance the invite situation) then sure, but calling them privileged or questioning their rights is beyond me. Especially so if the kid loves them and the attention.
Grateful? I hate that word "grateful", makes me feel like people don't do things because they love the person, but because they feel an obligation to.

Let ME put some things in perspective here. Your children will need to take care of you before you know it. then it will be your turn to feel "grateful" that they not only raised your grandkids but took care of you as you aged. So maybe you should support their decisions and let them live their lives for a while without trying to control them.

Secondly our kid is less than a year old and we live nowhere close to any of the grandparents. if the grandparents want to move closer and help me change some diapers, pick up toys, clean up messes etc. then by all means I will give them more opportunity to provide input.

Just to be clear, my parents get it. They gave my son a couple of small toys for XMAS, and then handed my wife and I an envelope of cash. I put most of it into the 529, and everything else I told them down to the penny what we bought our kid with it. So this is not an across-the-board condemnation of the current generation of grandparents.

To the OP, I think you are on the right track. I still would not abandon the idea of the 529. Just find a way to work into the conversation. A couple of our relatives actually enjoy doing it, and every time they contribute we send them a personalized card with a handprint or something from our kid.

Somebody mentioned the Fidelity microsites. That sounds nice. We use the New York plan, which offers a great/super easy gifting option through ugift529.com. I know other popular plans such as Nevada use this site as well. You just give them the website name and a six digit code and they can do the rest in less than five minutes.

flyingbison
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Re: Bringing up 529s to the grandparents

Post by flyingbison » Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:01 pm

jstrazzere wrote: Ouch. When you say "I really don't care if it hurts the grandparent's feelings" I worry. Please, please be kind, thoughtful, and careful here, and make sure your spouse is deeply involved with his parents ...

Enjoy your children's grandparents - they will be a wonderful part of your children's lives too!
Not everyone wants or needs a close relationship with parents, grandparents, or other family members. Since we had a child, my parents come to visit once a year for 2-3 days. Prior to that, I hadn't seen them in 4 years. They're never going to be an important part of my child's life.

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