Money Manners: It’s OK to help grandson with tuition

Q I have an unusually bright 11-year-old grandson I’ll call “Mike.” Teachers at his school say he would profit from attending a more challenging private day school, and his parents would like to send him to one. Unfortunately, they can’t afford to, and schools like these offer little financial aid for students below ninth grade. So, recognizing Mike’s potential, a few family members and I would like to help with the tuition. But I worry that favoring one grandchild financially could lead to resentment in the family. How can I avoid this?

A Unless your family operates outside the normal range of human nature, you probably can’t.

What you can do, however, is look for ways to provide your other grandchildren with an occasional big treat. But assuming you can afford it, you should signal that you’re not playing favorites with Mike by making it a point to be a little extra generous with your other grandchildren.

On another front: When your children were growing up, there probably were plenty of things you insisted on that displeased them for one reason or another. That didn’t keep you from doing what you thought was right back then, and the prospect of ruffling some feathers shouldn’t stop you from doing what you think is right now.

Q One of my co-workers, “Andy,” has a friend who has season tickets to the Giants, and when the friend can’t go to a game, he sometimes gives Andy the tickets. That’s what happened recently. But Andy couldn’t go, so he gave me the tickets, and I went (and, woo-hoo, the Giants won!). I’d been planning to buy Andy a bottle of the bourbon I know he likes as a way of saying thank you, but my wife thinks this would be inappropriate. She says that since Andy paid nothing for the tickets, I don’t owe him anything, and it would just look like I wanted more tickets if I gave him a gift. Could she be right?

A So what’s wrong with hoping to be offered more tickets? Nothing, in our book, unless you’re the kind of freeloader your wife seems – however inadvertently – to be encouraging you to become.

More important, Andy surely had other friends who would have been delighted to have been given a pair of seats worth at least 50 bucks (and probably a whole lot more). For giving them to you, he deserves the wholehearted thanks that a bottle of bourbon represents. In short, your wife is wrong.

Please e-mail your questions about money and relationships to Questions@MoneyManners.net.

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