Moving Beyond Just Giving Fish to Kids
∼ Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for the rest of his life ∼
We’ve probably all heard this saying at one point or another. It relates a poignant and pithy philosophy of giving we should all take to heart. Any time someone else needs our resources we can either meet that need from our reserves- just to be back at square one the next day- or we can take a little more time with that person to teach them how to meet that need on their own forevermore. There’s also an unstated but relevant practical corollary to this idea we should note: if men want to catch fish for themselves they not only need the skills to perform the task but also the equipment.
How can we apply these principals regarding men and fish to kids and college funds?
Part of the panic that consumes households when the prospect of paying tuition comes up is the “need” for parents to shell out big bucks and to do so repeatedly. Or in other words to catch a fish and hand it over, catch a fish and hand it over, catch a fish and hand it over…
However, parents can have much greater financial impact and instill work-related values if they give fishing skills and equipment, so to speak, in lieu of cash. For example, does it make ultimate sense to hand your kid a few dollars as she embarks on a new school year of classes and minimum wage employment as a campus painter? Or would it make more sense to use those funds to buy paint brushes, mixers, and sprayers to kick start a business venture? In the latter example a given amount of money has the ability to multiply itself many times over, particularly if the parent can also include some relevant teaching such as on business skills or brush technique.
This form of help should especially resonate with parents who have more tools and skills than cash to spare. While a barber might have a hard time opening up the wallet, he might have a great ability to gather up some spare supplies lying around the shop to equip his children to provide buzzes in the dorm room. Likewise with parents employed in many other occupations.
We’ve already explored several ideas for student-generated income production (here and here), many of which might require but a moderate investment of mom and dad’s largesse to get properly outfitted. See if this doesn’t make sense for your situation. Not only is it an chance to give to your child, it’s an opportunity to invest in them.