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The Heart of Money: "My Parents Are Helping Me. Do I Need to Live Like a Spartan?"

My husband and I both work hard and are able to get by, but it’s not always enough for my son’s private school tuition, so we accept some help from my parents. Consequently, I can’t spend money on anything “nonessential” without feeling guilty. Am I bound to live like a Spartan for as long as my parents are helping us out? I haven’t gone on vacation or taken a yoga class in five years.Paul Sutherland: Your question is wonderfully thorny because it is essentially about values. To some people, organic produce, yoga classes, and a yearly vacation are “essentials.” On the flip side, I have a friend who shops only at thrift stores and thinks buying clothing that has never been worn before is a wasteful luxury!Think of your parents as investors in your family, and sit down for a shareholders’ meeting. Go over your family budget—including treats like a gym membership or modest family vacation—and ask them what they think. Then listen. It may be that they see these “nonessentials” as a worthwhile investment in your family’s happiness and well-being. Or you might find out that providing your family with financia …

Paul Sutherland is the chief investment officer of the FIM Group and the author of Zenvesting.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland resides in Michigan with his four youngest kids, ages 5 to 10. He and his wife, Amy, try to be an example of Parenting for a Peaceful world, in which democracy begins at home.

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