Guest post by Karen Piercy
Mum visits New Zealand from the UK every year and usually pays for something large in our household before she leaves. The first year was a woodburner because the chimney sweep refused to certify the existing one in our old villa. Another year, a new washing machine, a front loader, much gentler on clothes than the old top loader used for my husband’s work shirts through to our farm gear. Much grumpiness would occur when the shirts got covered in grey bits. Mum restored peace by buying a machine for “good clothes’ and ironing the shirts.
I would protest each year that she didn’t have to buy such extravagant presents, but she insisted that I should treat them as early inheritances. She didn’t want us waiting for her to die.
My step-children are home owners. They needed a new fence to keep the dog on the section in Brisbane, a new heat pump to protect against the chills of Dunedin. The latest, a new carpet to cover bare floorboards before the first grandchild is born.
My husband talks of the amounts as loans, although after they repay something, he writes them off. I prefer to call them early inheritances. I would like the kids to feel excited about getting a small windfall (and their parents haven’t had to die for them to get it). I would prefer they weren’t anxious about repaying a loan. I like the fact that we have some say about where our money goes – we pay for specific items that are important to them. After all an early inheritance when they need it is far more valuable than a great windfall later, plus we get the joy of giving which is missed out on if you are dead.