I canâ€™t wait for June 2011. I tell everyone about that date. In fact, I often joke that I will print up T-shirts with the number â€œ6/11â€ emblazoned across the front. Thatâ€™s the date Little M is supposed to graduate from college. Thatâ€™s the date I get my financial freedom. No more having to pay a weekly allowance and no more outrageous out-of-state college tuition fees and overpriced text books â€“ or so I hope.
When I tell this story to friends, they always laugh. And thatâ€™s exactly what a friendly, retired couple did as we walked our dogs together this past week. Because of summer travels, we hadnâ€™t seen each other for months. So we caught up with each others lives in the neighborhood greenbelt as our dogs got their exercise. And thatâ€™s when I told them about 6/11.
They laughed. And then the wife gave me a reality check.
â€œDream on!â€ she said, smiling.
They are in their 60s, with eight grown children and lots of grandchildren. And they clearly were about to school me.
â€œEven now, I have to help them out,â€ the husband explained.
When I graduated from high school, my parents were willing to pay for all my college expenses. But in my sophomore year, I got a part-time job at a newspaper, my chosen field. The pay wasnâ€™t much – $7 an hour – but it was enough to pay my tuition and all my living expenses for the rest of my college years. And ever since then, Iâ€™ve been self-sufficient.
I expect the same from Little M when she graduates. I hope she gets a job and not have to boomerang. But the U.S. economy is on life-support, and there are no guarantees it will get better in two years. If she ever needs help, my wife and I will, of course, whip out the checkbook.
The couple had popped our bubble. But the husband tried to make us feel better.
â€œItâ€™s OK to think that way,â€ he said about our 6/11 mantra. â€œBecause it gives you hope. You have to have hope because it keeps you going.â€