'Should I Buy All My Kids A House?' Widow Uncertain After Husband's Death, Asks Dave Ramsey About Purchasing Homes For Her 3 Adult Children

During a discussion on the Dave Ramsey Show, titled "Should I Buy All My Kids A House?" a widow from Denver, Colorado, named Kay, shared her intentions to buy homes for her three adult children following her husband’s passing from cancer. This act of generosity, spurred by a substantial financial legacy, prompted a mix of emotional and practical financial considerations, which Ramsey addressed with his usual caution and insight.

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At 57 years old, with a net worth of $4 million, Kay considered properties valued at around $500,000 each in Portland and Denver, and a $300,000 home in Minnesota. Her conversation with Ramsey, however, led her toward a more cautious approach. Sensing the potential risks to Kay's financial health, Ramsey advised, "The caveat has to be that you're okay first," underscoring the need to secure her financial stability before making such significant gifts.

The prospect of spending $1.5 million — nearly half of Kay's liquid assets — on homes for her children prompted Ramsey to express concern. He pointed out, "It's not a million and a half out of 11 million; it’s half your cash," highlighting the considerable financial risk involved.

In response, Ramsey suggested a smaller expenditure of $300,000 per child, which would reduce the impact on Kay’s cash reserves. This strategy would potentially allow the purchase of a home outright in Minnesota, while providing substantial down payments for the other properties, thus maintaining Kay’s financial security.

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To further safeguard her children from potential financial missteps, Kay intends to place the properties in a trust, barring them from borrowing against the homes. Echoing this protective sentiment, Ramsey recounted an anecdote about a friend who required his children and their spouses to pledge never to borrow money again as a condition for receiving their homes. This approach aligns with Ramsey’s philosophy that "the best way to protect them from themselves is not to be somebody they need to be protected from."

Ramsey cautioned that such generosity, while well-intentioned, can backfire, if not carefully planned. He stressed the importance of ensuring that the gift of a home doesn’t become a burden, likening it to "giving a drunk a drink." The goal, Ramsey emphasized, is to provide a blessing, not a curse.

It’s no secret that purchasing a home has become increasingly challenging for young adults. Skyrocketing home prices, coupled with rising interest rates and student loan debt, have made homeownership feel like an unattainable dream for many.

A recent study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that the median age of first-time homebuyers has risen to 36, the highest on record. Another study by Apartment List revealed that 64% of millennials believe they will never be able to afford a home.

Parents are increasingly stepping in to help their children achieve homeownership. Common approaches include gifting funds for down payments or closing costs, co-signing on loans, providing private loans, or purchasing the home outright as Kay wants to do. 

While the decision of how to assist is a personal one, parents must prioritize their own financial well-being and ensure they are not jeopardizing their retirement or other financial goals. Consulting with a financial advisor can help parents navigate these decisions and explore the best options for themselves and their children.

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