How Twin Families Can Save Money for the Future

Are you prepared to pay for two sets of college tuition at the same time or pay for major life events like weddings or house down payments? The thought of just one of these is overwhelming, much less paying for two at a time! What can you do to plan ahead and save money for the future of twin parenting?

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    What are the top news headlines involving pregnancy and parenting of twins? What’s the big news twin parents are talking about around the watercooler? We’ll comb through all the articles and discuss the main issues impacting families of multiples.

  • When Twins Grow Up

    Experienced twin parents will tell you… twins don’t stay tiny for long. In this segment, we’ll share stories of older twins and the interesting things that happen them throughout their lives.

Episode Transcript

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 0:01
Are you prepared to pay for two sets of college tuition at the same time, or pay for major life events like weddings or house down payments? The thought of just one of these is overwhelming, much less paying for two at a time. What can you do to plan ahead and save money for the future of twin parenting? Today we're here to talk with Paul Fenner about saving money for twins. This is Twin Talks.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 0:21
Welcome to Twin Talks. Twin Talks is your weekly online on the go support group for expecting a new parents of twins. And I'm your host, Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald. And I am of course a parent of twins. I have identical girls who are now almost 10 years old. And I'll have to tell you, they are becoming tweens, which I didn't know really what that means. But the whole girl drama thing is going on. So oh my gosh. It's a new era. And then I also have a single ting girl. So we got three girls in the house. And so I gotta say, my husband, he said, Yeah, I think we need to get a dog with cahones because just to balance it out. So three girls, and she's going to be seven in a couple months. So we have a lot of fun dynamics going on. So who else? Let's see. I'm gonna toss it over to Sunny, our producer.

Sunny Gault 1:42
All right. Hey, Christine. And hey, everyone. Thanks so much for being with us today on our show. So I'm Sunny I'm producing today's show. And I'm also a parent of twins. And I have some Singleton's too. So my first two kids were Singleton's those are boys, nine and seven. And then I have identical twin girls who are about five and a half now. And Christine, I'm totally scared about the whole tween situations. So you and I are gonna have to chat later. Because I've no idea what to expect. But they're still pretty young. Right. But I still like to have like maybe we have to do a whole episode Christine on on tweens ...

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 2:19
Oh my gosh, we do that is going to have to be in the works. Because let's just say tween plus girl plus twin power. Not a great combination.

Sunny Gault 2:31
Well, we just had something interesting happened with my girls. And that is so school started recently. And this is the first time they haven't been in the same class. And I know we've talked about that a little bit on twin talks in the past. But the thing that was interesting this year is I was planning on them being in the same class. So they did TK last year. So for those of you who aren't in California, TK is like pre K, alright, and it was half days. And then this year, they're in kindergarten and the school changed it so kindergartens, now full days, and I didn't think to tell the school in advance that I still wanted them in the same class. Our plan was for TK and kindergarten, keep them in the same class. And then starting in first grade, they'd be in separate classes, because I do recognize they need to be in separate classes and their own friends. But I still thought based on what I saw, and what their teacher saw in TK, that we needed to keep them together in kindergarten. But we didn't tell the school that and I guess I just kind of assumed it would happen. So when when we got teacher assignments this year, they were in separate classes, and I kind of had a mini panic attack. Because I was like, they're not, they're not ready. But I have to tell you guys, I was very, very nervous the first day of school, and it took a couple days. But you should see. So my one twin, who's usually a little bit more quiet and everything, she is blossoming. And I, you know, again, we talk about this on twin talks all the time, the importance of letting your kids shine and have their own moments. And I have to admit, I think I was wrong as a parent to think that in kindergarten, they couldn't be separated, because I am just seeing her just shine, really. And so it turned out to be a good thing. But mama was really stressed.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 4:17
I know. And I get it. I mean, because you want it you know you were worried. I mean, I think it is so hard to find that balance of protecting and caring for our kids and then just letting them figure it out themselves. And I know and I think anything like you know kindergarteners, I mean they're five years old, you know, can they do that? And it is it's such a big change. So I totally get that. And I'll just say I know in our case we did my girls were together in preschool. And then I think when they were four we put them in separate classes because we figured okay, it's only for a few hours a day. Sure. And then kindergarten was separate classes. And it was it was a hard transition. I will definitely say that but they we've kind of gotten used to, and we've just separate classes ever ever since. Yeah, these grounds. Yeah, they play with each other all the time, which actually wish they wouldn't.

Sunny Gault 5:11
Yeah, and the girls still see each other, like at recess, and, uh, you know, lunchtime and stuff like that. But I, I guess I just, I didn't think they could handle it and they are totally handling it. And their teachers say they're doing amazing. And I'm like, Okay, I guess I was wrong. So anyways, not that you have to do what we did. But just just know your kids are more resilient than you think they are right and, and most times, they can completely handle it. And maybe it can even be better for them. So if you guys are listening to our episodes on your computer, or whatever, know that we have a mobile app that you can listen to twin talks, as well as get a ton of other great parenting content. It's called parents on demand. That is our podcast network that we're a part of. So in Apple or Android, if you guys search for POD Network, or Parents on Demand, you can find it. And like I said, there's a ton of great content on there where you can like listen to one episode for one podcast, like twin talks. And then you can go and listen to another episode from a different show. And it's a ton of great content on there, you can even interact with the shows a little bit, you can search according to the age of your kids. So if you're not familiar with the other shows, and you kinda want to do a little bit of searching on the app, you can do that as well. And more great stuff is coming soon. So just know that we've got the Parents on Demand app, and we'd love for you to listen that way as well.

Sunny Gault 6:29
Okay, guys, so sometimes we like to kick off Twin Talks with an inspiring story. In this case, it's a it's a news headline, you know, sometimes the new segments, they're kind of down. And this is a positive story about twins and triplets, and I wanted to share it with you guys. So this title of this headline is desperate couple adopts triplets, then doctor tells them about a new sonogram that reveals something else, which I'm gonna get to in a second. So the couple is Sarah, and Andy justice. And they're from Oklahoma. And you know, a lot of us go through this as twin parents, but, you know, we're trying to have kids or whatever, and the doctor is saying, hey, you know, it doesn't look like it's really going to happen for you. So you start to make other plans. I know, for my husband and I, we tried for several years to have kids, and we just didn't think it was gonna happen. And, you know, that's that sinking feeling in your stomach, and you and you start to make other plans. And in this case, Sarah, and Andy found a surrogate, and she was pregnant, she got pregnant, right. And they were kind of going along, and you know, through the whole, you know, pregnancy process with her and supporting her. And then the sonogram sonogram came back. And it revealed that this woman was having triplets. And so, of course, I know, right? Usually, you can imagine Sarah and Andy, that they were getting one baby. We've all been in that position, right? Where the doctor comes back and says, actually, that one baby is like two babies or three babies, you know. So there's that element of it that we can all relate to.

Sunny Gault 8:06
And then several months later, after the baby's the triplets were delivered without any problems, which is amazing. And I guess it was only a week later, after the triplets were born, Sarah and Andy got some more news. And they found out that Sarah was actually pregnant with twins. Sometimes it's after you know, when your body can actually relax, you know, and in this case, I'm imagining that the parents Sarah and Andy are just so happy that they're going to have triplets, right. I'm sure Sara was able to relax a little bit more and not stress about it. And her body's like, Yay, now's the time to get pregnant with twins. So then she had her twins and then even shortly after that, she had an another singleton. So...

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 8:55
I thought so I think you said it's a week later. So they find out that they're gonna have the triplets....

Sunny Gault 9:01
Yeah, and then a week after the triplets were born is when she found out that she was pregnant with twins. And then after she had her twins, she ended up getting pregnant with a singleton. So this family went from not even being sure they could have any kids to within, you know, a couple years period of time, you know, having six kids. So anyways, they this, this particular article, it tells about their story, but then it also has some updated pictures of them. And obviously, they're just still a static and, you know, sometimes, you know, you get that initial news that you're having more than one baby and you kind of freak out but this family really handled this with a lot of grace, and I'm just pretty amazed. Even today, they're looking very happy. And you know, you see all six kids like doing stuff together in some of these photos. So anyways, this is just a nice, fun, uplifting story to share to say, if you are kind of going through that where you're not sure if you're gonna be able to have a family or whatever amazing things can happen. And so we can learn that from this family who handled it amazingly.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 10:10
Well, we're here today with Paul Fenner of TAMMA Capital, who is a financial planner. But most importantly, he has a dad to four kids, including triplets. So we're just talking about triplets. So, yes, I know. You got it down. So Paul knows what it's like to have to buy three of everything all at once. And we're here today to talk about how parents of twins, triplets, and more can plan ahead financially and be prepared for the big expenses down the road. Okay, well, first of all, Paul, before we get into the whole financial stuff, I mean, I just want to know, like, you have triplets and then you have one more. So you know, after talking about our story here and finding out you have more after triplets, like what was your first reaction?

Paul Fenner 10:55
Well, it was a, it was a chain reaction, to be honest with you. We similar situations to the story, you know, we didn't treat my wife, and I didn't think we were gonna have kids. And then, when we finally found out that Teresa was pregnant, we're like, yes, you know, we're gonna have a baby. And that's what we thought, a baby, right? And then, and then to make it a little bit more challenging on us. I was actually living in North Carolina, in Teresa, who's from the metro Detroit area where we live today, was here in Metro Detroit. So about four weeks later, after we found out we're initially pregnant, we found out we were having twins, little did we know we had a boy and a girl. I'm like, Okay, this just got a little bit more interesting. But you know, our plan was still to move to North Carolina. And then four weeks after that. So week eight was the first ultrasound that I got to go to, and I'm watching the monitor. I'm watching the doctor and doctor and I lock eyes on each other because I saw what she saw on the screen with two but three heartbeats. And so what we found out is that our boy actually split. So we have identical twin boys and a girl that make up our our triplet pack. And then lo and behold, you know, a couple that's not ever supposed to have kids like the couple of Oklahoma. Two years later. Out comes Mackenzie, so our singleton so we have two boys and two girls, set of triplets, a set of twins and a singleton all wrapped up in one happy family.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 12:28
Wow. And now I can imagine the dynamics in your family the sibling relationships are probably really interesting because you've got the boys and then your girl triplet. You know, does she hang out with her her triplets siblings or does she become like sort of the the nurturer to her younger sister I mean, I'm sure that it's a whole bunch of really interesting aspects.

Paul Fenner 12:50
It is it's a nice what would you call a Petri dish? Experiment? Because you'll Madison Who's the girl triplet and she's the oldest by you know, a minute seconds whatever. And if you ever meet Madison, she will let you know that she is the oldest she but she she is the she is the leader of the four and so she she does well with everybody so it's it has been unique to see each of their personalities develop because they all all four are unique. All those you'll have some people that want to Well aren't they all the same and no, they're not even given the boys that are identical twins you know are not the same. They're they're everybody has their own personality. And like you guys were just talking before about you know Sunny your twins, you know splitting them up or keeping them together. We split the triplets up going through pre you know pre kindergarten and preschool or Montessori program. We knew that once they hit kindergarten that that we needed to have them split up so they can start to develop their own personalities and not just be seen as Okay, here comes defender triplets. And it's worked out really well it's a little harder on trees and I having them all in separate separate grades, but it's definitely been a benefit to them.

Sunny Gault 14:10
Yeah, separate grades separate teachers. That's the thing that I'm noticing is I'm like man like now, you know, just like silly things, you know, but like they're both in kindergarten and like the grading scale is a little bit different. So I'm like, Oh, you got purple for the week and you got pink? What's the scale what? What is pink mean for you? Like it's little things like that, that I'm like, this is a lot harder than three.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 14:35
Yes, yeah. Anyway, Paul, okay. So I have to ask you as as a financial planner, when when you found out that you were having three I mean, what were your first thoughts I mean, and and what was like running through your mind from the financial standpoint.

Paul Fenner 14:52
Well, it happened right off the bat. So go if you go back to what I how I just explained, like how I found out about the triplets. So when we had our ultrasound appointment. And the appointment after that was to go to the to the car dealership to trade in Teresa's little sob, you know, Q nine three or whatever, and, and get a SUV. And so once we found out we're having triplets, I just called the auto dealership and said, Hey, we're not going to make it in, we're going to need a different car I just found out I'm having triplets. So that that pretty much just put us into the dreaded minivan that, you know, no one wants to drive. But I will say, plug for Chrysler, like, I the new Pacific, I've been driving for the last two years, it's the best, it's, it's the best, I'll just leave it at that.

Sunny Gault 15:45
It's so funny how your perception of minivans change when you have multiples. It's like, I was an anti minivan person to like, I waited as long as I could. And then the moment I got it, I was like, Why have I been denying myself this amazing vehicle?

Paul Fenner 16:04
Yeah, I mean, you, you, you get over the fact very quickly that you are in, in business of convenience, and whatever makes it easier for you. And so that was that was our first major, I guess, financial decision and, and really, the new cost that we are going to experience of, you know, having these these three kids.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 16:27
So your car was like the first expense. And then were you like starting to think about like, oh my gosh, you know, like school tuition, right? Just even even close note and thinking like when your boys are teenagers, you know, eating you out of house and home, right?

Paul Fenner 16:43
Maybe because I'm a guy, and that's how guys operate. I really didn't, I knew that this was gonna be a long road. And if if I was going to allow myself to think about you at the time, like college, three colleges, weddings, things like that, you know, it, I was gonna drive myself nuts. And, and that's, that's the same advice that I tell parents today, whether they have multiples, or just multiple kids is to take it one day at a time. And don't get overwhelmed by the anxiety that the future can cause because we all know these kids only stay small for so long. And then then they're gone. And, you know, I realized that today with my my own fours that like crap, they, they the triplets started third grade this year. And Mackenzie the plus one started second. And like, those years went by really fast. And you know, the nice thing about what I do is I interact with so many families with kids of all ages, kids that are older than mine, kids that are just going through, you know, going through college kids that have already gone through college and now the parents are empty nesters. So, I get a lot of really good inside information, if you will, from all these families and parents that I work with, about what their experience was like, and I can use that to help help myself and help Teresa but then also pass that knowledge on to other families that are in similar situations. The ironic part about where we live today, which is up in Commerce Township, which is Northwest Metro Detroit is we now have three sets of triplets that live in our subdivision.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 18:27
Oh, wow. How unusual is that, right?

Paul Fenner 18:30
Yeah, it's like everybody's like, well, what's in the water and it's like, but in ironically, the last family just moved in, they had their single 10 First a four year old, then they had triplets that are now two, which ended up being two boys and a girl. So they did the opposite of our situation. But it's, you know, it's, you know, I saw him at the park the other day and like they're all running around and you know, I could just see the angst on on their faces. And I'm like, you know, here let me try to help you know, grab this one you the other three, going through potty training. I'm like, oh, man, I remember those days.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 19:09
Wow. So me like okay, so I mean, your work you definitely work with families of all different proportions and ages and and working with other triplet families from just from a financial standpoint, how are families with multiples different than families with just Singleton's? I mean, what do you what do parents need to think about financially?

Paul Fenner 19:32
Well, I actually remind them, and I remind myself and actually, I probably remind Teresa the most of anybody in my life, that we are different, like when you have multiples. It's it seems pretty straightforward, but I think I think in these moments we forget like it's different that you know, we're we're going to be paying for three colleges at once or two colleges at once. If you have twins or hover it ever it may be and you're not gonna To be able to do everything. So it comes back to like one of the basic tenets of financial planning. And me working with clients is getting them to understand what their priorities are actually sitting down and laying them out. And that may be explaining to one parent that wants to pay for the entire college bill that you won't be able to do that, or, you know, the parent that doesn't want to pay for anything that no, you will be able to pay for some. But it's, it's getting parents and families to sit down. And And oftentimes, this happens for the first time when I start working with folks or families, that this is the first time they're actually sitting down to think about these things. And a lot of times, it's fear that has prevented them from getting to this standpoint. And sometimes families are way too far down the line to do what they want. Other times they're starting, you know, relatively young. And, and that's I tell families all the time, the best time to start is now don't let the clock keep ticking. Because it will just the anxiety will can you continue to build and you will just keep kicking that can down the road until it comes to the you know, the day when everything's due. And you're like, oh, it would have been nice to have a plan. Right. And that's, that's really where it gets back to is, is having a fundamental plan and knowing what your priorities are, and not being influenced by, you know, outside forces, if you will.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 21:28
Right. We have a lot of pregnant, you know, parents who are listening. And so if they're not born yet, maybe now's a good time to start talking about what's what's our plan, right? If they're two years old, three years old, or even 10 years old, it's still a great time to start talking about, you know, what's next and create the plan and have that discussion. And, you know, I think that's interesting that you're right that so often even when you get you know, folks get married, we don't always have that that conversation about even what our values are, and what our goals are. So maybe it's you know, having multiples and realizing, okay, this is kind of bigger than what we thought it was gonna be. So it's forcing us to look at it in a bigger in a bigger way. So now it was now's the time to do it. So yeah, I'm wondering, okay, with with a lot of twin parents, I mean, I have to say, in our local twins club, we see that it's, it's so often whether the moms are working full time or not, it's just it's quite often that it comes down to after having babies, you know, you need to take some time off just to care for babies recover. And that can take a while. So it might mean that the family is down to one income. And, and so that might make a huge financial impact upon the family. So what are some ways that parents can save during those lean times?

Paul Fenner 22:54
Lean on others. If that's that's first and foremost, whether it's family or friends, don't be afraid to ask for help. I know that, you know, at the beginning, Theresa and I were probably a little bit more apprehensive about asking for help. But that's one of the reasons why we ended up back in Michigan is because of family and friends support that we're here because it does get expensive. And I remember your you know, our parents helping us out and buying diapers and formulas and even aunts and uncles would would come over and drop off a box of, of Huggies, or whatever...

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 23:29
That's great. Did you send out emails? I mean, like, how did you actually ask for help.

Paul Fenner 23:33
We actually, in most cases, I don't know if we actually did specifically like with with those types of things. But with like with college planning a pivot there, like we knew that we were going to set up 529 plans. And I tell families this all the time, whether you plan on directly contributing to 529 plans, or college plan or not, it's best to set them up and let others know about them. Whether it's family friends, because like with any 529 plan, no matter what state you live in, other people can contribute to it. And I knew that was one of the one of the ways that was going to be able to help because a kid that's one or two is not really going to care much about a toy. But you know, 18 years from now, when they have you know, money in a 529 that they can use for college, that's going to be a much more value add to them. And from my perspective, and being a wealth advisor that was going to provide some of the help that we were going to need because we weren't gonna be able to foot the bill ourselves for three at the time. And now Now four kids.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 24:40
And just for everyone's list, it says the 529 college plan. So that's just like a an account that parents can set up for their kids at any age.

Paul Fenner 24:48
Yes, yep. You know, you talked about ladies that are currently pregnant. As soon as as soon as you deliver and you have that social security number guess what, you can set up a 529 plan. The great thing about 529 plans are, you put money in what we call post tax. So, you know, after you paid your tax or whatever you put the money in, it grows tax free, if you use the funds for qualified education expenses, and that could be a trade school. Now they've made changes to where you can even use 529 funds for private school for K through 12. So they, they kind of opened up the limits on some of it. But they're, they're great, because you can you can say put $1,000 in today, and it grows to $2,000 in a couple years. And you use that for college, you don't pay it, you don't pay any tax on that, that $1,000 of growth. Wow, what you would typically see,

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 25:47
and you said that it's also just recently opened up so it can be used for private school elementary education elementary through high school as well?

Paul Fenner 25:57
Yes, K through 12. Yep. It's one of it's one of those, those programs, again, where anybody can contribute to it. So you know, my, you know, immediate family, they have the account number, they just write a check, send it in, and it's in their account, and they're going to appreciate that a whole lot more, they may not appreciate it now, because they still want that toy for Christmas, or their birthday or whatever. But you know, I tell you know, grandparents that get them, get them whatever you want. But then if you can drop 2550 bucks, 100 bucks, whatever you want, into, you know, their fund. And so today, like, especially my girls, Madison, um, even Mackenzie, my little one for that matter. They know, they have college funds, they even, you know, when they get an allowance or something, or extra money from grandma, though, they'll say that I want to use this to my college fund, so I'm going to put it my piggy bank, but then let me know when you want to send in the check to make the deposit into my account. So it's getting them interested in and having them understand, you know, what that's about too, and having them take an interest in it, I think helps, you know, along the road as well.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 27:08
Well, I have to say, kid, that's, that's pretty amazing that I mean, your kids are truly interested in saving for college. I mean, I just personally don't know, any kids that are thinking that long term and that they're like willing to say, Okay, I'm willing to put my money, you know, my allowance into, you know, a longer term account instead of buying toys, right? I mean, I'll say my girls, often, you know, we like they take their little allowance, and we go to the dollar store, and they you know, buy the stuff. So we're trying to become a little bit more oriented towards longer term savings. So but but I think that's just such a challenge. I don't know, sonny, how about you?

Sunny Gault 27:48
Yeah, my kids, not just I mean, the twins, they're five and a half, right? Like they're not there. They still like playing with fake money. Don't worry about them quite yet. But I can definitely tell with my singletons, my boys, you know, they're just looking for the next video game or whatever. But But in all fairness, like, I mean, this is Paul's business, right? He probably instilled some stuff from the very beginning. Whereas the financial side of stuff, I pretty much leave up to my husband. So I haven't built that in them, you know, quite as much as I'm sure Paul and his family has. And I think that probably helps. You know, when you when you start talking about this stuff at a younger age, you can get them thinking about it more and, and planning for it more.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 28:30
Yeah, definitely.

Paul Fenner 28:32
Yeah, I mean, right or wrong, my kids are just naturally exposed to it because of what I do. And hear me talk about a lot. I mean, Madison McKenzie, when we were traveling to North Carolina, for spring break, you know, I was on a call for probably about an hour talking to one of my my business clients about their for their employees 401k plan, I was on the phone with the head of head of HR were going through various components of it. And so then after the call, it was like another half hour explaining to them, you know, what this all meant? And you know, what this meant to tamma My name of my from my business, what signing that new client up meant to our business and our family. And it it really resonated with I think it resonated with them because they talked about it for for quite some time after the call.

Paul Fenner 29:21
But you know, one of the things to help I think get kids interested in investing and I think you hit on this Christine, like, when they when you take them out, they'll buy what they want to buy, and if they knew that, okay, an easy one is video games. So Microsoft makes the Xbox they make a lot of the games. And so if you were to tell you know, one of your kids that's that are that's in the gaming, well, how about we take however many dollars in and buy a share of Microsoft or buy a plate you know, share of Sony which makes the the PlayStation or aka Ral off a bunch of video game makers Probably no one may know about but it's it's that time of they understand they want, you know that iPhone or iPad? Well, why don't we look at investing in a share of Apple stock? So it's that tie that makes them understand that okay, yeah, I really like this product or, you know, this game. And tying that back. What do you know the company that makes it? Well, no, well, this is the company, this is what they do in that kind of has. I've seen in some families that I've talked to you and even my own, that that kind of sparks that interest. So if you can get kids interested in saving, and investing early on, that's a great habit that they'll take them through the rest of their life.

Sunny Gault 30:41
I love that idea. Paul, I never thought of having a conversation, honestly. And I'm a little bit embarrassed by that. But I've never really thought of having a conversation with my seven or nine year old to be like, Oh, you really want you know, this video game? Well, let's learn a little bit more about the company that makes it and you know, do you want to help support this company? So you know, they can make other video games? And then maybe you can make some money from that? Like, that's a really interesting way of going about it never occurred to me to do that. But depending on how, how expensive the stock, is that maybe something that we do in the future.

Paul Fenner 31:15
Yeah. So I think Microsoft is sitting at $140 A share right now. So it may take up, it may take some time to build up the cash to buy one,

Sunny Gault 31:24
Hey, it's good to have goals. And I bet I bet that I bet that it's less than what Apple is going for now. So...

Paul Fenner 31:31
Yeah, I think Apple is about 210 right now.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 31:33
we're gonna take a break. And when we come back, we're gonna continue our discussion talking about some creative ways for twin families to save.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 31:46
Well, welcome back. Today, we're talking with Paul Fenner, about how twin parents can save for big expenses ahead and include others in their plan. So I gotta say, Paul, I really like the ideas you've been putting out for helping kids think about saving and investing. So now for parents who are usually the ones that are hit up with the expenses, how can they start thinking ahead, even for I mean, gosh, thinking like things like cars, you know, when he said earlier, you know, he found out you're having triplets, you had to buy a big car. And then of course, down the road, when the kids get bigger, when they're able to drive they may need cars. So you know, these are these are normal things that are, you know, can really hit a budget. So what do you tell parents?

Paul Fenner 32:29
Well, I think I'm going to help subsidize a few girls in my neighborhood, buy their first used cars, because we use quite a few that for babysitting purposes. And I know, I know, the dads of these families have already laid out the fact that okay, you know, part of that, you know, that babysitting money needs to go into savings account to start saving for a car. And you know, these girls are in seventh eighth, ninth grade, but you know, they, they know that that expense is coming up, especially living in the great state of Michigan where the cost of just auto insurance is just almost unbearable, let alone the cost of buying the car. So a lot of families I've seen encourage you know, their kids to, to work, whether it's, you know, a babysitting job, or I know here like you can be once you turn 14, you can go back groceries at Kroger, for example, which is one of our big grocery stores, chains here in Michigan. So and I've even made sure that my my kids know about that. So my triplets will be nine in December. Like you realize you're only five more years away from being able to work at Kroger and they're like, Oh, come on.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 33:37
I know, you know, my girls are yet they're almost 10 And I'm telling like, yep, you need to get you're gonna get a job. And maybe that job is that in and out, you know, the In and Out Burger, right? They start thinking about it. Because yeah, I'm not going to be you know, funding all you're just the extra fun stuff, you need to start thinking now.

Paul Fenner 33:58
Well, you know, you raise a good point because obviously, you know, as kids get bigger costs go up. And I think that's one of the common misconceptions of having multiples is oh my gosh, like those early years had to kill you with with diapers and formula and things like that. And yeah, it was expensive, but they're every year I the way I've seen it is some some costs go up and some costs go down. So I net usually costs are going up every year, but they're just changing categories, for example. So you know, we're we're paying more for clothes than we did before. We're paying more for food than we did before because they're actually eating more. I'm like, I wouldn't mind going back to some of those. It was it was slightly cheaper and you know, and but you know, one of the biggest cost and that people are aware of is that when they go from when you go from Paying from preschool or daycare to whether your kids are like in school, that can be really a material model.

Paul Fenner 35:10
And what I encourage families to do is not let income creep set in. And what I mean by income creep is say, say you're paying $25,000 a year for childcare cost, and now your kids are in the public school system. So you don't have that. So what just happened to that $25,000 That you were spending? Like, where's that going now? Are you letting your yours you know, cost of living? Or your your other expenses? Like creep up? Or are you saying, Okay, well, I was paying $500 a week for childcare, I'm going to make sure I take that $500 and put it into my retirement savings, or 529, or whatever my other financial goals are, or a blend of what what those are. And if you go back to what we talked about previously, understanding what those priorities are, this, again, is where it's so critical to understand what you want to do with your wealth management plan. Because it's, a lot of folks try to separate their personal life from their financial life, and especially with big families, you just can't do it. And that's where it's so critical to have that understanding about what's important to you. And the checkbook, I have this phrase, like the checkbook never lies, that you spend money on what's important to you. So whether it's your big house, car, trips, your kids, whatever it may be, if that's what's important to you, then make sure that your financial life aligns to, to those goals and objectives.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 36:43
And you know, I'm also wondering is when parents are planning and they're thinking about like, okay, hey, now I don't have to pay for nanny. Yay. Right? But then, like you're saying, so maybe do they need to start thinking about well, what's next? What I mean, maybe sometimes we don't even know what the nest next expense really is. So I think that's, that's kind of can be hard. And then then it creeps up on us sometimes, right? So I think we have to, you know, like, get input from other parents who are maybe a few years ahead of us where they can, you know, say, oh, yeah, hey, if you're interested, you know, for example, and your kids doing sports, you know, I know that, like just being on a sports team can be really expensive between just you know, the regular the fees, the uniforms, and then if they're on a traveling team, I mean, just the travel can be really expensive. So I think there's a lot of stuff out there, that's that we're like, oh, my gosh, I didn't even know.

Paul Fenner 37:35
Yeah, and that's where like having conversations with other parents. And I'm sure you both experiences, too. I know I did. And Teresa did even even more. So is, once you're in this, this club, if you will, this parents are multiples, you just have other multi families and multiples like kind of gravitate to you, you gravitate to them, because there's really that common bond that tie you together. And you share a lot of these stories. Like I know, I talked about it with families all the time about the astronomical cost of putting your kids in sports, it is crazy. The cost that can get involved in this, let alone the logistics of you know, moving people around like they I have all for my kids here, because Teresa has to put in volunteer hours for Mackenzie's cheerleading group. So we see that that often. And even when you have a parent that works at home, or stays at home, I should say, there's still a lot from a logistic standpoint, when you have three or more kids, because there's still only one of you. And there's three of them. And if they have a soccer game at five and dance practice at 530, and something else that you know, 515 guess what you're not you're not making it. And that's where you asked earlier about asking for help. That that's one area where you either asking your friends or other parents to help or or family if they're available? Because if not, then maybe you're having to go outside and, and hire a part time nanny or something still, even when your kids are older, just to help drive them around.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 39:11
Oh, absolutely. If I that's us right now, in fact, I you know, we had Au Pairs when my girls were babies. And you know, we thought okay, when they go to school, it'll be you know, easy, and we'll just figure out some after school activities. But to your point, yeah, I mean, like, my girls are doing gymnastics and all the stuff that requires, you know, being driving around and I'm working, you know, full time. So I don't have to I can't I just can't do that. So we ended up getting another au pair. And so my girls, they're all in school and we thought this just makes the best sense in terms of flexibility and and for cost. But it's still another, let's say $20,000 That we you know, didn't know that we were necessarily going to have at this point in time. So I'm with you. little surprises along the way, just trying to just figuring out the logistics of how to make it work, it all comes down to cost.

Paul Fenner 40:08
Yeah, and in going back to what you were saying, Christine is, is that we have relied on others that have older kids, you know that we can kind of get ahead of some of those surprises. And as much as you can, you'll, one of the one of the overlooked factors of having a wealth management plan is having an emergency fund. And it's, maybe it gets a bad rap, because it's called the emergency fund, but you have to have some cushion, you have to be able to allow yourself to have some financial breathing room to handle the the surprises, you know, the you know, trip to the emergency room, or, you know, braces that were starting into orthodontics already. And luckily, I met with an orthodontist here locally, that said, Guess what, you're the 11th triplet family that I've had in my practice, or the last, I think 20 Some years that he's had. And so he's like, I really understand, so I will make sure that I give you every discount available. So you know that that meant a lot to me that he had that understanding. And, you know, a lot of times, like when it comes to, you know, kids activities, if, if I don't see something that has like a multiple discount, I will flat up flat, I'll ask Oh, that's true, right? Because that, you know, it may, it may only be a 1020 30 $50 difference, but those dollars add up, they really do, especially if your kids are, you know, very active. And, you know, our girls are more active than our boys. But some of it just comes down to logistics. It's like, you know, God Teresa works full time. You know, I work full time, obviously, with the firm. And it's, it's challenging, and I have a fairly flexible schedule. And, you know, not every family has that luxury. But the logistics, as you brought up, you know, is very, very challenging. And, you know, I've had people that have had to hire help, just to, you know, get their kids around.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 42:06
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And to your point about the the multiples discount, I mean, I think a lot of us are aware, you know, when we're pregnant, and, you know, we get all these different offers online and whatnot. And, you know, there are different things you can ask for as babies. But I think we don't necessarily realize that there might be discounts for multiples, or they might just call them sibling discounts for, as you said, sports or you know, activities, or even orthodontics, I think. So I need to remind myself, my girls are probably going to get braces pretty soon, so I need to make sure I read them. We need that.

Paul Fenner 42:45
Yeah. And that's, you know, you it sounds like, like a no brainer, people always gonna want to know like specifics. Paul, Give me specifics about what I can do, or how I can say, and that that's actually one of them is is, you know, don't be afraid to ask is, do you have a sibling discount? Do you have a discount for multiples, because, you know, there's a pretty good chance that this potential orthodontist is going to have four kids rolling into his office pretty pretty frequently. And, and even when it comes to daycare to, like, our school has a big four care and an after school care program. And we always thought, well, it was going to be too expensive. And it was probably cheaper to have somebody come into our our house and have someone but you know, this last year, we made a major change, with having me more involved with things. And what we found out just the opposite. Why? Because our school offered multiple discounts for kids. So you had the first kid at one rate, get the second kid at another rate. Yeah, the third kid at another rate. And actually, our fourth kid was wow, I had no idea. And I'm like, start figuring out I'm like, from a cost per hour standpoint, this is much cheaper than having somebody come into our home, like a nanny or au pair. And I never had to worry about them calling in sick. I always knew where they were, I always knew when I had to be home to pick them up or at school to pick them up. And I know that they were with their friends, which, you know, with with having this different dynamic, you know, was it I think important to them or important for me that, you know, they just weren't at home sitting doing nothing that you know, they were actually involved with activities with their friends getting outside. And I felt a much better relief, if you will or peace of mind, knowing that I knew that the type of structure that they were in versus Yes, we had good people that that came into our home and helped out. But we also knew that maybe they weren't doing as much as we would like.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 44:45
Yep, no, I hear you. And that you know what now one thing before we wrap this up, I just wanted to ask specifically about college. So I know you've talked about the 529 plan as far as for saving. Are there other things that parents can do to have their sort of their college strategy put together.

Paul Fenner 45:05
Yes, actually, here's a shameless plug, I'm going to be presenting my program, the alternative College Planning plan at the Western Oakland County parenting fair on November 2, at Wilde Lake northern here in Congress, Michigan. And, you know, a lot of times parents think the onus is all on them? Well, it doesn't have to be, you know, you you want, we want to help our kids out as much as we can. And typically, a lot of situations where I'm working with families, I have one parent that, you know, maybe had help paying for college and didn't have any debt, and they have another parent on, you know, run across from them that, well, I had debt. And, you know, my parents didn't help me. And, you know, I don't think I'm really concerned about helping my kids. So a lot of times, I'm that third party arbitrator between, you know, the two sides, if you will, and what I want to develop was something that didn't put all the onus on the parents.

Paul Fenner 46:00
And so again, talking about having parties and sitting down and having these somewhat difficult conversations about money about finances, because you know, a lot of people do find them find them difficult, is that when your kids get into seventh eighth grade, you sit them down, you start having conversation about college, about what they want to do, where they want to go, letting them know, this is the cost and letting them know, yes, we have some money set aside for you. But it may only cover a year or two, it may not cover all four years of undergrad. So what can they do? So that's when it's an exploring other opportunities, such as AP classes when they get to high school, I know a lot of high schools partner with local colleges, whether it's a community college or, or a university, where the kids can actually start taking college classes when they're in high school. I know that a lot of the districts that that I you know, work within here in Metro Detroit, offer programs like that, you know, having them understand that you're having a job saving, you know, part of you know, what they make saving part of that for college, understanding the scholarship process, there used to be I remember growing up, you know, I'd have to go to the library and grab a book search for your scholarships. Well, you know, what, now there's apps, there's technology, there's Google, that allow you to find scholarships, and, yeah, it's time consuming. But you know, $1,000, here, $1,000, there, it begins to add up, and, you know, some of those scholarships, you know, are just for a year, but others are all four years of college. So, there's, there's, you know, four or five ways that I tap into, you know, alternatives to, you know, just saving 529 or, you know, saving for college through a 529. And, you know, some of it is, you know, looking at a community college rather than a four year and then, you know, transferring, staying at home, the first two years can be an option. So it's having that conversations with your kids early on, to try to fill them in on okay, what kind of cost this is in where they want to kind of grow and develop. I had one client, I use her as the case example is that she set her her two boys down, you know, same age seventh eighth grade, and walk them through like I have, I have two years covered for you. The other two years are up to you, you can either go in this amount of debt, or you can get into AP classes, you can work, we can look at other options. And she had a son that graduated from a pretty prestigious college over and the I think it's another lens, it's like the MIT over there, of technology. And he made it through and not four years, but three years, and had zero debt. And this was a 40 $45,000 a year school. And so there are ways to get through this, you know, the the challenge of how do I fund college? And it starts with having that conversation between you and your kids about what's realistic.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 49:10
You know, guys, I think we could probably do a whole episode just on college planning for twins, right? So Sunday, we'll have to figure out like that might be a whole thing, especially as we get closer to middle school age kids. Right.

Sunny Gault 49:26

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 49:28
All right. Well, I just want to say thank you, Paul, so much for joining us today and everyone listening you can find more information about Paul on his website

Sunny Gault 49:50
Alright guys, so before we wrap up today's episode, you know, we have this segment that we do sometimes called when twins grow up because I know when we're in the heart of Raising our twins were like, are they ever gonna grow up? But it's funny some sometimes twins have really funny stories to share that mom and dad don't know about when it's actually happening. But then they share later like, oh yeah, my brother and I or my sister and I used to do this all the time. So I thought this was a funny story from Reddit, about a twin reflecting on something he did with his brother when they were younger. So I thought you guys might get a kick out of it. So here it goes. My brother and I both entered into the science fair. Before the award ceremony, he got sick. So I went with just my mom, my brother won first place, and I didn't place at all when they called his name, my mom made me go up for him. In the moment, I should have felt proud of my brother. But instead, I just started crying on stage and weirded everybody out.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 50:52
Like, wait, the kid just won. And he's crying right?

Sunny Gault 50:55
I know. Why is he crying? And it's like, not only did the poor kid not win, right or place at all his brother won. But then, you know, I don't know. It makes me wonder if the mom was really trying to pull the wool over someone's eyes, or she just didn't want to go up and get the award. She's She's like, go get your brother's award. You know what I mean? Doesn't really like give more information about that. But yeah, so when are you going to do right? Someone had to go up and get the award?

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 51:24
Like, yeah, he went, but I'm sure there's plenty of ....

Sunny Gault 51:27
But why is he crying? It's a tears of joy. Tears of joy. Joy. Yeah.

Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald 51:31
Well, that wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to Twin Talks. Don't forget to check out our sister show Preggie Pals for expecting parents, and our show The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed their babies. Parent Savers, your parenting resource on the go, and Newbies for new moms during their first year. This is Twin Talks- parenting times two.

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