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Ask Sherry: Where I tackle the topic of room sharing

You asked, and I am answering every Friday once I have enough questions!

You can ask any question using the form here.

What are your thoughts and experience with safety deposit boxes? Is it worth leaving some cash there for emergencies? If so how much would you recommend.

You know, my partner and I had a safety deposit box once.

(Of course we did, right..)

We put copies of our passports, and all important documents in there along with some cash.

When we moved, we removed all of our documents and never signed up for it again.

What scared us partly was that they would leave the secure vault door open quite often (from when we visited, it was like they never ever locked it).

We thought about doing it again but decided against it for 2 main reasons:

A) If your accounts are frozen, everything is frozen

If you get into trouble and can’t get to your bank accounts, having it in your house is probably safer than in a bank if you hide it properly because even safety deposit boxes can be frozen or at least, not accessible by you.

In this case, we have money that we have separated from each other (we are not married), so they can’t go after one and grab the assets of the other as well.

We have each other’s backs (not that we plan on getting in trouble).

We also have family members who have our backs.

B) Any place that is physical — your home or a bank, can be both robbed, burned down or what have you

Yet if you put it online on a cloud (even a private, secure one), those documents can be hacked and used against you.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

What we do, is keep copies of important documents on a USB key, which we have encrypted and secured.

I also have a copy of the documents on another secured USB key and store it at a family member’s house.

As for cash, we have family who can help us.

It’s all up to you and if it gives you peace of mind, go for it. We just decided against it for ourselves.

Do you think children can (successfully) share a room? If so, how many children per room at the most? Also, what if they are of different genders? In your opinion, can they share a room, and if so, until when?

Can is a funny word. You can do anything, especially when it is necessary and there isn’t a question of it being an option. 😉

My mother grew up as one of sixteen children (brothers and sisters) who shared one single room.

They slept side by side like sardines in a can, on wine boxes and a thin blankets to avoid having rats scurry across their bodies at night, curling up beside their favourite siblings which whom they had bonded with for protection against other older, bigger, stronger siblings who would fight you for any scrap of food, which could not have been comfortable.

I talk a little bit about her experience here.

Her parents were the only ones who had a separate room, if you can call it that. It was a glorified closet.

My partner, grew up in a single bachelor apartment with his two siblings and his parents.

No rats this time, luckily.

They all slept side by side, with a folding screen “separating” the parents from the three kids in the same room for some semblance of privacy.

I grew up sleeping with an older sibling until I was 7 or so, as I can recall, because I felt safe sleeping against the warmth of another trusted body. I had my own room though, so my partner likes to joke that I grew up like a princess.

So yes.

You can most definitely and successfully share the room if you don’t have a choice in the matter, if it’s all that they’ve known or you are the one setting the standards for yourself, not others.

Looking at my real-life examples above, I’d say any gender, and any number of children, although I suspect you are asking not from a necessity perspective but a general one…. so no more than 2 to a room would be the maximum by society’s standards, depending on the size of course.

Bunk beds do wonders, and kids usually love sharing a room (if they get along well) up until about the pre-teen years.

Some colleagues I knew, once talked about this bunk bed thing amongst themselves, and not knowing my family stories, most of them said it was akin to ‘child abuse’ (maybe half jokingly) to make children share rooms and to not have their own private spaces.

They said their kids would riot if they had to share spaces now.

To which I replied when asked my opinion:

My child is not paying the bills.

I am, so I decide what is best for my money & family future.

I didn’t say anything more, but essentially, child abuse is a serious matter and I am adamant that as long as the child is happy, clothed, warm, healthy, safe, and loved, they are fine.

Making kids share a room is not “child abuse”, and anyone who says that has a #FirstWorldChip on their shoulder because they’re just talking out of their #%(&%.

If it comes down between feeding, clothing & loving your children versus working like a maniac and burning out on debt to be able to afford each of them “their own space”, I choose the former.

As kids head into pre-teen and their teen years, they will eventually crave a room of their own (obviously), so I had friends who were forced to share a room (bunk beds) until they moved out, and they got into a lot of fights as they got older about “THIS IS MY SPACE, and you cannot cross THIS LINE…“, etc etc.

Part of those fights is how you manage expectations of who has their own room or not (harder if their friends all have their own space to show off), and introducing them to the reality of why they cannot have their own space.

Once they understand, sometimes the fights stop, as I have seen. They realize their parents are trying their best, and they have to help by doing their part to get along.

My best advice to all of this is to ignore the kids in this equation for a moment.

Consider the cost/benefit between buying or renting a place that has enough space to give everyone a room of their own, and what it would mean to the other aspects of your life — would it mean not having money for their education? Eating cheaper or less food that is not fresh? Cutting back on _____?

This is a family decision, and I’d even go as far as to say to try and involve the kids as they get older could be a wise and useful lesson to learn in how to prioritize what is important in life.

If you can afford it of course, to each their own would be ideal, no matter how small the room.

When push comes to shove, have them sleep in the living room with a partitioned area for themselves if they’re so eager for their own space. 😛

If we had more than one Bun, they’d be in the same bedroom together, no ifs ands or buts, and we’d make it work because I am sure as heck not upgrading to a bigger condo.

Do you think room sharing could somehow have a negative impact on the fulfilment of children’s full academic potential? (I’m thinking about concentration, possible distractions).

Actually, it had a positive impact on my partner and my mother as they grew up.

They learned…

  • How to get along and stay QUIET when others are studying
  • To share the same space and supplies (pens, paper, etc)
  • How to use headphones (my partner; my mother had no such technology in her time)
  • To study really hard like a MOFO so they could afford to make enough money to buy their own homes where they would never, ever have to share with anyone again

They fought of course (who doesn’t?) but my partner fondly remembers sharing with his siblings and all the fun they had together.

As for being older and having to really study, they had one big table where they all sat there, quietly, working side by side, concentrating on their work (like we did).

It is the same as studying in a library, probably easier because it’s just your siblings around you and if they’re respectful, everything’s gravy.

If a child really needs a truly quiet spot, give them your bedroom and close the door. Or go outside to read that book if you can.

Or, head to the library as you get older and get away from the distractions of home.

The only caveat in all of this is I find a lot of work has to be done on a computer these days.

Having to share a computer is tough if someone else needs it, but just set time limits for equal and fair sharing, and whatever they need to do on there like type a document, can still be drafted using a pen and paper in the meantime until they get the computer.

They’ll get darn efficient at searching and using that computer time they have allotted to themselves if they know it runs out.

The point is that distractions, and more tempting activities than working or studying are everywhere and it is up to your children to learn how to work amidst that, in school, and in life.

The only true distractions in life, my mother once said was:

Hunger, Sleep Deprivation and Pain (Emotional and/or Physical).

Hunger, she was the most intimately familiar with, and as long as your kids aren’t distracted by an empty belly, they’re good to go.

If you aren’t convinced, I had a friend who had her own room, and her parents refused to let her work and do anything but just STUDY as her “job”, and gave her money for whatever she wanted.

I had a part-time job, was heavily involved in school activities, ran a small business on the weekends helping businesses and nailed A’s in school.

.. in the end, she didn’t do any better than I did in school even with all the luxuries and free time afforded to her.

For my part, I just learned how to manage my time better because when I had that free moment to study, I knew it was precious, so I took it, and shut out the world.

I learned how to deal with the noise around me.

Maybe, not giving them everything they desire in the hopes of success can be just as beneficial as giving them the world.

Have you ever seen a kid work towards something they want?

Or play a game with a fervour akin to Genghis Khan because they’re passionate about it?

If someone wants to really do something, they’ll put their minds to it and do it.

It’s the same for us adults. We prioritize what we think is important and procrastinate on what we dread (taxes, anyone?)

Sometimes kids turn out the way you want, and sometimes they don’t.

You can’t control for everything, so don’t break your back to create a perfect environment for them to study only to be disappointed when it doesn’t work out the way you expected.

As a parent, you can and will only do your best for what you think works for your family and your child, nothing more or less, and the rest is up to your child.

They are, after all, their own persons and if they will need to learn how to get along with a sibling to work out a fair arrangement to study, work, sleep and play in the same room, if you are unable or unwilling to compromise on other things to provide them with separate, individual spaces of their own.

Why do you prefer to keep your finances separate from those of your partner?

I explained it here, when I talked about keeping everything 50/50.

I also love having my own money to do with as I wish with no one policing me, even silently, looking at my expenses or my budget and what I am saving or not.

What I do with my money is my business.

I cover half of our shared bills, and I love this equality.

My former (mostly male) colleagues probably thought we were weirdos but I think they were secretly jealous that my partner was not the sole bacon-slinger and didn’t have that kind of financial pressure on him.

Strangely, I think that even though I spend a lot of money, I seem to be better at budgeting and tracking it because I use my Budgeting Tool and know in real-time what my finances are at any given moment whereas he only uses cash to buy everything.

I am also better at investing it which I outline how I invest it here.

He is very distrustful of the whole money industry, whereas my motto is more: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I had to plead with him to invest it.

What age was your child when you first started reading to him?

I am embarrassed to say that I did not start really reading to Baby Bun until he was about 2 years old because I was too tired to do it when I was at home (full-time job plus all the household duties wears on you), and it wasn’t until I was off work that I threw myself into properly buying and borrowing books to point out things to him.

Excuses, excuses.

I also figured he was a bit of a blob before, he didn’t say a single word until he was 2 and even then, it was barely decipherable, so I didn’t feel too guilty about not reading to him early on…

I’m a bit of a lax mother…

It’s about a year later or so, and he has really come along nicely after I started on the books. He can read one of our books pretty confidently.

I thought he was just memorizing the story but then I started testing him on new books we haven’t read much of or at all, and he could recognize the same words, which means he actually reads.

He has this thirst for reading little words here and there, spelling and loving books the way I did when I was younger.

I was a voracious bookworm (still am – did you see that I read 262 books last year?), so I think that also helps because I am leading by example.

He knows it is “Mommy’s Book” so he wants to be just like Mommy, so he reads and wants to learn how to do it.

Sometimes, when he is waiting for me to read to him and I am finishing something, he’ll say: “Wait for Mommy. Baby Bun read .. self

Translation: I am waiting for Mommy, so Baby Bun is going to read by himself.

….and he’ll proceed to “read” the book as much as he can remember of it, along with actually reading the words he knows.

Still have a burning question?

You can ask any question anonymously using the form here, and all of my previous Ask Sherry posts are here.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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