'Bad Precedent': Dad Applauded for Not Covering Wife's Part of College Fund

Members of a popular internet forum were quick to support one father who said he refused to cover for his wife after she was unable to contribute to their children's college fund.

In a viral Reddit post published on r/AmITheA**hole, Redditor u/financialwoes11 (otherwise referred to as the original poster, or OP) said he and his wife each contribute $200 per month to college funds for their two kids and revealed how a recent shopping spree put one half of that monthly contribution in jeopardy.

Titled, "[Am I the a**hole] for not contributing my wife's half to our kid's college savings account?" the post has received nearly 5,000 votes and 1,000 comments in the last day.

Writing that he and his wife maintain completely separate finances, the original poster said the couple prioritizes one monetary decision over everything else: putting their kids through college debt-free.

"My wife and I also care deeply about not letting our kids go into debt for school," OP wrote. "Every month, we both contribute $100 to my daughter's college fund and $100 to my son's college fund...each kid gets $200 total per month."

However, during a recent conversation about the family's budget, the original poster said he was informed this month's college fund contributions would land squarely on him.

"I asked my wife to send me the money she owed for the kids' college funds," OP wrote. "She said she didn't have any [and] said that she had made some big personal purchases this month (including new car tires, a name-brand purse, and a fancy hair dryer)."

"We got into a fight because I said that if she had money to spend on a purse, she had money to go toward our children's futures," OP wrote. "She acknowledged that she did wrong. But here's the part where I might be the a**hole."

"My wife said it wasn't fair for our kids to get stiffed because of something she did, so she suggested that I contribute her part to the kids' college funds," OP continued. "I told her absolutely not. I do have the money available, but I believe that paying her part would set a terrible precedent."

"I told her to find the money, or our kids would get stiffed," OP added.

Including books, supplies and living expenses, the current average cost of college in the United States is $35,331 per student per year, according to the Education Data Initiative.

And with the cost of secondary education rising every year, that figure is sure to balloon over the next two decades.

This means that, for parents wanting to put their children through college without accruing mountains of debt, saving money as early as possible is absolutely necessary.

At the end of 2020, Forbes recommended parents use 529 plans, defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission as "tax-advantaged savings plan[s] designed to encourage saving for future education costs," to ensure their children's college plans.

But the presence of a robust college fund does not always mean that a college-aged student will reap its benefits.

Recently, Newsweek has reported on numerous Reddit threads detailing college fund controversies, including a pair of fathers who made it clear that paying for four or more years of secondary education hinged solely on DNA tests.

In a majority of cases, Redditors advocated for doing whatever is in the best financial interest of children looking to attend college and more specifically, whatever made the most money available to those hopeful students.

Parents arguing over money
Members of Reddit's r/AmITheA**hole were adamant that one father was justified in refusing to cover his wife's monthly contribution to their children's college fund. Drazen Zigic/iStock / Getty Images Plus

In the case of the viral Reddit post authored by u/financialwoes11, however, Redditors sided with the original poster and agreed that covering for his wife would indeed set a "terrible precedent," even at the expense of their children's college fund.

"[Not the a**hole]," Redditor u/edwardothegreatest wrote in the post's top comment, which has received more than 8,400 votes. "Bad precedent."

"Pay your share," they continued. "$100 won't be the difference between them going to college or not. Or, in the interest of the kids, pay her share but she pays yours next month."

"The interest of her kids would be equally preserved if she pays double next month, and he sticks to his schedule," Redditor u/PuffinTown added in a comment which has received more than 4,000 votes. "This leaves her contribution 100 [percent] dependent on her."

"Exactly what I came to say," Redditor u/_psychologizer_ chimed in, receiving more than 1,300 votes. "Her mistake has an easy fix where she takes full responsibility and learns she can't take advantage of her husband."

In a separate comment, which has received nearly 3,000 votes, Redditor u/Historical_Shot_6865 offered a similar solution.

"Your wife can make up the missing month by paying extra in the coming months," they wrote. "Your kids shouldn't be punished but it's your wife that needs to pony up."

Newsweek reached out to u/financialwoes11 for comment.