Is a new addition to your family on the way?
Congratulations! No doubt you’re thinking about what you’ll name the child. Some folks do a lot of research on children’s names — perhaps poring over published lists of the most popular names of the past year or two — before carefully making their selection.
For other parents, however, the choice is easy: They simply give the child the same first name as its mother or father (or grandmother or grandfather). You’re John, so the obvious choice for your son is, of course … John.
In more than 30 years as a financial advisor and nearly that many years doing my radio show, I’ve never thought about this as a financial issue — or met anyone who found it to be one.
Until now — when a client offered me this piece of advice:
Don’t give your child your own first name or that of your spouse.
Here’s why, according to my client:
“When the kids are young, it’s a cute subject of conversation, but when they start to accumulate their own debts and apply for loans, it can be a nightmare. I’m going through a refinance on my house at the same time that my son is in the process of applying for a mortgage. We both are spending hours on the phone with lenders, credit agencies, banks and credit card issuers, trying to explain who is who and what each of us is responsible for. I even had to send a notarized letter to my lender, attesting that I had never lived in, or had a financial interest in, the house my son rented when he was in college!”
Think about it. We all spend a lot of time and effort trying to protect against our identity being stolen or having someone take out loans or open credit cards in our name. Yet by giving our children our own first name, we’re in a sense giving thieves the opportunity to do just that!
After I mentioned this on the radio, another client wrote to say he experienced the same problem — from the other end of the spectrum, so to speak.
He wrote: “My father happened to pass away in the same county where I reside, so his death was recorded at the county clerk’s office. When I went to register for my senior property tax exemption, the clerk showed me that I was listed as deceased on the property tax rolls. After some discussion and showing proof that the report of my demise was greatly exaggerated, I was able to get my exemption. This tells me that parents should take a long-term view when naming their children.”
Both of these clients make good points. Give this careful consideration before you name the baby.