My 17.5-year-old son’s clarity on personal finance!!
For starters, my son is almost eighteen now, so I will need to update how I reference him.
Pause for a moments reflection… ‘Jeez, children grow up fast.’
My son will be a fully-fledged adult soon, and all the preparation and guidance I have given him over the last few years has got him ready for that leap out of the nest.
I was having a recent conversation with my son, and we were discussing money. Yes, that taboo subject that we never seem to discuss openly in our culture. The framing was about working, saving and planning for the future while we debated what subjects he is looking to study as he moves into further education next year.
I was being a typical dad, and I was going on a bit. I think parents do that kind of thing. We go on a bit and drag the backside out of the subject matter. Well, I know I do. But it was with meaning and a good heart full of intention as I was trying to guide a conversation than have any strong point of view.
I could see his eyes glaze over as time passed, but then they startled back into life as I asked him how he saw things developing over his next few years.
“I am all in on the study, Dad, as I want a fast start so I can have an early finish.’
I looked confused.
He said, ‘Think about it, Dad, your income is the starting point, and I want to try and achieve a good income, so I am all in.’
I was impressed but did correct him and say he needed the time to also have fun, explore and do the pirate stuff – what we both use as a term to call the crazy things in life.
‘Of course, Dad, the pirate’s life will always be the life for me.’
I laughed as I remembered the images of him dressed as a pirate when he was a kid, and he said the same thing back then.
He talked more, and within a couple of minutes, he had nailed it, and what he said had reassured me that he was ready for that new path that he would explore.
‘First things first is to bag a decent income. That is what the hard study is for. Income is my starting point. Then when the money is flowing, I need to make sure I don’t spend it because lifestyle creep is a killer.’
This was teenager speak to explain complicated personal finance. Like some rap song and the rhythm was music to my ears.
‘I will need to save like a mother…’
I was thinking, you listen to a little bit too much rap music, Son.
‘I will also be learning to learn stuff, so I can make some additional money on the side and bank that cash for sure.’
‘Debt is bad Dad, I know that because you always tell me that. I get that. Avoid the big bad debt temptation. Investing is good because it is my money making me money, so that’s where my cash is going to flow towards.’
‘I will need to start saving young because compound interest is my best friend in later life, and it is a miracle of personal finance.’
I was nodding sage-like, like Yoda.
‘Pensions are free money and are good. The government pension will be crap, so I need to keep that in mind, and as I go toward my retirement, I want to plan for living a less than normal life.’
‘Don’t be in too much of a rush to live your life son, you talking about retirement is making me feel old and decrepit’, I said.
‘No worries, Dad, I just want to quit the rat race as soon as I can and chill and enjoy my life at my own pace. I aim to be part retired in my early forties and do some other things that I want to do.’
That is an excellent framework to live your life by. But don’t forget to be a pirate and always be prepared for the navy to come chasing you for your treasure.
There is always a navy to hunt you down.
We nodded and violently agreed with each other that being a pirate will always take centre stage…
And then, like grown-up adults acting like kids, we made pirate ooohhharrr noises and hooked our fingers as we said goodbye over FaceTime.
I will miss that lad. I mean that man when he sets sail and heads off into the sunset.