Okay, Finance For Youth, along with every other personal finance site has won! We have succeeded. People no longer need help with personal finance. I base this on a conversation I recently had with a young person.
The young person was telling me that he didn’t need to learn about personal finance, because his parents were going to take care of his finances for him so that he could focus on more important things. Finance just wasn’t that big of a deal for him to worry about.
The problem is– I know his parents too. His mother, grandmother, and two aunts work at the same place. So does his sister, who told me the same story about the parents taking care of her finance, but she didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of letting someone else control her finances. She felt that it didn’t seem right for her to not know what is going on with her money. She also wondered what happened when she got married, or when her parents were no longer able to help her and when they needed her help.
The mother has come in to talk to me several times, and she has indeed stated that she was going to take care of her (adult) children and their finances, but she always talked about it with a note of sad resignation in her voice. She didn’t want to take care of them forever, but she felt that she was obligated to since she wasn’t able to teach them better habits when they were growing up. When I mentioned her daughter, she rolled her eyes, “At least ONE of them gets it”.
So obviously, when I say “Mission Accomplished!”, I say so with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek (Miwshen Acomptweshed?). I talked to the son again recently and asked him if some of the issues that bothered his sister bothered him at all.
“I never thought of it. Isn’t that what parents are there for?” Oh man, I guess I still have plenty of work to do. Darn! I was really looking forward to having another vacation, too.
“So what about when they aren’t there anymore?” I asked this because my own parents are getting on in years, and are only now beginning to come to me for help with financial questions (Don’t hold your breath for “Finance For Old People” to come along any time soon). He didn’t have any answers for that. I felt a little bad for forcing him to face the prospect of his parents’ mortality, but this is something that happens to us all.
I have another friend (actually a client, but we are friendly) who is a young girl with a brother who is a year older than her. Their mother died a few months ago. It was sad. I had talked to their mother several times over several months about her kids. One of the last conversations I had with her before she passed was when she asked if I would look out for her kids if anything ever happened to her. She didn’t know she was sick, but she worked at a hospital, and hospital people tend to become clannish and talk about morbid issues like that. I talk to both kids regularly, and they are coming along well.
So what’s the point of all this? You never know what the future holds for you. Even if things seem to be okay now, they can change at any time. I believe the phrase “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst” is important to keep in mind. While not all changes are as drastic or tragic as a death, sometimes they are. Sometimes changes are as simple as marriage, birth of children, changes of career, big purchases (homes etc,). Whatever the case, it always pays to be prepared:
- Keep a liquid emergency fund
- Continue to hone any skills that may be helpful at work
- Eliminate wasteful spending patterns
- Associate with people who share the same values as you
- Avoid people who are against your best interests
- Do things to help others to lay the groundwork for the day when you may need help from others
So although the mission isn’t accomplished, at least the mission is one worth working for.