Quiet time is precious these days, and I finally have some time to myself. The past week has seen us get on our feet, little by little, as we get used to our new life as parents. It's been as tough as it's been sweet - tummy aches are getting harder and harder to cope with - but we're settling in fine. Sleep is no longer the issue of the day: we're sleeping more and get better sleep, and we're also getting used to night-time wakes and less sleep in general.
One of the issues that's been weighing on my mind has to do with our finances. It's crazy how having a baby forces a change in perspective. Savings? Time to give those a proper scrub. That life insurance I've been meaning to get? It's now a priority. My fledging investment portfolio? Need to get that part in order. Gah! taxes - I really need to do my taxes.
My family is pressuring me to open a bank account for the baby. My sister says that she would rather put money in there than spend on trinkets and plushies, so that when she turns 18, Mili can have a large sum of money at her disposal. Images of backpacking through Europe and sparkling bachelor degrees and scholarships galore.
I don't know if I agree. Sure, I'm well aware of how our needs will change over time, and currently I'm spending a good chunk of my time planning our financial future. I'm also keenly aware that I did not benefit from an early education in personal finance, a misgiving that continued throughout my high-school and college years. It's a shame, really. It seems to me that millennials, at least those on the Red side of the Iron curtain, are a generation that had to teach themselves a lot of things. Luckily for us, we found this thing called the internet, with chatrooms and wikis and startups with their FinTech apps. It turns out that we can get by quite nicely, thank you very much. However, I wouldn't wish this on my child, and I will strive to give her a solid base in personal finances.
But to open a bank account for a 2-month old baby? It would surely help my family, who can't seem to rise above the money-under-the-mattress fund; but how in the world would this benefit baby?
I also dislike the idea of a trust fund. "No honey, you can't ride that mean Harley right now. Just wait until next year when you'll be 18 and you can buy whatever you want." That sounds horribly detached. What should a teen learn from this?
_Ok, so I can't have what I want. And it's not because there's no money. I can only have what my parents say I can, even though I'm freaking 17 right now. I guess all those words about being responsible and rational, were just that: empty words. Terms and conditions apply.
What's more, that money is technically mine, but I can't get to it because of a weird random age limit set by my parents, who are in cahoots with none other than Society at large, which decided this random rule with no regard to individuals or their personal circumstances (this may be a good lesson to learn, but is this the way?) so yeah that money means nothing to me right now. Oh, and suddenly my parents no longer seem to care about me, about what I want or need, or even my personal safety? One more year, and then I'm out._
Fast forward 12 months, and she starts demanding what's rightfully hers, with no regard for anything. Hey Dad! Where's my money? Now that I'm 18 I'm entitled to this large sum of money that came out of nowhere. And I won't care that my aunt lovingly put something in there every month, thinking about me and how much she loves me, for the past 18 years. I'll be too busy spending it!
Can this fund teach something valuable? If I teach her to manage it, maybe. She could learn a lot about saving versus spending, about interest rates, risk and opportunity, in very simple, yet very real terms. As with all things, what matters most is what you do with it. Yet, I'm worried about my extended family and what sort of messages they might pass along. I'll need to be on the lookout and combat all the nonsense. But then again, that's something I expect I'll have to do either way.