I mentioned this before, but last year I read over 20 different books on personal finance. I got many perspectives and studied A LOT. I was looking for ideas to help me change my mindset and make our family’s finances more of a priority. After all of this study, I think I have a much better understanding of how I can use money to help my family and me reach our goals without feeling like Ebenezer Scrooge.
Throughout this study, I came to understand better than I did before the concept of investing. We put an amount into an account and through time that account grows bigger, whether we continue to contribute to it or not.
I would like to apply this same simple concept of investing to our families, particularly to children.
When we invest our energy and our time into teaching something of value to our children, that principle or that technique will continue to grow and grow until the efforts we initially contributed pale in comparison to the value of the child’s ability.
In investing, we are taught that the younger we begin investing money, the better it will grow because of the beauty of compound interest. So, for example, if we open an investment account when we are 25 and contribute $2000 into it once a year for five years and then we focus our money elsewhere, that money will continue to grow. By the time we are 30, we could have $18,178 when we make our final contribution. When we are 35, we could have $32,036. By the time we are 65, we could have $959,793! All from contributing $12,000 early in life.
If, however, we decide to wait to invest until we can “afford” it and we begin investing at age 31 and we contribute $2000 every year from now until age 65 (and assuming we get the same rates as the previous example), we could have $18,178 when we are 36 and $966,926 at age 65. We would have to contribute a total of $70,000 dollars to come out with these numbers.
I firmly believe the same is true with parenting. We must start early teaching our children important values and skills. Doing so will increase the strength of their own personal value system and will enhance those skills far beyond anything we could do on our own.
What sorts of things should we be investing in?
Every child and every situation will be different, but I want to point out to all the tired mamas reading this who are saying, “Great, someone else is telling me I’m not doing enough and I have to do more…”, that you are probably already doing this. Take encouragement and motivation here and DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP! This will look different in every situation. Have you heard the story of the Widow’s Mite? She threw in her last two coins–everything she had–and it was considered greater than the vast riches that the wealthy were throwing in. Give your kids what you’ve got! When my first three kids were all still under 3 years old and I was exhausted and my days all seemed to blur together in an unending list of necessary to-dos, a well-meaning friend sent me an email and asked for my opinion. She wanted to present a class at an event for women about how all women—young mothers, mothers of teens, mothers of adults, and mothers at heart—could all be doing a little bit more to make our world a better place. She said something to the effect of, “With a little extra effort, you can change the world.” I re-read the paragraph multiple times because the first time I read it I got that pit in my stomach and tears in my eyes. I was so tired that doing one more thing in any given day just sounded like climbing Mt. Everest barefoot. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t respond right away to my friend’s email.
Finally, my friend sent me another email asking for my genuine feedback on her idea. I tried to be as honest as I could be without offending her (gosh, I hope I didn’t offend her) as I said, “I know that women have the ability to change the world and that every woman can make a difference. I am just at a point in my life where right now, I am lucky if I get the chance to change my clothes let alone the world. I would gladly attend your class, however, because it’s from you and I am sure you’d make it wonderful and you’re my friend and I want to support you.”
If you are at that season of life where you feel the same way, I want to assure you that that season doesn’t last forever! The busy and the crazy doesn’t go away, but just like a city rebuilds after a storm, we find new “normals” and we continue to push forward. Our muscles strengthen the more we use them until some things that were once challenging and impossible have become habits instead.
So, friend, when you are considering this concept of investing in your children, think of what you are already doing and smile. Continue with those investments and watch your dividends grow. After a few years, you will be able to change your investment strategy and focus in a different area and those initial investments will continue to grow on their own. You don’t have to add a million—or even one—more things to your crazy busy life. Just pay attention to what you are doing and do it with intention.
In our first example, we contributed $2000 when we were young and money was tight. It was probably a strain then, but it was worth it, wasn’t it? So it is with our parenting. It is hard. It often requires sacrifices and vast amounts of energy, but the sooner we set aside some “funds” to do it and put those “funds” into raising our children, the greater reward we will all enjoy. And in so doing, you’ve made the world a better place!
FREE Activity Book Printable!
Download and enjoy this FREE 12-page activity booklet! It is full of fun and educational activities for children including coloring pages, a word search, "Catch the Match" worksheet, a multiple-choice worksheet that can be used as a reading comprehension quiz, and even a set of cards for a concentration game or a game of "Go Fish!"