Happy Halloween everyone. It seems like all my friends are recognizing today not as the sweet and tasty, fun holiday that we once grew up with, but instead, remembering how this day changed for us many years ago. And just like my friends, my daughters are now “too old” to dress up and go knocking door to door, offering tricks if treats are not bestowed.
But it is not just Halloween that has changed for us. My daughters are in the later stage of their childhood, which means it is now time to talk about other things besides Dora The Explorer or going to the beach. My daughters know the trove of memories I have to always cherish their childhood.
No, today, our conversations are geared more toward the adulthood, rapidly approaching. From their interests, continuing education, where to live, the questions are coming out, “Dad, how did you decide…?”
The cool thing is that both kind of have an idea of what they want to do. Like all children, their minds have changed frequently. But now they select courses in school, which pertain to their interests. They realize that a part of deciding what they want to do, is where, and will it be something they can do for the rest of their lives.
Two years ago, my oldest actually hit me with this question out of the blue, “Dad, is $55,000 a good salary?” And just recently, my youngest asked a similar question, “Dad, how do you decide where to live and how much money is enough to make?”
Yep, I am done reading bed time stories, singing lullabies. It is time to get serious because the things they learn now will impact them the rest of their lives. More than half-way through my life, I have a pretty good grasp on what should be really important in life, and how to have the best opportunity to be happy. A lot of mistakes were made along the way, but I feel I have the right words for my daughters.
“Whatever you do, do not plan your future on how much money you will make. Money is not everything. And it is true, money does not buy happiness. Being irresponsible with money decisions can actually be devastating if you are not responsible with your decisions. Learn that there is a difference between “need” and “want.” Take care of the things you need first. But before you can earn any income, you need to find the career that you will not only be happy with, but passionate about. Because that is where you will truly enjoy your life, doing what you enjoy doing. If you go to work everyday, doing something you had not intended on doing in your life, it is going to be a chore. But find something to do, that you are not only good at, but enjoy, and every day you will be happy to go to work. In fact, it seems almost hard to call it work when you enjoy it so much.”
My younger daughters showed me a tool that is available to kids today, through the federal government, that actually shows career prospects for the future, and geographically where specific jobs will be the most in demand. Of course, back in the 1980’s, I never had this resource. I explained to both of my daughters, use this tool to decide where you will eventually choose to live, based on what you will want to do with your life. And then, depending on where you choose to live, the cost of living will determine their necessary salary.
But I stressed to both, it is important to not be “married” to their job. Simply put, live within your means. Do not put yourself in a position, where your employer knows you have no choices available. It is this pressure, such as buying a house that you cannot afford, spending frivolously that can turn a job you enjoy doing, into a ball and chain, making you dread each walking day.
From there, the conversation continues about money and how to handle it. It is important that they do not make the mistakes that I made. As they are both quick to point out, “the whole reason of studying history is not to repeat it. So they are learning that while credit is a necessary evil, I am trying to get it across to them, to only use credit what they have cash to pay off right away. That credit is not to be used, with the exception of a car or house, to purchase things just because you want them and do not have the cash to pay for them. This mentality leads to disaster, and often, repeated.
I can tell that they understand. I wanted to have our financial issues straightened out before they grew older, but this was a constant struggle. My hopes are that they learn from my examples and remember the things that I have told them, so that they can do better with their financial future.
Boy I sure do miss those chilly Trick-or-treat nights. They sure were much more fun than all this serious talk.
Happy Halloween everyone.