From as early as I can remember, my aunt and uncle gave we kids savings bonds for Christmas. I was well into my teens before I got the concept that they'd paid about half the face value for these things. Then, if I held onto them for several years, they'd be worth the face value. And, if I continued to sit on them for a few years, they'd be worth even more.
Then, when I was 16, as was their tradition, my grandparents gave me a certificate of deposit. Every month, I'd get a statement through the mail showing that my CD had increased a little bit. My parents also got these, but they got something I didn't: these slick glossy magazine-like things from companies about share holdings and stocks. I didn't really know what they were, but I knew it had to do with money they'd invested.
Yesterday, I was sitting around with one of my buddies who is in his mid-40s. The subject of retirement came up and, while neither of us is ready to get the proverbial gold watch, we both know a person can't necessarily work forever. Therefore, a person should save for the future when they can't work. While I've set aside money in investments for my retirement and future, my friend has not.
"When I was growing up, all my folks told me was, 'Don't get arrested.' I've never learned anything about what I should be doing for my future or rainy days."
To me, my idea of bonds was the future. To him, bonds were what you got if you got in trouble with the law. My friend is a law abiding citizen, but with such a meager bit of advice, it's a wonder he hasn't ended up behind bars.
I am very, very lucky to have had such quality adult advisement from an early age. My friend? Not to say his family didn't love him, but the day to day survival was all that was on their radar.
Are parents to blame if a kid goes broke? Not by a long shot, but those of us who got good advisement from a young age are a lot more likely to end up sitting pretty down the line. I'm also very blessed to have had people who gave me a little money to see how it's done.
It just showed me a world I didn't grow up in. It's a world I want to be more compassionate towards, too. And it shows me what I want to instill in the minds of my stepkids, too.
What about you? Were you lucky like me? Or was your youthful advice just to stay out of trouble? In my world, the idea of breaking the law was so foreign that it never probably crossed my parents' minds to warn me about arrest...but instead, to show me how to live an upstanding, proper life which would result in security for the future. I am very, very lucky...and when I hear tales from "the other side", it makes me want to share what knowledge I have with others.