Readers: Today’s post was written by my daughter, Nina. — Len
Im only 13 and Im worrying about my future. Not in an academic kind of way, but in a financial one. That’s because there are certain things that terrify me about growing up and living on my own.
Here is a list of the top five things that make me nervous for the future:
The thought of paying taxes absolutely terrifies me. I dont know if its because Im afraid I wont pay them off or some other reason. The word “taxes” itself sends shivers up my spine.
My dad has always told me and my brother that it’s important to always spend less than you earn. I can understand that. But what if I cant? I’ve been a good saver in the past, but it’s getting harder as I get older. I know I need self-control, but if I’m starting to lose that now, what makes me think that Ill have it in the future?
Going into debt
Not being able to afford my house, my car, or anything else I enjoy seems really scary. Going into debt is a big reason why I dont ever want to move out.
Forgetting to pay bills
You know, I never really worried about paying bills until my dad told me that if you dont pay them, sometimes people can take your stuff away. What if I forget to pay them? I’d hate to lose my house or a car. Ive made some mistakes in my life, but forgetting to pay a bill would be the worst.
Losing my job
I want to be a vet when Im older. But if I dont have my own business, and I end up working for somebody else, I could lose my job. No job equals no money. No money means I can’t pay my taxes and bills. Unpaid taxes and bills will lead to an unhappy life.
I think its good for me to be thinking like this because it makes me open my eyes and Ill be more aware of whats going on. I want to be successful in life. I want to be financially free like the people Im surrounded by everyday. I know that if I want to overcome my financial fears, Ill need to prepare myself.
I think I can do it. All I have to do is stick to my plan.
Photo Credit: bixentro
Hun, the fact that you’re worried about these things tells me that you’re thinking about them, and if you’re thinking about them when you’re 13 yrs old, I feel like you’re going to be fine. I wouldn’t fret too much about the job thing. A veterinarian isn’t a job that can be out-sourced overseas so as long as you’re willing to move to an area where there’s work (assuming there’s no work available locally), you’ll be okay. Have you considered a tiny house for your first house? http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/ I think they’re great for young people who are still exploring their options. Owning the place where you live outright at an early age (and being mobile) can put you way ahead, especially when you’re talking about spending several years in college.
Len, you and The HOneybee have done a GREAT job with your daughter! Wish more adults had her kind of common sense. That said — Honey, don’t be afraid to enjoy life. Good luck and bright blessings.
Doable Finance says
To your 13-year old:
I have not met or heard of anyone who is not afraid of one thing or another. There are certain things in life you just can’t do anything about. We are all humans. We’ll make mistakes – some serious, others not so. We just have to live the best we can.
Kurt @ Money Counselor says
A certain amount of fear is healthy, so don’t worry! Keep asking for your Dad’s and other’s help as you get older, and make a point to learn about money just like you learn history and grammar. The best life lesson you can learn now? Being happy isn’t about owning stuff! Best wishes to you!
Hey Nina! I’m 24, and moving out of my parents house was just as scary as you described. And I did make a ton of mistakes, too. I got into debt, and missed some bills. But, everyone makes a few (or more than a few) mistakes growing up, and that’s okay. You’ve got a great dad who will help you figure things out. And, at the end of the day, everything will always work out. When you lose one job, you’ll find another. When you spend too much money one month, you’ll spend less the next month. You just work hard, and do your best. Sure, you’ll mess up once or twice, but you seem pretty smart, and I’m sure you’ll get everything figured out pretty quickly. Of course, you’ve got a few more years before you have to worry too much 🙂
I know it’s important to teach your kids about money. But if this is truly written by Nina, not “Len as Nina”, then I see a child filled with angst. Think about the “Preacher’s Kids” syndrome. Children of clergy tend to be either perfect angels or pure hellians, not many in the middle. Len, you are truly the “Minister of Personal Finance” and I like your preaching. The difficulty is making sure Nina, and everyone’s children, don’t go to either extreme before they have time to form their own opinions. You don’t want your kids to be so afraid of not having money that they don’t want to have fun. You also don’t want them to rebel against your teachings and find themselves mired in debt, bad credit and no job prospects because of both. Balance, everyone — and let kids be kids.
Len Penzo says
I assure you, Paladin, this piece was written by my daughter.
And your points are well-taken.
Hi Nina. You and my own 14 year old daughter are well ahead of your friends by thinking on these things. You can’t avoid all risk, but everything you do helps improve your odds.
Taxes are to be understood and navigated, you can’t change the laws (not until you are in Congress, or better still, President Nina Penzo).
All else is something you can influence. A good education makes you more employable and a higher wage earner. Knowing about savings, budgeting and debt will help you plan and protect you from the brief times you might be between jobs. My daughter already put aside $8000 in her Roth IRA. More than 25% of families don’t even have $2500 in the bank for an emergency. It’s the kids who are clueless about this issues that I’m concerned about. You are on track to not just do okay, but to excel.
Joe @ Retire By 40 says
Our kid is only 2 and I hope he knows as much as you do when he is your age.
Don’t be afraid of tax. It’s inevitable. Just accept it. 🙂
Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says
I think the biggest thing you have to fear is…being a vet. Not to scare you, but getting into vet school is about six times more difficult than getting into med school. It doesn’t cost much less, but vet income is much lower, too. Sooooo….on the grand scheme of things, if you REALLY, REALLY want to be a vet, then 13 is a great age to start volunteering at the animal shelter and learning to do dog training, etc., so you have an amazing resume when you apply for vet school so you can even get in. Also, you should be saving for vet school ASAP. You’ve pretty much picked the single most competitive occupations and one of the most expensive to get a degree in.
I know I should be making you feel better. The other things you mention–they’re pretty minor. Taxes and bills are easy to pay. Your student debt, though, is likely to be epic if your parents aren’t paying for vet school.
Nina, the fact that you are so young and are already aware of these things is pretty impressive and plays in your favor. You sound like a smart girl now, and you will only get smarter as you get older (nice job, Len!).
Grayson @ Debt Roundup says
It is amazing that you are thinking of these things. Most people don’t have these fears when they are adults, but you seem to have it together. As Jenny said, Vet school is very hard to get into, so creating an awesome resume should start now!
Great responses, Nina! And a great idea for a post. Best of luck!
Think back on times when you learned new skills. Like, catching a ball, or riding a
bike. Perhaps, baking cookies or, a cake?
At first every skill we learn is a little scary. Then, it’s a piece of cake. 🙂
You will do well because you care. That is
all it takes to do well. That doesn’t mean you won’t have times where things get a little tough. Life does through curve balls.
But, attitude is everything.
Taxes. Think of taxes as a privilege. Like belonging to a very special club that collects
membership fees. Not scary, just necessary.
Too, if you work for someone taxes will auto-
matically be drawn from your paycheck. This will happen before you spend a dime. 🙂 If you work for yourself you will need to be more
disciplined and, set aside money for your taxes. I know you will not only do well, you will have fun growing up and, becoming independent.
We have all made mistakes … The important lesson is if you learn from them 🙂 and I have NO doubt sweet girl, you will!! Keep filling in for Your Dad 🙂 I enjoy your writings as much as your Dads. Awesome parenting Len & Honeybee, you are going to be so proud of them as they become responsible adults <3 Rose
Paying taxes sucks. It’s good for you to be afraid of it, but growing up also means you get to vote, which means you have some control over your destiny when it comes to taxes.
Budgeting isn’t hard. You just need to get your priorities straight. I ended up breaking everything down into things I CAN afford, and things I SHOULD afford. “I’ve got $400 in my pocket, and that stereo costs $250. Can I afford it? yes. Should I afford it? Probably not.”
Debt being scary is a good thing. I paid off all of my debts right out of college, and I don’t ever plan on going back. Some people say it’s possible to leverage debt, and have good or bad debt, but the simple fact is that “bad” debt is debt you owe other people, and “good” debt is debt people owe you. So I have a little “good” debt. Honestly, it’s entirely possible to go through life without ever borrowing anything. Even to buy a house. Anybody who tells you otherwise is just trying to drag you down to their level.
I pay my bills as soon as I get them. I keep a ledger in my head and keep track of when I promise to pay money, and then I pay it at the very next opportunity. Online bill pay is fantastic for this. The neat thing about bills is that if you’re consistently good about them, the companies that charge you will tend to give you a little more room to move. Your dad has made multiple posts on his blog about his experiences with this.
I lost my job in December. It was actually a bit of a relief, because now I get to sleep in and work on whatever I want. Your dad is raising you to be financially intelligent, and if you follow your budget and build up a stable savings account(I was saving about 50% of my take-home paycheck. Most of what didn’t get saved was spent on stupid and expensive stuff, and I stopped that when I lost my job), then you will never need to worry about losing your job.
Losing my job gave me back my life. On the other hand, having that job is what built up my savings, so I wouldn’t want to change either event.
Thank you everyone for your nice words and advice! I appreciate it! 🙂
I agree very much with some of the comments about letting kids be kids. A 13 year old who writes that she has made mistakes in her life is somehow very painful to read. Dear Nina, this is THE time in life to make mistakes and to learn from them. Please learn a lot by making lots and lots of interesting mistakes! You will appreciate those lessons later, when paying taxes and bills is inevitable. Building a career can be great fun, don’t get hooked too much on what you like now. Be open for other options, work hard, enjoy life and be a pleasant person to be around with and you will do fine!
Len Penzo says
I hear you, Jerome. It may be painful to read, but I’d rather Nina be thinking about this stuff now than being oblivious to the ramifications of being financially irresponsible when she finally becomes an adult.
Remember, she’s not alone. I’m here to temper her fears and help her along the way.
You have a bright daughter and she’s lucky to have a dad that can teach her and help deal with her fears. She’s spot on about taxes though! I think we all dread and sometimes fear them around Arpil of every year!
Roger @ The Chicago Financial Planner says
As the parent of three kids ages 19, 22, and 24 I see a high level of insight and thought process in your daughter and that is in large part a reflection of good parenting, kudos to you and your wife. It first dawned on me that growing up in a house with a financial planner as a dad had an influence one Saturday shortly after my daughter had graduated from USC and had started her career working for the university. I called and asked what she was doing, assuming the answer would be something like going to the beach (normal for a 21 year old in LA I’d guess). Instead she said she was updating her info on Mint. Keep up the good work with your daughter Len.
Nina, you are the smartest 13 year old I have ever heard of! And from a 30 year old, taxes scare me too!!!
ps…. i hope your dad gives you a raise for writing, you keep getting better and better!