13th July 2018 at 10:30am
My son Arlo continues to be simultaneously an absolute joy and the most exhausting human being I’ve ever met.
He’s 6 months old now, meaning he’s generally trying to crawl, stand, walk, talk and use a smart phone. He doesn’t do any of these things well, but he has great fun trying.
His attention span for the recent global football tournament isn’t quite the length I’d hoped for, despite it causing much of the country to go into a meltdown with excitement, along with the heat. The feel-good factor in the air is quite something. And it’s likely to be good for the economy too, as past research shows that when we’re happier and more confident on the back of sporting successes like this, the economy is likely to grow too.
Back to Arlo, he’s getting bigger, unsurprisingly. He’s just shed another gargantuan assortment of vests, baby grows and some pretty cool t-shirts.
The house is already beyond the point I thought it would ever reach. There’s so much stuff that needs to be moved about every day it seems. His various toys, blankets, sleeping pods, jungle gyms and cushions never seem to be in the right place when you need them.
I said to my wife the other day that “as a lifestyle, this is atrocious.” Despite her amusingly startled look, there’s clearly some truth in that. There’s barely time to tidy up. She reminded me that there are more important things in life, like making precious memories during our son’s early years.
The thing is, I don’t think he’ll remember any of this.
My first vivid memory is of my 5th birthday, when my parents gave me a paddling pool. I recall it was a warm summer’s day and I played in it for hours. Ultimately months. It’s an enduring, 42-year-old memory.
So much of what you do as a child involves fleeting interests in things, whether physical things such as favourite toys or, as you get older, hobbies and pastimes.
With hindsight, I’d have learnt another language or played an instrument; things that are more difficult to do in later life due to the combination of it taking longer and you having less time. But when I finally have the time and work is behind me, I look forward to being able to doing just that, and more besides.
But for now, I feel a weight of responsibility to ensure Arlo has the best chance to do something more enduring.
Growing the savings habit
Beyond the duty of bringing him up to be a decent human being, I want to give him a financial framework that will enable him to do the things he wants to do, so that he has the best opportunities in life.
That doesn’t mean spoiling him, which in itself would have possible negative influences, of course. What I want to do is make some steady savings for him as a child to get him started as he approaches adulthood, so he isn’t saddled with debt from the word go.
And educating him in the ways of saving and spending so that he makes sensible choices long after we’ve gone, and passes that habit on down the generations.
The younger generations may not have some of the benefits of previous ones. Few will ever see a final salary pension scheme or regular, double-digit pay rises, but they do have the benefit of hindsight and (hopefully) some wisdom; provided we give it to them.
Some early savings to help him climb the first rung of the housing ladder, a habit that encourages him to put money aside for a rainy day (which is when a roof actually leaks), and an eye on the longer term by saving into available pension schemes is a pretty good start.
Keeping the good habits going
Some estimates suggest that one in three people born now could live until 100. If Arlo’s one of them, then he has 100 years; perhaps 20 for us to help him save, 50 for him to save and 30 years for him to spend it later.
By any measure, having such long time horizons provides plenty of affordable options such as ISAs and workplace pensions to keep him financially secure. Our challenge is just to ensure that our respective savings habits are enduring, so that we’ve got a lot to look forward to, too.
The views expressed here are those of the author, not Standard Life.
Your pension is an investment – its value can go down or up and may be worth less than what was paid in.
This article shouldn’t be taken as financial advice and is based on our understanding in July 2018.