A few weeks ago, I visited my mum back in the village. We had a long night of chatting by the fireside in her kitchen as we normally do. It usually re-kindles good old memories. Of course, not all of them are so good memories. They say ‘kale likanati lizibwerera’ (if the past could sometimes be coming back). Well, I would be selective of which segments of the past should come back.
But last month, while by the fireside, I was telling my mum that I plan to build each of my children a house as a long-term investment for their future. She looked at me and said ‘Tomase, my son, the best investment for your children is education. Especially for your daughter. They will be empowered forever and will buy for themselves the houses you wish to build them now.’ I felt like a fool for not having thought about it. I nodded in total agreement and excused myself to bed.
Often times as parents, we have missed it. We open bank accounts or build houses that will be handed over to our children once they reach their twenties. Worse still, some parents do take the time to tell their children ahead of time about the assets that will belong to them when they reach a certain age. This is committing suicide for your children’s future. They will, very likely, be lazy thinking life will be all rosy for them instead of working at getting their own wealth when they grow up.
Perhaps I have a skewed perspective, but it seems to me that investing thousands upon thousands of Kwachas a year for a child to spend when they haven’t even secured a living to appreciate how hard it is to earn money, seems like overkill. Shouldn’t that money be better invested in ensuring that they have every educational tool possible available to them? Shouldn’t your role as a parent be to equip the mind of your child, not to equip their pocketbook?
By equipping the mind, I don’t just mean the formal classroom education but even teaching your children how to manage money while they are young. Yes, agreed that you need to put aside money for your children’s quality education. But also teach your child how to manage money before handing them anything of huge monetary value.
By the way, I do believe that educating your child on money issues is perhaps one of the most valuable gifts you can give to them. While you will have put aside some money or asset or insurance policy for their education, giving them a small amount of money to manage over time can be a worthwhile undertaking. They might spend it on stupid things or they might invest it in a poor fashion, but if you provide a safety net of food and shelter and advice when they are learning for themselves, you can train them how to walk the tightrope when you are no longer there to support them.
Sometimes show your children how you spend money. Take them shopping with you, show them prices on the shelves, and then talk with them about what things cost. While still living in your house, involve them in the finances of the house. Show them what you spend each month and demonstrate that you do save each month.
The bottom line, giving your child a quality education and equipping their minds with how best to manage money and wealth is probably the best investment you can give them.
Have a blessed week-end as you strive to provide your children not just a formal classroom education but how to make and manage money.