I knew baby Sara was smart, but when she started teaching me personal finance concepts…
Many of the kids and money articles discuss how we can teach our children money matters, but let’s turn the table this time. Since baby Sara’s birth a week ago, she already reminded me of many principles that you and I can both benefit from. Here they are.
When Sara first started breastfeeding, she still needed to learn how to properly open her mouth to take her milk. She was frustrated because she was hungry, but she needed to learn how to get her nutrients first. You can’t be impatient, everything starts off slow. When was the last time you were frustrated because your retirement account was small and you know you needed much more money? Thinking about giving up? Don’t. Imagine the consequences if baby Sara gave up just because she couldn’t eat.
Once she struggled through and began sucking, it was smooth sailing. We wanted her to take more at each feeding, because we didn’t want her to be hungry while she learned next time around. However, the doctor said that her stomach is tiny, and our plan just wouldn’t work. Everything takes time. You can’t expect your investment portfolio to come back in a year after it drops 40 – 50%. It will, but not right away. Have trust.
For a few feedings, we wanted Sara to have more milk and fed her with a syringe the nurses gave us. It worked wonders, but we noticed that the more we used the syringe, the worst she got. In effect, we were helping her practice waiting for food to come to her instead of going after it. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice only forms a habit. Do you have your finances on auto pilot? Perhaps it’s time to look at whether it’s still the most appropriate strategy for you.
You are never going to know what your reaction would be until the moment arrives. When we went to a baby class, about half the moms wanted to give an all natural birth. In order words, no medication or epidural. When we asked the instructor how many people took an epidural once they got to the hospital, she said 97% did. You can claim to have high tolerance for volatility all you want, but until you experience a crash, you are just guessing. That’s why you should start small and get used to the fluctuations before you fully commit to a new investment. Take the time to learn. Again, be patient.
When the situation isn’t ideal, you must realize that you were a big part of why it is the way it is. If we taught Sara to wait for food, we can’t complain when she doesn’t cooperate. With our finances, we are often the one to blame. No one cares about our money more than we do. If you only have one dollar, you can either spend it now or later. There’s no way around this. Take responsibility.
Learning beforehand is important. Those baby classes were extremely useful. It helped guide us in the right direction, but more importantly, it helped us stay claim in the moment when most others would panic. How many of you established an emergency fund because you read sites like this one? You may not appreciate it now, but you will when the time comes.
You can adapt. Studies have shown that while most people worry about their retirement, less actually run out of money. If you are late in saving for retirement, start now, but don’t worry. You will adapt. Baby Sara wakes up during the middle of the night, so we will just sleep whenever she sleeps. It’s really no big deal.
Things get easier as you learn and gain experience. Sara is 8 days old, and we are better already. We do everything more efficiently, and actually, so does Sara. Everything, including money matters, always seem overwhelming at first. Stay the course, and you will learn and figure it out. I know you can do it, and so does Sara.
Just keep doing the right things, and you will be able to sleep at night.