To­day’s knights need fi­nan­cial sav­ing as well

Central Leader - - NEWS -

‘‘It is a truth uni­ver­sally ac­knowl­edged that a sin­gle man in pos­ses­sion of a good for­tune must be in want of a wife.’’

So wrote Jane Austen at the start of her ever pop­u­lar novel, Pride and Prej­u­dice, im­part­ing with a lovely irony the hopes and as­pi­ra­tions of the would-be wives oc­cu­py­ing 18th cen­tury English draw­ing rooms.

But in mod­ern, in­creas­ingly ur­ban New Zealand, a sin­gle young per­son of ei­ther gen­der should be uni­ver­sally ac­knowl­edged to be in want of a wel­learn­ing other half.

It has long been the clar­ion cry of women fi­nan­cial ad­vis­ers that women should not rely on a ‘‘white knight’’ to come along and save their fi­nan­cial lives.

I’m a mod­ern man and have al­ways nod­ded du­ti­fully at the con­cept but in an in­creas­ingly ‘‘user-pays’’ world in which house prices in our cities con­tinue to dis­tance them­selves from in­comes, the whole white knight re­jec­tion thing feels a lit­tle 20th cen­tury.

Be­cause it’s not just the damsels who are in need of sav­ing. The knights need sol­vent damsels with their own horses.

I’ve been mus­ing on this topic since the up­com­ing Money Week (Septem­ber 1-7) will no doubt find me asked to talk about the im­por­tance of teach­ing kids pru­dent sav­ing and spend­ing habits dur­ing their early years.

I’ll pro­duce a 10-step list aimed at pro­duc­ing money-savvy kids which is all about pre­par­ing them to stand on their own two feet. It’ll read some­thing like this: 1. Give them pocket money but force them to save half to­wards their re­tire­ment so they are aware of their mor­tal­ity from early on 2. Make them earn their money by do­ing house­work. It’s never too early to learn that ev­ery­thing can be mon­e­tised, even fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties 3. If they want some­thing they haven’t saved for, lend them the money at a high rate of in­ter­est. They’ll never fall prey to pay-day lenders af­ter that 4. Sign them up to Ki­wiSaver and once a year read the fi­nan­cial state­ments of their scheme with them 5. Play them DVDs of US in­vest­ment guru War­ren Buf­fett’s AGM pre­sen­ta­tions 6. En­cour­age them to op­er­ate a small busi­ness through monthly lemon­ade stands or the like 7. Teach them about in­sur­ance by buy­ing them some of As­teron’s child life in­sur­ance and dis­cussing with them all the hor­ri­ble dis­eases they could con­tract 8. Crit­i­cise their pur­chase choices so they learn to as­so­ciate spend- ing rather than sav­ing with evil 9. Post wall charts of how fast you are pay­ing down your mort­gage 10. Use cash when pay­ing for goods so chil­dren get to know its value.

Ev­ery point is com­mon ad­vice you’d be given by money writ­ers any­where and it strikes me as be­ing, in its way, as ro­mance-free and cold-blooded as the ed­u­ca­tion in Jane Austen’s day of women of mar­riage­able sta­tus.

Both aim to se­cure fi­nan­cial pros­per­ity.

Of course there’s a ker­nel of truth in ev­ery point raised in my list (OK per­haps not num­ber seven), and chil­dren do need pro­gres­sively ex­pos­ing to the adult world, in­clud­ing how the fam­ily func­tions fi­nan­cially. But I would ar­gue that par­ents should not aim to raise a fi­nan­cially savvy child, but a well-ad­justed, well-ed­u­cated child with a work ethic and the con­fi­dence to di­rect their en­er­gies into things they are good at.

With­out those things, fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy isn’t go­ing to help any­way and the chances of snar­ing that sol­vent damsel or knight are much re­duced.

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