Investing lessons for life
There are few more life-changing experiences than having children. For those of you who are already parents, I don't need to tell you about the impact – both mentally and physically.
That impact – and the joy and wonder of children – was sheeted home to me earlier this month when my first child, a son, was born. There's nothing that compares to the joy of a new little person coming into your life. It's an amazing, wonderful experience.
You begin to imagine the future – from him talking and walking right through to how his teenage years and beyond will unfold. Don't get me wrong, we're not wishing the years away, but it's natural to wonder what his life will bring.
More than anything, I hope my son discovers happiness in life. It might sound cliched, but that's because it's universal, rather than glib.
Given my day job, however, I naturally started wondering a couple of things – what investing lessons I want my son to learn, and how I'm going to help him discover the wonderful opportunity he has in starting down the investing path at a very young age.
Here's what I've come up with so far:
1. Be positive. The power of democratic capitalism has been responsible for many of the innovations and advancements made in the past couple of centuries. Even when the market has got it wrong, the actual companies themselves keep on growing.
2. Make money your servant, not your master. I hope he's responsible with the opportunities – monetary and otherwise – he is handed in life. But I also hope he keeps it in perspective. After all, the richest man in the cemetery is still dead.
3. Have fun with investing. The business world is full of amazing companies and products. Thinking about which ones are likely to be successful and working out a reasonable price to pay might sound a little nerdy, but if you approach it in the right way, you can enjoy the challenge.
4. Think long term. He's just been born and has a wonderful life ahead. He can be anything he wants to be, and has the biggest single advantage, bar none, that any investor can ask for – time.
5. Be generous. With your time and your money. I hope he has a fulfilling work and home life. I also hope he can invest his money well enough to give him a wide range of choices – including the opportunity to help those who aren't so fortunate.
I'm sure that list will change over time. I'll refine it as I learn new things and reprioritise my thoughts.
Begin. Commence. Do. Start!
My son has a lifetime of potential ahead of him – investing and otherwise. However, it's true of all of us that the only place we can start from is where we are.
As you know, whether you're 8 or 88, at The Motley Fool we think investing in quality companies and paying attractive prices is a great way to build your wealth.
Moreover, if you're already a parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent – and if you're already investing – I want to ask you for a favour. Please take a little time to consider how you can help the younger generations in your family invest better. In the words of Warren Buffett: "Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."
Regardless of your age, my suggestion would be a single word: start. Start reading, start thinking – and start investing. For yourself and for the younger people in your life.
Outside choosing a life partner, it may just be the most important decision you ever make.
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This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691).