thoughts on parenting part iii – the future
Children, enjoying the future 1
It’s the series that just refuses to die – yes, thoughts on parenting is back and I cannot promise you this won’t be the last one!
A great comment from IPM got me writing about what the future holds for young families over the next 10-20 years, and so I thought it was fair to expand this into post.
IPM’s family are much older and so he (or she) has legitimate financial concerns about the cost of University, but for many reasons I am not really so bothered about it. I’ll get onto why in a bit but let’s whizz through some other things that came up before we dig into the real fun stuff.
expanding budgets as kids get older
This seemed like a common theme and it’s obvious when you think about it. I’ve waxed on about how baby TFS didn’t really cost us much for the first year but that is because she eats about 30 ounces of food a day and has no opinions on toys, entertainment, or what she wants to see and do or where she wants to go. This will undoubtedly change as she gets older and so we’ll be hit, potentially big time, in the following categories:
- Holidays – If we want to keep having 15 bajillion holidays a year it is going to cost us a lot more when she gets over first of 2 years old and then even more when she becomes an “adult” in the eyes of the travel industry which is apparently the age of 12 I’ve been led to believe. The likelyhood is that we’ll cut down on the amount of holidays we have or keep them less extravagant affairs but either way I can’t say for certain that this expense area will not balloon.
- School costs – Uniforms, materials for projects, dress up days, and the big one, school trips. It all adds up pretty quickly!
- Hobbies – I guess you can gently prod kids into certain hobbies and if anything is outright too expensive 2 just say “NO” but you can’t make them want to do purely free things all the time and it wouldn’t be fair to restrict opportunities. So the budget must make way or increase to accommodate such things.
- Food – I think after about the age of 2 most kids seem to eat more than their parents, being the rapidly growing lifeforms that they are. My already destroyed grocery budget is looking like it is going to take another pounding in 2018+!
I guess the main point to remember here though is that all financial plans are liquid, baby!
I can change my mind at any time and if I have to keep working (part time still or freelancing… hopefully!) until I’m, say, 55 or 60 rather than 50, which is roughly what we’re on for right now… then so be it. I know this doesn’t chime so well with the “march quickly to FI then down tools forever” brigade but this was always my strategy from the offset, having realised that I started too late, didn’t earn enough money and most importantly do not have the impetus to climb the ladder 3 to earn such money any more. So if the ER date moves away from me for a few years to accommodate having some awesome family holidays and providing for the family, nada muchos dealos… si?
the big and scary future
Now that’s the personal budgeting stuff which we are somewhat in control of, but what of the bigger questions of the future: Jobs, education, government, society. What is going to change over the next 20 years as TFS Jr becomes an adult?
A BIG FUCKING LOT
That’s the short answer. Just think briefly back to 1997 and how much has changed since then, and we’re only just getting started with massively disruptive technologies like robotics, AI, nano technology, 3D printing and space travel (again).
Education – I have a sneaky suspicion that (traditional) Universities will be increasingly irrelevant over the next 20 years for actually getting a job. There are so many good online courses already with far more up to date information than then behemoth physical schools and Uni’s can put together, who are so slow moving that by the time they complete their curriculums they’re woefully out of date already.
Look, I’m not saying they’ll disappear and it’s likely that if you want to be a Doctor or a Lawyer then you will still have to go to Uni (although maybe robot brain surgery will be a thing by 2037!) but I think 90% of Uni degrees will be totally useless by the time little T gets to Uni age.
Entrepreneurial streak – If TFS Jr is a chip of the old block then I’m not sure the whole, School, Uni, Job working for the man path will be the best one for her in the first place, so I will do my best to open up other routes for her to “work” and earn money. The gig economy is much maligned right now but for some types of people this would suit them well. Look… again maybe I’m totally wrong about this one and she will be a square peg that fits right into the square holes that society kindly makes for us, but genetics says the chances she won’t be… The key is to make sure all options, even ones I cannot conceive of right now, are open and not to push her down any one route just because that is what everyone else’s kids are doing.
It’s also worth noting entrepreneurship for example may have start up costs and I’m not against providing the money for that (or indeed part paying for going to Uni if she really wants to) so we will be starting up a Junior ISA and saving into that very soon, so it’s not like I’m just sticking my head in the sand and going “la la la this will not cost me any money in the future” 🙂
Robots, AI, and UBI 4 – The results are in and it’s unanimous – The robots are coming for your jobs. They’ll even be coming for my job eventually, it can’t be that long before AI can easily design and write the code necessary to build a website can it?! Society needs to find a way to solve the problem of millions of underworked individuals. They need some sort of money to survive and they need something to keep them out of trouble. I don’t have to worry about the second one for TFS Jr because again, if she is anything like Dad, she will more than a lifetimes worth of ideas and creative juices buzzing around her head to keep her busy.
I’m hoping society and/or the government or whatever can sort their shit out enough to solve the money problem for the most part. Something similar to UBI seems to be the most likely solution, which would mean the pressure to save tonnes of money up for her education (or whatever) would be massively off. There is no way I’m banking on this or suggesting people should be, but it’s definitely something worth considering if the alternative is to work 5 extra years to get your SWR down from 4% to 3% just to “be on the safe side”. It seems most people err on the side of caution in the FI world but I think that wasting your life working a job is the more risky strategy and so would advise you get some freedom back as soon as you can, and if bumps in the road appear later on you can just change your strategy, being the adaptable intelligent human/chameleon hybrid that you are 5
Jobs – The job market has changed a lot over the last 20 years and even more dramatically quickly over the last 5, what with Uber and all of that lot shaking things up. I can only see disruption continuing and who knows what it will be like by the time TFS Jr gets to working age. Maybe “kids” will be in education until they’re 30 by that time as there are so few jobs about? But if so surely the cost of this would have to come down? Maybe there will be a huge boon of new jobs created out of new technology that we can’t even fathom yet? This is one that is not worth worrying too much about but is actually kind of fun to think about, it will make a big impact on what our young children grow up into doing with their lives, obviously, but there is not really much we can do about it, so just sit back and enjoy the ride and as always remain adaptable!
final thoughts – optimist or pessimist?
I guess it all depends on whether you are an optimist of a pessimist about the future, both your own and for the wider world?
I tend to be an optimist, not an outrageous one, but definitely a semi rational one, I would like to think at least 🙂
It is a fair stance to take that you should do everything in your power to provide for and protect your kids and so many people turn themselves into pessimists, thinking of all of the worst scenarios that could happen and trying to guard against them. I think being too over the top in this regard means you end up missing much of life, and could even turn your mini you into a bit of a psychological mess in the process!
We all know that just giving kids exactly what they want whenever they want it is not the recipe to bring up a well adjusted 6 human being. They must go through their own struggles to grow, learn and build resilience, as Mrs BITA eloquently points out.
I get the feeling through reading Jim’s blog he considers himself to be a bit of a pessimist, but he has gone for the parenting thing and I would suggest that simply having kids in the first place is one of the most optimistic things a human being can do. Think about it… You are basically betting that the human race will survive for at least another 100 years without trashing the planet or destroying ourselves, otherwise why oh why would you be so cruel as to bring a little babe into the world?
Once you frame it like that, maybe you can get over your pessimistic side as a parent as well and start to enjoy life as a parent a bit more without worrying too much about the big scary future?
Let me know what you think!?
Massive caveat: I realise I am still very new to this game and so don’t want to come across as a know it all a-hole! I am just spewing out my thoughts and welcome a healthy discussion on the points raised, so feel free to shoot me down in flames peeps! 🙂
- The one on the right is not actually a robot child (although that would have been cool) but my nephew, whose face I didn’t feel like plastering over the internet! ↩
- Horse riding/owning a horse is way out of the question, for example! Unless she promises to become a champion Jockey of course, haha! ↩
- In laymen’s terms: I just cannot be arsed ↩
- Universal Basic Income ↩
- Lizard people ruling the earth… now that is one future prediction too far! 🙂 ↩
- Hate that term but couldn’t think of anything better in this context… sorry! ↩