18-year head start

For the longest time, I’ve been giving parents and grandparents advice on how to give their child(ren) or grandchild(ren) a great financial head start in life. After May 12, 2022, I’m no longer just giving this advice. Instead, I’m living by it. My wife and I welcomed our daughter Jaslyn into the world and immediately agreed that we would take full advantage of the 18-year head start. We weren’t going to be those parents who waited to begin setting up their child’s financial success program.

During my time in the financial services industry, I’ve heard countless stories from parents and grandparents about what they wish they would’ve done when that child or grandchild was younger. It’s always this feeling of regret that I could see in their faces and hear in their voices that scared me. And I couldn’t understand why these cycles continued to happen generation after generation.

It makes me think about all the people who struggle to save and invest as recent college graduates or adults in their early 30s because they have student loans they’re dealing with. Just think, you leave school and get a job, but you’re already digging yourself out of a hole. For the majority of people, this “hole digging” continues because before you’re really bringing in some serious income, you might have decided to purchase a home (30 more years of debt), get a new car (another 3-5 years of debt), and maybe cash flow isn’t flowing that great because you also decided to start a family. Well, just imagine what life would have been like had you graduated college with zero debt. So yeah, all that money going to your aunt Sallie could’ve been funding your investment account, retirement account, and savings account from the very first day after graduation.

I also thought about Jaslyn’s future and how she might not want to go the traditional college route and instead become an entrepreneur. I think about all the stories about entrepreneurs and their struggles with funding their businesses. Some could never get the money they needed to launch their business. They couldn’t get a loan from the bank or credit union, they didn’t know any angel investors, and nobody in their family had enough in the bank to write them a check. Meanwhile, we hear other stories about entrepreneurs who have a village or community that may house numerous angel investors or an immediate family member who had no issues writing them a $250,000 check.  

So, how were my wife and I going to decide on how to take advantage of Jaslyn’s 18-year head start? First, we sat down and had a conversation. Second, we agreed on what we would do for her. And lastly, we executed the plan. I know I’m making this seem like it was easy because it actually was. It was easy because while my wife and I were dating, we talked about money. After we got married, we talked about money. After Jaslyn was born, we talked about money. See, it’s not a struggle for my wife and me to talk about money because it’s a normal part of our lives.

Now it’s time for me to share the four things we did for Jaslyn and why:

  • Savings account – – this is the easiest thing to do, and it’s safe (from a risk perspective). Plus, if she starts earning money at an early age (like modeling, doing commercials, or movies), they can cut those checks with her name on them.
  • Life Insurance policy – – we agreed that a variable universal life insurance policy would serve her best and allow for long-term slow growth (riskier than the savings account). Such a policy will produce substantial cash value, which is an asset that Jaslyn could use in the future for various purposes when she reaches 18. Also, getting her covered at such a young age locks in her future insurability. This is important because we haven’t the slightest clue what her health status might look like at 18 and beyond. So we can rest easy and know that if our daughter’s health changes and she (as an adult) is declared uninsurable, at least she has some coverage in place. Lastly, if Jaslyn predeceases us, there’s money to handle all of her final expenses. We (like ALL parents) would be crushed if this happens, but by having her covered, the financial planning my wife and I do wouldn’t get disrupted. I know this is why most people look at me strangely when I say people should get life insurance on kids, but we’ve got to get past this and take care of business.
  • Uniform Transfers to Minor Act (UTMA) account  – – we set up a UTMA investment account, which will serve as the riskiest asset Jaslyn will own. We started her off with a growth mutual fund (the initial deposit to own the fund is $250) and are doing a modest $50/month ongoing contribution. As things progress, we plan to add some ETFs and individual stocks to her portfolio. This specific account type has its pros/cons, just like with any other investment solution, but the challenge for my wife and me was deciding to do this account versus a 529 plan. We had an extensive discussion about the merits of both account types, and after doing a simple T-chart, the UTMA won the battle.
  • Added as an authorized user – – this is the thing people rarely consider doing. Why do we wait until 18 years old to build our credit? Well, when you turn 18, that’s when you can legally apply on your own to get a credit card. But nobody ever told you that you could have been building your credit history as soon as you received your social security number. So, that’s what we did for Jaslyn. I have a credit card that offers me cash back, which I use to make a recurring payment (my cell phone bill) each month. I know for sure I will never not pay off the full balance for my cell phone each month. And so, Jaslyn will have years of credit history before ever having to apply for her own card. But, the neat thing that’s going to happen is when she applies to get that first card, she will have way more access to credit (a higher limit) than most 18-year-olds start with. 

I hope this article starts a movement. Like seriously! There’s no good reason why a parent (or grandparent) couldn’t ensure that all four things I previously mentioned are put into place right away. Some people may feel that Jaslyn’s plan might be a bit extreme but tell me one parent that doesn’t want to “go hard in the paint” for their kid to ensure they have options in life. Some may think that it’s too hard to do (from a financial standpoint), but I’d challenge that because I know people spend hundreds of dollars on baby stuff that never gets used. Those funds could be applied elsewhere.

Others may want to offer various other solutions, and I’m okay with that. But, whether somebody follows my plan exactly or something close to it, my daughter will grow up and know for sure that her parents didn’t blow her 18-year head start.

The #BuildWealth Movementworks tirelessly to Disrupt Generational Poverty™ for everyone so their kids, kids, kids can live a life of privilege.