x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

On the Money: In 10 years, will children be able to budget?

I'm going to fast-forward myself 10 years into the future, to a world where my eight-year-old daughter has evolved into an 18-year-old know-it-all and I've just packed her off to university.

Gary Clement for The National
Gary Clement for The National

I've never been the type of person to wish my life away, especially at my age, which will (fingers crossed) remain a mystery to many. Just the thought of where I'll be and, even more frightening, how I'll look in 10 years' time is something I avoid to the extreme, kind of like I do now when I refuse to look in a mirror first thing in the morning without my sunglasses on.

But, for the sake of our Youth Issue this week, I'm going to fast-forward myself 10 years into the future, to a world where my eight-year-old daughter has evolved into an 18-year-old know-it-all and I've just packed her off to university.

I'm still working, but only because I want to. I'm sitting on a nice little nest egg, having learnt during my time as Personal Finance editor at The National that saving wisely and investing in property is the way forward, rather than relying on the fickle markets to secure my financial future. (OK, so I know this really is wishful thinking here.)

The global financial crisis is finally behind us, but many are still wary and struggling to claw back what they lost from their retirement funds during the height of the credit crunch. Older workers have become the norm. Those baby boomers who were looking forward to spending their children's inheritance in their golden years have turned into a grumpy old lot, not only because they lost most of their fortune before the could spend it, but also because they have to work way past the age of 75 as more and more western governments realised they couldn't afford for their citizens to retire at 65 and collect a state pension.

The Gen Xers are stagnating in their mid-level management jobs, waiting for the baby boomers to retire so they can finally get promoted to the top. Who would've thought that Prince Charles would finally have some sympathisers? And Gen Y is still doing what it does best: living at home and living off their baby-boomer parents. Even though they are nearing middle age. At least they've maintained their tech-whizz status, despite still struggling to focus on one thing at a time.

It's been a month since my know-it-all teenager left to further her education - at quite a considerable cost, might I add - and I've not heard a word from her. I've been tracking her from my iPhone20, not to mention trying to contact her the old-fashioned way: calling, texting and e-mailing. But she's not replied. The dean of her school, however, assures me that she's turning up for classes. That's Generation Z for you: they've never known a world without the World Wide Web, but think nothing of dropping off the grid for a month or so because their Gen X parents (the ultimate latchkey kids) were so suffocating when they were growing up.

But then, I hear the ping of my e-mail alert. And it's my daughter.

Hi Mum, out of credit on everything. Can u top up my iTunes account? Nothing left on phone, either. Thought u said you set up automatic loading on that biometric smart chip we inserted in my wrist before I left. I can't buy food or pay for anything because it's run out of credit. Sorry I've been out of touch, but burnt my fingers trying to iron for the first time and couldn't type or anything. And just so you know, my monthly allowance isn't enough to live on. But I bought a great pair of Louis Vuitton shoes the other day. You'll be really proud because they were a bargain ... just £1,000. And you can borrow them. When I'm not wearing them lol. University is great. Which reminds me: can you send over that trunk of shoes and bags I left in the attic? We go out lots here. I think the ladder is in the garden shed somewhere. Anyway, am sure you'll find it. Just don't ship the trunk over. I need everything in it like now. Love u!!!!!

Hi Sweetheart, it's good to know everything's going so well. Sorry to hear you've run out of credit. Think we should have taken that other option and had the biometric chip implanted in your forehead. That way, we could have programmed it to remind you that you were reaching your credit limit. And it would have saved me the pain of banging my own forehead on the kitchen wall, which I'm doing now. Have you worn the LV shoes yet? Think you should return them and get your money back. That will help you with your allowance for the rest of the month, not to mention top up your biometric chip, pay for your iTunes account, phone credit and food. If you can't return the shoes, perhaps LV is looking for a part-time sales assistant. I know you've heard this from me before, but a part-time job does wonders for your character and teaches you the value of money and hard work. I've just sold the house, ladder included. Now that you've moved out, I thought it was time to downsize the house - and my budget - because your education is costing so much. BTW: think your trunk is still in the attic. Missing you! Love, Mum xx

Rewind to the present, which gives me 10 years to drum into my daughter the importance of sensible money management. And prepare for the day when she really does leave home.

fglover@thenational.ae