Happy 21st birthday! I couldn’t be prouder of the amazing person you have become. It has truly been the joy of my life to share these years with you.
But Dads are still dads. And even though you are a bit older now, I still have a few more life lessons to pass on. They may not be quite as exciting as the lessons accompanying your first swims at Tawa pool or the tutoring in introductory algebra in a Hanmer Springs bar before dinner (you were only eight – I might have been a bit early on that one!). And they are definitely not as exciting as seeing your face the first time we ventured overseas.
They are important, though, and will make a huge difference to the rest of your life. So Chelsea, please;
Always be your own person. For the girl who, at three, proudly announced “I’ll do it myself” as we were poised at the top of a terrifying water slide this might seem redundant, but it is a timeless truth. Be yourself and build a life where you don’t need to rely on the goodwill of others.
Although it was buried deep, last weeks “wellness budget” held a stark reminder of the importance of this. The total bill for New Zealand’s universal superannuation already tops 6% of GDP – that’s six cents of every dollar of every good and service produced by the New Zealand economy that gets spent on Super.
With Dad’s generation getting older, this is only heading in one direction. By 2032 Treasury forecasts New Zealand Super pay outs will amount to over 10% of GDP.
That estimate doesn’t even include the costs of keeping what will be an older population healthy. This is surely going to be a huge drag on the tax system by 2032. While it’s politically expedient to ignore this coming reality, please ignore the promises you may hear from today’s politicians and assume that National Super won’t kick in until you are a lot older than 65. Even then it may well be means tested. The taxpayer won’t be there to help you in the way that you will be there for me. That’s not right but it will be your reality.
Be disciplined. It might not be the advice you expect to receive on your birthday, but along with the advice to be your own person you will need discipline. The discipline to save a little each pay, the discipline to stick to a lifelong investment plan and the discipline to ignore the temptation of the “now” and instead focus on building a comfortable future. Your discipline will be repaid by not having to worry as you get older, trust me that would be no fun, but it will mean watching your less disciplined friends do things you wish you were doing. The sacrifice will be worth it.
Embrace a bargain – this one you have nailed! It turns out it’s also great lifelong investing advice. The share market will present you with bargains from time to time. Embrace these like a Deadly Ponies annual bag sale. Buying shares in great companies at cheap prices is one investment that will never go out of fashion!
So Chelsea have a magic birthday and make your old man happy and heed a couple of his words.