Things I Should Teach My Son

My oldest son is in college. He is studying engineering. His first semester was unremarkable; we were surprised how quickly he took to social life there, but not much because his university attracts young people exactly like him – on the serious side, but with some sense of humor. Not a party school. But that first semester was all about school.

His second semester, he decided to say “yes” to everything. He joined the school ensemble choir, began competing in a club sport, and joined an engineering fraternity. This has continued into his second year, with the addition of military training in place of the singing. He is also carrying 20+ credits. When he comes home, he buries my wife under a mountain of laundry, then spends most of his time sleeping with occasional breaks for a meal. We don’t bug him about this.

Obviously, we should be telling him to manage his time.

But advice given to college students, especially the fatherly variety, comes under 3 categories: advice I was never given, but wish it had been; advice I was given, but that I ignored; and advice that I received and applied. There are no entries under the last category.

So here’s some category 2 advice: Pay Yourself First. To a Christian, the advice reads badly. We’re not supposed to do anything for ourselves first … God has to come first, so the tithe is critical. OK: Pay Yourself Second (after God, but ahead of everybody else.) Rather than attempt to prove why this is important, I’ll just link this.

To that good advice, I’ll add this: never sell. Whatever you invest in, keep it in there until you can look at the compounding balance and conclude: “Wow, I can pay off my house/investment real estate/retainer for my defense lawyer!” Keep it in there until the balance gives you some real relief and financial peace. Warren Buffett said, “Lethargy, bordering on sloth, should remain the cornerstone of an investment style.” So just keep adding and don’t sell.

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