Ebony lives in a common scenario. She is 18 years old and she and her brother live with her mum and her maternal grandmother in an outer suburb of Melbourne. Things between her mum and dad are amicable, but neither have much money. Things are very tight. Dad has not worked for a while and mum helps out in a local café when they are busy. Grandma has just moved from the disability support pension to the aged pension.
Ebony is scared stiff that she will follow the family arc to live just above the poverty line.
Ebony comes to be having a cup of tea with Eleanor, a Dover adviser whose daughter plays in the same netball team as Ebony. Ebony has what she thinks is some great news: she has just been asked to go full-time at McDonalds. The full time wage for a person her age is about $2,000 a month and she is really looking forward to the extra cash. Smart girl, Ebony. Now that she is earning such big bikkies she thinks she should get some financial advice. Hence the cuppa.
Eleanor gently suggests an alternative. Ebony has always been good at maths. Eleanor has watched her add up the netball percentages in her head for the past five seasons. Ebony is a lovely kid who presents well and people like her. Eleanor can see a better way ahead. She suggests that Ebony work half-time at McDonalds and enrol in a TAFE course in bookkeeping. Done part time, the course will take 12 months. Eleanor even offers to provide any tutoring that Ebony might need, which as much as anything is a way to encourage Ebony to spend some time in an office and learn how people act in such a setting.
After twelve months, Ebony will be qualified and looking good for a job paying in the low to mid $20s an hour – roughly double what she would get working at McDonalds. The training has cost her about $10,000 in lost wages, but Eleanor helped Ebony to understand what the real cost of that $10,000 was in terms of lost future earnings.
And as a qualified person, Ebony is unlikely to be asked to leave when she turns 21 because the 15 year olds are cheaper. (Don’t get us wrong here: McDonalds is a great place for teenagers to work. But teenagers don’t last forever).
Ebony is a client who you are unlikely to be able to charge a fee for helping – at least for a number of years. But just wait: when Ebony is 25 and buying into her boss’s business, Eleanor may well be the trusted adviser to whom she turns.