When I got my first job flipping burgers, I wish my parents had sat me down and said: Listen up! Now that you have a job, you have responsibilities to take care of your money.
(Actually, it would have been ideal to have learned about money before, but my parents weren’t big on giving money away for free which is why I never got an allowance.)
Here’s what I wish my parents had told me at a minimum:
- Compounding interest is magical. If you save now, you can have X amount in the future.
- You don’t need to spend everything you make.
- You should save at least 10% of your gross income. See why at #1
- Clothes and shoes are fun things to spend on, but do you really want them badly? Why not wait?
- Here’s what a budget looks like in this household, and this is what it looks like with your pay!
Of course there is more advice I would have liked, but starting with those top 5 pieces of advice and then moving onto harder things like how to invest your money (although they’re always looking for the next Apple or Google stock, whereas I am lazier and I like index funds).
What little they DID tell me, I followed religiously (even if I noticed that THEY don’t seem to follow their own advice)
- Never carry credit card balances; once you spend an amount, pay it in full immediately.
- Turn off any lights you are not using.
- Always turn the tap off and never let the water run for no reason.
- Cook at home, it’s better, you get more and it’s cheaper (they’re now restaurant junkies, however).
- Walking won’t kill you, and if you want to get somewhere, take the bus and don’t expect a ride!
I’m not mad at my parents for not having been the best financial role models, because in a way, I have them to thank for my utter lack of knowledge about money, and if I had not gotten myself into such a large amount of student debt, I am not so sure I’d be as financially independent as I am today.
My own personal finance rules are:
- No one should be more interested in your money than you
- You shouldn’t be dependent on anyone financially; be interdependent
- Only you can make your own choices (and mistakes) with your money
- Becoming wealthy is earning like a princess/prince but living like a pauper
- A net dollar saved is two (gross) dollars earned
- Compounding interest is magical — save as soon as you can!
- Retirement is not a right — it’s a privilege you save your money for
- Your intellect is the best money maker and asset you’ll ever have
- Hard work matters: I’d rather be stupid and hardworking, than smart but lazy
- Money isn’t everything, but it sure is a necessary part of everything you do in life
If I were to teach my future kids about money, I’d start with a selection of the above and build on those lessons.
Having fun matters too, I am ALL about spending (obviously..) but not if it’s at the risk of jeopardizing your financial security.
What do you wish your parents had told you?