Money Honey: Lessons for my Younger Self

January 8, 2014 at 10:26 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When I was younger, I never worried about money.  My family wasn’t well off, but we were in pretty good standing.  I didn’t have to work as a teen.  I was to focus on school.  At one point, I got a job simply because I felt like it and promptly quit when it started interfering with my social life.  Once I got a car (purchased by my parents), I worked so I could have money to go out and pay for gas. The jobs I had were easy and profitable.  I babysat, worked at the gym, worked at the tanning salon.  I had cash, free tanning and a free gym membership.  To top it off, I still got an allowance from my parents.  I was rolling in the dough.

My parents taught me some methods for saving money, but like most parents, I got the message to save money for specific things.  If I wanted something expensive, I would have to say for it.  You want tints on your car? Save money.  A piece of jewelry? Save money. A night out clubbing? Save money.  But that really isn’t saving money.  I got to college and was so broke, I went from shopping weekly at Mandee’s to shopping occasionally at the Salvation Army. Of course, having such generous parents didn’t help. My parents felt the need to go over the top in terms of providing for their kids.

And now, as an adult, I have learned a lot about money.  I have a lot more to learn, but there are some things I wish I knew when I was younger.

1. Money matters – It doesn’t matter if you are loaded, but it matters that you have enough to get by and that you have enough in case something happens (you lose your job, crash your car, get sick, etc).

2. Don’t totally base your career on money – Be realistic. It’s unlikely that you will be a famous artist.  You might not be able to make money doing what you love, but don’t go the other extreme and just get into engineering for the money.  Figure out what you are good at, what you enjoy, and go with it. Do not limit yourself.  You never know when the economy will change and your opportunities will change. Be flexible.

3. Save money for the long haul.  This is a big one. Putting a little away from each babysitting day will pay off. But save for real things, like experiences, travel, cars (eventually mommy and daddy won’t buy them for you anymore), student loans.  You will likely have more debt than you could have ever anticipated, because life is really, really expensive.

4.  Your tax return will make you feel like you’ve won the lottery.  Free money! Ok, not really. Use this money wisely! Pay off some bills.

5. You will worry about money.  Unless you come from money or marry wealthy, at some point you will worry about money, some more than others.  There is no avoiding this.

6. Try not to worry too much.  Having a balance on your credit cards is healthy, as long as you are making consistent payments.  I used to pay them off completely every month.  Life has gotten too expensive to do that, but I still pay more than my monthly and have a very high credit score.  So don’t be afraid to spend, just be smart about it.  Try to really get bang for your buck.  How important are those tints? That class ring, or that spring break trip might yield better memories.

7. You will not make the same money as your friends.  General rule of thumb, I try not to talk salary with most of my friends.  You are friends for reasons that go way beyond dollar signs.  Your cash flow does not determine your worth as a friend or even as a professional in reality.  Some people make more, some people make less.  That’s how it works.

These are the things I know now, but there’s still so much I don’t know.  I don’t totally understand my 401K but I have one, I have no idea how stocks work no matter how many times it is explained to me. But what I do know is that you can’t rely on anything or anyone when it comes to money.  You can lose it all in an instant.  It is not owed to you. It is something you earn, and as an adult, you need to be responsible in what you do with it to make it go the distance.

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