Set your financial course.
Many of us have that question in our head. Some more so than others. What if I could tell my younger self what to expect? What if I could tell him the future. When I was a senior in high school, the country artist, Brad Paisley made a music video to his song “Letter to Me” at my school. Which happens to be the same high school he went to.
He sings about telling his younger self in a letter what to look for and what memories to hold on to. It is such a great message to younger folks still in high school. Now, I am not one to “relive the glory days” but I sure would have appreciated some better financial advice, and listened to it at a younger age. Although I am very grateful for all my experiences and terrible decisions (opportunities to learn) I’ve made, I definitely could be in a better situation today. We all could really.
Unfortunately as of today, the financial education we receive from the public schools just isn’t adequate in today’s society. A large majority of us do not get educated by our parents or guardians in this field either. So right out into the real world we go and it’s a total chaos.
Student loans, auto loans, credit cards, mortgages, and even taxes can set a person, who has never been correctly educated financially, back in a hole. It doesn’t help our societies agenda seems to push kids into a world where a college education is the only way to get a job. Which by the way, costs a substantial amount of money to attend. According to valuepenguin.com, average tuition can cost 17k-50k PER semester. And to attend a flagship university, it can be even higher.
That’s where the whole minimum wage issue comes into play. But that’s not what we are discussing right now. Not every person is made for the typical four year college degree. Some of us, including myself succeed better in a “hands on” environment. I’m not saying one way or the other is the best route. Either way you go, there is opportunity to work for money, or have money work for you.
Knowledge is said to be power.
Invest. Not quite the stock market or into some business. Invest into your financial education. Before you go out and buy a new car, or house, or anything, make sure you have a great understanding of how money works. This may include, but not limited to, checking/credit/savings accounts, stock market, auto loans, mortgages, IRA/401k, budgeting and taxes. No matter the path you choose in life, financial education, in my eyes, is the single most important skill to obtain when entering the real world. So read some books, join a forum, ask professionals, and educate yourself.
Where do you want to go?
Set goals. Make a list of short term and long term goals. Whether it be travel goals, or savings goal or even make a certain amount of money by a certain age. I can not make the list for you. Only you know what you want. Be sure to give yourself obtainable goals for short term success, and a bigger goal for the long run. After you complete the list, you’ll need to make a game plan on how exactly everything is going to work out. Remember even the best laid out plans can crumble, so be prepared to take some shots to the chin. It’s all apart of the learning process. Always remember, you can’t get anywhere if you don’t know where you are going. Be sure to set, and write down your goals.
Take some risk. This is where real investing starts. For me, I want the financial freedom of never having to work for someone else. In order to get there some risk has to be involved. Whether it be stocks, real estate investing, or even investing into startups, I want money working for me. Not everyone has the same goals though. You may educate yourself financially and still want a stock broker, or find a partner to invest real estate for you. There is nothing wrong with that, but know there is going to be risk involved. Not everyone wants to take risk and I understand that. Again there is nothing wrong with that, but I’m hungry and most of you are too. By now through other life experiences (asking out your crush, asking for a promotion) we know that the things that make us nervous are usually worth the potential of being turned down. Fear can keep you from many things you desire, but fear is nothing but our minds playing tricks on us. Follow your instincts and take some risk, trust me you’ll love the outcome.
We all have heard the saying, “knowledge is power”. However that is only true if the knowledge is applied. You can learn all you want but if you don’t use it or pass it on it’s completely useless. My mom always told me “you learn something new everyday” and I’ll be damned if that’s not true. We should strive to learn everyday. It’s how we grow as individuals. The people who get stuck or left behind are the ones who think they know everything or their way of operating is the only way possible. Keep an open mind and grow.
I’ve had some great mentors through my career. One thing they all had in common were goals. They would constantly ask about my goals, and we would discuss their goals also. Knowing where a person wants to go will help you serve them. When other people know where you want to go, they can better serve you as well. Be sure to make, write, and communicate your goals often.
Everyone experiences wins and losses. Most people play to not lose. But champions play to win. Doing so takes risk. Depending on how big your goal is usually determines the amount of risk involved. Don’t ever be afraid to play the game, remember what Wayne Gretzky said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.
I can not guarantee any results for you. That’s only going to be determined by your efforts and drive to succeed. But if I could talk to my younger self, I’d tell him follow your dreams and take those risks. It’s worth it.