I get it; Matthew, you’re 20 and, Nina, you’re 17 going on 30, which, by default, means you both already know everything about anything. But as time passes, you’ll begin to realize that the older you get, the smarter I get.
Keep that in mind because, as your Dad, it’s my sacred duty to at least try and pass along a little fatherly financial foresight.
Scoff all you want, but now that you’re both finally ready — or at least almost ready — to set out on your own, dear old Dad is going to share a few pearls of money-saving wisdom. Here we go …
Learn how to cook. Cooking is a basic life skill that everyone should learn. That’s because when you’re just starting out on a tight budget, cooking at home is the perfect recipe for saving money. And, Matthew, keep this in mind: It’s a proven fact that 99.426% of all females love men who can whip up dinner without a microwave.
Start saving for retirement now. As a teenager, I earned roughly $25,000 working in a grocery store over several years; that’s equivalent to almost $62,000 today. Unfortunately, because I figured old age was an eternity away, I didn’t put a single cent toward my retirement nest egg. If I had invested just 10% of my earnings in 1983 — and never contributed another dime — that $2500 contribution would be worth more than $18,000 today, assuming an annual return of 6%.
Buy a first car that’s dependable, not flashy. When I was 16 your Uncle Kevin was kind enough to give me an old sedan he no longer needed. But even though it was free, it still cost money to keep it running. You can minimize the financial impacts of owning a vehicle by making sure your first car is fuel-efficient, dependable, and at least a few years old. Save the flashy stuff for later.
Learn how to use a spreadsheet. A spreadsheet is arguably one of the greatest tools ever invented. Ever since we’ve been married, Mom and I have been using one to efficiently track our spending habits. Remember, a spreadsheet not only helps you effectively manage your finances, it will also greatly simplifies your life too.
Live at home for as long as possible. I know it’s not good for your social life, but living with Mom and Dad after graduating from high school will save you lots of money in rent, utilities, food and other living expenses that you can use to help cover college, or business start-up expenses . It will also give you a head start on your retirement savings. You’re welcome.
Know what you want to do before you go to college. College is so much more expensive today than when I went to school. If you expect me to help defray some of your expenses, figure out what you want to do before committing yourself to an expensive university. Otherwise, you risk earning a worthless college degree that’s guaranteed to result in a poor return on your investment. By the way, there’s no need to rush — you can always attend a community college until you get things figured out.
Don’t rush into marriage. Divorce is an extremely expensive proposition, which is why choosing a marriage partner is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in life — so take your time! Studies show that divorce rates are higher for people who marry at a younger age. And, Nina, don’t fall for the romantic notion that everyone has a perfect soul mate; it’s not true. There really are plenty of fish in the sea.
Before you buy a house, rent. Home ownership comes with big risks and responsibilities, which is why it’s not for everyone. There are lots of financial and personal factors involved in choosing whether to ultimately buy or rent. If you aren’t living at home, rent for awhile so you can carefully consider what’s best for you before finally committing.
Hold off awhile before having kids. I’ll keep this short and sweet. Although they’re worth every penny, children are notoriously expensive, so spend a year or two enjoying life with your spouse before you decide to start a family. Besides, kids, I’m really in no hurry to be a grandpa. At least not yet.
Photo Credit: Clokka