It’s Grad Season – But From School and Not Financial Reality

If you’re between the ages of 17 to 21 or so, or have a son or daughter that age group, banks, car dealers, and especially credit card companies are salivating to meet them.

Those companies will do whatever it takes to get their business. Banks, and especially credit card companies, have THE best marketing minds in the country and want your teenager in debt to them – really soon and really deep.

We have a huge emotional attachment to our first credit card. It’s the reason they’ll do whatever it takes to be front and center in your teenager’s wallet. Once they’re first, they own you, and the memories and loyalties are way bigger than the teenager’s first boyfriend or girlfriend – and last a lot longer.

On average, we keep our first credit card for over 15 years. It doesn’t matter that the rate hasn’t been competitive for years, that the perks are junk, or the fees they add on. For this group, the default rates are below average because, in most cases, parents will step in and pay the balance, or at least make the payments.

Why do they target your age group? Because they can’t market much to your parents. Adults already have all the credit cards they need or want. So they can’t grow their business unless they get to you. It’s millions of fresh customers, and bonus: You don’t know squat about credit and the dangers of credit cards, but you do love to impulse buy.

The same applies to banks wanting to get you hooked on an overdraft or line of credit once you have some income. That overdraft will be there for decades, and it’s not like you know how to shop around for the best loan deal or rate.

Car dealers also can’t wait to meet you. How many cars are you going to buy in a lifetime? Five, or six, maybe? Well, the average salesman sells that many in a week! So who do you think knows stuff and totally has the upper hand? It’s like bringing a plastic knife to a gun fight – you’re gonna lose, even if you bring one of your parents or a buddy.

So you’re all set. You’ve got your student loan payments for two decades, you’ve got the credit card, an overdraft, and that car payment. Grade five math says that majority of your income is now going to pay all that every single month – forever. So someone telling you save some money is just a pipedream.

Now you’ll be thinking about how to get rich for the next 40 years. But you’ve already forgotten how easy it really is to actually GET rich, instead of just wishing it. When you were still in high school you probably had a summer job. You worked hard, had a goal of what you wanted to do with that money, saved like a dog, and paid cash for stuff. Plus, because you had so little money, you were careful how you spent it, right?

But that was when you were young. Now you have a paycheck and access to borrowed money, so you’ve forgotten how to get rich already and you’re just getting started. Let me remind you again and maybe, just maybe, you’ll do these things to actually get rich, instead of that coming 40-year dream:

Pay cash for stuff
Don’t buy crap you can’t afford and don’t need
Save at least 10% of your money right off the top

In your high school class maybe one or two people will do that. The rest will just be the people hoping to get rich, looking to the government to lend them a hand, or maybe the lottery will come through for them. I don’t know which group you’re in: The going to be rich, or the just ‘wanna be rich’ group.

Maybe someone in your family will print this out for you. Maybe I’ll see you at the top, or maybe I’ll get an e mail from you in 10 years or so to help you with some of your financial mess.

You’re an 18-20 something who is about to make a lot of financial decisions which will impact you for a lifetime – literally.

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