Ah, it’s grad season for two groups: those graduating from high school and heading into the work world or university, as well as those just now graduating from university.
When I ask any adult when they were last debt free, the answer is almost always that they haven’t been debt free since they were your age. When they were 18 or 19 – and they’ve been in debt since then. Sad but true – that’ll be you.
Getting wealthy comes much easier if you learn to say “I can’t afford it,” and spend less than you earn. When you were still in high school, you probably had a summer job or other income. 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 now you have a paycheque, and access to borrowed money, which includes student loans and a credit card. So you’ve forgotten how to get rich already and you’re just getting going. Let me remind you again and maybe, just maybe, you’ll do these things to actually get rich, instead of just making that your 40-year dream:
Pay cash for stuff
Don’t buy crap you can’t afford and don’t need
Save ten percent of your money
Maybe someone in your family will print this out for you. Maybe someone cares enough to go over to Mosaic and get you the It’s Your Money book. Maybe I’ll see you at the top, or maybe I’ll get an e mail from you in five years or so to help you with some of your financial mess.
If you’re graduating from high school, it’s a valuable investment to establish credit. Read the chapter on how to do that and the credit card chapter to understand the rate, perks and limit traps that you’ll be dodging a lifetime.
Plus, leave your credit card at home – don’t pack it in your wallet. The first time you charge a consumable such as gas or food on your credit card and do not pay it in full when the statement arrives you’re in financial trouble. From there, it’ll just get worse. Miss paying off your balance and it’s twice as hard the following month when the balance has likely doubled. Then, the credit card companies have won and have you hooked for the next few decades.
If you’re just graduating from university, I bet you’re sick of living like a poor student and ready for some major spending. The biggest financial damage is done in the first year following graduation. Get the job, get the paycheque, but if you can delay gratification and live like a poor student for one more year, you’ll have an incredible amount of money saved in that year. Once you turn on the spending tap you aren’t going to be able to turn it off again – so just delay it one year.
Finally, there was a great article on the ten choices you’ll regret in 10 years. It includes avoiding change, trying to impress others, and giving up when the going gets tough. I’ll post the link on the yourmoneybook.com site. You should add one more: Not learning from your financial mistakes by denying them…