This weekend, while driving to the bowling alley, Carter asked me a question. I don’t know what prompted it, but it was a good question. Keep in mind Carter is 15. “Mom, if you could give me 3 pieces advice about money what would they be?” He’s such a deep thinker! I don’t know where these things come from, but what 15 year old asks a parent for financial advice? When they’re not in trouble:).
Anyway, it was a good question and we were about 3 blocks from the bowling alley…at the most! I had to think quickly. So I told him, this is just off the cuff, the first things that come to my mind.
- Buy lottery tickets and buy them often! If it comes down to milk or lottery tickets – go with the lottery tickets! You can never go wrong buying lottery tickets.
- If there are still checks in your checkbook, you still have money in your account. Just keep writing checks until they’re gone.
- Get lots of credit cards! Its free money! If they extend you credi,t it must be ok to charge that much. After all, the credit card companies would never steer you wrong!
Ok, not really, but it would have been fun to see his reaction:)!
So here’s what I really said:
- Learn how to create a budget and live by it. I think this would be the single most valuable lesson I could learn. If you have a budget and you live by it, you wouldn’t go into debt. You would be deliberate in how you spend your money, with a plan for every dollar. How freeing it would be to operate that way. Clearly, we don’t. How many of us, if we laid it out on paper ahead of time, would plan to buy a $33,000 car, with a 63 month loan, that would depreciate in value by 60% in the first 4 years. But that’s the average cost of a new car and the average length of loan. Somehow when you put it on paper it’s all more clear. (Side note: we don’t have a $33,000 car or a 63 month loan!)
- Start saving for your retirement as soon as you can. The earlier you start the quicker it will grow. Have it automatically deducted from your paycheck and put away the max your employer will match. You just can’t make up for a late start.
- The last one took me a bit longer to come up with. But #3 was to learn as much as you can about investments. Make investments your hobby. Learn about mutual funds. Familiarize yourself with annuities, stocks, portfolios. Get into it. It will pay off in the end.
The more I think about it there are so many more things I want to tell him. We’ll have to have another conversation…or many more conversations! So now I’m wondering, do we teach kids enough about money? Do we as parents do a good job of preparing them to manage money as adults? I think I better add this to the list of things I need to teach the kids before they head off to college.
Right after I go to the store for a lottery ticket!