The Best Financial Advice Your Kids Will Never Ask For
When my away-at-college daughter “accidentally” charges a Lyft to the family credit card, my husband sends her a payment request on Venmo. He gets an apology and immediate payment. Do you know about Venmo?! How can you have a kid in high school without Venmo? I’m just kidding. I only learned about it what seems like a few minutes ago, when our youngest was in high school. She used the Venmo app to get the $2 or $3 from friends who borrowed money, but always forgot to pay it back, or to get on-the-spot payments for the team t-shirts, which is far superior to the “my mom will pay your mom at the game” system. We LOVE Venmo.
Today’s technology advances are hard to keep up with, and they are helping our kids set up their financial systems and habits without our input. The downside is that our kids can be getting the message that they know more than we do. This, we have to nip in the bud, my friends.
Sure, the way we pass money around has changed, but the way they think about, plan and protect their money is age-old wisdom for which they very much need guidance.
So listen up, kiddos. You will have nothing to Venmo if you don’t know a few of these financial truths:
1. Pay yourself first.
As soon as you start earning money, you will start paying people some of it: the landlord, the phone company, the tax man, and the woman who does your pedicures.
One day, you’ll add it up and realize that you’ve earned hundreds of thousands of dollars, and all you have to show for it is a spotty credit score. As you gaze upon your interest-accruing credit card statement asking, “So this is the minimum payment?,” the savings-savvy lady who polished your toenails may be leaning over her cruise ship balcony rail asking, “So this is Martinique?”
Put ten percent of what you earn in a savings account to accumulate your own wealth and security. You won’t miss it, if you get in the habit early. Pay yourself first; and no matter whom else you pay, you’re moving forward with your goals. (When times get tight, you might need to do your own pedicures.
2. Check your paycheck.
Make sure you know what you are being paid and what is being taken out. In these days of auto deposit, some people don’t bother to look at their paystubs to see what their deductions are and when they come out.
3. Have a list of things you like to do that don’t cost money.
Petting puppies in the pet store, meeting friends for chess in the park, poetry readings at the library…fun doesn’t always come with a price tag.
4. Little habits can cost you big.
Let’s say, just hypothetically, that you are in the grips of an expensive beverage addiction. You line up, day after day, to pay for a pricey coffee, rather than serving yourself for pennies at home.
The $4 a day (being conservative for impact) you spend on fancy coffee adds up to $1,460 a year, which would be enough for a down payment on a decent used car. But you won’t buy it. The car, that is. Because you bought the coffee.
So, think hard before you start smoking or hoarding cats.
5. Charity begins at home.
You’ll be in a better position to save the homeless if you know how you’re going to pay your rent this month.
6. Baking soda is cheap and does 52 amazing things.
7. Know when to read the fine print.
When accepting terms and conditions of the wireless network at the Taco Shack, don’t sweat the tiny type. But if you’re signing a lease, an employment contract, or anything that makes you nervous, read it all. Then get a second set of eyes, just to be sure. Learning too late of a “double-rent-for-pets clause” can make that dream apartment a very stinky deal.
8. Always carry some cash.
Seriously. What if your phone dies and you want a hot dog?
9. Check your pockets.
Before you do your own laundry or hand clothes over to the dry cleaner, check every single pocket. This means putting your hand all the way into the pockets,
not just scrunching the pants in search of foreign shapes. Paper, which can be of great value, is quite soft, especially after it’s been marinating in the bottom of a dirty clothes hamper. A pen in the laundry can ruin a whole load; and washing a love note or meeting reminder can ruin your whole week.
Your mother may not have mentioned this, likely because the things you left in your pockets over the years would have broken your heart or embarrassed you both. And if she found money in your pockets, she likely considered it God’s little thank-you tips.
10. Things break.
One of the hardest parts of growing up is realizing that nearly everything breaks or wears out.
Don’t let it derail you. Fix what you can and accept what you can’t. And save the broken pieces, just in case.
11. Get a toolbox, a sewing kit, and a can-do attitude.
Now, you can fix anything, except a bad neighbor or a broken heart.
12. Don’t marry for money.
But keep in mind that people who are good with money are usually good at a lot of things.
13. Paying retail is a sign of weakness.
(Except for gifts, such as books. Like the one these excerpts came from, for example.)
This wisdom was excerpted from the book Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone: Advice Your Mom Would Give if She Thought You Were Listening, by Becky Blades. Order it HERE.