For the record, I’m not a certified financial anything! I’m just a guy who grew up poor, worked at all sorts of jobs, went to Mohawk twice and found myself a comfortable niche. My advice comes from the ups and downs of my life experience.
A lot of people say: do what you love, chase your dreams, etc. Well that’s nice, but it’s hard to buy food with a dream or pay hydro bills with a cliché these days!
For the most part we educate ourselves in the hopes of finding a career with a balance between our passion, skill and expectations. A job can provide an income and opportunities but jobs are fluid: in demand one day and gone the next, so be prepared. A job won’t make you wealthy because there are only so many hours in a day that you can sell to an employer. You need some form of passive income from savings, investments or a business. Don’t be scared to try any of these things to some extent. Saving is easy, just commit some portion of your income to a separate account and ignore it. In time, those savings can be used to prime your investments. Read up on investment options and make some baby steps: mutual funds, stocks, property. Back in 2006 I talked with a friend about buying Apple stock at about $80, we agreed it already rose a lot and decided not to buy it. In a classic case of “Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda” realization, that $80 share would be worth the equivalent of $840 today. Grrr!
Debt is bad. Some debt is less bad, like student loans or mortgages. If you have debt that charges more than about 5% interest, paying it off is your best investment. If you find yourself in a hole… Stop digging! A big income doesn’t amount to much if you chronically spend it all: Keeping it counts! Unless you feel special leaving price tags on things for others to see, paying full price is a fools game. I’ve never owned a brand new car, I’ve discovered that gently used things can be found cheap and less, really is more. The richest people I know live very modestly, those that “look” the richest seldom are.
As I get older, I realize that spending on “stuff” is a trap. Technology conditioned us to accept planned obsolescence and has influenced our behavior in other areas of life. I love tools, but a of couple years ago I admitted that I have enough tools and quit cold turkey! Every year the governments dig deeper into my pockets, companies want to up-sell me at every turn and “wants” magically become “needs”. I refuse to be a revenue tool! So now I’ve learned that spending on experiences, creating memories and good feelings is much more enjoyable. I see it as an investment in happiness and last I checked, happiness can’t be taxed! So take that vacation, play golf every weekend, get past the color and try guacamole! YOLO!
That great job will give you the cash flow to get moving, but don’t be scared to save and invest too. It’s YOUR money, don’t squander it hoping someone will be there to bail you out. Freedom from debt is a great feeling and will reduce your stress. Get what you need, know the difference between need and want, make more memories than landfill trash.
A book that inspired me and my kids to see things differently was “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. It’s an easy read, and will get your mind thinking about your potential. Borrow it from the library for free!
– Robert Kulig
Computer Systems Technology ‘98