Back when I was in high school I remember thinking to myself “why do I need to learn this stuff, I’ll never use it in the real world”. And I’m sure students today say the very same thing!
Well, now I know that some of those things I learned in school were worthwhile, even if I didn’t use them in my job or everyday life.
On the other hand, there were lots of things I didn’t learn in school that I wish I had. Mostly about money. But back them I don’t remember being able to take any personal finance classes in school. So I had to learn some of these lessons “the hard way” (you know, by trial and error).
Is it the school’s job to teach kids about money? I don’t know. Maybe not. I thought I knew it all back then (boy was I wrong!!!) so even if they had maybe I would have just ignored the lessons anyway. Oh well.
Anyway, here are 5 lessons about money that you will probably never learn in school – but if you want to avoid all the financial problems I went through (okay, I’ll admit, if I wasn’t so focused on doing EXACTLY the opposite of what my parents told me, maybe I would have avoided some of these problems – which may be a good reason why they should be taught in school), just give me a few minutes to explain:
- 1) You are responsible for earning your own money.In a perfect world, good people would be wealthy and bad people would struggle financially. But money doesn’t work that way. If you’re lucky enough that your parents are giving you enough money to live right now, good for you. But the sooner you start taking charge of your own spending and saving, the better off you’ll be. And even when you start getting a decent paycheck, learn skills that can make you money so that YOU are in control, and not your boss – no job lasts forever!
- 2) College will cost you lots of money – and still may not lead to a well paying career. For many people college is a good investment. It allows you to build skills to start a career, build some maturity, and learn independence. But it costs a TON of money. And unless you get a lot of grants or scholarships, you will need to pay it back. So look at all your options – working for a few years while you decide what you want to do, live at home (I know, yuck!) and go to a community college, or
look at other types of skill training. There are many different paths that lead to success! (also, see #4 below).
- 3) If you wait until you have enough money to start saving it will be too late.Some people wait until they get a good job to save. Others wait until they get settled in a new house or apartment. Others wait until they graduate. When is the right time to start saving? Right now! Even if it’s $5 or $10 a week, get into the habit of saving regularly right away. If you wait until you have enough money…well, some people are old and gray before that time comes, and by then its too late, sorry.
- 4) You can follow your dream or follow the money, but they don’t always go together. There is nothing wrong with following your dream. Just like there is nothing wrong with following the money. A lot of people say “do what you love and the money will take care of itself.” Unfortunately, that is not always true. Before you choose your major in college or trade school or decide not to go to school and work, just be aware that salaries vary a LOT! And doing what you love may not lead to
the type of lifestyle you want to live.
- 5) Paying by credit card and paying by cash are NOT the same. Sadly this is one of the hardest lessons for people to learn. Just because you have room on your credit card doesn’t mean you can afford to buy something. Not that credit cards are evil. You just need to be aware that once you start carrying a balance that you don’t pay off every month, it starts growing bigger faster than you can imagine, and makes getting out of debt difficult.
OK, can you tell I have a little bit of teacher in me? Sorry. I have a degree in teaching, even though I never actually got a teaching job. Anyway, hope you learned something from these lessons that will spare you some of the money struggles a lot of people go through these days.
This is a guest post by Kris Bickell, the owner of www.Debt-Tips.com, a website dedicated to helping people find ways to pay off their credit card bills. You’ll find lots of practical tips for getting out of debt, fixing your credit problems, and overcoming your financial problems.