Young, Dumb and Broke: Start Your Financial Independence Journey Early
I'm sure by now you've heard of Khalid's latest single, "Young, Dumb and Broke." It's pretty catchy and once you hear it, it's hard to get it out of your head, but there's a lesson in his lyrics if we look closely.
Young Dumb Broke High School Kids
Let's not take this line at face value kiddos. Yes, you are young, may not have a lot of money, but being DUMB is not an excuse. The internet, your smartphone, Google, access to information is literally at your finger tips. You don't even need to type your questions most of the time. Please take advantage of this time in your life to be young, but to also set yourself up for a little financial knowledge.
I will sound like an old fogey giving you advice when I'm still in my 30s but time is one of your biggest assets right now, even if you don't know it yet.
Trends come and go. Choose your own style. Find what works for you instead of shelling out hundreds and thousands of dollars on fast fashion. Shopping is not a past time. Find something else to do with your time. Save your money. The more you curtail your spending today, the greater you will be. Things to re-consider before buying: makeup, video games, more t-shirts, more shoes, more accessories. In the end, these will become clutter. Learn to consume wisely.
Apply for scholarships. Yup, get your butt in gear. Whether you have decided to go to college or not, there is a wide range of scholarships that you can tap into. Most scholarships go unclaimed because no one applies. Imagine that, someone offers free money, but no one comes to claim it because there were too lazy or "busy" to show up. Get creative. Get a competition started with your friends to see who can get the most. Re-use the same essay. The goal here is to earn some something. If you head to college, use this money to reduce the student loans you will end up borrowing. This is critical as student loans will kill your post-college vibe.
If you have a job and are earning income, save some of it for your weekend activities (cough cough), for prom and invest the rest. The easiest thing to do is to open a ROTH IRA for yourself. A ROTH IRA is an Individual Retirement Account. Do not let the word "retirement" fool you. Retirement in the traditional sense may be far off from your thought process, but we are not looking to retire at 65, we are looking to retire earlier so that we can #yolo and #wanderlust like the cool kids. The earlier you invest, the better. Time is on your hands.
I worked at a movie theater when I was 17. I was making pretty good bucks selling popcorn at the concession for a year. Unfortunately, I did not know that I could have started investing that early. Had I just invested $2000 early on and sacrificed not hitting the mall a few times out of the month, I could be on my way to having a good chunk of money set aside, instead I'm here today hating the smell of popcorn and wishing someone told me to invest early.
We Are Only Young Once
Yes, we are only young once. Today is the youngest you will ever be and every minute from now will be downhill. Ha, kidding, but seriously, adulting can get hard especially when you have to pay the bills, take care of other humans and have to pay for food. Food expires much faster when you are the one paying for it. Take advantage of being young. Ask the questions that need to be asking. Make mistakes. Being naive while young is OK, but being dumb while old is not so OK.
The best thing you can do while young is to learn as much as you can and invest as early as you can. Right now, you don't know what you don't know. Over time, this balance will start shifting.
Don't let them tell you that being young has no advantages. Being young means you have time, are technically savvy, are in the know of pop culture, and have a sense of what is trending. Use that to your advantage. Start thinking differently and start hustling. Find a free class on the web. Learn something new. Teach something new to others. The opportunities are everywhere, open your eyes.
I Can Not Give You Everything
So someday you are going to have a partner and maybe kids and you are going to want to give them everything, but you know what will stop you: not having enough money and not having enough time. Some mistakes you have to go through, but take it from someone who is not so young, but has gone through the typical life that preparation is the key. At this point in your life, your priorities will be different. Post those selfies, listen to your favorite music, but if you want an extraordinary life, start doing things differently.
We Have So Much in Common
Statistically, you are the average of the five friends around you. Sorry to bust the bubble on this. What this means is that like all of your friends, you will incur an average amount of debt, drive the average car, live in an average home, go on the average vacation. There is nothing wrong with being average of course, BUT, the average American life has us working for 40 years and retiring at 65. I know that's not the things that you dream off at 18.
Let's get smart about this. Statistically, you probably will go to college, get your heart broken a few times, get drunk and dial that one person you shouldn't, you probably will get married, you probably will have kids, the odds are pretty high that you will follow the traditional path so let's prepare for that. Get clever with how you use money to finance the life that you want.
I realize it's early in the game to start planning, but this is your best defense against an ordinary life. Take this advice from a former, young, dumb and broke American teen.
Don't let youth be the enemy of starting your financial independence journey today.