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5 Financial Literacy Money Lessons I Wish I Learned When I Was A Teenager

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If you are a parent, what are some money lessons you have shared to help improve your child’s financial literacy?

In college terms, let’s say I was entering “Financial Literacy 101” in my mid to late 20’s. I feel like I then graduated to Financial Literacy 201 in my early 30’s and now late-30’s.

I hope for the sake of your children that you start Financial Literacy 101 before your child enters high school or during high school.

5 money lessons I wish I had learned when I was in high school before I applied for college

  1. Save. Save some more. Just like many high school students, I had a part time job. I never saved. I never saved during my college internships. I did not even save several years into my full time job after graduating college. I missed out on my company’s 401K match for several years. I spent every pay check on stuff. Not even saving up to pay back my eventual massive student loans. There was no concept of saving for me. If you give your child a weekly allowance or allowance for finishing chores, please teach your child to save a portion of that and explain why you are taking a percentage of the pay.
  2. Invest. Concept of investing. When I was a high school student, I wanted to be a stockbroker. Why? I wanted to make tons of money. I participated in a high school investing club as well as my college investing club, but I did not take it seriously because the money we were investing was fake. Looking back I wish I took the clubs more seriously. I even took an Investments Management in college and I was immediately turned off because of the numbers involved. The professor made the class lectures as dull as possible. I wish I was more motivated to understand investing because those clubs and classes would have paid off.
  3. How credit cards work and why you need to pay the balance in full every month or else you should seriously reconsider buying. I received no education on how credit cards work from my parents or anyone else. I was too naive and lazy to educate myself. I learned the very hard way and it hurt me financially for years and years. I went from missing one or two monthly payments resulting in credit card issuers lowering my credit line to ultimately defaulting on my credit card payments resulting in my credit cards getting closed.
  4. Why building credit matters. I learned the hard way when I defaulted on both my credit cards and student loan debt. I had no idea the impact of missing even one payment had on my financial future let alone going into default on several accounts. The first time I realized I made the biggest financial mistake of my life is when I leased a car. The interest rate (or money factor as it is called for leases) at that time for my new car was equivalent to 12%. My main goal was to get into an Infiniti coupe only a few years out of college. How much of a money moron was I! The lease car payment was one that I never missed a payment and looking back that was the first step in getting out of the financial mess to which I put myself. Instead of paying nearly $650 a month, imagine the wealth I could have accumulated if I had gotten a used car and cut that payment by a third. It took years…literally years to rebuild my credit. I went from 500s to now in the 700s. It took 10+ years to crack the 700s!
  5. Why budgeting is helpful especially if you are in debt. Not so much a necessity as it is a helpful tool to get out of debt. I quickly realized that using excel spreadsheets was very inconvenient for me and I became lazy. Back then I did not have a smartphone so it certainly was not as convenient as it is today. That said just understanding the concepts of budgeting would have helped turn on that light bulb. I did not start budgeting until just recently this year (May 2018 in fact) because I became very motivated to accelerate paying off my $34K student loan debt.

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