Welcome to this post, Lesson Learned: 7 Pieces Of Advice About Money!
Today, I would like to share some of the life and money lessons I’ve learned over the years. I’m a full-time employee, side hustler, and a mom of 2 beautiful children and 3 rescued dogs. Also, I’m a wife of a loving husband of 24 years. We are living debt-free (except for our mortgage on a new home).
Lesson Learned In Early Days
Looking back on the early days of my life, we didn’t have much growing up financially. We never had fancy toys, fancy cars, or lived in a fancy house. My parents worked hard to support me and my younger sister. Though, we didn’t feel deprived of anything, really. Even, my sister went to a private school throughout her schooling years. I then joined her when I began middle school.
As a kid growing up in a working-class family, I remembered seeing my parents always working on their side hustles and trying their best to make ends meet. We lived in a 2-bedroom 1 bath house that sits on a big piece of land which was provided by my mom’s employer free of charge (she was a federal employee). My dad worked for the federal as well. They both had excellent benefits. As you can tell, we lived rent-free for decades. Furthermore, all utilities were paid for by my mom’s employer.
Though, it made me think sometimes – why do they have to work so much? Above all, I just couldn’t understand why they had to work so hard and so much if we lived rent and utilities free. My sister and I didn’t get to know our dad as much growing up since he was always away working somewhere. We learned later that the reason was that they had so much debt and never had an emergency fund or a savings account or anything like that.
When my sister and I finished high school, my mom decided to take an early retirement package and worked on her side hustle full time. My dad followed my mom’s path a few years later. Since my mom was no longer working for the federal government, we had to move out, get our own place, and pay for our own utilities. I didn’t think my parents were prepared for the consequences of not having free housing (and free utilities).
Her business didn’t make a profit in the first year to two. You know, after all of the start-up costs and a mortgage, we left with almost nothing. I could see my parents struggled with our living expenses. In addition, my sister and I clearly saw my parents struggle with our tuition.
I’d never seen my parents work this hard at anything. They learned advertisement, customer service, and business, just to name a few. Eventually, my mom’s business picked up and provided a steady income. My mom learned the business the hard way. They even went into debt to support our living expenses during those years. Finally, they were able to pay all their debt, including the home mortgage less than 5 years after my mom’s early retirement. Thanks to my dad who was always in great support of my mom’s passion, failures, and success.
Thanks to my parents, I had all of these lessons learned early in life. I also witnessed all the hard times they went through financially to keep all of us fed without having to face them on my own. I could see clearly that marriage is tough. A supporting spouse really plays a big role in a good marriage. Surely, I’ve learned that having bad debt will destroy your financial well-being. It was so hard to get over that high debt hump.
I also had a chance to learn entrepreneurship through their side hustle’s successes and failures. Had my mom been afraid to quit her great-benefit job, I bet you that they would have been still working at their job (and still have debt) to this day. Furthermore, I learned that if you work hard at anything, you could accomplish almost anything. It just takes a little more effort to win the battle.
I do believe in luck, but I also believe in hard work. The harder you work the luckier you get. It takes courage, patience, and hard work to do many things that my parents did.
Having A Family Of My Own
I met my husband when we were in college. Right after my graduation, we married. We came from totally different backgrounds and different upbringings. We waited a long time to start a family, 14 years to be exact (which you will see why). My husband was still in college when we married and didn’t work. I had a minimum wage job providing our living expenses and his tuition. Life was tough.
We started with nothing. Certainly, we struggled financially. For some months, we had to count pennies to pay our rent. If we had enough money to pay our rent, we considered ourselves lucky. Cleary, we lived paycheck-to-paycheck. On the other hand, we were happy and didn’t have any debt.
When my husband graduated from college, I went back to school to earn graduate degrees (in the hope to get out of the minimum wage job cycle). And I did. A few years after I started grad school, we bought our first home. My husband didn’t have a student loan, and neither did I. I went to grad school full-time while working 3 jobs which enabled me to graduate debt-free. Fortunately, I was able to land a 6-figure job shortly after graduation. Our finances had never been in a much better shape. We even had a savings account and a taxable brokerage account. Above that, we kept our frugal living lifestyle.
Just a year after I started my first real job, our first child was born. My husband was unemployed at the time. We started accumulating debt. The flashback of my poor childhood hit me. I didn’t want to work to pay bills (and to pay interest on that massive debt).
One day, I started making a get-out-of-debt plan and ran our numbers on a spreadsheet. Regardless of my husband’s employment status, I was so determined and so desperate to get out of debt. You know, I just didn’t want to wait until he had a job to start. In under 6 long years later, I managed to pay off nearly $100,000 of debt completely on one income.
Believing in myself was a big push on our debt journey. You have to believe in yourself that you can do it. If you don’t, who else would?
Lesson Learned In Later Days
When our second child was born, I knew right away not to spend as we did for our first child. Having kids doesn’t need to be expensive. I learned that emotion plays a big role in our spending on our kids (and other many things, as well). We thought a baby would need this fancy nursery with expensive furniture and expensive decors or those fancy toys. Actually, they were all just in our heads. Babies only need love & care, and other basic necessities.
We now use second-handed, thrift store clothes and toys. I love shopping at a marketplace and thrift stores. Sometimes, I’m able to find free stuff on a marketplace. We even get some of our clothes and toys for free from churches. Washing them really does a good job of cleaning. This saves us a ton of money. And, we don’t buy toys period.
The 6-years of getting out of debt had taught me some tough money lessons. I never would want to be in that situation ever again. Who would? It only takes a few money mistakes and a few bad financial decisions and habits to get where we were. On the other hand, we never spend profusely on anything. However, some bad life-changing events have put us in a deep financial hole.
To this day, we still kept living the same frugal lifestyle.
7 Pieces Of Advice About Money
1. Avoid debt
From my experience, I can clearly see that debt slows everything down, especially financial goals. It holds you, hostage. You can see from my parents and our experiences. I would advise you to try to avoid debt as much as possible.
However, debt is not always bad. There are debts out there that are not as bad as consumer debt. For example, a mortgage loan, this kind of debt is considered a good debt according to some money experts. A mortgage on rental properties or even a private lending loan on investment properties is also considered good debt. If you can leverage this kind of debt that can help you build your real estate portfolio, then it’s good debt.
We bought our first home when we were 26. It was a single-family home with acreage. We spent most of our time, energy, and money on the yard maintaining it. With little knowledge about real estate, we didn’t even think about other choices we could have made. Instead of buying a single-family home, we could have bought a duplex. So we could rent out the other unit and have someone else pay our mortgage. Learning to leverage some debt can help you get ahead financially.
Listen to money or personal finance podcasts. Read personal finance blogs. Join personal finance Facebook groups/forums. Be conscious about every financial decision you make.
2. Avoid lifestyle inflation
If you spend more when you make more, you won’t have money left to save. How could you get ahead financially if you just keep spending more as your income increases? It’s just like you would never make more money because you would spend the extra money you earn.
It’s so tempting to reward yourself when you make more money. Definitely, it’s easier said than done. I know, I’d been through the lifestyle creep many times. However, if you could save the extra money, you will have a nice balance in your bank account. This chunk of money can help weather any storms life throws at you. Even better, you can invest it for the future. Building your emergency fund, increasing your retirement contribution, opening a Roth IRA, or opening a brokerage account is a good way to use that extra money you make.
I’ve seen many people that keep increasing their lifestyle once they make more. Fancy cars, a bigger house, and expensive vacations among other things they spend on. Warren Buffet said, “it’s not about how much you make – it’s about how much you save”.
Remember this doesn’t have to be forever. Once you’ve established a good amount of savings, you could then reward yourself every now and then. Gratification is key.
3. Save money for rainy days and retirement
Nothing lasts forever. According to the statistics, at least one bad major life event can occur during a person’s 10-year period. You need an emergency fund. There’s always a chance of unexpected expenses, lost income, or health issues. There’s always the possibility of a natural disaster that you can’t control.
An emergency fund of 3 to 6 months will help you sleep better at night knowing you have that fund to fall back on. I recommend putting it in an online high-yield savings account or a good money market account where you can withdraw your fund easily. Also, don’t forget to replenish the emergency fund whenever it gets used.
Surely, your emergency fund turns a bad event less stressful.
Retirement saving needs to become a financial priority instead of an afterthought. Planning for retirement is not for old people anymore. The best time to plan for your retirement savings is when you begin your career or when you earn your first paycheck or even before your first real job. You don’t want to miss the power of compound interest. Compounding interest takes time to compound. It’s never too late to start. The second best time to start your retirement savings is now.
Remember to pay yourself first.
4. Get a degree that pays
If you decided to go to college or get a higher degree, try to aim for a marketable degree. Do your research before you decide which major of study you’d like to go for. If you happen to hate any degrees that pay a lot or you have no passion for them, please consider weighing your options and pros & cons. I mean, you don’t want to just go ahead and study something you are so passionate about but realize later that you can’t find a job or it has low pay.
Why would you spend several years studying when you find yourself having a hard time supporting yourself when graduated? We all need to eat and have a roof over our heads. I believe finances are as important as passions.
5. Marry the right person
I know, I know, you can’t really pick money over love. No one hopes to get divorced when they say I do. No one hopes to fight when they are married. Therefore, try to be conscious about your future spouse by trying to marry the right person in the first place. I have seen too many examples of failed marriages because of money. Sad but true, money is the number one cause of divorce in America.
Money and stress often go hand in hand. Oftentimes, the subject of money can make you feel awkward. You would be afraid to talk about money with your significant other. However, it’s so crucial to openly talk about your money goals and financial situations before getting married. Financial stress is real. A supportive spouse can help you go through tough situations. Openly talking about money and understanding each other’s financial goals are important for a healthy marriage.
Being on the same page about money is key.
6. Invest in low-cost index funds
Whenever you feel you’re ready and are financially fit enough, please consider investing in low-cost index funds. You can do this by opening a brokerage account with a brokerage firm. I recommend Vanguard, Fidelity, or Charles Schwab.
Low-cost index funds offer low or zero fees. This means the money you invest (and the compound interest you earn) is not paid to somebody else (e.g, fund managers, brokerage firms, etc.). Instead, it will stay in your account rather than a high percentage going to those people.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to investing. There’s no one correct way to invest your money. Everybody is different, has different goals, and has different life situations. As long as you are committed to continuing learning about saving money and investing, you’ll be on your way to wealth.
The most important thing about investing is that do whatever makes you feel comfortable and don’t invest in anything that you don’t understand. Educating yourself is key to start.
7. Get insurance
Disaster happens every day. Protect yourself and your family by getting appropriate insurance.
You work hard to achieve financial goals. Therefore, your finances need to be protected. Life is unpredictable. Accidents and unexpected events do happen. As I mentioned before, experts say during a person’s lifetime, a life-changing event does occur at least once in every decade. You generally have auto insurance, health insurance, homeowners’ insurance/renter insurance, or maybe a group life insurance through your employer. If you don’t have these basic insurances, then try to get them.
Consider getting adequate insurance to protect yourself/your family and your income like umbrella policy insurance, term life insurance, disability insurance, and long-term care insurance.
Why do we need to get this kind of insurance anyway? You want to protect your income due to an inability to work or income loss. If you’re the main or the only income provider in the family, this is a must. I personally have term life insurance policies. It’s much more affordable than whole life insurance. Also, I do hope that by the end of my policies, my family will no longer need my income. I mean, my home mortgage is paid for and my kids, and I no longer need my financial support.
Consider getting disability insurance. Life always throws challenges at us. One tragic accident or one major illness can truly damage your finances. You could do this as an add-on option on your life insurance policy.
We are all getting old. Also, consider getting long-term care insurance. It helps pay care expenses and senior living costs. Educate yourself on the subject well in advance. Be sure you read all the fine prints before committing to one particular insurance firm. I personally plan to get my long-term care insurance when I hit 50.
You have a choice when it comes to money that enters your life. We all know the buying power of money. However, only a few people realize that money itself can make more money. It’s up to you. You can spend it today or save it or invest it to make more money tomorrow.
Life is not always about money but you should always be clear about the money choice you make.
That’s it. I hope my life experience and my money lessons benefit you in some small ways. Is there anything else you would like to add or share? Please leave it in the comment below. Last but not least, I would like to thank Teen Financial Freedom for the wonderful opportunity to share my life stories with all of you.
If you enjoyed this post, please make sure to comment your thoughts below and share it on social media!
Check out more content for:
Use this link to sign up for a brokerage account on WeBull and get TWO FREE STOCKS valued up to $1400 when you fund your account!
Join The Group Of Teens Dedicated To Achieving Financial Freedom
Disclaimer: Some of the links used on this site are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, we receive a commission each time you purchase something through our link. It helps us cover the costs of running this blog. We only recommend the best products available.
Disclaimer: We are not experts or certified financial advisers. Our advice for you based on what has worked and continues to work for us. If financial problems occur we are not responsible for them and advise that you speak to a professional. That being said, we believe wholeheartedly that the advice we give to you will help your financial situation greatly.