More Americans than ever are struggling to make ends meet. Is this because wages have remained stagnant while expenses creep up? Could it be that health care costs more, while insurance covers less? Predatory lenders? Skyrocketing tuition? Unregulated capitalism and unfettered corporate greed?
No. The problem is financial literacy. Too many young people are making idiotic short-term financial decisions that hamper long-term success. That’s why it’s so important that they break that habit by purchasing my book “How to Stop Making Idiotic Short-Term Financial Decisions That Hamper Long-Term Success” (MSRP $27.99).
Here are a handful of the lessons that I share in my guide to guaranteed green:
Stop buying coffee and start saving for a house.
A large latte at Starbucks—which is absolutely an item that young people still purchase and the place at which they purchase it—costs $3.65. Meanwhile, the median price of a home in the United States is around four hundred thousand dollars. That means that if you just skipped one coffee per day, you could save up enough cash to buy your dream house in just over three hundred years. (Although, by that time, the median home price will probably be closer to one or two quadrillion dollars—so you might want to skip two coffees a day.)
Cut costs around the home.
Let’s say you’re ahead of the curve and already have a place to live. The skimping has only just begun. The average American spends more than a hundred dollars on electricity every month—and, as someone with an MFA in economics, I can tell you with a reasonable amount of confidence: that’s twelve hundred dollars a year. But imagine how much you could save if you simply didn’t turn on the light during your middle-of-the-night bathroom visits; how much earlier you’d retire if you just stopped opening your refrigerator; how many more vacations you’d take if you charged your iPad using your next-door neighbor’s potato battery, which won second place at the Johnston Middle School Science Fair. Sure, a life without electricity might make you feel like a caveman—but when was the last time you heard about a caveman having to take out a second mortgage?
Ditch the credit card.
Too many young people get lured into debt because they think they can spend money that they don’t have. That’s why, since the publication of my first book, “The Millionaire Mind-Set: How You Can Become Rich Through a Lifetime of Severe Frugality (Although That’s Not How I Did It),” I’ve recommended that anyone who wants a stable financial future should stay the heck away from credit cards. I’ve taken some criticism throughout the years from naysayers who contend that the only way for a cash-poor person to secure an apartment is to have a good credit score. To those people, I say, “What are you doing being cash poor in the first place?” That reminds me of another lesson. . .
Don’t Be Cash Poor.
The No. 1 prerequisite to being rich is having money. People forget this! I would actually recommend getting as much money as you can.
Start investing for retirement now.
Commit the following to memory: you should be saving at at least twenty per cent of your income for retirement. You should also put twenty-five per cent of your income into an emergency fund, thirty per cent into the stock market, eighteen per cent into a college fund for your children, and five per cent toward financial self-help books. It may seem like that doesn’t leave a whole lot of wiggle room for other expenses, but don’t worry—if you’re like me, you won’t even notice those missing six million dollars.
Go to trade school.
The university system is a total scam—sucking up so much of your capital without making you any smarter. In fact, I find that readers who whose have a college education enjoy my books a lot more than those who do! So, instead of getting a useless degree (say, an MFA in economics), why not learn how to operate a drill or inspect a building or whatever people in the trades do? We’ve spent all this time convincing generations of children that the only way to succeed is to go to college. But one size doesn’t fit all. So that’s why I tell everyone I meet, no matter the circumstances, to go to trade school.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Ask any of my doctors about the secret to weight loss, and they’ll tell you that a great first step is simply to take the stairs. Well, I’m here to tell you the same goes for becoming rich. Not only is avoiding elevators scientifically proven to make you healthy, saving you costly visits to the doctor, but scaling your office’s thirty-six stories every day will teach you to withstand incredible amounts of prolonged discomfort. And that’s a crucial skill for any penny-pincher.
Last but not least: time is money.
I’d know—I have a lot of both. ♦