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Coffee Cents & College Kids

by J. Money on Friday, March 19, 2010

coffee & moneyThe other night I attended my first Coffee Cents, and was reminded of a few things I had totally forgotten about. 1) I didn’t care about my finances back in the ol’ college days. 2) I didn’t care about my finances for the following 5 years either. And 3), the most important one here, I had forgotten how SMART it is to start managing your money earlier in life!

Coffee Cents is a fairly new organization conjured up by my fairly new friend, Stephen Popick (who also writes for Get Rich Slowly), to get more teenagers/20-somethings talking and thinking about money early on.  And as the name implies, he does this brilliantly through local meet-ups at coffee shops ;) Pretty genius if you ask me – a casual place for a casual talk about money. And a smart freakin’ way to reach out to the younger generation too!

But the most refreshing part of these events are seeing how earnest, and excited, these kids are to LEARN! While Stephen was the “instructor,” and Brian and I chimed in with our own opinions, it was these college kids who really generated the discussions and interest to build up their financial base NOW before they make it into the real world. I mean, they actually CARE! haha… and as I may have mentioned, the only things on my mind back then were Girls, Grades, Beer, and more Girls. If I was thinking about money, I was thinking about how to spend it in the most fun-efficient way ;)

As crazy as it sounds, I’ve only been paying attention to my money for the past 2-3 years.
I never got into too much trouble over the years, but I never really saved much or thought about my ultimate game plan either.  Not when I was in College, not when I moved to NYC and spent all my money on beer and clothes (weird mix, I know), and certainly not when I moved back to the DC area and tried to start a “real” career.

Luckily though, something snapped inside and got me to start thinking about this stuff. While I could have easily continued coasting through life earning and spending just the right amounts as to always break even, I didn’t wanna be 1 paycheck away from $hit Town.  And I also wanted to have options.  I wanted to be able to travel whenever I felt like it, to experience fun & exciting jobs that don’t pay much, to work on projects that I’m passionate about, and most importantly to NOT have to worry or think about money.

I’m still quite a ways off, but as you can tell from my net worth up there in the right-hand corner I’m $143,817.65 closer to these options than before – and it’s all because I STARTED.  3 years of actively managing and tweaking my lifestyle so that I can live a more comfortable life :) To be honest, I couldn’t even tell you what I’m missing in return either. My life is just as normal as it was before, except now I consciously decide where to send my money!

I guess what I’m trying to say is, the earlier you start the better. We can’t go back in time or try to change this “waking up” moment we have – it happens when it happens, right? – but if you’re reading this right here and now, I congratulate you :) Keep learning and focusing on positive change! The more you figure it out now, the easier and happier you’ll be down the road.

Have a great weekend,
J Signature

PS: If you’re interested in generating some financial discussions of your own (maybe to help out your community or family/friends?), feel free to download Stephen’s PowerPoint.  It’s pretty intro with lots of bullet points and examples/links to resources, but it’s a helluva great starting point. The magic really comes from the people anyways ;)


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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meghan Fife March 19, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Yes! This is great news. I’ve got the ppt downloaded right now.

I’m young at the ripe age of 20, and I’m sooooooooo interested in finances and budgeting and becoming a millionaire that some of my friends think I”m crazy. ;-) Sometimes it’s hard to sleep at night–not because I’m worrying–but because I’m excited about my finances and making them work for me. =)

Thanks for taking the time to help w/ this J, Money,,,it’s such a good investment into young people. I’ll now be following Coffeecents and Stephen.

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2 Ciawy March 19, 2010 at 2:35 pm

This is a great idea. If only I knew about money when I was 20, I’ll probably a millionaire by now – 16 years later. But right now, I just think that it doesn’t really matter WHEN I start, what matters is that I DO. Will be sharing this with my cousins/friends who are in the ripe age of 20s so they’ll have a head start.

Thanks for sharing the ppt.

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3 Anysa March 19, 2010 at 2:50 pm

JM, I luv reading your posts…I feel like I’m reading an e-mail from one of my bffs everytime!

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4 Megan March 19, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Very good advice! I’ve tried to be better at finances in college, but yes, many people are SO wasteful. I’m often impressed how my roommate spends money (she’s an international student from China). You’d be amazed how much I’ve seen these pricey products pile up in our apartment – Chanel, Coach, etc.

I’ve been working jobs since I was 16 and have never been amazing at budgeting. It just seems really daunting, but I want to get better at managing my spending. I’m frugal anyway but I could be frugal-er. :)

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5 Meg March 19, 2010 at 5:20 pm

It’s why I feel lucky that I started managing the finances in our house at 19, haha…. Small amount of debt, fairly quickly conquered, and back to sorting things out. :) Plus three investment accounts since then, and though none of them are stuffed, it’s a pretty nice chunk of change that’ll mean something in a few decades.

I hate to say it, but right now I’m trying to efficiently manage my money well enough so that I can buy my first Ferrari by the time I’m 30. ;) The prices on my two picks are coming down… $80k today will hopefully *not* go back up in the coming years! (I’d love to buy at the lowest point possible, then they can go up as much as they want!)

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6 Keith @ LifeTuner March 19, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Really great idea. Are there plans to scale it up?

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7 J. Money March 19, 2010 at 6:52 pm

@Meghan Fife – AWESOME!!!! So glad you find this stuff useful :) Stephen and his org. is really reaching out to a lot of people with this, but even if it just helped ONE person or family it would be worth it. Once you learn how to manage your finances once, you can do it forever! And pass it along to your friends & family too – it’s great.
@Ciawy – You are correct, DEF gotta just start and run with it! Thanks so much for passing it around, you are doing good in this world :)
@Anysa – Haha, I like that :) Wait, does that mean we’re *not* bffs?
@Megan – Yeah budgeting can suck sometimes, no doubt. I still think they’re great tools, but at least you’re conscious of your spending habits and you’ve got some Frugal in ya!
@Meg – I cannot WAIT until you get that Ferrari! Cuz you know I’ll be stopping by to test it out :) And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that either – esp. if you save and plan up for it. And also, you’re the 3rd form of a “Megan” to leave a comment today…interesting.
@Keith @ LifeTuner – I think there is Keith :) I’ll let Stephen answer that though if I can get him to pop back on here. He may even be looking for other bloggers to help out too.

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8 Meghan Fife March 19, 2010 at 7:39 pm

3 out of the 6 (or 50%) of the commenters so far have some kind of “Meg” in their name.

That is way too cool.

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9 Ken March 19, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Hats off to anyone trying to educate the 20 somethings about money management.

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10 LeanLifeCoach March 20, 2010 at 9:35 pm

J. – Great job on getting out there and making a difference. No doubt, it is never too late to start but starting young is so much easier!

I actually went back and calculated where I would be had I started young. If you could conjure up the tone and accent of Marlon Brando “I coulda been a millionaire!”

It will still happen, just later (a lot later) than it could have.

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11 CoffeeCents March 21, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Thanks for the awesomely awesome comments folks. I’ve been doing this on and off for a few years and finally am getting around to formalizing the approach. I’m thrilled to say that CoffeeCents will be expanding to multiple DC campuses in fall 2010. I’m right now working on a much better website and finishing the downloadable content.

Please distribute the PPT as much as anyone would like.

And Keith, yes, I do have plans on scaling up. I’m planning on a 501c3 filing over the summer to ramp it up and provide some structure. If anyone out there would like to participate through leading sessions based on the CC’s core strategy (aka the PPTs), please let me know. I’ve been doing this because I’m passionate about PF education and its a useful way for PF bloggers to stop talking to each other and start talking to the folks who don’t read our blogs! (Hopefully afterwards they do!)

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12 Hank March 21, 2010 at 8:32 pm

What a great initiative. These are definitely things that I think most people had wished they had learned in college. I really liked the PowerPoint too. I can’t wait to see the next ones.

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13 kt March 22, 2010 at 11:59 am

i started thinking about making money and getting into investing when i turned twenty and for the past few years, i have been aggressively trying to built a portfolio of businesses and increase my financial education. some of them have not gone so well(gross understatement considering the disastrous failures that some business ventures have ended as). but i am learning and i am so sure that i will be very very extremely rich at a relatively young age(so that i retire in a nice place and get a jet). strange that you learn more in a single venture than most of the college lectures i have ever attended

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14 J. Money March 22, 2010 at 8:42 pm

@Meghan Fife – You guys should have some sort of convention ;)
@Ken- Yup! Gotta leak some good stuff into those brains of theirs before they’re old and stubborn.
@LeanLifeCoach – I think most people earn at least a million over their lifetime, pretty crazy if you think about it.
@CoffeeCents – Thanks for stopping by Popick! We’re all supporting you with this endeavor ;)
@Hank – The others are coming soon from what I hear. Should be good stuff.
@kt – Oh yeah! Living in the “real world” can go much farther sometimes…although learning in the classroom is smart too, just different kinds of learning going on ya know?

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15 AB April 15, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Thanks for this! It gave me a little wake up call. Does anyone else know of any good college budgeting resources? So far I’ve found this blog that I’ve really liked

http://blog.greensherpa.com/index.php/personal-finance/the-frugal-student-part-12-the-best-of-the-frugal-student/

Does anyone else have any other suggestions?

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16 Yesenia January 30, 2012 at 1:55 pm

This is awesome! I am 21 and have been following your blog for some time now. I don’t feel so alone!

I have been reading up to get a head start of my finances. I have been managing my finances pretty well. Not great, though. I definitely know that some of the cash that I spent could have been used differently, but this is minor purchases.

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17 J. Money January 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Welcome Yesenia! Thanks so much for stopping by, I’m glad you like the site :) Money was the last thing on my mind at 21 (well, besides WANTING a lot of it, haha…) so good for you on taking control early on. You don’t have to be perfect with it all or anything, but as long as you’re 80% there you’ll be fine ;) Keep on staying motivated!

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