The 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,
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 ;)
PS: Some of my favorite tools:
|Personal Capital (FREE) -- If you’re looking for a robust financial tracker, Personal Capital is the way to go! They’re like Mint, but on steroids and have much better tools for investment and net worth tracking. // Full review|
|Digit (FREE) -- A super easy (and automated) way to save. Every day Digit analyzes your income and expenses and will push money aside for you any time it sees extra sitting there. I've saved over $4,000 myself using them so far! // Full review|
|Acorns -- Having trouble finding money to invest? Check out Acorns – they round up all your transactions to the nearest $1.00 and drops the difference into an investment portfolio for you. Easy way to start investing! // Full review|