[Guest author today, Jacob Wade, from IHeartBudgets.com]
At 27 years old, I have now hit the 11-year mark in my working career. I have had almost a dozen jobs (nowhere near J. Money’s 30+ jobs!), and have slowly worked my way up to a passable salary at a job I enjoy.
As someone who once blew through $100,000 in 2 short years, I have always been curious as to how much money I have wasted in my lifetime. It’s a tough pill to swallow looking back at my spending blur and not even know where $35,000 of it went, but what if I took my entire lifetime to see how much money has passed through my hands?? Scary.
Let’s start from the beginning…
I was a kid from the 80’s, which meant my parents listened to a lot of MC Hammer and Paula Abdul. What does that have to do with money? Well, MC Hammer blew through a lot more money than I did. Also, I can’t ever get that one Paula Abdul song out of my head (“straight up, now tell me….”).
Anyways…so I was born in the 80’s, and like any good grandparent did back then, they gifted me some savings bonds. Like $100 or something. So, that was basically it for the first 5 years of my life. Unless you count stuffed animals and binkies as money. In that case, I was rich!
Spending: None. Unless you count cashing my cuteness checks ;)
5 Years Old – $100
Once I was old enough to realize the value of money, I started getting some (again, from the grandparents) in my birthday cards. I would get $5 every birthday from at least 3 grandparents, so that’s $15 per year until about age 10. I also started receiving an allowance of about $1 a week. So another $325 passed through my hands in those 5 years.
Spending: Most of my spending included baseball cards, candy and arcade games. But I always had a little saved for a rainy day.
10 Years Old – $425
At age 10, I was starting to pull my weight around the house (not that kind of weight). I worked my butt off, and deserved some compensation for my labor. I mean, seriously, have YOU ever mopped a kitchen floor with just vinegar? TORTURE!
For my efforts, the parentals would drop $5 here, $10 there. I would guess I earned a few hundred over the course of the next 5 years. Add on top of that the average of about $50 per birthday, and I was probably at a good $500. I also started working in the summers doing odd jobs. I earned about $1,000 cold hard (under-the-table) cash! DON’T TELL THE IRS!
Spending: Through middle school and high school, my money went towards food (tasty school French fries) and movies. Because what else is there for a teen to spend money on?!
15 Years Old – $1,925
At 15, I was still doing some odd jobs, but was much too busy with marching band to care (Yes, I was the coolest kid in my school). I earned maybe another $500. But I hit the gold mine at age 16 when I landed my first job at a retail grocery store. CHA CHING! Earning a cool $6.50 an hour, I was really raking in the dough. At age 18, I got my $100,000 to blow through, AND got a job at RadioShack.
By the time I hit 20, I was almost broke again (crazy!). Now I can get into more exact figures, because the kind folks at the Social Security Administration keep track of my income for me!
Spending: You can just read through my post on blowing $100k to find where my priorities were. Ugh! So much potential wasted…
20 Years Old – $132,500
Wow, that was quite a jump. At age 20, I decided to quit work and go to school full-time. I got my audio degree (what is that, anyway?), and picked up a job installing VERY HIGH END home theaters from a company called Definitive Audio. Mostly, I got stuck in the crawl spaces to run wires for 8 hours a day, so I started job searching pretty quickly.
I then worked my way into my current company. I worked there for a year, and then split to go get married and move out of state while my wife finished school. I moved back after she graduated, and we were DINKS (double income, no kids)! I also got promoted. W00t W00t! By the time I was 25, I had received the rest of my inheritance as well.
Spending: Getting married at age 22 and reading a Dave Ramsey book were the catalysts to getting my money in order pretty quickly. We paid off a ton of debt (over $24k worth), started rocking a sweet budget and saved money while living on only $14 an hour! We then bought a house and had a kid, which absorbed the remainder of our money.
I then got a few more promotions and worked my way into my current position. Oh, and I became a tax professional part-time and started a blog that brought in some cash.
So here it is… DRUMROLL PLEASE…
27 Years Old – $601,600
I have let WELL over half a million dollars pass through my hands, and my net worth is less than 15% of that number (~$55,000)…
Wow. Well, I’m going to go cry myself to sleep and then drown my sorrows in bacon.
What My Life Could Have Been Like
Let’s say I took the advice of J. Money and did things like MAX out my 401k and have a sexy budget all along? What if I went crazy and invest 50% of my income throughout my last 11 years of money-making? What would the numbers look like to handle your money well from the beginning?
If I invested 50% ($2,273 a month) for 11 years at 8% my net worth would be = $494,832.50
That is almost 10x my current net worth. I would probably have a paid-for house, TONS of tax sheltered investments, and would be well on my way to financial independence. I could have cut my working career IN HALF or less if I had my head on straight about how to handle money.
This is serious. If you don’t handle your money with care, count every dollar that passes through your hands with a budget, and invest early and often, you may end up realizing you have WASTED half a million dollars as well.
How much money has passed through YOUR hands in your lifetime?
It may be a hard number to look at, but the numbers never lie. And it’s much sexier to know than to live in ignorance ;) Drop your number in the comments if you feel comfortable. This isn’t a competition, but a great way to get a 20/20 look at your past to give you much better vision for your future.
Jacob writes some ridiculousness over at iHeartBudgets.net. He’s got a degree in budgeting awesomeness from the school of hard knocks and helps people put their money to work. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter and at your local teriyaki shop ordering the Chicken/Gyoza special. Awww Yeaahhhhhh!
EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ll have to find my latest report from Social Security too, but the last time I added it up three years ago we were sitting on half a million ourselves. Probably closer to a million now I’d bet – I should run ’em again soon :)
[Photo cred: artist in doing nothing]