Sometimes we, as a generation, struggle to take the time to slow down and seriously think about where our lives are headed. The rush of everyday life in today's society tends to make us keep our heads down, and before we know it college is over, bills are due, and we still haven't come out of 'party mode'. While having a good time is never a bad thing (in moderation of course), there comes a time in life when planning is crucial to pursuing peacefulness and happiness as life goes on.
Financial planning is one of the big elephants in the room that no one likes to talk about. But if you are starting a family (or plan on it in the near future), obtaining financial peace is critical. Not having to worry about money will reduce stress (especially within a marriage) and actually help you live longer. Stress can have devastating physical effects. My suggestion to everyone, especially those in the 'we' generation, is to get out of debt as soon as possible. I strongly suggest taking a Financial Peace University class. My wife and I took this class about a year and a half ago. At the time, we both made around $30K/year and just started having to pay back our $100,000 in student loans, on top of credit cards and car payments. In about 10 months we paid off over $10,000 in credit card debt, and we're on our way to getting out of debt all together. We realized very early on that we needed to structure our lives in a way that would allow us to do the things we want to do with our family later in life. If all goes to plan, I should be debt-free before I'm thirty. I also plan to mostly retire by the time I'm fifty. Wouldn't that be nice! It all starts with making long term life goals, then setting up smaller goals to achieve on the way to the big prize.
Life and career planning is an area in which advice is thrown at us from every direction. Fortunately, America is a country that allows its citizens to, more or less, work in any occupation they want. My personal tid-bit of advice would be to find something you think you will enjoy doing and start at the bottom. If you start small and realize you want to do something else, there isn't much to lose by switching gears. Also, you do not have to make a lot of money to live and retire peacefully. You just have to plan accordingly. Look at your life currently and evaluate it. Then think about where you want to be in 10, 15, or 20 years. Now figure out what you can do right now to put you on that path. Personally, I would like to be an entrepreneur. For me, it would be much easier if I gain valuable experience now while I pay off debt and save up to start a business, giving me every opportunity to succeed. I spend as much time as I can with successful business owners and investors to learn the little things that will help me later. This strategy can work in any occupation. For example, my sister wants to be a bartender for a while. She is only 20 and would like to make a little money so she can finish school. For her, the best option would be to find a bar or restaurant that seems like a good place to work and start as a hostess or waitress. Before she knows it, she'll be behind the bar mingling with her loyal patrons and making great tips, all the while finishing school. It seems easier said than done, however, all it takes is initiative and a little perseverance.
I hope some of this heartfelt advice inspires a few of you to go out and chase a dream. While I may not be in a career that I love right now, I'm still on the path to achieve my life goals. I know that my family and I will benefit for years to come from the planning that my wife and I have done these last two years. Feel free to email me with questions, or leave a comment and I can respond as soon as possible.