The Value of Everyday Actions

The Value of Everyday Actions

When I was 22 years old, my wife Teresa and I were living in a very small, quite terrible apartment, struggling to pay for school tuition and surviving off Top Ramen. During Christmas time, Teresa came home from work with a small cash bonus. Although small, it felt like we had won the lottery! She took that extra money and bought me a pair of new dress shoes to wear to my first interview at a credit union. I still get emotional thinking about it. That moment was a major step in my journey, and despite the struggle along the way, I wouldn’t trade it.

Today, I have four wonderful kids ranging in age from 14 to 22. Each of them is navigating their own journey, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their life, and each is facing their own financial challenges. I’m sure you could guess what those financial challenges are just based on their ages. My 14-year-old son just wants more shoes. Do you know what Jordans cost!? As they get older, the financial challenges and questions become more significant. How do I pay for school? A car? Housing? What type of career do I pursue to earn enough for these things? Perhaps one of the most daunting questions is, will I ever be able to own a home? Of course, all these questions are greatly exacerbated by inflation and the threat of recession.

With all of this in mind, I thought I would share a few tips for those that are young (or young at heart) and looking for answers to these questions.

You’re Not Alone, and You Can Do It!

First, it’s important to point out that none of these questions are unique to your generation. I certainly had them in my 20s and 30s. It’s true that each generation faces different challenges. However, many of those challenges are more rooted in the stage of life than the state of the economy. For example, in your 20s, it’s only natural (although a little naive) to think that you should be able to quickly achieve the financial lifestyle and stability of someone in their 50s, who has spent decades diligently working towards it. Seek the advice of those individuals, and what you will likely hear is that they worked for years to advance their careers while struggling to make ends meet. Yet, they were able to build to a level of stability. You are totally capable of doing the same thing–it just takes time! Seek a balance of ambition and patience.

Build Healthy Habits and Stick to Them

Usually, the path to financial well-being involves consistent practices over long periods of time. Your next promotion might require years of hard work to achieve, not just months. So, keep working hard. Real savings might come from eating off the value menu for years, not just today at lunch. So, keep looking to save a buck. Saving a small percentage of each paycheck might not seem like a significant amount of money, but it will add up over time. So, get in the habit of saving money!

That last point is a critical habit to start early. Let’s say you’re 20 years old and making $17 per hour. If you put just 6% of your income in savings, you will likely have over $1 million at retirement! How? You will get small raises over time, making that 6% more impactful, and you will earn interest on your savings. The key is to stick with it!

Seek Advice and Make Thoughtful Choices

Beware of making emotional financial decisions. It’s ok to walk away and sleep on it. Odds are the deal will still be there tomorrow! Go ask someone you trust for advice. When you have time to think things through, you are much more likely to make good decisions. For example, you might choose to invest in college tuition rather than upgrade your perfectly functional phone, even though the newest model has a cool camera that you really want.

The Journey Is Supposed to Be Hard

I started by telling you about a difficult financial time in my 20s. As hard as it was, I wouldn’t change it! I learned from it, and I appreciate the stability I enjoy today a lot more because of it. So, seek sound advice, learn from your experiences and enjoy the journey.

I hope that amidst the challenges you may face, you find hope and inspiration in this message. You can do this! Please reach out to us here at Rogue Credit Union if there is anything we can do to support you on your journey–we’re here to partner with you every step of the way.