Friday, February 27, 2009

Three Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger

Yesterday, I wrote about all the things my mother taught me about money. She laid a good foundation for my financial success up to now, and her support and encouragement will no doubt serve me well in the future. The more I learn about financial issues, though, the more I wish I had received a broader exposure to money and investing while I was growing up. I sometimes feel like I'm trying to catch up to other people my age when it comes to financial knowledge and money management skills. (Although, as I've been hanging out on PF blogs a great deal lately, I might have a somewhat skewed view as to just how much the average twenty-six year old knows about good money traits.)

There are several points I particularly regret not learning sooner in my short life:

1) Invest early, invest often - When I started to look into managing my money more actively last year, one of the avenues I considered was investing. My mother, though, expressed numerous concerns with my plans. If I had been encouraged to start investing earlier, I could have a greater investment currently in place (although, given the latest market movements, perhaps it was good that I didn't have more 'skin in the game').

When I have kids of my own, I'm going to do what I can in order to spark an interest about money and investing in them. One specific plan I have is to match their Roth IRA contributions while they're in high school (and possibly college), in a sort of make shift 401(k). This will pass along several important lessons: start saving for retirement as soon as possible, using tax-advantaged accounts allows your money to grow, and when someone offers you free money, you should take it.

2) Network, Network, Network - One of my biggest problems finding a new job has been the lack of a network to utilize as I search. It's tough to find something when you can barely get your foot in the door. I'm hoping my luck will change soon, but at the moment, I wish I had built up a network of contacts before I left school.

I'm working to build up my network now, including planning to go to a few conventions and putting myself out in front of placement agents. I am trying to make friends and contacts in my field (and for that matter, in the world of PF bloggers). It's slow going, especially as I'm normally a shy, withdrawn person, but it's important that I have more contacts, in case I find myself in this situation again.

3) Take advantage of the Internet - Alright, this one is hardly my mother's fault; the web wasn't even invented until 1993, when I was already eleven years old. The idea of setting up a blog, putting up a few ads, and using that as a source of revenue is new enough that I'm not too surprised I'm only now getting started with it.

By the time I have kids, though, the internet revolution will have been in effect for more than a generation; while I won't claim to know what the future of computers will hold, I do know that my kids will need to understand them. I'm going to do my best to spur them to get online and figure out ways of making money, from blogging to producing static websites and other online 'side hacks'. Chances are, they'll be even more proficient at using the computer than me, so perhaps they'll end up showing old Dad a few new ways to make money online.

This is hardly a complete list of what I hope to pass onto my kids (and what I regret I didn't learn about sooner), but it's a decent start, and should inspire me to help my children grow and learn.


  1. I could have used college a bit more for networking. Unfortunately... I didn't.

    Oh well, never too late to build!

    LinkedIN, when used correctly, is pretty good.

  2. That's a great attitude to take, ROI! I'll have to try LinkedIN, as well as numerous other sites that I've heard about (some PF related, some job hunting related, and some just plain interesting).