I’ve always been one to enjoy the finer things in life. And, thanks to my parents, I have been fortunate enough to indulge every once in a while, while still living in comfort. Unfortunately, as I’ve matured over the years,, I’ve seen first hand that money doesn’t grow on trees. A part-time job here, minimum wage for blood, sweat and tears there; I think you can see where I’m going with this.
Recently, I’ve been pondering the idea of taking a relaxing vacation to Hawaii. Alas, I’m a girl with champagne taste on a boxed-wine budget. Houston, we have a problem. Not to mention my complete fear of flying–but that’s another story entirely, so I digress. What I’m trying to get at is, how is a girl like me going to be able to budget my money so that I can afford to take my dream vacation?
I spoke with the author of Success 101 for Teens, Mark Hansen, who told me just that. He says that in order to save for my dreams I need to follow one simple rule, “pay yourself first” (I like the sound of that!). “With every pay check you receive take a percentage of that and put that away and let that build,” explains Hansen. He also advised me to “adjust some expenditures so that there isn’t as much money going out that could deplete the savings.” So I’ll have to give up the occasional trip to Starbucks or Jamba Juice, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay for a week in paradise, so I’ll do it! Sounds easy enough, but you can never be too careful…especially in this economy. And with more and more people losing their jobs, Hansen stresses the importance of that old saying, “save for a rainy day” because you never know when those days could come.
As a step-father to two adult children, Hansen is no stranger to instilling financial values during family time. He explains, “it’s an ongoing process and a lifelong journey,” whether that means a discussion around the dinner table, or while out on a walk. As with his family, he centers his most recent book around six pillars—savings, giving, budgeting, planning, goal setting and learning.
Hansen, who has served two years on the Palm Beach County school board, one of the largest in the nation, insists that children and young adults need to be exposed to financial advice not only through parents setting an example, but also in the education system. In fact, several schools have already taken the necessary steps towards getting his books on the reading list for their students. And not just high schools, believe it or not, but middle schools as well because, according to Hansen, “You can never start too early.” Looking at the state of the economy, I couldn’t agree more. Hansen, who has seen the problem first hand in his home town of Palm Beach Florida (a state that expects to experience another two million house foreclosures) credits the economic crisis in large part to the fact that, “individuals and businesses have stretched beyond their means and beyond the lifestyle they are able to afford.”
Hansen attributes financial responsibility, in part, to “constant learning and constant planning.” He explains, “just like we set goals for places we want to go and things we want to experience, it’s important to ask ourselves where we’d like to see ourselves, not only in the near future, but in 1-5 years from now.”
A year from now I’d like to see myself on the beach of Waikiki. I know that it won’t be easy, and that I will have to work hard to earn the money to pay for my vacation. Thankfully, with the help of Mark Hansen, I hope to use the six pillars in order to budget my money wisely in order to pay for my trip, as well as to become a money- savvy adult.