Photo from Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash.
To My Dear Millennial-era Kids,
I downsized my career and worked part-time for you. You didn’t ask me to. You were only newborns. I did it for me. For us.
I’m not blaming you for the change in my career plans, nor am I apologizing for my choice. It’s what your dad and I wanted for our family.
By the time the first of you arrived, we’d been out of college for several years. I really enjoyed my job at the time and wasn’t ready to give up my career entirely. Your dad was doing well with his career, climbing the corporate ladder, and earning annual salary increases. We’re a team, and while his income was increasing nicely we decided to voluntarily decrease mine.
Earn Income and Don’t Spend It All
Income is the tool that funds your life. Save a portion, as much as you reasonably can, ahead of your needs, and you will buy yourself future freedom. Freedom to make career changes. Freedom to help fund unexpected challenges. Freedom to fund your dreams.
You, along with your future spouse if you marry, will figure out what’s best for your family. And until you marry, or if you don’t, it will be just you designing the plan for your future.
Personal finances: your management of your income; your living expenses; your debt; and your savings, investments, and charitable giving choices.
Your dad and I are always happy and willing to mentor, advise, and coach.
Ultimately, though, you grew up knowing you would fully own the responsibility once you cross the stage at your college graduation. You both stepped up to the plate and started owning it before that milestone.
We didn’t know everything we needed to know about personal finances when we graduated from college. We had learned some from our own parents as we grew up, we read various books and magazines, and we learned from our own experiences as we lived.
We’ve done just fine in most areas and could have done better in others. Most people make some mistakes. I may write about some of ours in the future.
Know that you will likely make some financial mistakes, too, and that’s ok. Better to be intentional with your finances and make mistakes than to be ignorant and careless.
Do you remember that summer when I wanted you both to read Failing Forward by John Maxwell? The overall lesson of that book is an important one, and I wanted you both to read it and present a book report by the end of the summer.
Remember that? I’m still waiting on your book report. Just kidding. Half kidding.
At this point, maybe you can just ponder the title to get the gist of the book. Fail forward. Don’t let mistakes, or fear of mistakes, paralyze your thinking or hold you hostage.
Sure, you might hold money too long in a low-interest savings account. You might forget to pay a bill on time, incurring a late fee and some interest charges.
You might pick a poor performing investment. Perhaps you will panic and sell when the stock market is tanking instead of investing more with a buy low, sell high strategy.
I hope you won’t lease a car, get wooed by the shiniest new car/truck on the sales lot, or buy too big of a house with too big of a monthly mortgage payment.
Become a Student of Personal Finance
There are many ways you can err financially. One way you can minimize mistakes is to become a student of personal finance. It really is a fascinating topic.
It’s good for young adults to hear wise information from peers in addition to their wise parents (ha! it’s my blog, I can say that). I think you’ll enjoy reading some personal finance blogs from people who are about your age.
What really caught my attention about those I mention below is that they are closer in age to you than they are to me. I initially set out to list those in their 20s. Some older millennials in their 30s made the cut. Some work in high-paying industries, some don’t. Some have debt, some don’t. Some are single, some are married. Some have kids, some don’t.
This is not a case of “Why can’t you be more like Sophie or John down the street?” I’ve never done that with either of you, plus you have both already proven that you are talented, amazing, and successful young adults.
Instead, this is a case of parents never have enough time to teach their kids everything they want them to know. The 18 years from the birth of a child to the day you drop him or her off at college really do pass quickly.
Check these millennial bloggers out. The links are to their About Me pages. They are writing some great content about optimizing income, living frugally, taking on side hustles, investing in real estate, paying off student loans or other debt, planning to retire early, traveling the world, and much more.
Find those with a writing voice you like, a career path or other demographic you match, an investment goal you share, or an informative and inspiring website that draws you back for more.
Hear their perspectives, which dad and I can’t provide. Talented writers are sharing experiences that are different than your dad and I gave you.
Most of all, continue to enjoy the journey of life!
P.S. No book report required.
Check Out These Millennial Bloggers
Angela at Tread Lightly, Retire Early is the mom of a preschooler and she works part-time (like me) but is much younger. She posted the well-received post titled Meet the Women of the Financial Independence Movement.
Emilie at Wise Mind Money is married and tackling her student loans with a great attitude.
Erik at The Mastermind Within is 25 with a math background/job and side hustles, including his blog.
Jillian at Montana Money Adventures has an inspiring story of financial freedom with mini retirements, global travels, and several kids.
Lily at The Frugal Gene is married to an engineer. She’s also an AirBNB hostess and blogger with additional side hustles.
Liz at Chief Mom Officer often features inspiring stories of six-figure income women but also covers a wide range of financial topics. In their family, her husband is the stay-at-home parent.
Melanie and Jonathan at Partners in Fire are in their 30s. They are looking forward to financial freedom and more travel.
Mr. and Mrs. at Kiwi and Keweenaw are both engineers and dog lovers, and they live in Michigan.
Mr. and Mrs. Adventure Rich at Adventure Rich recently wrote about how financial freedom allows different choices for their family.
Olivia at Birds of a Fire is 25 and lives in the D.C. area.
Penny at She Picks Up Pennies is an educator who paid off some serious debt with some serious savings and side hustles.
Stephanie at Poorer Than You writes about money management for millennials.
Taylor at The Grounded Engineer is also an engineer so he must be a good guy. He’s also about to launch a series featuring engineers.
Allea at Ask Allea is someone I just learned about and her website looks helpful!
A female lawyer at The Give and Get lives in the high cost-of-living D.C. area.
Erin at Reaching for FI has a not-so-big salary in a high cost-of-living area (her words, not mine).
There’s no way I can list every millennial personal finance blogger, so if I missed you, leave a comment to let us know who you are and what you write about!