Today’s post is from Jill Suskind. Jill blogs at Your Teen’s Money Skills and you can read more about her at the end of this post.
I am a personal financial blogger by way of my commitment to provide parents with the support they need to raise teens with great money habits and attitudes. From this perspective, I address these questions in terms of what how we can produce a generation of wealth builders rather than debt builders. And, I know it starts with me—I have to make sure my own house is in order before I can really talk to others about teaching this to their teens.
To me, wealth building means creating and following a money management system that allows for spending, saving, giving, and donating at the same time, in a coordinated way. I start with the premise that money is a tool to fund the life of my dreams and make a difference in the world in ways that matter to me. With that starting point, as my wealth grows, I am more and more able to increase my options, and I am more and more able to participate in philanthropic endeavors.
The advice I follow for myself, as best as I can, I offer to those who starting to build wealth, at any age.
The first step is to create a simple way to track my money. When I started, I was surprised at how challenging this was, since my finances were such a wreck! But, I worked on it a little bit each week for a few months until I knew how much money I had in my retirement accounts, all of my annuities, my savings and checking accounts, and even in my pocket. Now, I update that document once a month.
The second step is to set a financial goal. Mine is to have $2M socked away by the time I am 68 years old. That means I have about 18 more years to reach that goal. Every month, when I update my tracking document, I see my progress and I am motivated to keep driving for that goal.
The rest of my wealth building system has 5 pillars:
Learn—I read about money, wealth building, and money management constantly. I feed my mind great money material so I will stay focused, learn important information, and consider valuable wisdom.
Practice—I practice my money management strategies and get better and better at implementing them. I use the jar system that so many wealthy people use to build wealth. This way, my money is aligned with my life and what’s important to me. It’s a process, I tell myself. I am getting better at forgiving my errors and moving forward.
Talk—I talk to people about money. I am a high school teacher, so I talk about my money with my students as much as I can. This helps me from keeping secrets from myself and it reminds me how important it is to keep the conversation open.
Give—I contribute every month part of my money to a cause I care about. This habit reminds me that I am blessed with so much and that I have a responsibility to help make the world better for everyone. It keeps me from being self-centered and worried about my own problems too much.
Align My Mind—I try to keep my thoughts on my commitments and not on my frustrations and complaints. I make a conscious effort to think about, read about, talk about, and stay interested in success, and not on my own failures and foibles.
I can’t say I have mastered these practices, but I can say that I am moving in this direction, even if I stray from time to time. And, that’s exactly what I teach teens: Baby steps in the direction of our goals and dreams WILL get us there.
Compared to the disastrous and chaotic financial life I had for so long, I can also say IT’S WORTH IT! In my journey, I find that this is a truly fulfilling and inspiring way to live and that is what there is to pay forward to our children: to live well and teach them what’s really important so their journey is all it can be.
Jill Suskind started teaching in public schools 25 years ago. A few years ago, she started to talk to her high school students about money. She was amazed that every time she brought up the subject of money, someone in the class would yell out, “Why don’t they teach us this? This is what we NEED to learn!” Jill created Wealth Quest for Teens to meet the needs of educating teens about finances.