My daughters are very different from the typical young adult. Growing up in the Accountant household was never easy. I preached the Good Word of financial responsibility their entire life without any indication any of it sunk in.
As they grew older the firsts rays of hope appeared when I overheard my girls repeating my messages on frugality, saving and investing. Still, parents always worry about their children and I am no different.
My oldest daughter, Heather, cut a path I never saw coming. She travels a lot more than this accountant would ever want to and teaches English as a second language. She will be in teaching in China again this summer before returning home to teach special needs children. She uses art as a way to facilitate communication. You can see her backstory here. Things have changed a bit since that last article, but that is how life works. All I can say is she is living the dream.
My youngest daughter, Brooke, always caused me more concerns . Major medical issues have always been a part of her life so there is plenty to worry about. It’s the price of love. I published the deeply personal story here.
Brooke was never much for school. Heather loves school and books; Brooke reads after several hours of torture. . . sometimes. I jest a bit, but only a bit.
Brooke was paying attention, however. She heard about all the other personal finance bloggers and their methods of building wealth. I brought my financial wisdom home from the office to spread the message, too. Then, just prior to graduation, she decided she wanted to publish her story on how she plans to retire the day she graduates from high school. Okay!
While Brooke may have taken a tad bit of literary license, she has the right mindset.
What is Work?
Brooke may not enjoy cracking a book unless she is specifically looking for something, but she isn’t stupid either; she just enjoys different work.
Brooke turned 19 a few months ago and has been working almost from the day she graduated high school. She — wait for it — does landscaping. Yes, Brooke, standing a full 4′ 10″, loves digging in the dirt and planting things. And she makes good money at it.
She has good teachers. My parents have a landscaping business so it was the natural place to go. (I could not interest any of my children to pursue a life in the accounting field.) For 19 she really is starting to know her stuff. And she is fussy. Do it right or get the heck outta the way so she can.
And she saves money like it’s lifeforce (which it probably is). Every penny (and I do mean penny) is saved and invested. This has grown to a fairly nice nest egg. And now it comes time to spend some of that cash.
Major Life Purchase
In May of 2018 the Federal Reserve issued a report on the economic well-being of U.S households for the prior year. The most shocking statistic repeated in mass media is that nearly half of all households struggle to save a mere $400 for an emergency.
Think about that. Almost half of all households have a financial crisis if they get a flat tire or have a minor medical bill!
What makes this more alarming is that Brooke did more than deal with a flat tire this past week, she bought the whole darn car! Along with all 4 tires. Honest!
And she paid cash. Like I said,my girls are not typical.
Yes, Brooke, at 4’10” (on her tippy toes), with serious medical issues, bought her first car cash.
Now granted, it isn’t a “new” car. The kid is smarter than to buy a high priced wasting asset. Bad enough she had to part with $4,800 (plus licenses and sales tax), say, $5,300 when all added together) to purchase a vehicle with utility.
But it is better to want than to have. Sure, dad’s 2000 Honda Accord is almost undrivable so it was time to buy her own car. But cars cost money. Real money!
The car purchase wasn’t as bad as the insurance. A newer vehicle not part of dad’s policy is slightly — to put it politely — more than what she was paying.
She was up earlier than ever the next day to get digging in the dirt and planting trees. The car isn’t going to pay for itself.
Brooke needed a car and we spent plenty of time looking for one fit for her needs. She still lives at home so her other bills are practically zero. She helps around our house, too, so mom and dad are open to her staying until she decides where (and with who) she wishes to move forward in her life.
The next day Heather confided in us that she caught Brooke in the bathroom fighting back tears. She might have paid cash, but this is the first time her account value declined because she spent it. It wasn’t a good feeling.
A valuable lesson was learned. Spending is okay to get things that benefit you as long as you realize the price for such luxury. She could have biked to work or hitched a ride. Winters would have been hard, but manageable.
Brooke also figured out real quick what the real cost of a car is. After she added the purchase price with insurance, license, gas, oil, other maintenance and the eventual need to replace the car it became overwhelming. Then she used dad’s secret formula to determine how much that money would grow into by retirement age if you kept it invested in an index fund instead. Then the tears had to be held back.
She is one tough young lady. She bounced back and knows the car is a tool. The greatest news of all is she will never pay a penny in interest. And she still has quite a large nest egg for such a young adult.
I share Brooke’s story because so much of my children’s lives are not traditional. Heather just graduated from college with no debt, including student loans. (Think about that for a while.) Brooke managed a cash cushion that allowed her to by a fairly cheap vehicle at the ripe age of 19 and she wrote a check. (And it cleared!)
When most people are borrowing to the hilt for an education, my daughter was getting an education and not amassing debt to achieve her goals. I mean, come on! Heather has traveled the world more at 24 than I have in nearly 55 years. And Brooke is living the dream her own way, yet on another path. The common denominator is they did it with fiscal responsibility.
And that is why I wrote this short post. To show you that anyone can do it. Even Brooke, with medical issues that may make her life very short, she is living her life on her terms.
She is the kind of role model you want to follow.
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