Monday, April 4, 2011

Youth Is Wasted On The Young...

Youth Is Wasted On The Young…

A simple but poignant quote of George Bernard Shaw. Sure I heard it years ago, when I was young myself, but I never really appreciated all that it meant. I wish I had, maybe I would have taken advantage of my youth to do more, live more, learn more. Maybe not. We never think we are going to age when we are young. Ten years seems like an eternity when you are 20. Little did I know how fast the years would fly by the older I got. I never expected signs of aging to hit around the 30 - 35 year mark. Youth is fleeting. It doesn’t last very long at all and it would be nice if we could get the message across to young people while they have the opportunity to do something about it, before they lament “If only I were 20 again.”

When you are young you have your health. You are strong. You can work a 40 hour work week and stay out drinking all night Fridays and Saturdays and still get out of bed. Maybe you live at home, rent free, and you can accumulate a ton of money. You can save up to travel to exotic or exciting places and not worry about the expense. Your have your whole family around to support you and encourage you and even help and advise you on life matters. Everything you imagine seems possible, and it is. You have your whole lifetime ahead of you and your plans and dreams can become reality if you work hard enough.

But because the young don’t think or worry about tomorrow, they don’t always use their youth wisely. How can they? Wisdom comes with age and life experience. Life is experience is the one thing they lack. So they aren’t thinking about paying off their loans and credit cards as soon as possible so that the money they earn can be all their own. They aren’t worried about adding a car payment or getting that big screen television on credit. They aren’t saving to buy their own place so they don’t have to pay rent for the rest of their lives. They are sure as hell aren’t thinking about retirement and life insurance. They live for the day. Eat, drink and be merry…and let tomorrow worry about itself.

And tomorrow will bring it’s own worries with it. Eventually, the partying and drinking gets old. The youth starts to fade ever so slowly. Maturity starts to creep in. You want to settle down in your 30‘s, maybe buy a home and raise a family. Guess what? Those debts from your 20’s are weighing you down. The loans you were making minimum payments on are still thriving and feeding off their interest rates. You haven’t been able to save much and don’t have a big enough down payment so you can afford a mortgage and pay your loans off too. Welcome to the world of financial stress.

Before you graduate high school and/or college, there should be a mandatory course that all students must take about the practicalities of life. Financial information should be provided about how to pay off debt or never get into debt. How to budget and save money. How to invest money. Pitfalls and mistakes to avoid. A class like this would be invaluable to many students who are basically clueless as to how to handle money. We can’t give them wisdom, they have to get that from experience. But, we should give them the information and tools necessary to save them from living a lifetime in debt.

My parents, in their own way, imparted their financial wisdom on me and my brother. I like to think I have done a decent job of passing their legacy down to my girls. My parents never had debt, my husband and I never had debt and I hope my girls never do either.

I want my kids to have fun and enjoy their youth, but I don’t want them not thinking about the future too, because tomorrow comes sooner than any of us think.

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