Ever read one of those articles in which an expert recommends different financial strategies based on your age? Well, here's another one, but it's a little different in two ways.
First, it's about what not to do with your money. Second, it isn't focused on people with extra cash left at the end of the month. You know, the ones who actually have the option of investing, splurging or saving money.
No, this is an ode to those folks who make just enough each week to pay the bills. Investing? Who are they kidding?
You're broke. You're either still in college, just graduated or didn't attend and have been living paycheck to paycheck for some time trying to get ahead.
Here's what not to do. Do not buy a new car. It's usually the No. 1 mistake new grads make when they are first hired. You enter the "real world" and are bright-eyed and full of hope. But then the first paycheck is spent on a new car, and suddenly you're drowning in car payments, insurance, gasoline and maintenance.
If you live in a town where public transportation is available, utilize it. If not, buddy up with other broke 20-year-olds and carpool or share the expense of one cheap, used car.
Ideally, live somewhere more urban where you can walk or bike to work and home. Remember, a new car equates to an immediate and long-term waste of money.
Do not spend more than $2,000 on a wedding. Yes, many women fantasize about a fairy tale day featuring a dress fit for a queen and a reception that rivals Kim Kardashian's.
But trust me, those hours of utter romance will feel more like a curse when you're unemployed or stumble upon your dream house only to realize you blew your down payment on flowers for the head table. Elope or hold a small and more meaningful wedding.
Later, when you're settled and have some cash to spend, throw a big party and tell your friends to bring you plants. Everyone wants plants.
Don't tap your 401(k) for any reason whatsoever. Do not convince yourself that it's a great idea to take "just a little" from your retirement fund so that you can build that deck you've always wanted.
And no, borrowing a bit from you 401(k) to help pay for little Johnny's summer camp program isn't a swell plan. It will take years off your savings, and you'll regret it later when you're cleaning up that deck for the millionth time.
Do not give your kids a free ride to college by footing the entire bill, not saving for retirement or by taking from your retirement to cover the costs. The old adage is that someone somewhere will give your kid money to go to school, even if it's a bank with a high interest rate.
But nobody will give you money to retire in the Florida Keys and drink pretty drinks with umbrellas in them. Plus, your kids will resent you if you're broke later on and they have to pay your way.
When they do graduate, and you find yourself flush with cash, then you can help them pay off their loans. But tell them not to buy a new car.