Reelin' in the years ... but not the big bucks

Ever read one of those articles where they tell you different financial strategies based on your age? Well, here's another one ... except this one is a little different in two ways.

First, it's about what NOT to do with your money and second, it's not focused on those people who seem to have enough money left over every month where they are actually wondering what to do with it ... hmmmmm, should we invest? Splurge? Save more?

This one is for the rest of us, you know, the people who make just enough each week to pay the bills. Investing? Who are they kidding?

You're broke; either still in or just left college (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 of new grads that are newly hired. First paycheck is spent on the new car and then they are owned for life with things like car payments and car insurance and gasoline and maintenance.

If you live in a town where public transportation is available, do it. If not, buddy up with other broke 20-year-olds and carpool or share the expense of one cheap, and used car. Ideally, live somewhere more urban where you can walk or bike to work and home. A new car is an immediate and long-term waste of money.

Do not spend more than two thousand dollars on a wedding. Yes, many women fantasize about their wedding day and being a princess and all that but trust me, that one day will pale in comparison to having money in the bank when you're unemployed or facing foreclosure or stumble upon your dream house and 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, have a big party and tell your friends to bring you plants. Everyone wants plants.

Don't tap your 401k for any reason whatsoever. Do not convince yourself that it's a great idea to take 'just a little' from your retirement to add on that deck you've always wanted, or that taking a bit off the top of your 401k would really help pay for little johnnies summer camp program.

Do not do it. It will take years off your savings and you'll regret it later when you're cleaning up that patio for the seventh millionth time.

Do not give your kids a free ride to college by paying the entire bill and not saving for retirement or worse, 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 gross interest rate.

But nobody, and that means not one person, will give you money to retire to the Florida Keys and drink pretty drinks with umbrellas in them. Plus, your kids will resent you if you're broke later and they have to pay your way. If, when they graduate, you find yourself flush with cash, help them pay off their loans.

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