I didn’t grow up well off or “privileged” or spoiled. Most of my life was characterized by pinching pennies, trying to save what little income I generated, and being constantly stressed by financial worries. This was all I’ve ever known, and I promised myself I will work my best and hardest to make sure I don’t live this way in the future. Well, friends, let’s just say I’m not in my future yet although I am optimistic I will get there. Now that I’m a full fledged adult making my own living, my situation has somewhat improved but there is still a lot of room to grow.
Don’t eat the rich. Most young people nowadays, especially if they weren’t raised wealthy, have negative biases against the rich. I credit this to the normalization of collective sour graping. Entitlement has become one of the most toxic traits we have developed. I keep saying this, but life is unfair. It will always be unfair, and the earlier you accept this, the better you can succeed in life. By projecting negative thoughts towards those you seek to become, you are confusing the universe. Why would it give you opportunities to become rich when you’re saying you don’t like rich people? There is nothing wrong with money. There is nothing wrong with having a lot of it. You know what happens when you have a sh*t ton of money? You can give back a sh*t ton more. You can influence and improve more lives because now your needs are met and you have the space to meet the needs of others.
Be a good capitalist. We as Americans live in a capitalist society, so to succeed, we must be capitalists. Don’t like it? I’m sure a conversation with someone who lived in a full socialist/communist state will change your mind. There’s also hybrid models out there where the system is capitalist but they have great social safety nets. I’m not here to talk politics, but in short, no system is perfect. I happen to live where I live, and so I will adapt. If I truly didn’t like this system, I’d move somewhere else (like the generation before me did). Unfortunately, my family is here and the weather is perfect, so I’m staying. Instead of fighting the system, we use the system.
Keep idealists at a distance. I have friends who have different outlooks regarding money: the friend who is fully pro-capitalist, the friend who is pro-socialist, the friend who wants to make a lot of money but supports socialist ideas. It’s a spectrum, definitely. I believe we can all be friends no matter our political affiliations or ideologies. What matters is that you all respect each others’ paths and not bring each other down. With that being said, if all your peers are all anti-capitalists, you’re going to have a hard time relating with them. They may even judge you when you start seeing gains on your journey. Keep them at a distance now and find new friends.
Know money. Educate yourself on the tax code, investments, retirement, and entrepreneurship (if that is your path). The subreddits r/FIRE and r/personalfinance are my ride or dies. Dave Ramsey’s “The Total Money Makeover” is also a great primer for those who are totally lost on this money thing. Avoid MLMs and shady IG businesses like the plague. If they’re not telling you what they’re selling up front, they’re selling BS. Credit card debt is the devil. Don’t try to impress people you don’t even like with money you don’t even have.
Calculate ROI. Everything you do has a cost and an associated reward. Calculate the ROI of extra schooling. Do you really need to do a Ph.D./masters on something you might not even get a job for after graduation? Can you afford to not care? What possible career choices do you have when you do a major in basket weaving/similar majors? Would you be better off doing trade school? What’s the ROI of my current romantic relationship? If I invest this much time and effort and resources, will it reward me with what I’m looking for? Call me a cold-hearted b*tch, but being selfless has a limit. Every thing in my life must have a positive ROI. By making these calculations a habit, you are setting yourself up to make cost-benefit analyses of your actions. It helps you make positive goal-driven decisions every day with minimal derailment. The accumulation of these decisions get you to where you want to be. Some people call it luck; I call it putting yourself in the right place at the right time.
You are in charge. Stop getting in your own way. Do the work because no one else will do it for you.