Want to Make the World a Better Place? Do This.

I recently listened to the Audible version of Russ Robert’s book, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness*. It’s a great little book. I highly recommend it. This passage towards the end of the book stood out to me:

“Do you want to make the world a better place? Talk to your kids. Go on a date with your spouse without checking your e-mail. Read more Adam Smith and Jane Austen and P. G. Wodehouse and less of the Daily Kos and the Drudge Report. Smile at someone you don’t know or even like. Be nice to your parents, because you can never repay what they did for you. None of this necessarily shows up in some measure of gross domestic product. These actions don’t help pay the bills. They aren’t usually on our to-do list, so we don’t get the satisfaction of checking them off. A week can go by and nothing will happen if we don’t do them. But I think they are the stuff of the good life.”

One thing I would like to add to this quote in our quest of making the would a better place is: DO YOUR JOB!

Just think of all the time we would save if people just did their jobs. Whether it be delivering papers, serving meals, painting buildings, building houses, etc., people should just do their jobs. Martin Luther King said it best when he said, “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”

Think of how much better people would feel about themselves if they just did their jobs. Call me crazy, but I don’t think a person can be truly happy when they don’t take pride in their work.

Let’s make the world a better place.

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16 Financial Tidbits for Newly Weds

My neighbors’ son is getting married in June. Thinking about his wedding, made me think of all the “advice” I have for this couple.

I have a few things I can share from my own experience of being married nearly 17 years:

1. PATIENCE! It takes time for your finances to grow. When I moved to Texas in 1992, the ONLY stuff I brought with me was what I was able to fit in my 1988 Buick Skyhawk. Nearly 18 years later, we have a house full of stuff!

2. Don’t rush into any large purchases. Give yourselves time to adjust to married life before you decide where to live or what to drive.

3. DON’T GET INTO CREDIT CARD DEBT! Avoid it like the plague. You’ll be thankful you did.

4. Create and stick to a BUDGET! It doesn’t have to be super-detailed and it doesn’t have to ruin your life. However, you need to have a grasp on where your money is going.

5. Put money aside for emergencies—even if it’s a small amount. It’s amazing how even a small cushion of a few hundred dollars can help in times of need.

6. Start saving for a down payment on a house as soon as possible.

7. Start saving for retirement as soon as possible. DON’T LET THE ASSET OF TIME GET AWAY FROM YOU. Even if you can only afford to save a small amount each month, save it.

8. If your finances are tight, cut out what you don’t need. My wife and I went without cable for many years.

9. Give each of you an allowance that can be spent on anything you wish and don’t criticize each other’s purchases.

10. Have a grocery budget and plan meal menus.

11. Take your lunch to work.

12. Buy some term life insurance.

13. Sit down together and write out a list of financial goals and talk through the prioritizing of those goals.

14. Decide whether or not you’re going to tithe or give to charity.

15. Seek financial advice from your parents (as long as they are good role models).

16. Read some basic books on financial planning and investing. A great place to start is Jeff Opdyke’s Financially Ever After: The Couples’ Guide to Managing Money and Bill Schultheis’ The New Coffeehouse Investor: How to Build Wealth, Ignore Wall Street, and Get on with Your Life*. I have not read Opdyke’s book but am very familiar with his style, having read his columns in the Wall Street Journal.

Thoughts? What would you like to offer?

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Your Best Advice for Graduates

It’s May and that means graduation for lots of schools across the country. In the spirit of graduation and new starts, I thought it would be fun if we all offered our best advice to this year’s graduates.

What is one piece of advice or life lesson that you have for this year’s graduates (both high school and college)? It can be related to personal finance or life in general.

Here’s mine:

Prioritize your finances. Sit down with a pen and paper and write out all your financial needs and wants and then prioritize them. Work on the most important ones first. Even though you are only in your early 20s, make retirement planning one of your first priorities. Start your 401(k) or Roth IRA as soon as possible. Also, have a debate with yourself about the importance or necessity of each major purchase. Heed this advice and you’ll most likely be a happy camper 5, 10, 15+ years down the road.

Now it’s your turn. What’s your best advice?

Advice From Other Bloggers:

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: If you would rather write about this topic on your blog, do so and send me a link and I’ll link to it from this post.