Sep 1, 2010

What I Wish I'd Known (Janssen)

I think my parents did an excellent job teaching me about money and finances growing up, but there are two categories where I felt like I didn't have any frame of reference until I was well into my college career.

1) I had no idea what a reasonable adult job paid. Was $100,000 a year a lot? A little? Could you live a decent life on $15,000 a year? And what kinds of jobs paid good salaries? I mean, I assumed a doctor or a lawyer made pretty good money and a teacher made less, but I didn't know HOW much less or how much was "pretty good money."

2) How much did a house cost? I had no idea until a few years ago what either of the houses we lived in growing up cost or how they related, percentage wise, to my parents' income. I remember seeing signs for neighborhoods that said things like "Houses starting in the $250s" and thinking "well, that can't be two hundred and fifty dollars, but it certainly can't be two hundred and fifty THOUSAND could it?" I was just completely clueless.

What financial information do you wish someone had shared with you?

14 comments:

Kimberly F. said...

I had the same first problem as you. My dad refused to tell his children how much he made, so I never knew what salary enabled us to live our solid middle class lives.

I eventually found out but I was in college by that time.

Kelly J. said...

Both of these were on my list, too. And since I grew up in a single parent household...in a house that my mom didn't own...it was so difficult figuring it out.

That said, I still grapple with both of them. I know we did well with the second, but the first still kills me. Maybe when we're a dual income household it'll be different, but for now, I just continue to be blissfully ignorant and live within my means...

The one I didn't know was renting. When I first was moving to Austin, I had NO IDEA what a reasonable rent was. In Iowa, I rented a house for $300 a month. What was reasonable in a big city for a studio? In a city I knew nothing about?

Tara said...

I wish I had known how to balance a check book and how to use a credit card (ie. how interest works, etc.).

Strong Family - said...

My boys decided a couple of weeks ago that they were going to save up to buy a house together. A 2-story house. They're 7 and 9 years old. They figured it would take about a year or so. I told them how much our house cost and we talked about how much they earn from doing chores (about $1 a week). They did the math. So then my 7-year-old decided that he needed a job. A job that paid enough for a house. He thought he could be a bug exterminator because he already knows how to kill fire ant piles. Needless to say, we had a really good discussion about how much money you make in an adult job, why a college education is important, and how much a house costs.

Strong Family - said...

Oh, and I wish I would have known that with a credit card it is much better to pay the minimum balance when it is due than to wait a month to pay off the whole balance. I didn't understand how that would hurt your credit.

jillian said...

My parents always told me to save but they didn't tell me how. They also told me to "get a credit card to start building credit" but they didn't educate me on what all that meant...

I've figured it all out now, but when I was 19, I already had debt and that's a bit ridiculous, I think.

Alison said...

I wish I knew about RRSPs (401K) and wished my parents encouraged me to start when I was old enough.

Carly said...

I still think the whole "establish credit" thing is confusing.

Packrat said...

I wish someone would have told me about refinancing loans - especially mortgages and how to pay them off faster.

Amber said...

I think when it came to finance I was lucky, my parents started young with savings, registers, cards, etc. Then my first job was at a bank. I watched first hand what happened to others, and started to learn about mortages, and interest. I learned about 401Ks - and my parents encouraged me to start then to save for the future.

But I would have to agree with a few of the others - I wish I had known more what an "grown-up job" paid so I would have been a little more proactive in my position pursuit.

Amber said...

I think when it came to finance I was lucky, my parents started young with savings, registers, cards, etc. Then my first job was at a bank. I watched first hand what happened to others, and started to learn about mortages, and interest. I learned about 401Ks - and my parents encouraged me to start then to save for the future.

But I would have to agree with a few of the others - I wish I had known more what an "grown-up job" paid so I would have been a little more proactive in my salary pursuit.

Grace Marie said...

I wish I had known what a (luxurious) necessity GOOD health insurance was/is.

Bethany said...

Hahahaha this made me laugh, 250 THOUSAND?! I once thought the exact same thing! On both counts! I wish I had learned all that and so much more. :)

Lara said...

The first point you made, totally! Income was never discussed when choosing a career. It was always "what will make you happy". I agree it's important to find your work fulfilling, but it was almost treated like a mystical soul-mate--there's only one career out there for you and you better find it! I now know that there are many careers I would be good and they would be satisfiying in different ways.

My husband is a therapist/counselor. While he loves what he does, he is sometimes frustrated at his ignorance in choosing his profession. He had to get a master's degree to get licensed to be hireable, and we had to go into a quite a bit of student loan debt to get it. But student debt is good debt, right? Not always. It's frustrating that my sister's husband with a bachelors in business or my other sister's husband with a bachelors in accounting both make DOUBLE what my husband does with a master's degree in human services...if we could do it again, not sure the loans are worth it.