Your first “financial advisor” might’ve taught you that you should save for a rainy day. Or that a penny saved is a penny earned. Thankful as you are for those words of advice, have you ever thought about how you’re going to pay it forward?
Sharing with others your money lessons learned can help people navigate the inevitable financial challenges they will face. Writing a letter that contains this knowledge is a great way to impart financial wisdom because it gives them something to refer to over the years.
We asked the winners of The Ally Big Save to do just that so they can pass their financial wisdom onto the next generation. Here’s what they shared with their loved ones.
Get a Head Start
Saving money is a lot easier when it’s natural and not forced. How do you do this? You do it from day one. Once you start making money — whether it’s an allowance for doing chores at home or money you made babysitting — put some of your earnings aside. It may not seem like much at first, but it will add up. When you want to buy your first car or go on a vacation with you friends, you will be glad you saved the money. As you get older, you can do more with your savings — put part of it in a retirement account, invest in stocks or a mutual fund, build emergency savings. Life only gets more expensive as you age, so learning this habit early will help you significantly.
Jenna Gonzalez, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Don’t Go It Alone
You should take care of your money and know how it’s invested. But that being said, have someone who will listen to your financial goals and help you meet them. Work with them to create a plan to make it happen. Ask questions: “Why are they suggesting certain investment options over others?” “How much are they charging for their services?” Finding the right person can be difficult, but asking for help is one of the best things you will do in your life.
Melinda McMahan, Houston, Texas
Separate, Not Equal
In the past, I was the “Queen of Transfers.” If I had $1,000 in savings, I told myself that I had $1,000 in my checking account. I’d consider that savings vacation money. This thinking demonstrates why it’s so important to have a separate savings account. When your savings isn’t easily accessible — and you make consistent direct deposits into the separate account — you can effortlessly save, regardless of your income.
Olivia Davis, Willingboro, New Jersey
Lots of Stuff Does Not Make You Rich
Money is only a vehicle to provide you necessities as well as the ability to purchase things (houses, cars, electronics) and experiences like travel, concerts or movies. Those things will only bring you a sense of happiness temporarily. Prioritize your needs and your wants and live within your means. Never overextend yourself and get into debt because you want everything now. True wealth lies within who you are, not what you have.
Melissa Fleagle, McCalla Alabama
Go the Extra Mile
I am one of the biggest savers you will meet. I bend over backwards and go through extra hassles in order to save money. It takes a lot of discipline and sacrifice. Our family lives below its means and we spend a lot of time finding and using coupons to save money at the grocery store. By landing deals and getting airline and hotel points from credit cards, I have saved a lot over the years. Why do I make the extra effort? Because saving is essential to building a brighter, worry-free future.
AJ Jain, Olathe, Kansas
Paying It Forward Discussion:
- How do you plan to teach an important financial lesson to your loved ones?
- What money lesson do you want to impart on your family and friends?
- Could writing a letter help you talk more openly about money?