10 Financial musts before age 20 (5 of 5)

This is the fifth and final post in our Financial Must series, where we’re aiming to provide you with a tremendous foundation to achieve your financial goals. We have the previous eight Musts listed below to remind you what we’ve covered. If you’d like to read about those in detail, check out Must Post 1Must Post 2Must Post 3, or Must Post 4. Thanks for reading!

Sunset At Waikiki

1) Find a way to earn an income and do it at an early age.

2) Set goals for yourself financially, and make sure at least one is attainable in the short term.

3) Open a checking account.

4) Get a credit card with a low limit.

5) Do not put anything on that credit card if you don’t have the money for it in the bank.

6) Start an investment savings plan.

7) Live frugally and save as much of your income as possible.

8) Learn to separate needs from wants and realize you do not need that new iPhone, set of beats headphones, or whatever else you think looks nice and shiny. The sacrifices you make now will payoff in multiples later in your life.

9 – Consider taking online or community college courses if a degree is in your future. I am going to use a local example but this applies ubiquitously. I live in Columbus, Ohio and aside from the obvious university in town (The Ohio State University), there are actually a few other four-year institutions, community colleges and online institutions available. Within the last couple of years I had to take a biochemistry course for work, so I started browsing cost for local options available and found this out (these prices are all for in-state student prices): The average annual tuition for one of our local community colleges, Columbus State (Go Cougars!), is $3,808 per year. Picking one online institution out, University of Phoenix, totals $10,878 for a year of tuition (you save on room and board for this one). Ohio State, our large public university, came in at $10,037 for just course work and $25,631 for the total package – tuition, room, and board. Contrast that with the cost for a local private university, Otterbein University, which totals $31,624. These numbers are variable year-to-year and may not be precise depending on course load and other factors… but they were generally staggering to me.


Many large, four year, universities have affiliations with local community colleges, and I strongly advocate for utilizing that affiliation. If what you’re looking for is the four year degree from a more renowned university, it makes great financial sense to take elective and non-major courses with an affiliated community college or technical school. The courses generally cover the same content and, in some cases, are even taught by professors from the larger university. Additionally, because of the affiliation between universities, there is a direct transfer of credits between them. As long as you make sure the courses will build toward the degree program you choose, you’re good-to-go. In this scenario, you receive the same level of teaching/direction for a fraction of the price. If you can pay the $3,808 for 1-2 years of the four year program, your total cost could decrease by $12,485 compared with tuition only at the large private school, or $55,632 compared with living on campus at the private university… Wow.
Cutting cost is not the only factor to consider though. Investing in education is an investment in yourself, which I consider different than a car or home loan. Yes you may gain equity when paying off a mortgage, however, your investment in education will directly affect your employment and income ability in the workforce. Understand also that a traditional college education comes at a great financial cost and has set young people and families back in our generation and the next. My caution then is this: if education is your path, that’s awesome. Make sure it is a field you enjoy working in and, when possible, try to save up front. After all, the interest rate on a student loan is irrelevant if that loan is never taken out.


It is my belief that following the preceding rules will help you gain the tools and knowledge necessary to reduce that initial cost of education. When you do decide to make an investment in your self though, you’ll have the foundation to decimate that debt after graduation. Good luck.


10) Reward yourself




Wow… You’ve made it!! Great work. Now what? You remember those goals you set at the beginning? If one was a concert, road trip, or night out for dinner and a movie, go ahead and make it happen. You’ve saved, scratched, and sacrificed for a while at this point, and if you don’t have a taste (just once in a while) of what you’re doing all this work for, you may forget the overarching goal and lose your way. Don’t let that happen. Pat yourself on the back and reflect on your accomplishments. That’s good work. Go ahead and reward yourself. Maybe you can even use your credit card reward points to buy gas for that road trip…

Thank you for reading! If you’d like to read about our other financial musts, check out Must Post 1, Must Post 2, Must Post 3, or Must Post 4. If you’ve enjoyed this post please subscribe to the blog so that every new post comes straight to your inbox. You can also check out the YouTube channel (MikedUp Blog) or follow Mike on Twitter (@RealMikedUp). Have a question or comment? Let us know by commenting on the post or emailing Mike at [email protected]. We’re glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!


– Mike
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