Today I have a guest post for you here at TeensGotCents with a tip on starting a million dollar savings plan. It is written by one of my best friends who is like the fun-loving, amazing, smart, and kind older sister I always wanted. Chelsea is the type of young woman who supports and encourages other young women and she has been a source of wisdom in my life since I was 13. I am so thankful that she agreed to write a post for TeensGotCents. Here are some pictures that were taken a couple of years ago by Chelsea’s mom of donna ham photography.
The rest of the pictures are some that Chelsea took while in Costa Rica. It is a beautiful place! Chelsea has a practical savings tip that she learned about while traveling home from student teaching in Costa Rica. I’m so glad she is willing to share it with the rest of us today!
I knew I should be getting serious about putting money in a retirement fund and getting my emergency stash to a higher level but I always found something better to spend it on and it wasn’t easy to change my patterns.
At age 22 I was able to justify not saving for retirement…
I have a decent track record of saving money for things I need in the short term, after all I had gone to college debt free and paid my own way through four months of Study Abroad in Costa Rica. While in Costa Rica enjoying the beaches and teaching adorable kindergarteners, I met a couple that changed my perspective on saving money and how easy it is. We struck up a conversation in the airport while waiting for my ride home, they were interested in why two young American girls were in the country they had come to love so long ago. I told them all about student teaching abroad and how much I loved Costa Rica. They told me about how they moved there and own some of the most expensive and popular resorts in the country. After his offhanded comment about “taking the private jet is just too expensive these days” I realized this couple had made some great decisions about their finances.
As the plane stated to board I asked them, “What is one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting off?” The gentleman smiled and said, “ If you ask my advice I expect you to follow it, I charge too much for it to make no difference and you will take a lot of crap for this (he didn’t say crap). Your generation is far to spoiled and undisciplined to understand.” I was taken back when he said this, partly hurt about the dig at my generation but I agreed and said I would follow it as long as I didn’t have to sell any vital organs. He laughed and looked at his wife like he couldn’t believe he was about to say this but she nodded and he said, “Don’t spend five dollar bills.” My roommate and I laughed. “What do you need that is five dollars? A coffee? Maybe a pack of gum?” He had a point; five dollars won’t get you much these days. He went on to say he had started this crazy endeavor when he was 19 and his wife joined him when they got married and by the time they retired they had set aside one million dollars!
Now let me be VERY clear with you. This man and his wife seemed to be very serious business professionals and he did not get where he was today by saving $5’s. I bet he might not have been the most well liked boss and might have skimped on birthday and Christmas presents as his children grew up. His advanced age must have lightened him up and now he could give his children everything. In a grandfatherly way he put his hand on my shoulder and said over the speaker calling first class, his class, “As a teacher you will make more of a difference than I ever could but I am proud to be a part of your journey. Now go get your million.” With a wink and a hug from his wife they left.
This is where the problems start, you see, I don’t use cash… ever. Also where do I put all these fives I’m going to get? I had a million questions and also was going home for the first time in 4 long beautiful months and I was just a little excited!!!
I got home, graduated, caught up with friends and figured out my plan for the next year. One day in January I was using cash to pay for something and I got a five dollar bill in my change. The old guy and his advice came back to me and I laughed and put it away. I started using cash for any purchase under $50 but I added one exception to it. I could only spend $5’s on street musicians and I have. In less than 5 months I already have over $500 set aside in a new savings account. I keep the fives in a safe place until I deposit them. I DO not leave them in my wallet because I know I am good at talking myself into things.
This is not a rule I think everyone needs to live by but it works for me. I also encourage all of you TeensGotCents readers to do one thing. Be generous! Be generous in every area of your life including finances.
Never miss an opportunity to be GENEROUS.
Be smart and if this silly tip helps you save for a trip to the beach or retirement I would encourage you to try it. People think it is strange and yes I have taken my share of ‘crap’ for this little money saving trick. Its worth it to me and people who know a thing about saving think it is smart. Because hey! What can you get for $5? A nice retirement that’s what! That is my million dollar tip! Let us know what you think. And now… go get your million!
I love Chelsea’s advice particularly because she lives it herself! Especially the generous part. Chelsea is so generous in every area of her life and I am glad to have her as my adopted big sister. I am definitely willing to give the $5 savings plan a try in my life and see what happens. A million dollars for retirement? COUNT ME IN!!!