Hi, Gen Y Finance Journey Readers! I’m Jana and I run a personal finance blog, Daily Money Shot, where I talk about money (but not the boring parts). I’m also a freelance writer and founder of the blogger mentoring program, Bloggers Helping Bloggers. I’m thrilled to be guest posting here and when you’re done reading what I have to say, come say hi on Twitter or Facebook!
Back in September, a post was published on Gen Y Finance Journey, Six Things I Hope I Know in My Thirties. I loved this post and, since I’m well into my 30s, I figured I could respond to a few of her points and questions with my own experience. So here we go.
- How to understand the fundamentals of a stock. I’m 35 and I still don’t have a clue. I mean, I have a basic understanding of stocks and stuff now, thanks to a great series another blogger wrote on my site but before that? Nothing. Zip. And I got by just fine. I think because this doesn’t affect my day to day finances, I don’t pay much attention. Also, my husband understands it so if I have questions, he can explain it to me. And while it’s important to understand, it’s not the end of the world if you haven’t mastered it by your 30s.
- What kinds of insurance are important to have? Off the top of my head: homeowner’s or renter’s, life, and automobile. I’d also recommend that if you have important items, like a wedding ring, you get a separate rider on your homeowner’s insurance for those items. As far as whole versus term life, everyone has a different opinion and I’m certainly not qualified to give mine but I will recommend you do a ton of research before you decide. Life insurance is essential, especially if you have dependants (says the woman who still doesn’t have any).
- The ins and outs of homeownership. Oy. I wish I still had a full grasp of this. Every day I learn something new. However, it’s important to know how to handle basic home repair: unclogging a toilet or a drain, patching a hole in the wall, finding the fuse box (don’t anybody move! A fuse is out!), mowing a lawn, caulking, and, most importantly, the terms of your mortgage. Once you have that, everything else is learn as you go (and by that, I mean ask the guy at Home Depot or use Google).
- How to write a will. There’s no formal or right way to write a will, and there are plenty of online tutorials to help you through it. The most important thing is that you get it written down and notarized (I learned this from our town mayor who is also an attorney. According to him, you can write a will on a napkin and as long as it’s notarized, it’s legal). Just make sure that, when you do write one, you cover all important elements like guardianship of your kids and pets, beneficiaries, and executor and that you consult an attorney if you have questions.
- How to teach my children about finances. I could go on for pages and pages about this (and in fact, I sometimes do) since it’s a topic near and dear to my heart as a parent. While there’s tons of advice out there, the most effective way to teach your kid about money is to be a good example. Your kid will mimic what she sees. If you carefully budget and plan, your kid will learn that same behavior. If you frivolously spend and constantly complain about not having any money, you’ll get a kid that does the same. The other effective method? Talk to your kid about money. Don’t make it a mystery. Explain about savings, working to earn money, investing…everything. But make sure you do it in an age appropriate manner. For instance, I’m not going to talk to my 6 year old about compound interest but I can talk to her about why it’s important to save.
- How to teach my children about healthy living. Same as with teaching about finances, the most effective way is to be a good example. If you exercise, your kid will exercise. If you eat fruits and vegetables, so will your kid. If you limit your TV time, so will your kid. This is not a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. Requiring your kid to do something that you don’t do is just confusing to the kid and you will get a ton of resistance (and a lot of “but you don’t do that, why should I?”). A word of caution: don’t go overboard. If your kid has a day in front of the TV or eats ice cream for breakfast, don’t freak out. He’ll survive. The key is teaching moderation. And honestly, most of us have days like that.
As far as being apprehensive about buying a house and having kids? You should be. They’re scary, scary events. But not so terrifying that you should refrain from them, unless that’s exactly what you want. I do suggest doing some research because you don’t want to go into anything like that half-assed. However, too much research will confuse you and make you question every choice. So do enough that you’re informed but not so much that you’re overloaded. And trust yourself and your judgment. You know what’s right for you and when.
For reasons unknown to me, people in their 20s seem to think that entering their 30s is this huge, landmark event. Like all of a sudden, you’re going to become enlightened and understand things that seemed incomprehensible in your 20s. I know because that’s exactly what I thought. But I’ll tell you, I don’t feel that much smarter in my 30s. I still don’t know things and I’m certainly not an expert on most topics. What I do have is experience and a lot of mistakes under my belt.
I guess maybe that makes me smart. Or maybe just old.