Planning For a Graduate’s Future – Redux

Gentle Readers,

It is graduation season again, and another family member is finishing high school. This time the plan is to stay in the family home until college starts. I like to not play favorites with siblings, so I am getting her almost the exact same set of books that I got him last year. One small deviation to account for the differences in their characters.

I decided to stick with the perennial favorite, “The Millionaire Next Door.” She plans on a high-paying career, but I think the stealth wealth envisioned here could help her stay on course no matter what happens.

Her personality is very different from her brother and I think she’ll be best served by the framework in “The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke.” That will be on top of her present-stack.

I don’t think she would even read the one I was least sure of for her brother, so I did not buy her it. I don’t want to waste her bookshelf space. She plans on being pre-med. That shelf-space is precious.

She believes in deep thought, supposedly, and I got her the esoteric one, too, “Early Retirement Extreme.” I suspect she won’t touch this either.

The deviation for her was “Truth & Beauty: A Friendship.” I loved this biography and think that many women with deep but fraught friendships could benefit from seeing one displayed in all of its gory richness. Patchett is one of my favorite living authors and this was helpful and painful to read during a particular time in my life. I think this family member may understand my twenties better from reading this. Perhaps not. I hope that she navigates relationships in a far healthier way.

Unlike her brother, I think traditional education is the current best route for her. I think she will flourish in college in a way her brother never would. Maybe I’ll buy a textbook for her? Or leave that to her parents…

What do wish you had read at 18?

Financial Freedom Sneaks Into Every Conversation

Gentle Readers,

Once you start noticing an idea, you’re going to see it everywhere. My recent trips to visit family included many conversations about retirement planning that I was not anticipating. I’m glad that folks are thinking about this. I’m still planning on engaging in stealth wealth, but I am happy for the tides of knowledge to lift all of our ships.

I spent one night in the woods at my aunt’s house. We touched on all sorts of topics and enjoyed the serenity of no cell-service. The transformer blew out 10 minutes before we arrived; we really got the middle of nowhere feel. Before I left in the morning to visit the hospital again, my uncle turned to me and began asking if I have a retirement account or savings. I’m so glad that my answer to that question is now in the affirmative. He was happy that I do, even though I did not start it until I was 31. I still have time. He is almost unreasonably proud of me, and I will take it. Encouragement from a good man is always appreciated.

The more interesting conversation happened with my 21-year-old relative, Bill. Bill does not have parents. Bill has chosen to wait for college until he can get better scholarship options. Bill is living way beneath his means and saving most of his earnings. Bill did not learn this from his parents. Bill figured this out on his own.

Bill is a good man to emulate.

Bill brought up that he wants to retire to Mexico by the time he is 40. Naturally, that got me asking questions. Do you have an IRA? Are you considering starting a business? What do you envision this retirement looking like?

He does not have an IRA yet, but wants to start one. I told him about mine, and the minimums my company requires to open the one I preferred. His savings is not quite there yet, but I told him I would do a little research to see if he had good options available.

Of course he does.

Schwab is my personal preferred vehicle, but Vanguard is also wonderful. They both have options that do not require a $5000 opening balance.

At Schwab, the minimum is $1000, but you can only access that if you enroll in auto-transfer of $100 each month. Vanguard has similar limited selections for people who cannot make the higher minimum.

I do not know if Bill is able to afford a $100 autopay each month, but I am going to tell him about it. That extra decade of returns will matter so much.

I’m impressed that he is working so hard and saving everything. His parents were not good examples, and he is doing right by himself anyway. He also brought up on his own that he wants to retire by 40. I did not put that idea in his head. We have many interesting conversations to look forward to. I must keep researching so that I can keep ahead of his knowledge. We’ll both benefit.

I told Bill that I would send him the presents I bought for the other relative’s graduation. Bill is far more likely to read them and implement the ideas that appeal to his personal choices. Each one teach one.

Were you ever surprised by a family member’s insight into retirement planning?

Planning For a Graduate’s Future

Gentle Readers,

A family member is graduating from high school and intends to move out of his home immediately. I’ve racked my brain to come up with a suitable present for my hopes for him.

Naturally, I got him a bunch of personal finance books.

Everybody’s favorite, “The Millionaire Next Door,” because I want him to have honest examples that frugality, and choosing businesses and careers wisely will make his life different than he is accustomed to. Stealth wealth is a phrase I want in his heart. I know that he is exceptionally kind, and I want him to put on his own mask first.

Less popular among people pursuing financial freedom, but a useful framework that may appeal to him, “The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke.” I want something to reach him, and this may be the most accessible at this point in his life.

The one I’m least sure of, because I have not yet read it myself, “I Will Teach You To Be Rich.” So many people recommend it; many people whom I respect. I wish I had more time to read it, but there is only so many hours in the week.

Lastly, the most esoteric one, that just may be precisely what he could use as a life framework, “Early Retirement Extreme.” Walden knew what he was doing, and this could give my relative all the ideas he needs. I want him to grow in skills especially, but still focus on being a good person.

I chose a variety of books in the hopes that one would appeal and sink in enough to keep him on track. He’s made excellent decisions so far, but his nearby influences are not the example I want for him.

I think that traditional education is not the best current route for him. I’d love to see him gain some more skills and perhaps start a business. I also think he has what it takes and the time to learn how to buy fixer-uppers and make them lovely places to live. Real estate is still not my favorite, but I think it would work well with his personality and current and future skill-set.

What do wish you had read at 18?