There is a topic that most parents, colleges and employers do not speak of to the next generation, and it involves the well-being of future generations along with investments and exchange traded funds (ETFs).

Many people would be on a better path toward personal fulfillment and wealth if someone, anyone, would speak to them about finances before the problem begins. Many twentysomethings have much to learn about finances, and many do not even have that word in their vocabulary.

When we’re younger, it can be hard to conceive of the idea that retirement will one day be a reality. What no one tells you is how much faster time moves after you enter the working world and start living life. It goes by quickly!

The advice from Kiplinger and The David on Pimp Your Finances will go a long way, especially when implemented early on. And remember that it is never too late to change your financial patterns, it just gets more difficult.

Here is a summarized rundown of the Kiplinger advice:

  • Plan Ahead. By having short-term, medium-term and long-term goals,  you can plan for some of the biggest decisions in your life; buying a car, a house, and investing in your future.
  • Live within your means. Do not burden yourself with debt before you even get started. That expensive purse or car means nothing, and ends up costing you much more if you can’t pay for it.
  • Save Save Save. By starting a savings plan, a little bit goes along way. An automatic deposit to a high-yield checking account can get you used to saving by getting you used to living off of less.
  • Pay off your debt. Any debt accrued now should be payed off before another big purchase. This will get you on the road to financial freedom.
  • Investing. You are never too young to start investing. A broad-based ETF, such as Vanguard Total Market (VTI) can help get you started when you are young and may take you well into retirement. Be sure to ask for ETFs in your 401(k) plan to help keep fees low – over time these will add up, so starting off on the right foot will only help you down the road.
  • Establish credit. You can do this without going into debt; just pay off you purchases each month and the longer you have credit, the better your credit score. When you go to take out a mortgage, you can qualify for a better(cheaper) loan.
  • Build your skills. By starting young and building a base of skills that will help pay the bills, your job prospects open up and you are marketable. The more skills, the better, and the more specialized, even better.
  • Stop taking handouts from parents. If you want to be treated as an adult, act like one. Being an adult is about being independent.
  • Marry wisely. Make sure your partner is on the same page, as far as spending, goals and priorities. This can get ugly later if there’s a huge gap in money attitudes.
  • Have fun. Don’t forget to do this once in a while, or what’s the point? Just do so in moderation, please.

To this, we would like to add: educate yourself. Take charge. Know what you’re investing in, learn how to follow trends and set exit strategies. Understand the fees you’re paying. Make sure your investments are appropriate for your risk tolerance and time horizon. The more you know, the better off you’re going to be in the long run. I’ve taken this downturn as an opportunity to teach my own kids about investing.

ETFs are a wonderful tool for investors of any age who want to take matters into their own hands – they’re low-cost and transparent, among other things.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.

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