|(The truth is, I just wanted an excuse to repost this picture of Canice from 2006.)|
I’m going to be candid here—I’m not a financial expert. In fact, I’m financially illiterate. I’m a walking episode of ‘Til Debt Do Us Part. I’m Britney Murphy in Uptown Girls. I’m Biggie Smalls, still waiting to sip champagne when I’m thirsty.
So you’re probably wondering—what am I doing blogging here?
Here’s my story: After six years, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree. My debt made it impossible to take an internship in my field, so I got a job working for a non-profit organization. For three years, I happily lived paycheque-to-paycheque.
Then came the layoff. I had no assets, no emergency fund and a staggering amount of debt. It was a situation I didn’t plan for. (And I’m not the only one. According to the Task Force on Financial Literacy’s 2010 report, young Canadians are not only struggling in making ends meet—they also don’t know how to plan ahead.)
The problem is that I just don’t get it. I’m not ready to discuss portfolios, unless you’re talking about a new kind of cute handbag. While my peers break down mortgage payments with ease, I feel like I’m making major steps forward just because I found a coupon for $0.50 off toothpaste. The most embarrassing part? My dad is a financial planner. (I’m cursing myself for skipping “take your kid to work day.”)
But here’s the good news—while I may not be a personal finance guru, I’m smart enough to know I need help.
Over the next three months, I’m going to share with readers my journey to become financially literate and self-employed. This won’t be a blog about high-end investing—it will be about the basics that 20-somethings need to know to get out of debt. I’m going to ask experts all the stupid questions so you don’t have to.
But where should I start? Should I be clipping coupons, building an investment portfolio or saving for retirement? I spoke with Jeremy Vohwinkle from Generation X Finance to find out. Here’s what he recommends:
1. Build a budget. “Nobody likes to budget but it helps put things into perspective,” Vohwinkle says. “Once you get a handle on that, it’s a lot easier to put a little extra towards retirement.”
2. Take an active interest in educating yourself. Unlike Gen X, which was in what Vohwinkle calls “the dark ages” when it came to personal finance, Gen Y has access to a wealth of online knowledge.
3. Don’t get carried away with investments—but do plan ahead. “People think they have to wait until they get their debt under control before they can start saving,” says Vohwinkle. “That’s a mistake because the more time you have, the more that compound interest can do its magic.” He recommends putting away as little as $25 to $30 per paycheque.
4. Determine your long-term goals. “The younger you are, the better position you are in to begin putting a dent into those goals.”
My Best Financial Tip: Hard up for bus fare? For quick cash, scour money off the floor of your favourite dance bar. Watch out for girls in high heels, though. They will pulverize your hands.
|I even got Ramsey in the act of going through the couches at Stone's Place.|
What I would blog about next:
Idea #1: How do you know when your business is generating enough revenue to declare yourself self-employed? I talk to Revenue Canada and an accountant who specializes in self-employment to find out. Plus: I consult with a psychic to determine long-term goals--and readers weigh in on whether I should follow the advice.
Idea #2: How do you safely consolidate your finances with your common-law partner? I make less than $30,000 a year. My partner makes three times that amount. I find out how we should protect ourselves financially as a young common-law couple. Plus: I talk to a relationship counselor about navigating the relationship hurdles around unequal income.
Idea #3: Want to know how to coupon for your lifestyle? Not sure what to do with all those diaper and infant formula coupons? No room to build a stockpile in your 600-square-foot condo? I share with readers the secrets to couponing for the urban young professional.