12 Things Every Teenager Needs To Know About Money (And How To Teach Them)

This is a guest post from Grant Baldwin, the author of Reality Check, a book about helping students transition into the real world.  His new website, BrokePiggy.com, answers questions from teenagers about personal finance, savings, and all things money.

This series “12 Things Every Teenager Needs To Know About Money (And How To Teach Them)” is a community blog experience.  This post is only one of the 12 points in the series so to view the other 11, please visit the list of links below.

Do What You Love, Love What You Do

In the book “The Millionaire Mind” by Thomas Stanley, he discovered several different common characteristics among millionaires.  One of the leading traits of financially successful people: a passion for their work.

To them, it’s not just a paycheck.  It’s more than just a Monday through Friday J-O-B.  The work they are doing doesn’t feel like work.  It feels more like a calling.

As a motivational speaker for teenagers, I regularly present a workshop at conferences and conventions called “What the heck am I doing with my life?” in which we discuss the importance of finding work you love.  And as Stanley’s work indicated above, doing work you’re passionate about may have a direct impact on your income.

Here are the three characteristics I teach students about when choosing a career path:

  • Passion – If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you should find something else. Life is too short to do something just for a paycheck. We all need to work. We all need to make a living. Wouldn’t rather do something you love? The danger is that pursuing something you’re passionate about is risky. What if you fail? What if you’re not good enough at it? What if you burn out? All are valid questions but far too often, people play it safe and end up looking back on a life of regret for what could have been.
  • Talent – The fact is nobody wants to do something they’re not good at. Do you? I like playing sports, and I’m pretty competitive, but if you’re killing me at some game, that’s no fun for me. Now if I’m destroying you, that’s great for my self-esteem! The unfortunate thing is we are often taught to figure out what our weaknesses are and improve on them. The problem with this is we can often do this at the detriment of our strengths. There are some things in life I’m never going to be that good at, so I want to spend my energy on the things I do well.
  • Enjoyment – Far too many people live life with the mentality of “Thank God, it’s Friday” to “Oh God, it’s Monday.” What a miserable way to live life! This may sound strange, but I actually look forward to Monday morning. I look forward to getting back to doing something I love. It should also be pointed out that no matter how much you love what you do, you won’t enjoy every job 100% of the time. There are some things that just come with the territory but the good should far outweigh the bad.

Here are the rest of the articles in the “12 Things Every Teenager Needs To Know About Money (And How To Teach Them)” series:

This is a guest post from Grant Baldwin, the author of Reality Check, a book about helping students transition into the real world.  His new website, BrokePiggy.com, answers questions from teenagers about personal finance, savings, and all things money.

Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle

My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.

15 comments
Joshua
Joshua

I completely agree that you should enjoy what you do. I never understand the people that settle for a job that just pays the bills but is something they don't enjoy and aren't passionate about. It is true that sometimes you might have to take a job just to make ends meet but never stop striving to get a job doing something you enjoy!

Mack jackson
Mack jackson

According to me in today's world nothing is possible without money so management of money is very essential. Stop wasting money on unwanted things,manage your credit card properly and save money for your future by investing in good schemes after doing proper research. By following this you will surely save money.

Kristy @ Master Your Card
Kristy @ Master Your Card

I agree with Chris in regards to making sure that people have an understanding that doing what you love may not necessarily bring you money. Stanley's book and the information therein is great, but it applies to about 2% of the population lucky enough to make the money. If I ever make it as a screenwriter, possibly an actor, I will be in that 2%. But, in the meantime, I have bills to pay. So, the more realistic approach is that you should always strive to do what you're passionate about - and I'm a huge advocate of this - but while you're working on getting there and being financially comfortable there, you may have to do some things you don't like. It really just depends on the job in question, though.

Overall, I like the concept here and really advocate that people try to choose their passions over money because at the end of your life, the money won't matter. It's the people in your life and the whether or not you truly lived that will matter to those you leave behind.

pays to live green
pays to live green

I agree completely with your statement that improving you strengths can be much more vital that getting better at things you are weak at. I have come to realize myself that it's better to utilize what you are good at than try to spend the time to learn how to do things that I would be mediocore or bad at.

MoneyEnergy
MoneyEnergy

Like Dana said, it's easier said than done. Also, what about the areas in which we're neither weak nor very strong? The difficult part seems to be when you're in a line of work that isn't all that bad and you even enjoy parts of, but you wouldn't call it your "passion" or your "calling." The do what you love, the money will follow... well, it might take years for the money to follow... so I guess that's where I think the difficulty lies. If you have a partner willing to support you, perhaps that's different. I think it might be better to make the transition slowly, strategically.

Chris
Chris

Adam: Very true.. I just worry there is an expectation of "do what you love and the money will follow" expectation that will not meet peoples' expectations.

As long as people realize their hapiness may be at the expense of monetary hapiness, it's ok! I am not saying one is better than the other.

Adam
Adam

Chris -

I think what most people end up choosing between is a passion and a job. I think there are a fair number of people who choose a job and a fair number who chose a passion. I don't disagree that those jobs people love may pay less, but if that individual loves what they do maybe they won't care as much about the pay.

her every cent counts
her every cent counts

This is all an important lesson to learn, though not everyone can have a job they love that fulfills these requirements from day one. The important thing is to focus on your goals and work towards them. You may have to sacrifice, but see the big picture and you'll get there. The ups and downs are worth it.

I'm really enjoying this series. Check out my Q&A with BrokePiggy's Grant Baldwin (not officially part of the series, but if you're interested in his story and why he started BrokePiggy, check it out) http://www.hereverycentcounts.com/2009/04/broke-piggy-teaches-teens-about-money.html

Dana
Dana

Easier said than done though :) Most parents fear children that can not decide on a career path and push them into something they are not sure of. And as adults, many just stick with that decision although they are not passionate nor talented at what they do.

Ken
Ken

THis is so true...we spend 40-50 years working..why not wake up liking what you do...young people need to follow their interests..parents need to support them as much as possible.

Chris
Chris

I don't disagree that you should enjoy what you are doing if you can, but the fact of the matter is most jobs that are enjoyable don't pay very well.. Simple supply and demand. The more enjoyable as a whole a job is, the more attractive it is to more people. The more supply of people to do a particular job, the lower someone will have to pay you to do it.. Supply and demand.

There is a reason why doctors and other professionals make a lot of money, IT IS HARD, and very few people can/will do it. It takes lots of natural ability, education, and time to do the things most professionals do. Most of us don't want to go through eight years (minimum) of education to be a doctor, or study and pass the bar to be a lawyer, or schmooze and network and work 80 hours a week for 20 years to be a corporate executive. I don't want to sound harsh, but if you LOVE what you do, chances are there are a bazillion other people in the same boat and you're not going to get paid very well. There is a reason engineers, garbage men, accountants, and salesmen get paid more than average.. The work is either really hard or it SUCKS... Supply and demand!

Sure, if you love what you do and have the capacity to own a business it is possible to earn lots of money doing what you love. Those people are in the minority, though. As Simon Cowell would say "Sorry".

Miranda
Miranda

Great post. Perfectly describes why I work from home as a writer :)

MK
MK

I'm in the process of finding my passion in life right now. I've realized that having just a J-O-B is no way to go through life, and am determined to find out what my passion is and persue it!

Firany
Firany

#3 is very important. People expect instat gratification and at best they'll be severly dissapointed once the life hits them. At worst they'll fail their first business because they'll pay themselves salaries way higher than they should.