Financial Adulting: The Top 5 Things to Know
Updated: May 22
What is the Adulting Stage of a person’s financial life? What knowledge, skills and lessons should be learned by the time an individual exits this stage? These are key questions I have gotten in recent interviews. I have also been asked by parents what the top money skills are that they need to teach their kids. This post will address these questions.
The Adulting Stage
In the FinancialVerse, the first stage of a person’s financial life is called the Adulting Stage. This stage takes place from birth to age thirty, when young adults, in my view, are finally not their parents’ responsibility. I also call this period: The Journey to Thirty. During this stage, the individual is educated, has received instruction on the key aspects of financial matters, develops personal relationships such that they find a partner or friend group they affiliate with, finds steady employment, and lastly, but most importantly, the individual is able to fully financially support themselves. To emphasize the last point, this would mean that the parents’ bank closes on their thirtieth birthday unless a major emergency or unexpected need arises.
Here are what I believe to be five top things a person should have learned about money during the Adulting Stage:
Financial Knowledge is Money Power. They need to have developed a habit to spend two hours per week or 17 minutes per day understanding and keeping up to date with the key aspects of the FinancialVerse. This means they read, listen to, or watch media to understand current leading financial indicators, economic developments, key financial terms and concepts, and basic financial math. Much changes in our society as new technologies are introduced and implemented. Adults need to keep informed of these changes.
They Must Have a Budget. Knowing how much cash is coming in and going out is essential to manage a person’s financial affairs. I learned early in my career that what is not measured is not managed. You can’t navigate your journey if you don’t know how you are doing and where you are going. In the FinancialVerse, this is done by understanding and managing the inflow and outflow of cash. Individuals need to think of themselves as financial plumbers. They need to make sure the water pipe flowing cash is used as needed and does not have holes in it and is leaking.
An Understanding of the Impact of Debt. Debt can be their friend if people understand how to use and not abuse it. During the Adulting Stage an individual must learn the various types of debt, the cost of each type, when debt should be incurred and when getting into debt must be avoided.
The Financial Risks They Will Face in Life. There are certain financial risks each person must identify, eliminate, or minimize in their lifetimes. In my books and content I have identified eight key financial risks that can negatively impact an individual’s journey through the FinancialVerse. An individual needs to understand the risks they are facing (e.g., premature death, health, disability, longevity) and what they can do to deal with each.
What People Can Help Them. As individuals go through the Adulting Stage, they must learn who they can turn to solve financial problems. They need to know how to consult bankers, financial planners, insurance professionals, investment professionals and, if necessary, legal resources to get their issues addressed and resolved. They should be taught that contrary to what you often read in the financial press, there are different types of qualified people in the FinancialVerse that can help them get where they need to be.
The Adulting Stage is the time to learn the basics about money – what it can do to impact the quality of life, how the economy works, the importance of financial self-reliance and an appreciation of what money can provide if properly managed. It is up to all parents, teachers and mentors to provide their offspring/mentees with a deep and practical knowledge of the basics. It is never too late to work and learn money basics, this knowledge can change lives for the better.
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