Kindergarten is a pretty ideal place. I’d love to be there at this point in my life. I feel as if I did not properly appreciate all that the class had to offer when I was there the first time 26 years ago. I want a do-over. Looking back, I realize now that I should have embraced those naps (because God knows how much I need them now). I should have enjoyed the coloring a little more. I should have really relaxed when it was time to learn letters. I should have appreciated that it was the simplest thing I’d ever do in life, and I should have asked to be retained – until I was 22.
Hindsight is 20/20 (must be nice considering my regular eyesight isn’t even close to that). It’s easy to look back now and really long for naptime and centers. But it’s also easy to look back now and see how the things we learned at that age are still applicable to our daily lives. In fact, most of what we learned in kindergarten applies to our financial situation right now, and the best life advice we ever received came from that colorful classroom. It’s easy to consider this a transitional year; a year of learning the basics. That’s exactly what it is. We just forget that the basics are some of the most important things we ever learn. Without the basics, we cannot do anything else. Without these kindergarten basics, we wouldn’t be so financially savvy.
Proceed with caution
How many times did your kindergarten teacher tell you to proceed with caution, whether it was opening a door slowly so as not to accidentally hit someone who might be standing on the other side of it or checking both ways before you cross the parking lot to mom’s car? She told you regularly, and that advice applies to your savings account. Proceed with caution; read the fine print, understand your investments and what they mean. Make decisions only after careful thought. Proceed with caution anytime you do anything that costs you money, because it’s impossible to save when you spend negligently.
Clean up your mess
So you went a little crazy with that first credit card in college because you forgot that you are responsible for cleaning up any mess you make. Now you have blurry photos and vague memories of drunken Spring Break trips to Cancun, and a big credit card bill and debt to show for it. This is your mess, and you have to clean it up. You won’t be able to save money if you have to keep paying it to others, so now is the time to clean up your mess and start over.
This is a very important lesson. It’s easy to keep things for yourself, but you have to remember to share. This goes for your savings account. You have to share the money from your checking account with the savings account. If you don’t share, your savings account sits sad and empty. Your checking account might have more room in it to buy things you want, but in a year when you no longer love all those things you bought, your savings account will still be sad and it will be even more difficult to learn to share with it.
Tell the truth
If you don’t tell the truth in your financial life, you will be the one that pays the price in the long run. Look at all those people who bought houses they were unable to afford back when the economy crashed simply because the bank told them that they could and they did not do a good job of telling themselves the truth. The truth for many is that a mortgage that big was too much, and they were not honest in telling themselves that this was the truth. These people lost their homes and their jobs, and they learned a valuable lesson. Be honest. Save your money and do the right thing and you will be much more financially savvy. The same goes for things like your taxes and your loan applications; tell the truth or it will bite you in the behind.
We all die
It’s a lesson we all learned in kindergarten. Whether it was when little Johnny came to class crying one morning because his beloved dog died the night before or the class hamster never woke up from that nap he was taking this morning; we have to learn about death at this age. The same goes for your savings account; we all die, so how will you prepare for that moment in your life? How will you plan and save and execute your finances to handle your business when you are gone? Whether this means purchasing life insurance or figuring out who will care for your small kids in case some tragic accident were to occur, or who will get that gorgeous jewelry box your grandmother left you when she passed; you have to have a plan.
The simplest life rules are the ones we learned when we were children in a class we just thought was fun and kind of exciting. These lessons apply to everything that we do right now. They apply to our savings abilities and our lives, and they are not to be taken lightly. I often find that my mind tends to make things more complicated at times. When I feel overwhelmed and out-of-sorts, I often refer to my basic kindergarten knowledge and work hard to keep it simple. What I’ve learned from that is that keeping everything in life as simple as possible is what makes it more enjoyable, less stressful and more profitable. I try not to worry about other things anymore, and instead focus on the basics. Use this kindergarten knowledge to do the same and you will be surprised just how much your savings can benefit from your new (yet so old) decisions and choices.
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