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 Post subject: How should I start?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:49 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 4:21 pm
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Location: Seattle, Washington
I'm 17 and I have no idea where or how to start learning about the ins and outs of financing. The one thing I hear loud and clear is to plan ahead and spend wisely, and I've heard plenty of stories of people getting themselves deep in a hole that's just getting deeper.

I've got a busy school schedule with extracurriculars and stuff, so I haven't had time for a job yet. I'm in high school but I can take free classes at the community college; would an economics class be a good idea or would there be something more specific to look for?

Any help would be amazing.

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 Post subject: Great Start
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:58 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:59 am
Posts: 8
Location: California
If you are 17 and want to learn about Finances you are already on the right track Congratulations: “Investing for Dummies” (nothing meant by the name) would be a good start. This book is very easy to read and will open the door to areas you can do more research into. I would also suggest reading the wall street journal; they offer discounted student rates look into it at your local JC


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 6:04 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 9:19 pm
Posts: 34
Location: Portland, OR
I suspect that a typical college economics class would be nearly completely irrelevant to beginning personal finance.

That doesn't mean that it won't be interesting, and it doesn't mean that it won't help you think about finances in a completely different way.

But if you're trying to learn about stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, then you have very little use for utility functions or laffer curves. Some community colleges offer courses more oriented toward personal improvement; you may be able to find good introductory investment courses. That would be of more use than a proper 'economics' class.


Sam

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 6:37 pm 
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Location: Seattle, Washington
Haha, thanks. I guess I was just lumping everything together that has to do with money... All the more reason to get started!

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:33 pm 
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Location: Houston, TX
On the other hand, the really "interesting" (a relative term) finance courses ALL have economics as prerequisites.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:06 am 
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A beginning economics course, while irrelevant for personal finance stuff, is very relevant in the skills that it teaches. The way you analyze problems via economics is radically different than a non-economist's approach.

Take the economics course.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:25 am 

Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 1:29 pm
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Boo economics! Take Ancient Greek. Whenever I have a financial question, I just think back to my lessons on Plato and Aristophanes, whip out my old abacus, and start computating in Linear B. Works for me!

More seriously, instead of picking up a book (or choosing one from the billion out there), go to your local library and pick up an issue of Kiplinger's PF Magazine. Very basic and easy to read. It should open up some more specific questions for you that you can look up elsewhere, or ask here! That's where I got my start.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:05 am 
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JerichoHill wrote:
Take the economics course.

Oh sure, YOU would be in favor of it. :wink:


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:50 am 
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Location: England
Or you could take probability and statistics. Its also a different way of thinking, and probablity is suprisingly counter-intuitive. I've found that aspect useful in my personal finance.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:51 am 
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Yeah, stats would be good too. =)

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 9:24 am 
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A subscription to Money magazine really got me interested in personal finance. It's $12 for a year. Give it a shot.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:16 am 
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It looks like you’ve already started and are learning that there is no one right answer, a theme that I’d expect you to continue to encounter throughout personal finance.

Personally, I really like some of the lessons learned from studying probabilities and statistics. Economics is a good subject, but I’ve found that you really need a good instructor who can relate to your learning style to get the most out of it. I don’t think you can ever go wrong studying Greek Classics; it applies to so many modern ideas.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 9:20 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 6:27 am
Posts: 106
Location: USA
I like the ideas above, but since you are working with a relatively limited time frame, I'd start with "most relevant" and work out from there.

You don't have a steady job, so I think the basics of cash flow management matter most. Where do you keep your money (checking, savings, etc.)? If you don't have any of these accounts, then hie thee to a local bank and get them. Since you are presumably going to college soon, I'll skip my usual advice to pick a friendly neighborhood credit union and instead recommend that you choose a bank with national coverage so that you have a good shot of being able to do your banking both at home and school. (If you know which school you plan to attend, and can check to see which banks have nearby/on-campus branches, so much the better.)

Once you have these funds in place: How do you plan to keep the money going over the course of say, a college semester? Have you built up a budget? Will you be saving for travel and computer equipment?

Do you plan to make some purchases with a credit card? If not, do you know how to use one without getting in trouble? Not to toot my own horn, but you might want to check out this:

http://mortarboard.blogspot.com/2006/12/how-i-gave-myself-learners-permit-for.html

Also, how are you going to pay for school? Have you filled out the FAFSA, Profile, and other aid forms? Do you have scholarships? Have you applied for many? Are your parents or other family members going to contribute? What is left for you to cover, and can you contribute via work-study? If you need to apply for student loans, do you know what will be required to pay them back?

In this case, I'd make sure your parents picked up The Princeton Review's "Paying for College Without Going Broke" and O'Connell's "Free Yourself from Student Loan Debt". All of you should read them together.

Once you feel that you have a good handle on these issues, then look into questions about long-term saving (for a car, house, etc), and investing (both within retirement accounts and otherwise).

If you simply want to be pointed to a guide, given your age and situation, I'd recommend something like Suze Orman's "Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke" and Beth Kobliner's "Get a Financial Life." Neither of these are perfect, in my opinion, but they do a decent job of covering the basics.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 12:00 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:41 am
Posts: 8
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
My own community college used to have a course which didn't transfer to University which was titled "Personal Finance". It didn't have the type of information that some of the better personal finance books have, but it did give me a background. I learned what T-bills are, what T-notes are, bonds, stocks, mutual funds, how to make a basic budget, how credit cards work, etc. It was good as a starter. Your community college may or may not have a course like this.

Economics is usually more about how different size financial groupings interact, whether companies to companies (micro-economics) or countries to countries (macro-economics). Good for predicting upticks and downticks in the market, but likely not useful to you unless you start wanting to be a day trader.

Some basic accounting classes can help. For example, some budgets recommend you account for every dollar spent... that there be no "holes" in your accounting for spending. Last time I used them, Quicken and MS Money would let you spend money without accounting for what expense category they went to. The double-entry accounting system taught in accounting classes and used by businesses (and QuickBooks and the Linux program GnuCash) require you to account for every penny. If you withdraw cash from the bank, it goes from one asset account (checking) to another (cash in wallet). When you spend it from your wallet, you must account for it (from asset "cash" to expense "dining").

The books that JD has recommended in the past, particularly "Time is Money" and "The Millionaire Next Door", are wonderful resources, and teach you more about the nuts and bolts of how to spend than any other resource I've found.


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