Note: Today's post is a little different. It's a letter to a young friend, who asked to remain anonymous. She's 21 and just landed her first job. Now that she's bringing home a regular income, she wanted advice on what to do with her money. Here's my response.
First up, I think it's awesome that you asked me for advice. That took guts! Plus, it's a sign that you're already making good decisions. You're being proactive, taking charge of your own life. I like that.
Like you, my parents didn't teach me how to handle money very well. They did their best, but it's tough to teach what you don't know. I've had to figure a lot of this stuff out on my own, and I've made a lot of mistakes along the way.
You'll make mistakes with money too, I'm sure. They key is to not let these mistakes compound. Don't let one mistake lead to another mistake. When something goes wrong, pause. Take a deep breath. Don't panic. Call me for advice, or ask somebody else who seems to have things figured out. Okay?
I have so much I want to share with you, but I'm going to hold back. I don't want to overwhelm you with stuff that you don't need to know right now. Do me a favor, though, and read that book I mailed you: I Will Teach You to Be Rich. There's a lot of good info in there. Some of it won't apply to you yet, but it doesn't hurt to read the whole thing so that you can know what's coming in the future.
For now, let's focus on the fundamentals.
First Things First
After thinking about this for nearly a week, I think that your focus should be setting up what I call your basic “financial infrastructure”, then creating three buckets for your money.
To start, you need two bank accounts: a checking account and a savings account.
You told me that you already have a Capital One 360 checking account, which is awesome. That account has no fees. (Some banks, like Wells Fargo, charge an outrageous $10/month fee for checking. This is insane. There's never a good reason to pay a bank for the privilege of having an account with them.)