Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Funding a dream

I'm a 16-year-old trying to make money. I have a part-time job making $7.75 an hour.

It's not enough. I want to earn $50,000 to $100,000 in 6 years so I can successfully move away to my dream residence. I'm currently working 20 hours a week. I want to get a second job for some extra cash and maybe even a job at school working on spares. If I need to work everyday, I will.

I plan to graduate, but I don't plan on going to university. I plan on opening a franchise when I grow up. Right now, I save every penny I can find. How should I make some more money?

Earning all of it

Dear Earning,

When I turned 8 or so, my father started giving me one dollar per grade level. I saved up that $3 a week and more and eventually had two $100 bills in my bedroom. I only bought one Barbie for myself the whole time.

When I was 16, I got my first over-the-table job cleaning a deli/convenience store. I eventually moved up to making sandwiches and running the register. I stayed there for a year, and as a matter of corporate policy, was given three raises during my tenure. I don't remember how much I made, but on average I worked 15 hours a week. I saved every penny.

After a year, I had to leave for college. With me, I took something like $2,000. I worked for 10 hours a week but never could save any money again because it was my spending money. When I graduated, that cushion helped me buy furniture and pay for the security deposit on my apartment.

Yes, like you, I once had grandiose dreams.

I haven't been on this Earth long, but what I have learned is that there is no shame in loans. Or debt, but only the good kind (like student loans). People who can't take the occasional loan, like school districts who never bond their facilities projects, often find themselves without any savings at all when it really matters. And without a line of credit, you will find it hard for people to trust you with loans even if you've always paid your bills.

I gather from your letter that you want money, and you're willing to work for it. That's good! You realize that money doesn't grow on trees. So let's say you actually get that $50,000 or $100,000 and can buy that dream home. Where will you get the money to start up a franchise? Chances are, only some of it will be from a loan, and that's only if you can get one. Remember, you have no credit. And that dream home will cost more than it does now based on inflation.

My point is that you can sit there and save every penny you find on the street, but there will always be something to eat up your money. Your money will always be spent elsewhere. So rather than worrying about working so much for peanuts now, study hard, graduate, and then work hard for larger peanuts. Get a line of credit and pay it off responsibly. Apply for a loan or mortgage when you get to that stage where you need one. Never, ever work forever just to spend your money on one thing.

And seriously consider attending college for business classes. It will help you immeasurably with your start-up.

Aunt Amy

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