Generation X is classically defined at people born between the years 1965 and 1979. Pretty much those of you in your early 30's to the mid 40's. However, having given personal financial advice to thousands of people, I can tell you that many of you who were born 1960 to 1964 fit within the Generation X type of financial and personal attitude. In week two, I wanted to share with you the attitude you need to have as the CEO of your family finances called - you won't make hay forever.
Since many of you either just celebrated your 20 year college reunion or your 20 year high school reunion, it is always a life moment that gives you a chance to pause and reflect. Could you remember those days in high school or college where you didn't have any money, and worked just hard enough to afford some beer money for the weekend or a tank of gas for your first car? Those days passed by, you got your college degree, and you began to earn some income. Perhaps after a few years of working your way up the corporate ladder or driving the entrepreneurial venture you began, you started to see the fruits of your labor and reached the six-figure income plateau. As your income rose in size, so did parts of your lifestyle. The nicer car you always wanted. A move up to larger house than your first starter home. Just a slightly fancier vacation at that swanky resort you always wanted to stay at when you had no money. A better birthday and holiday year with cooler gifts for your kids. Before you knew it, all of that disposable income went out the door.
Here's the deal. No matter how well you are doing at your job or career, I am here to tell you that the gravy train will not last forever. The worst financial thing in the world you can do as a Gen X'er is to believe that you'll make that huge bonus or large salary forever. It is important to adopt a mindset on how you plan your finances over the next twenty years by doing it expenses bottom up. What I mean by that, is to build a realistic set of expenses that you know you can enjoy life, but also have expense lines that you can afford even during the lean times. By adopting this mentality, you put your family finances in a strong position to exceed by allowing yourself more margin for error in downside income years versus thinking you'll make that $250,000 per year forever.
During the good years, the key with making the larger sums of money is to bank 40 to 50% of your income in those good years versus the normal 10% to 20%. When the good years happen, consumption and investment items will come out of the woodworks to find your money. You'll have the friend or colleague with this unbelievable private investment that can quadruple your money hit you up. You'll have that itch to completely redo your backyard convincing yourself that your money will be recouped at the sale of the property. You'll have an opportunity to put down payment on a vacation home that you have been wanting for years. The only thing you need to remember is that there is always some hiccup in your income stream during your working career. Sometimes longer than we expect and money in the bank is always the best source of ammo in your war chest.
I'm not here to tell you not to enjoy some the fruits of your labor, but set some expectations for yourself. Otherwise, you'll get this disease I call irrational exuberance. This means you will convince yourself that your income will rise every year in perpetuity until you think it is time to call quits. I am here to tell you 'say it isn't so', and bank like a bunny while you can!
Go to www.oxygenfinancial.net to request a consultation with the leading financial experts for Generation X in the country.
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc
Ted Jenkin is one of the foremost knowledgeable professionals in giving financial advice and Smart Money Moves to the X and Y Generation.
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