The Game of Life
Have you ever played the game called Life? At the beginning of the game, each player picks out a playing piece shaped like a car and puts a little stick figure (pink for girls and blue for boys) in the driver seat. Throughout the course of the game, your car moves around the board, and the spaces on the board try to simulate the highlights, or in some cases lowlights, of the average person’s life. You get a career, get married, buy a house, possibly have kids, buy insurance, and you can even play the stock market. Plus, there’s a wonderful assortment of random life events.
The objective of the game is to accumulate money and end up at Millionaire Acres.
Here’s a plan to get you to Millionaire Acres.
We talked earlier about part-time jobs in high school and getting “earned income.” Let’s start there. If you don’t have a savings account, open one. Have automatic payroll deposit set up so your money goes directly to the bank. Now you will work, get paid, and the money will automatically show up in your savings account.
As soon as you get a paycheck, open a Roth. If you’re under 18, you will need your parents’ help, but get it done. At the end of the book, I have some suggestions for companies that have low or no fees, indexed funds, and require a low initial investment. Set up an automatic transfer from your savings account into your Roth. All of the steps I just listed are important for your future.
You can decide for yourself, but I’d suggest you have $100 per week go directly into the Roth. If you’re paid biweekly, then the first $200 from each paycheck goes into the Roth. Through your last two years of high school, you’ll be able to save and invest about $10,000. Remember, as of
2014 there’s a $5,500 limit on how much you can save in a Roth. At the end of the year, you’ll be close to the limit. If you can max it out, go for it.
Those first two years may be a little rough, it may seem like all work and no play, but you’ll have $10,000 or more in a great wealth-building account. If you add no more money, with an annual return of 8 percent, you’ll have close to $350,000 tax-free by age 65. So you are over a third of the way to Millionaire Acres, and you’re just getting out of high school!
How about that? We haven’t even started the game of Life yet, and you’re over a third of the way to Millionaire Acres. Congratulations!
Getting back to the game for a minute, the first decision in the game is whether to move your car down the path to college or not. Regardless of which way you choose, maintaining a steady part-time or fulltime job with a weekly contribution to your Roth is critical. If you don’t go to college, you get off to a faster start in the game, but your career options are limited. Either way, you can still make it to the promised land of Millionaire Acres.
I know that not everyone reading this book is going to college. Some will choose the military, a trade school, a fast-track career program, take time off from school and work, or start a nondegree career. Whatever you choose, let’s look at how to get to Millionaire Acres.
As the author of The Minimum Wage Millionaire: How A Part-Time After School Job Can Change Your Financial Life, Bill Edgar has a passion for helping teens understand how they can become wealthy. You can find out more about him at Goodreads and follow him on Twitter.