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couple arguingMoney problems in marriage is common. All married and unmarried couples discuss and argue about money. All relationships will encounter financial troubles together. All partnerships will have one person that will make money mistakes that can frustrate and drive the other crazy.

But not all of them end up in flames. In fact, some of them even get out of it a lot stronger than before.

Marriage and personal finances can be a dangerous yet necessary mix. When two people are bound in matrimony, you have two different personalities coming from separate backgrounds trying to live and build a life together. And you also have two money personalities that are not only different, but can also be contrasting.

All type of relationships will have one aggressive and one passive personality. It is quite obvious who will be taking the lead when it comes to financial matters. But regardless of that, you know that any money problems in marriage should be expected and treated the right way to keep it from destroying the whole relationship.

Important reminders when discussing money matters with your partner

It is impossible for you not to talk about money with your other half. After all, we live in a society that is built on consumerism. We need to have the money to pay for the things that we need to survive. We need to pay for food, shelter, drink, clothing – among other things. We also have to deal with the rising cost of living that is increasing a lot faster than our incomes. That means we need to worry about trying to fit all the expenses in our limited budget.

That is not necessarily the best conversation that you will make with your spouse. So how can you keep your finances from destroying your marriage? Here are a couple of reminders that you should always keep in mind when you discuss your finances – especially when it involves money problems in marriage.

  • It’s normal to argue. We are not saying that you need to argue all the time. But if you feel like your spouse is saying or deciding on something that you know is not right, then you need to speak up. Some people choose to be passive and silent until everything blows up in their faces and the blame game starts happening. You have to remember that by not saying anything, you are also to blame. Regardless if you are not the breadwinner, you need to be part of the financial decision making. If something does not feel right to you, then you need to argue your case. At least, ask your spouse to convince you why you need to agree with him.

  • Know where your spouse is coming from. Always remember that even when you have similar personalities, your minds are still wired differently. That is why you need to communicate all the time. That is how you will understand where the other person is coming from. It is important that you hear out what they are saying for you to arrive at a peaceful agreement on the money problems in marriage. Listening is sometimes the key to keep the conversation from heating up.

  • Find a common ground. In case you cannot agree on something, find a common ground. For instance, let us say that your child wants to go to sports camp. You want to give it to them even if it means you have to take the money from the child’s college savings. Your spouse disagrees and thinks the money should be left alone. Both of you have a point so the argument is to be expected. But here’s one way to solve it. You may have conflicting ideas but it has a common theme – the well being of your child. Concentrate on that common ground and together, map out how you will approach the problem. Is it really on the best interest of the child to go to the sports camp? If you really want to, maybe you can appease your spouse by coming up with a plan to pay back the money so it is like you never took money from the college fund.

  • Treat the discussions as you would in a professional situation. Now this will be quite difficult because money problems in marriage can make you emotional. But make sure that you hold it off as much as possible. In a survey published on Lexisnexis.com, it is revealed that 26% of Americans avoid talking about finances. One can only assume that it is because they feel embarrassed or they know it will only hurt the other person. While that may be true, especially when you made a mistake, you need to approach it as you would in the professional world. When something goes wrong in the office, you dread it but you still talk to your superior about it. If you approach it professionally and set aside the emotions, you will realize how clear both of your minds will be.

  • Do not force to agree after one conversation. Some money problems in marriage take time to solve. If a decision has to be made about it, you have to remember that you do not have to solve it immediately. Talk about it two or three times more before you really decide. Space the conversations between days or weeks if you can afford to wait that long. That way, you can think things more thoroughly and you can view it in the perspective of your spouse.

  • Sometimes, consultations can put things in a new light. If you find yourself at an impasse, call in someone else and discuss it with that person – together. It can be a financial adviser or a trusted friend or relative. A third party opinion may be what you need to make a decision and keep the money problems in marriage from being destructive.

Money difficulties can destroy relationships

We’ve discussed in a previous article why money problems can drive you and your spouse apart. It is important that you understand why money is such a sensitive issue so you can keep your financial relationship smooth.

Here are a couple of ideas from that article and some new ones that should give light about why money can drive you apart.

  • You cannot survive without money. As discussed, you need to buy things to survive. Study reveals that money can buy you happiness – at least until you are able to pay for the basic needs. If you do not have this, everyone in the family will feel unhappy.

  • Some materialistic frame of mind will use it as a measurement of success. That being said, you know that money can affect your self esteem. A low self esteem can make you quite disagreeable and even resentful. You do not want that in your marriage.

  • It reveals an underlying problem in the marriage. Financial infidelity is sometimes more damaging for couples. The effects of money problems in marriage will have a ripple effect on everyone in the family – not just in the present but in the coming years. According to an article published on MSN.com, although one partner is to blame, financial infidelity is a result from the couple’s actions. As mentioned, even if you failed to speak your mind and let the other make the mistakes, it is also your fault. Or if you are too overbearing and that prompted your spouse to not be honest with you. These are problems that you need to fix together with the financial problem.

  • It can quickly turn your life around. Another reason why marriages can be destroyed by money is because it can change things about your life drastically and negatively. That can make you extremely frustrated and stressed about your life.

You will always have money problems in marriage but it is just a matter of knowing how to deal with it to help keep your relationship secure. If you really want to save the marriage, you need to be more open minded, understanding and wiser about your decisions. Remember that you are in this together. Make sure you come out stronger and not the other way around.

family with young daughterThere are money habits that will make you a financial failure but it can be corrected if you only learn financial responsibility. Learning to be responsible with your money is tough and it becomes more difficult if you do not start early. The more you get used to being reckless with your finances, the more it will be difficult for you to break the habit and get used to a new and better one.

This is why we have compiled some useful lessons that teens ideally should learn before they venture into the world of adulthood. Some of the lessons will take some getting used to and that is one of the reasons why you want to start early.

6 lessons that will help you improve financial management

Here are a couple of lessons that teens should learn prior to entering into adulthood. Ideally, you want to learn these as early as possible but being in high school should be old enough for you to understand the concepts.

Learning how to do things yourself.

The first lesson that you need to learn is not entirely a financial one. But if learned, it can be a great asset to help in wealth building. This lesson is all about learning how to do things on your own. DIY is always a great skill because it can keep you from spending unnecessarily. For instance, learning how to cook, will eliminate the need to order take out. That should cut a huge bill from your future expenses. Learning how to fix a car, even to just change the oil, will save a lot because the need for a mechanic will not longer be necessary. These things will add up to be a huge saving for you.

Being responsible for your actions.

The second lesson that you need to learn is how to be responsible for your actions. That should be a fitting lesson for financial responsibility. You need to know that any decision that you will make is your own. Regardless of the influences around you, it is not right for you to blame your friends or parents for your overspending habits. You could have chosen to walk away from every shopping event. Even if they are telling you what to do, it is still your decision if you want to pursue it or not.

Knowing the alternatives.

Did you know that one of the characteristics of a modest millionaire is they know how to budget from fun activities? Some people think that to practice financial responsibility, you need to stop wasting money on entertainment expenses – especially when you are still in debt. However, that is not how it should be. You need to continue spending for what makes you happy but you just need to know the alternatives that will keep you from the pricey ones. Being resourceful can help you enjoy life despite your financial limitations.

Reading the fine prints.

Here is one lesson that is rarely taught. It is boring so it will be difficult for a teenager to grasp the importance of reading the fine prints. If adults have a hard time with it, what more can you expect from teens? But nobody ever said that financial responsibility is an easy thing to do. Just like you need to go through with your exams or study all night just to pass your course, you should read the fine prints. The information you gain will pay off in the end.

Understanding good from bad debts.

According to Bankrate.com, debt can be a complex subject to learn. We may want to think that debt is entirely bad but that is not accurate. There are good debts that will help you improve your financial situation. You just have to learn how to identify it from the bad ones. Not only that, you need to learn credit management to be more responsible with your money.

Stepping back to look at the big picture.

Lastly, you want to learn how to always look at the bigger picture. It keeps your future in perspective so you can ensure that your present choices will not affect it. In most cases, people got into financial troubles because they opted to focus only on the present. That is not how you practice financial responsibility. You want to keep your eye on the mistakes of the past, the situation in the present and what you want to pursue in the future.

Why you need to be responsible with money from the beginning

Being responsible with your money is best done while young because you typically start on a clean slate. Although by the time you are a teenager, you should already have a couple of insights about life and personal finances. But still, you are young and it should be easy to put you in the right direction – as long as you are willing to learn and adapt.

An article published on StreetWise.co, discussed a study done by the TIAA-CREF about Millennials and the state of their personal finances. According to the study, this generation has the highest income and debts to match. That does not really promote a picture of financial responsibility. Especially when you find out that they do not have enough savings to their name.

Finding financial responsibility while in debt  is difficult and that is one of the reasons why you want to use it to stay away from debt. To help encourage you, here are some benefits to being more financially responsible even at an early age.

  • Helps you develop the good habits before you develop the bad ones. The great thing about starting early is you can develop the good ones before you are exposed to the bad ones. When you start earning money, you will be tempted to be reckless with it. Before that happens, make sure that the right habits are already in place.

  • Allows you to start on your financial goals early. Another thing that should make you want to learn financial responsibility is it will help you work on your goals early in your life. That way, the chances of you achieving them early will also be high.

  • Encourages you to set up your financial future right. Lastly, learning how to be responsible at a young age will help you setup your financial future the right way. It will help make the right decisions that will lead you the type of future that you want to have.

Apparently, learning financial responsibility is needed now more than ever. According to an article from FoxBusiness.com, the household debt in the country has risen higher. It may be viewed by economists as a good sign because consumer confidence is up once more. After all, people who are not confident about their finances will not put themselves in debt. However, you also have to realize that too much debt is the reason why everything was so bad the last recession. The rising consumer debt can lead us into another debt situation that this time, a lot of us may not be able to survive it. With a debt of $11.52 trillion, we may not be too far off from another crisis.

This is why it is important that you adapt a more responsible way of managing your finances. You cannot afford to let your finances be as bad as what your elders had. It will be a challenge, given the present economic conditions in the country. But soon, you will find that the lessons learned are all worth your while.

woman doing a stop hand signThere are many mistakes to avoid in retirement planning. One of the most prominent is taking money out of your retirement fund. It is high on the “No-No” list together with not saving early for your retirement. There is just too much at stake if you decide to take money from your retirement plan – whether you intend to return it or not.

According to an infographic published on Principal.com, 27% of retirees are actually working while in retirement because they lack the funds to support themselves. The same statistic also revealed how 61% of those who retired early did so because of health problems. Imagine having to retire on a small retirement fund with health problems. How can you hope to support your basic needs much less the medical treatments that your health requires?

This is the reason why financial experts are strongly against consumers who plan to get from their retirement money.

3 conditions that make borrowing from a retirement plan okay

However, there are instances wherein your back is against the wall and you have no choice but to take money from your retirement fund. But before you really consider this as a solution, you must explore your options first. More than that, you need to make sure that these three conditions are met.

You have the stable income to pay it back.

First of all, you want to make sure that you have the income to pay back what you are getting from your retirement fund. Whether you loaned or withdrew the money, that should be put back someday. There should be no question about that. If you know that you cannot afford to put this back, then do not borrow from your retirement plan. That way, you will not be too much at a loss when you finally retire.

To have stable income means you should be currently employed with a regular salary coming in every month. Consider how stable your job is. Did you get a positive review the last time you spoke to you boss? And do not just concentrate on your own reviews. Take a look at the stability of the company. You may be very competent but the company may not be in good condition. You could still end up losing your means to pay back your the retirement money you borrowed.

And having the means to pay it back is not enough. Make sure that your repayment plan can be completed in 5 years. This is the allowable number of years that will keep you from being penalized by the IRS. If you loaned the amount from your retirement fund and you failed to pay in back, that will be considered as a taxable income.

You do not have a cheaper loan alternative.

Another condition that you have to meet is making sure that you have explored your options. If you need money, try to explore getting a peer to peer loan or a cash advance from your office. If other loans that you are trying to get is going to cost you more than borrowing from your retirement savings, then that usually means you have a credit score that is less than ideal. If this is the cheaper alternative, then go ahead and borrow from your retirement.

This is another reminder that bad credit scores negatively impact your life. In this case, it is forcing you to have no other option but to get funds from the money that should have been kept untouched until your retirement. Make sure that it will be a lesson that you will keep in mind. Fix your credit score problem so that you will not be put in the same position again. Your retirement plan may not fully recover if you make it a habit to borrow from it repeatedly. If anything, this should always be your last resort. Unless this is the cheapest loan alternative that you have, do not touch your retirement fund.

You will use it for something that will improve your personal net worth.

Lastly, the only acceptable time that you can touch your retirement money is when you plan to use it to grow your personal wealth. According to a study from Wells Fargo and Gallup, 64% of investors would prefer to have their retirement investments secure even if it will limit the profit that they will earn. The study published on WellsFargo.com also revealed that 33% admitted that they do not mind the high risk as long as there is a high growth potential. If you are part of the latter, then you can use your retirement money to grow your funds further. That is the only time you are allowed to use it. No ifs and buts about it.

This can also be applicable for those who want to use this as a downpayment of their home. A house can build up equity over time. This is a great way for you to increase your personal net worth. It sure beats having to rent all the time. Of course, this is a great option if you are still young and you have decades to go before you have to actually retire. In fact, the IRS allows $10,000 or less in withdrawals and will not penalize you for it. At least, if this is your first home purchase.

When these three conditions are met, that is the only time that borrowing from your retirement fund makes sense. If not, keep your hands off.

Should you ever use your retirement money to pay off debt?

There is a question of using your retirement money to pay for your debts. Some people who had it really bad when the recession happened had no choice but to use their retirement money to haul themselves out of debt. According to a Q&A article published on Oprah.com, financial adviser, Suze Orman warned consumers against borrowing from their retirement funds. She said that the better option is to keep their hands off the retirement money, get a part time job and them pay off the debt slowly but surely.

It is difficult to judge if you should use your retirement plan to pay off your debt. But in case you feel strongly about it, there are certain signs that will tell you if you are doing the right thing. It is still generally not okay but it will probably be acceptable if:

  • You will pay off a high interest debt. Compare the interest that your money will get if it stays in your retirement fund as opposed to the savings you will get if you eliminate the high interest debt. That can be a great way for you to compare if this is a good idea or not.

  • You will loan the money and not withdraw from it. Withdrawing would mean an early withdrawal tax penalty for you. If you loan it, it is technically still a debt but the interest will be placed in your retirement fund anyway.

  • You will make a plan to return the money. Actually, this should be something that you do before borrowing from your retirement money. Make sure that you can put it back.

  • You will address the real reason why you got yourself in debt. Lastly, you want to address the root cause of your financial problem. If you concentrate too much on paying off the debt without really thinking about staying out of it, then you might just be wasting your time and money. Ensure that you will solve the overspending or lack of emergency fund problem that led to your debt situation.

There are many retirement regrets that you should avoid at all cost and taking from your retirement savings is one of them. If you are not careful, you might find yourself struggling in the future just because you took money out of your retirement fund.

student holding envelopIf you think about the student loan crisis, you will realize that we have a long road ahead of us. We have yet to put a huge dent on solving it. In fact, if you look at the statistics, you will realize that it does not seem like we are doing anything to solve it. If we are doing anything to the student debt at all, it is obviously not working.

Based on an article published on NYTimes.com early this year, it is apparent that student loans continue to rise. In fact, to quote the article, it is revealed that “delinquencies continue to rise, and loans continue to be made without regard for the ability to repay.”

The article explained that student loans were initially created to help low income families have the chance to get a higher education. That is still happening but the whole system seems to be in error. Instead of helping, we find young adults struggling for the first ten years of their corporate life. It is creating a bigger problem for new graduates. Although they have the means to earn more compared to high school graduates, they still have the student debt to take care of.

Three reasons why the student loan situation in the US is scary

There are three important reasons why the student loan problem in the country is scary.

Student loans are advertised as a good debt that is necessary.

There is truth to this – that we cannot deny. Study reveals that graduates really earn more compensation. This is why college debt is often advertised as a good debt that is necessary for young adults to succeed in life. The explanation is this – it is a type of debt that has the ability to put money in your pocket. That is because it can open more opportunities for you to earn. But even if that is true, you should realize that the student debt is compromising the money that you should have been enjoying.

Student loans are given to confused and innocent borrowers.

In most cases, student loans are offered to borrowers who do not understand the real effects of debt in their life. Not only that, they are unaware of their actual capabilities to pay off this debt. At the time that the debt is made, there is no way for the borrower to know how they can hope to pay it back because they are still studying. If they have a hard time getting a job, that will not stop the student debt from being billed to them.

Student loan delinquencies continue to rise.

Another scary fact about this debt is that the delinquency rate is steadily rising. As mortgage and credit card delinquencies improve, the student loan is going the other way. It keeps on rising just as the amount of debt is also going up. We need to consider this fact because it clearly shows the inability of young adults to pay off this debt. To add to this scary fact, lenders are still issuing student loans despite the trend that borrowers are having a hard time paying it off!

These are the reasons why student loans make college education seem worthless. If we are not careful, this might result in another economic crash.

Recent study reveals that Americans still want to go to college

Surprisingly, despite all of these facts, Americans still believe that college education is a must. In a recent poll done and published on Gallup.com, 70% of Americans believe that it is very important for consumers to have a postsecondary degree. 24% believe that it is somewhat important. Only a mere 6% believe that this is not necessary at all.

The other findings from the poll are as follows:

  • 44% strongly agree that a certificate or a degree beyond high school is necessary to get a good job.

  • 40% strongly agree that a college degree can lead to a better life.

  • 89% believe that institutions providing higher education need to change so that the needs of students can be met.

  • Less that half of poll respondents believe that institutions are not doing anything to change and improve.

Gallup provided an explanation in this poll results that revealed how consumers know that student loans are destructive – but that they still believe that college education is necessary. It is safe to assume that when it comes down to it, they will opt to put themselves in debt if that means that they can get access to this higher education. That is because they believe it is a necessity towards a better standard of living.

How to go to college and minimize debt

It is true that student loans may be worth it because a college education can really open more doors to help you improve your life. But while a college education is a necessity, you have to remember that student loans are not. There are ways for you to get an education after high school and it does not always have to end up in debt.

Here are some things that you can do to keep student debt from being a problem after you graduate.

  • Work on the side. One of the most effective ways for you to break free of the student loan statistics is to just work your way through college. People have done it so you cannot say that it is impossible. They had to work during their spare time and it paid off in the end. They are able to enjoy their salaries entirely because it does not have to be split with student debt payments. There are so many things that you can do to earn on the side. You can babysit or provide tutoring services. Or you can have yourself employed by the college you go to so they can waive off your tuition. That means you only have to worry about your daily expenses and your books.

  • Be frugal. Another way that you can keep yourself from too much student debt is when you live a frugal life while in college. This is possible for you to do if you concentrate on the expenses that are necessary. New clothes, for instance, should not be high on your list if you still have clothes to wear. You need to prioritize food and your school expenses before you think about your wardrobe.

  • Keep an eye on your credit card spending. One of the things that make student debt a burden is the fact that it is often combined with credit card debt. The high interest of credit cards can be quite a financial obligation that can cripple the finances of the young adult. It can be too much to bear if this is accumulated on top of the college debt. That means you have to make sure that you keep any credit card spending in moderation. If you can manage it, just spend in cash only. That way, if you cannot afford it, you will be forced not to spend on it.

  • Understand your student loan. Lastly, if you really have to borrow money, make sure that you understand student loans. This is one of the regrets of a lot of young adults who have graduated with student debt. They said that they wished they know how hard it will be to pay off this type of loan. If they did, they mentioned that they would have done more to keep their debts low. That may be better financial management skills or a more frugal lifestyle. If you understand how student loans work, you can make better decisions about this debt.

mom teaching a childConsidering the way we react to our finances, it should be safe to say that we find money concepts quite confusing. Either that or we just do not have the discipline to put what we know into practice. But while financial education is not enough to keep consumers from money problems, you need to understand that it will give you the tools and knowledge to keep it from happening. While the key is really to implement what you have learned from your financial literacy lessons, you still have to acknowledge that you need to have the education first.

We often hear a lot of people say that they made a lot of financial mistakes because of ignorance. They were unaware of the real consequences of their decisions until it was too late. If you can relate to this because of a personal experience, then you should know that boosting your financial education can help improve your case. And while you are at it, you should start educating your kids about it as well.

Truth be told, if you find money concepts confusing, then you can expect that your kids will feel the same way. Not only that, since they are mostly dependent on you financially, you can expect that implementation will be tough for them as well. But while it can be a challenge for parents, that does not mean it is not possible to teach your kids the lessons that they need to learn.

According to a study published on FinancialEducatorsCouncil.org, there are three areas that will impact the way a person handles their finances. One of them is the recognition of the first step. The other two is the motivation to learn and the knowledge of the subject.

Of the three, the recognition of the first step is the most intriguing. You would not think that the first step is important. But if you think about it, if you do not know the first step to take towards making a financial decision, how can you hope to make the right one?

This makes early financial literacy all the more important.

5 money lessons that young children can understand

As a parent, you are expected to give them their first lesson. According to the same study mentioned above, 65% of their respondents believe that the people responsible for the first education of a child is the parents.

There are many money lessons your kid should know after high school but that does not mean you need to wait that long for them to learn. Even at a young age, you can start educating them about money concepts. Good news is, there are certain concepts that you can teach them that they are capable of understanding.

  1. Spend less than what you can afford. The first of the lessons that you can teach your kids involve spending only what they can afford. Just like you should be limited by your income, you should also tell them that their spending is limited by their allowance. If they only get $5 a day, they should only spend $5 or less. Encourage them to spend less so that they have money to put aside in their savings account. If they cannot afford something, they should just say no to the purchase.

  2. Save up for something that you cannot afford. In case your child wants something that their budget cannot afford, teach them that they can always save up for it. Do not buy it for them. We want to give them what they want but in the end, that will not teach them the right money concepts that will make them better financial managers. Encourage them to put aside $1 or something so that they can save up for it. Teach them to put aside a percentage of their allowance – e.g. 10%.

  3. Earn more money if you want to increase your savings. To help them save up for the purchase they want to make, offer to pay them for chores that they usually do not do. For instance, if washing dishes is not part of their chores, ask them to do it for a week and pay them a dollar or something for it. That should give them the value of a hard earned money.

  4. Credit should not be the first option to pay for something. Teach your kids that credit, while can sometimes help, should not be the first option to pay for a purchase that they cannot afford. If they can save up for it, they should just wait before buying the product. In case they see you use your credit card for purchases, you have to explain to them how you pay it off.

  5. Know the needs from the wants. The last of the money concepts that you should teach your kids is the difference between the needs and wants. Have them make a list of what they wish to have. Then, you can identify together what is a want and what is a need. Let them know that buying  a toy does not have to be expensive if there is an economical version. Also, teach them that just because a playmate has something, they have to get it too. Tell them that skipping lunch in school is not healthy if that is their way to buy a toy. Instead, teach them how they can spend less but not to skip lunch entirely. Or teach them that they can earn extra money.

These are the money concepts that you can teach your kids. By relating them to things and purchases that they want to have, your kids will be more interested in learning the lessons you are trying to impart to them.

2 reasons why our country’s future will benefit from financially literate kids

While you may think that your efforts to make your kids more financially literate is not important, you need to think again. Just like the value and morals you are imparting to them can affect the future society in general, the same is true for the money concepts you will teach them.

If you think about, most of the deadly financial mistakes are really caused by our ignorance. When you raise your kids to be aware of the consequences of their financial decisions, it will not only benefit their own personal finances, it will also benefit the country’s future.

There are two reasons why the lack of financial literacy of your kids will help everyone in the long run.

Debt will not be as destructive.

According to an article published on TIME.com, the people who do not have a high level of financial literacy is more prone to make the wrong decisions. They borrow more money and they end up accumulating less wealth. But those who are financially literate will be more likely to plan for their retirement and acquire more wealth in the process.

When people become smart about their debts, not only will their personal finance be safe, they will also help the government. You see, people who want to have a low interest loan are usually backed by the government. When they default on the payments, the government will have to shoulder some form of insurance on that loan to keep the lender from losing too much money. If the consumer is financially literate in the first place, the government backed loans will not have to take up too much money in the federal budget. The government will not be wasting time to bail consumers out of a credit pit that is actually a personal mistake.

Financial opportunities will be recognized and grabbed.

Another benefit of learning the vital money concepts in a nationwide level is that people will start to recognize the good financial opportunities that come their way. And since they are knowledgeable about it, they will be more courageous to take a risk. This empowerment will help consumers rise up the income ladder and make something for themselves. They will have the knowledge that will help them pursue their dreams. Again, it will abstain the government from having to support low income households. At the very least, the people they will have to support will be lessened.

Some of the concepts may seem farfetched but it really is hard to see the finish line if you are still at the beginning of the race. You have to just trust that learning the right money concepts is the first step towards a successful financial future.