Archive for the ‘Saving’ Category

Much to the chagrin of kids everywhere, schools across the country are dusting off marker-boards, straightening out rows of scissors and rulers, and setting up disgustingly saccharine displays with scalloped, corrugated, border trim depicting ancient blackboards and apples. Parents are flocking to discount stores to buy paper and notebooks, malls to buy the newest fashion for their little models, and electronic stores to buy data sticks, tablet pc’s and the newest “i-device” from Apple.

As much fun as all that is, and I personally love the smell of new school supplies, what students need, almost more than new shoes with lights and skate-wheels in them, are strong study skills. I’m all for studying and study skills, but I think a lot of adults need them just as much when it comes to personal finances as their kids do. The following is a list of skills that will work just as well for students of history and math as they will for people looking increase their own financial literacy.  Advice for students is in red, while advice for personal finance is in blue. 

1. Tape a copy of study guides for classes somewhere that you will see it often. Maybe the inside of your locker, or even to the cover of the book for that class. Also put up copies near your computer at home, or in other places that you are sure to see them. Doing this helps you to study without making it a chore. You have the ability to read a few lines while you are doing normal, everyday things. Repetition of information is the best way to learn it.

1. Keep pictures of things that you want to have near your modes of spending. Saving up for a new motorcycle? Wrap a picture of your dream bike around your credit card. Want to be out of debt completely, try keeping a copy of your latest credit card statement, with the balance owed circled in red where you can see it. Don’t think of it as shaming yourself into not spending, but think of it as providing a visual incentive to make better spending choices.

2. Make an appointment to study. With soccer practice, football games, church meetings and whatever else goes on in life, (like ditching all that stuff to hang out at the mall with the hot person you want to be seen with by everyone but your parents), it’s easy to forget to make time for actual studying. Make an appointment so you make sure you have time to study. Of course, that’s only half the battle. The other half is for you to actually meet your appointment.

2. Just like students, you need to make an appointment to reconcile your statements, plan your budgets, and pay your bills. Mrs. Finance For Youth has a schedule where she wakes up on Saturday morning, boots up the computer, makes a cup of coffee, and proceeds to pay any bills that came in during the week, reconcile any spending that we have done, and makes plans for the next week (like writing rent checks to be delivered on time, or checks to the gardener, or even allowances for herself and yours truly). Having a set time takes away a lot of stress and uncertainty because she can focus what is truly important and not worry about it again throughout the rest of the week.

3. Start your study sessions with your most difficult subject first. When I was in school, there were some classes that came easy to me. Like almost anything but math. It made no sense to start by studying for P.E. (which basically meant playing outside anyways), or even English (which I was really good at for some reason), when I had a subject that was so much more difficult and therefore demanded more time from me. I never learned this trick in school, but I do suggest you start with that hard class and use studying for your favorite classes as a reward later on.

3. Start paying that ugliest bill first. Maybe it’s the one with the highest balance, or maybe it’s the one with the highest interest rate. It might even be the one you are furthest behind in paying. Whichever it is, try to knock it out first, so that you can see easier bills in the future.

4. This one should be a no-brainer, but show up to school every day. All the studying in the world is only going to get you so far. When you show up to class, you will get information that might not be in the study material. You also get the benefit of learning the information that the teacher is going to test you on. Personally, I frequently use the phrase, “So, if you see a question on the test that says…,” which I follow by giving the students the answer that I’m looking for.

4. Show up to work! In general, you get paid when and only when you work. Some people have time off for vacation for which they get paid, and sometimes you are just too sick to be any good, but for the most part, work=pay! Think long term. Maybe you can get away with not being at work every day right now, but when you are looking for that promotion, your boss will take your attendance into consideration. It may be that the difference between you and another employee is that you are known to show up to work and the other person is known to slack off.

5. Don’t try to cram! Okay, we’ve all done it, but it almost never works out well. Instead of pulling one all-nighter on Sunday, just before a huge test, block out an hour or two every day to study throughout the week. Doing so will increase the likelihood that you will retain important information, cause less harmful stress to your body and health, and ultimately put you in a more relaxed state where success is more attainable.

5. People sometimes try to cram personal finance knowledge too. It doesn’t work here either. If you are already in debt up to your ass (assuming you own livestock), or higher, you aren’t going to get out of it instantly. Set out a plan that allows you to survive, but that still attacks the problem. You need to give yourself space to be able to succeed, but you need to also build in room for the occasional, inevitable setback. What happens too often is that people try to cram in “smart” financial decisions to such an extent that they are bound to give up and fail.

For many parents, this is the first year that they are dealing with the whole school thing. For others, back to school just means another haircut and a picture of your little one standing outside the front door, dressed and ready to go to school. Try instead to share some great strategies with your children on how to be successful, whether by my tips above, or others that you might know from other places. Let them know that you are also going to start something new and exciting to help the family. Make school and personal finances whole family events where you all share the journey and the rewards. Your kid gets good reports for a month and you pay off one credit card bill? Go for a round of miniature golf or something that the whole family can enjoy!

Nothing says back to school like this video.  Enjoy!

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In every parent‘s life there comes a time when they need to sit their child down and have a serious talk about life. Some parents make a big deal and production about it, buying visual aids and showing their kids the tools that they use. Other parents pretend that this isn’t happening, or at least that it isn’t happening yet, all the time realizing that they are risking their children having to learn the facts from people who don’t have their best interests in mind, or even worse, from the streets.

Of course the above holds true for many sensitive and difficult subjects, but only one can truly rise to the level of being called “THE TALK”. We’re talking about finances here.

Earlier, at the beginning of summer, we discussed some choices about how to handle the idea of allowances for kids. You can read about them HERE, HERE, or even HERE. Some parents thought that this was the end of the story, and not something way closer to the beginning. The truth is, your kids are going to need to learn how best to handle serious issues like the smart use of credit, planning for the future, making and sticking to budgets, and even how to deal with life when your plans blow up on you. This is when it can get a little messy for parents and their children alike. Hopefully I can give you a few tips to make this less difficult on everyone.

You really can be too young: Many of the bloggers out there and some of the “gurus” will tell you that your kids are never too young to learn about these issues. Well, that’s not exactly true. I’m all for teaching kids about money issues in ways that are age and developmentally appropriate. I could try to talk to my 6-year-old nephew about the finer points of an interest-only mortgage, but I’m sure he’s more interested in seeing what his nostrils look like when you shine a flashlight through them (That may not be strictly true, but I always get a kick from the flashlight thing). You should stick to basics that you can deliver in small enough chunks that they can understand, but with just enough detail that you don’t lose them. If you just can’t help yourself and you absolutely need to talk about topics that are probably over their head, the best way is by teasing the more advanced topics in the course of the more basic (and appropriate) lessons.

A little mystery is better than total disclosure: Remember the first time you heard, saw, heard about, learned, or discovered that your parents had sex (that is if your parents have had sex, unlike my parents, who never have and never will, thankyouverymuch)? Yeah, you don’t want to put your kids through that when it comes to money issues. Some parents might struggle to keep their finances healthy. Having kids, in and of itself, is an expensive proposition, but by no means the only reason parents might not want to divulge too much. Maybe they made some bad choices, maybe life got a little hairy, but the kidlets don’t need all the details. If you want to purge your soul, see your clergy, a psychologist, a bartender, or whoever, but don’t burden your kids with too much detail into your own finances.

Try to let your kids guide the direction of the conversation: Just like the other “talk”, one area where parents frequently screw up is by misunderstanding the questions that their children may have. A kid might ask where babies come from, and a parent will start the conversation with, “Well, sometimes Daddies make special drinks for Mommies that help Mommies get sleepy…,” when all the kid wants to hear is “from the hospital”. No kid wants to hear the first story. No adult wants to hear that (with the exception of some members of the local police, but that is another story altogether.) Kids have an amazing ability to communicate to adults what they are ready to grasp. Sadly, adults generally suck at interpreting what the kids are saying. My best advice here is to ask a lot of questions about what kids are curious about or need help understanding. Give them a broad, basic answer, followed by some more questioning to see if that helps to answer their questions, and then a more detailed response. Lather, rinse, repeat as necessary.

Showing is better than telling: Kids get lectured at enough at school. I personally make sure of that. They learn very early on how to tune out when they feel another lecture coming on. Try to avoid adding to the lectures they will have to sit through by developing activities that will help them see what happens. There are games on the internet that can be used in a pinch, but these are generic, and might not be the best fit for your child. Of course, this will mean that you have to be engaged with your child, but most parents who are planning on teaching them about personal finance are probably already pretty well engaged already.

And finally,

Be prepared: Before you get to the point where you need to have “the talk”, be prepared with the accurate information and some ideas about how you would answer questions. This means you might need to invest a little time and a little money on reading materials. You’re reading Finance For Youth: The Blog
already, so that is a good start! Another place where you will get good information that is definitely not over someone’s head is by reading my book, Finance For Youth: The Book, available through Am I saying that my stuff is the only stuff you should read? Absolutely! However, I know that would be incredibly unlikely, so I suggest that you supplement F4Y products with products from your second favorite personal finance person.

Having “the talk” is going to be strange. There is no way around it, but it doesn’t have to be so uncomfortable that you postpone it until it is too late. Remember, postponing leads to your kids needing your money long after they should be on the way to creating their own lives, and nobody wants that.  Also remember that if you get stuck having to give the talk, and it gets awkward, you can always just tell your spouse that your kid ate the pie!



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Note From Wil: This is a guest post from Kelly Austin, a writer with  Much of what Miss Austin writes today should sound familiar to many readers. Much of her advice today can also be found in various articles right here on F4Y:TB. I include her take for those newer readers who might not have read some of those older posts.

I like to include the writings and opinions of as many people as I can.  If you want to contribute to Finance For Youth: The Blog, send me an email:

Personal finance is one subject that does not get enough attention in the education system, so it is up to parents to raise financially literate children. Here are five actions that you can do to help teach your teenager about personal finance.

Get a job: Encourage your teen to find a part-time job so that he learns the value of work and develops a good work habit. Giving allowances is okay, but adults have to work for their money; no one just gives money to them. Help your teen look for a paper route, babysitting job or a job at the local fast food joint. Working ten to fifteen hours a week while in high school will help them learn to prioritize their time and earn money for their spending and savings needs.
(Note from Wil:  I talk about this very topic HERE!)

Open a Checking Account: Your teen probably has a savings account but it’s good to get him a checking account so he can deposit and use his hard-earned cash. You can get your name put on the account so that you can oversee his transactions. Let him get a debit card and teach him to balance his account regularly. Even if he messes up and gets an overdraft charge, it’s better to do it now than to rack up thousands in credit card charges and fees as an adult.
(Note from Wil:  I talk about this very topic HERE!)

Make A Budget: Once your teen has a job, show him how to make a balanced budget. The expenses must equal (or at least less than) the income otherwise he’ll go into debt. Allocate extra money to savings goals. If your teen doesn’t have a job, you might consider giving him a lump sum of money equal to what you usually give him annually (or quarterly) for his clothing and entertainment expenses. Then it’s up to him to spend it appropriately. Do not bail him out if he wastes it. The best thing you can do is to give him some household chores so he can earn some money.
(Note from Wil:  I talk about this very topic HERE!)

Read A Good Personal Finance Book: There are a few great books that teach personal finance and are enjoyable for teens. Consider giving your teen a copy of Dave Ramsey‘s Total Money Makeover or Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi is also great for teens as it was written when he was just out of college and has a writing style that appeals to a younger audience.
(Note from Wil:  I personally don’t agree that all of these books or authors are great, but that’s my opinion.  For a F4Y friendly book, You can always go with THIS ONE!)

Set Short and Long Term Financial Goals: Your teen will likely have a long list of needs and wants. Help him to prioritize them and set short and long-term savings goals. Short term goals might be saving for a concert, buying a car or new computer. Long term goals will likely be college, an apartment or car upgrade.
(Note from Wil:  This is the name of the game!  I talk about this everywhere online and in Finance For Youth: The Book!)

This guest article was contributed by Kelly Austin from Visit her site for information about salary and benefit information for many popular careers.

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FIRST, I told you about my parents‘ views on giving an allowance. To recap, they didn’t believe in giving money to children. They paid for everything we needed, but keeping money on our own was an exercise in creativity, subterfuge, and even on occasion shenanigans. Looking back, I think they might have been on to something because the majority of their children are gainfully employed and work our asses off for every cent we have. We also have learned to be savvy about protecting what is valuable to us. So, there are trade-offs to be made, but overall not a bad solution.

LAST WEEK, we talked about the concept of paying kids an allowance based on chores they do around the house. We found out that some of the biggest personal finance people out there like this idea. I, in typical Wil fashion, didn’t like that idea at all. Generally, I’m against turning family members into employees to the household. I think there are chores that need to be done at home, and offering kids money to do what they should be doing anyways just invites lazy, self-centered children in the future. It creates children that grow up to be gold diggers.

So what is left? Well, one argument that I’ve heard a lot about is just to pay kids an allowance because you want to pay them an allowance. No strings attached. This seems like the most honest approach. You don’t want your kids to go and earn money on the streets, where you plan on them learning about sex and drugs, so you want to keep them from opening that lemonade stand or selling pictures of their teenaged sister to the boys at school (wasn’t that an actual plot line in some 80’s movie?). You also don’t want to raise those aforementioned lazy self-centered little bastards, but you do want to start teaching your children how to handle the money they have wisely. So why haven’t I endorsed this method yet?

We’ve learned throughout history that money is a lot of things. Money has been attributed to each of the following things:


-Root of all evil


-Makes the world go round


Later on in life, we learn that money has value, and part of teaching anybody how to handle money is to teach them to not make deals where both parties don’t benefit. Going back a couple weeks, my parents avoided making deals. They had expectations, and consequences for not meeting those expectations. One could argue, and I wouldn’t disagree, that we benefitted when we met those expectations because we didn’t have to suffer the consequences and we generally got stuff. My parents benefitted because their expectations were met which gave them a sense of pride in their children.


In the second example, the benefits are pretty well pronounced. They get stuff done, we get money. Simple, tidy.


In the last example, you take away the value of money for your children. If they don’t learn that money has value now, they will not understand that it has value later in life either. You actually create the opposite of a gold digger. You create children who don’t understand the concept of earning money.


After all that, after three weeks of talking about allowances, each method of determining how to pay allowances has serious, fatal flaws. It turns out that they all suck to one extent or another! So what is a parent to do?

Never fear, I’m here to help.

In order to most effectively handle the issue of children’s allowances, you need to do some hard work. That’s right; I said YOU have to do some hard work. First, you need to establish minimum standards that you expect your little ones to meet. These standards need to be appropriate for both age and developmental level. Second, you need to clearly communicate these expectations to your child so that there is absolutely no doubt. Whether you need a whiteboard chart to be posted on the fridge, or you need your older child to sign a contract acknowledging the minimum standards in grades, behavior, housework and chores, community involvement or any other criteria, make sure your kids understand what is the least you will accept.

Second, you need to establish privately what is the value you will ascribe to exceeding your minimum standards. For example, let’s say I’m slightly less stringent than AMY CHUA
when it comes to academics. I only expect my kids to earn B- or higher. That’s their baseline. Now, my kid decides to overachieve and earn a B+. I might pay for that, if he has met all my other standards. Similarly, I expect my child to make her bed every day as the bare minimum in housework (I’m so much nicer to my imaginary daughter than my imaginary son; he has to clean the grout between shower tiles!). If she makes her bed and washes dishes (which isn’t assigned to anybody already), that might be worth something to me. The amount you pay must also be appropriate for your child’s age, developmental level, and your expendable, discretionary income.

Third, you need to communicate your pricing scheme to your children, but make it clear that they have to meet the bare minimum in all areas before any allowance can be earned. Your goal is to teach kids that some things just need to be done as part of their daily routine, just like in adult life, but other things will be done for money. Eventually, kids will start doing additional work on their own, in order to earn extra money. Ideally, they will approach you and negotiate a price that is fair to you and to them for certain things. Sometimes that price is zero, indicating that you believe that they should just do whatever as a matter of course, but others will be worth money.

Fourth, you have to be consistent. That doesn’t mean that you can’t increase your expectations, but until you do so, you have to pay the same amount for the same work every time.

Fifth, you have pair any money going to your child with solid education as to what to do with that money. Many people believe in giving to a church or a charity. If that is your thing, you need to educate your child as to the importance of doing so and the reasons why you are making them do so. Part of that education must include some level of allowing the child to make decisions on what they want to do with their money. I have no problem with telling your kid that they can spend only 10% of their allowance on frivolous things, but that should come with guidance that they don’t have to spend that 10% each payday, and that they can choose to save that money for something big that you wouldn’t necessarily buy for them yourself.

Doing this will start your child on a path to becoming financially independent and fiscally literate without spoiling them or forcing them to hide their money and their decisions from you.


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Last week, I told you how my family dealt with the topic of allowances (Spoiler alert: They didn’t!), and gave some possible outcomes of that treatment. I’ve talked to a couple parents that do the same thing for much the same reasons. But there are other sides as well.

The most popular stance is, “pay allowances, but tie them to doing chores around the house” which does seem to make sense. The rationale here is simple. We are training our kids to understand that they earn money when they do a good job.

When asked, this is what Dave Ramsey had to say about allowances back in December of 2010:

I don’t do allowances for anyone. The word “allowance” sounds way too much like welfare to me. We put our kids on commission at an early age. If they worked, they got paid. If they didn’t work, they didn’t get paid. We put a little dry-erase board on the refrigerator and listed all the jobs they had to do during the week, with a dollar amount next to each one. When you did a certain job, you were paid that amount.

Keep in mind, though, kids shouldn’t get paid for every little thing they do around the house. There are some jobs they should have to do just because they’re part of the family, or because mom or dad tells them to do that job. Some of these jobs should have a higher purpose, too. As a parent, you want to find as many teachable moments for your kids as possible.

Once they’ve earned their money, sit down with them and divide it into three separate envelopes: one for saving, one for spending, and one for giving. This way, they get to learn about these three important things while they’re learning how to work.

Teaching kids that there’s an emotional connection between work and money is one of the best things you’ll ever do as a parent. If they learn this when they’re five, chances are they won’t be clueless and financially irresponsible when they’re 55!


Suze Orman says:

If you have children, and you give them an allowance, I think you’re making a big mistake. Here’s how I think you should do it: There should be a list of chores around the house that they just have to do because they live in the house. Anything above and beyond those chores- if they do it- oh, you should pay them to do that work! Forget the allowance, pay them for work. I want you to be money minded so that you can save more and worry less.

Now, I know that it sounds like they are saying not to pay allowances at all, but if you really dig in there, they aren’t saying any such thing. What they are saying is that you should peg their allowance to the chores or work they do around the house.  There is some upside to this.  Maybe you get your teenaged kids to mow the lawn, wash the cars, or do other things that you might pay someone to do anyways.  Maybe they learn a valuable lesson that will stay with them into adulthood.  That sounds suspiciously like what we want for our children, right? 

So is there any down side to this idea? Well, look at this possibility. If you pay your kids for some chores and not for others, which ones are going to get done? Even if you say ‘all’, which ones will get done better?  But then, if you pay for all the chores, indiscriminately, you run the risk of socializing your kid into believing that it is right for them to only do something if there is a monetary incentive for them to do so. If that isn’t a problem for you, then it do it!

While I’m not a huge fan of this method (actually, I think it pretty well sucks, if you really want to know my feelings), I can’t say that it doesn’t work when used correctly.  I can also see the argument as it comes from a mother who doesn’t work outside the house, but counts on getting her spending money to do the things she needs to do.  If she is getting paid in this manner, how can it not make sense to pay her kids in the same fashion?  In fact, that argument is part of why I don’t like this method.  Personally, I consider it work when someone gets paid from outside the family.  I don’t like the implications of a man (and let’s face it, it usually is a man who works outside the house) who works outside the house paying his wife to take care of the house.  I think that cheapens all the work that she does, and lets him off the hook to support her as he promised to do when he married her.  When it comes to kids, you are paying them to contribute to the family dynamic.  I don’t like what that allows them to not do.

Next week, we talk about the parents teenaged me would have wanted.  These are the parents that just give allowances because they can!  In the mean time, this reminds me of a pushy kid trying to get paid for the work he did at home.  I generally call them twerps!

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The other day, I was teaching a pre-algebra class. Our lesson of the day was learning how to create and solve equations based on word problems. During the lesson, I realized that this was a skill that we could all use to help us deal with complex personal finance decisions. I know, this doesn’t sound like it is going to lead to personal finance, because I’m talking about a lesson I taught to a bunch of pre-teens, but I’ll get there. Stick with me.

So here is one of the examples of questions we went through: 

Mandy has $440 in the bank. She withdraws $20 each week to pay for piano lessons. How many lessons can she afford with her savings?

Quickly, to remind people of how we would solve this, the steps are simple:

Step 1:    Circle the important information.

Step 2:    Define. Express the unknown as a variable the variable. What are you looking for?

Step 3:    Write the equation in words.

Step 4:    Write the equation.

Step 5:    Solve

Okay. So looking at Mandy and her piano lessons,

Mandy has $440 in the bank. She withdraws $20 each week to pay for piano lessons. How many lessons can she afford with her savings?

Step 1:    üComplete!

Step 2:    I’m trying to find out how many lessons. Let’s call that “X“. üComplete!

Step 3:    Cost per lesson ($20.00) times the number of lessons (X) is equal to total amount ($440.00). üComplete!

Step 4:    20(X) =440.00 üComplete!

Step 5:    x=22 lessons. üComplete!


Briefly putting aside that I showed very little work (a huge pet peeve of mine), I want you to look at the steps. What we did, and this is perfect for young people, is we took a paragraph (for 12 year olds, this might as well be a paragraph. I know it is only a sentence.), and turned it into a text message! How did we do it? We started to focus only on the important parts of the question. We ignored everything that isn’t important.
So how do we make that make sense in our lives? Well, how many times do we consider our finances and just get lost in what seems like the sheer enormity of it all?

Now, how many times do we actually write down our problems in words, so we can look at them? If we don’t write them down, how can we set the stage for coming up with a solution? If we don’t set the stage, how can we determine what is the variable? If you don’t eat your meat, how can you have any pudding? It all follows itself.

I told a teacher friend of mine about this systematic way to solve what seems like complex money problems, and we laughed at how simple, yet effective, the whole system was. She reminded me of the very last step. You have to practice.

Sometimes, it is really cool that stuff you experience in school follows through the rest of your life.  Times like this, when something you thought you would never find a use for comes in really handy.  Of course, there are other times when you realize that some stuff you went through in school will follow you forever.


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This one goes out to all those who are testing the waters of living on your own.  More information on this topic can be found in FINANCE FOR YOUTH: THE BOOK from AMAZON or LULU.COM.

One of the best and probably scariest times in a young adult’s life must be that first time they get a new address that is different from the home they grew up in.  I remember it.  Of course, I had the extra fear of a new wife to take care of as well as a new place to live, but either one is scary enough.

One thing I clearly remember was that before we moved in, my wife and I way over thought what stuff we needed.  Nobody told us that we wouldn’t need certain things, and nobody told us the things we really did need.  It worked out all right for us:  Both of us are good at planning and follow the belief that too much is better than not enough.

But if I were to do it all over again, would I do it the same?  What stuff would I not bring that I did and what would I bring that I didn’t before?  In short, what stuff do you need to live on your own?  Today, I’m giving you the first ten items on my list.  Want the rest?  Well, you know where this is going.



You need someplace to sleep at night.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you probably will work and or possibly go to school during times when you aren’t sleeping.  If you plan on being productive at work or school, you need to be well-rested.  In order to be well-rested, you need a place to sleep. 

It doesn’t have to be a bed, necessarily.  It could be wherever you can sleep comfortably.  Maybe you would do better with a futon that converts to a sofa or chair.  Maybe you can get your hands on one of those pull-out beds.  Whatever it is, keep in mind the space you have for the bed and everything else you will have in your new home.



Having a comfortable bed is great, but you still need to be able to get to school or work on time or you run a risk of being fired or otherwise kicked out.  Sure, we’ve all taken a quick snooze in a car or quiet room, using a cell-phone as an alarm clock.  Sure, we’ve gotten creative in order to be where you needed to be, awake and alert.  But those times should be the exceptions, and not the rule.

If you, like me, are a sound sleeper who doesn’t always wake up when you plan to wake up, I strongly suggest that you invest in an alarm clock of some sort.  Okay, maybe it doesn’t need to be as big as this one, but it has to be something that will be bothersome enough to bring you out of your crashed state.

I might even suggest that you something that you can dock your i-Pod to or something with a radio so you can listen to music while on about your business during the day.



Don’t skimp on this.  Get something that has the basics; rubbing alcohol, antiseptic spray, bandages, wraps, cotton swabs, tweezers, tape (of the medical variety), gauze pads, and scissors.  Additionally, if you have allergies or special medical conditions, you want to make sure you have anything you need to take care of that.

This kit doesn’t have to be expensive or special.  I think we use an old make-up case for ours. 

Finally, get a list of emergency contacts together.  Doctors, other medical people, parents, your work, anybody you feel is important to be called if needed.  This is a list that if you were passed out on the floor of your apartment, someone could call and make sure you were well taken care of.





 Stuff catches on fire.  The difference between a funny story about that time you almost accidentally set the place on fire with nothing more than a match and a marshmallow, and a horror story that costs you a lot of money and possibly costs someone their health or even their life can be as simple as owning a fire extinguisher.

I don’t think you need a giant, mega, puts out everything short of nuclear type fire extinguisher.  I think you need something small that can handle most common fires.  You can get these almost everywhere.

Finally, make sure to keep these charged or replace as recommended.  Having a dead fire extinguisher does as much good as having no extinguisher.


Someplace where you can eat, pay bills, plan your budget, or do any number of things that you can’t really do that well standing up without a flat surface.  You’d be surprised at all the times a table will come in handy.

Much like everything else on this list, if you can get ahold of something that folds up for easy storage is better.  Let’s face it:  you probably don’t have a whole lot of space in your first home, and you will probably spend (way more time than you should) a lot of time entertaining (Party!!!), and less time living like you did when you were still living at home.  Make your life easier by getting stuff that won’t be in the way.


True story.  In my home, we have 1 (one) outlet in each room.  This means I get to plug in two devices in each room, right?


I know it probably isn’t the safest or smartest solution (thank God for that fire extinguisher above), but we get a lot of use out of extension cords.  After a power outage in the neighborhood that wound up costing us a phone, microwave, and TV, we also swear by our surge protectors.  Having had to do so once already, I’d rather pay $30 for a surge protector than $200 for another microwave.

I’ve found that you don’t need the super heavy-duty, expensive kind, but you may want those for where you have your TV and computer plugged in.  What harm could come from it?



Can you survive with paper plates, cups and whatnot?  Sure.  It’s expensive, but yeah, you could do it.  Plates, cups, bowls, and stuff like that can be found almost anywhere.  Go to a yard sale or Goodwill.

Of course, it means you have to do some dishes once in a while (I know, that was part of the reason you wanted to live on your own in the first place), but at least you can eat and even have a friend or two over to eat like humans.




Let’s make this simple:  Some cans, like cat food and soda, are easy to open.  Some soups as well.  Others are harder and require a can opener.  You don’t have to get the fancy ones.  Almost any can opener does the job.

Look, if you feel that you need the electric one for whatever reason, get one.  In my experience, cans aren’t tough.  Get one of the basic ones and you’ll save money.


If you are renting and something small gets broken, you could call the landlord, property manager, or super.  Of course, by the time they come around, things could have gotten much worse or you might even forget about whatever you called them for in the first place.

So, what do you need?  Not much really, but a few things come to mind:

Hammer, some screwdrivers in different sizes (both Phillips and Flat-head), a metal tape measure, some Allen’s wrenches of different sizes, some duct tape (which is the most awesome stuff you will every buy), and maybe some electrical tape for other stuff.  There are some other items that will come in handy, but these are the basics.  You can get inexpensive kits almost anywhere that will have most of these things.  You’ll get stuff you probably don’t need as well, but you will definitely get the stuff you do need!

This last thing is an absolute must, especially if you ever plan on having anybody else in your new place.  I cannot stress how important this is.


There is no polite way to say this.  Nobody wants to smell your stank.  You probably don’t want to smell someone else’s stank.  You can use candles or whatever works, but if you are going to use candles be careful and make sure you have that fire extinguisher handy.

Keep some in the bathroom, but also keep some elsewhere around the house wherever odor can be a problem.  Around trash cans, in closets, near the sink even. 

Again, there are other things on my list, and there might even be some things that I missed, although I’m pretty sure I didn’t.  There are also a bunch of things that you might want but not need.  Hey, if you can afford more luxuries, and that is what you want, go for it.  If not, don’t sweat it.  With the things on this list and the rest of the items from the book, you’ll be able to handle almost every situation, and the ones you aren’t prepared for are so rare it isn’t worth worrying over.

Whatever stuff you get or wind up needing later on, this is going to be an exciting time for you.  Don’t gloss over the importance of this step in your journey to adulthood.  In Joe Biden’s words, this really is a big deal.

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