You have reached a milestone – 18 years old. This is an exciting time in your life. Now the hard part begins. You are not quite an adult, but you have some adult responsibilities, such as safe driving. Further, you are very close to a working career, a wife, and children. I wish you luck.
But, more valuable than luck is a bit of wisdom. I don’t profess to know or understand everything, but nearly 70 years of hard knocks and self-education have taught me a few tidbits of wisdom worth passing on. I hope you read and consider these thoughts and, more importantly, I hope you direct yourself in a positive and self-fulfilling manner after pondering the bits of wisdom I have to share. I suggest that you reread this letter in about ten years. I think you’ll find it means even more when you do.
- Don’t believe most of what you hear. Instead, watch what people do. A good example is a national politician. He’s in favor of this, and supports that, and is dead-set against something else when he is running for office and soliciting votes, but when it is time to collect contributions, payoffs, and other lucrative deals, he (usually) is all about enriching himself and obtaining more power. This is pretty much the same in the corporate world and often little better in the world of big charities and other organizations. As they say, actions speak louder than words.
- Don’t trust the currency. Dollars, Yen, Euros, or whatever. You don’t remember gasoline when it cost 15 cents per gallon, but I do. The same price increases are true for postage, cars, food, and coffee. The economic system that we currently use forces prices to increase, so don’t believe that a dollar tomorrow will purchase what a dollar purchased today. An ounce of gold, on the other hand, stays an ounce of gold regardless of what the bankers and politicians do to decrease the value of the dollars we use. But, more on that later.
- They don’t really care about you. Substitute whomever you want for “they.” They could be your state or national government, the Army, big pharmaceutical companies, or practically any large organization or business. Those organizations and businesses want to grow, and that may or may not benefit you. So, take care of yourself, and don’t depend on someone or some government agency (etc.) for your survival or well-being. In the end, it is all up to you anyway, so don’t waste your time and energy believing in something that is just not true. Also, find out who really does care about you – friends, family, others!
- Get all the education you can, but I don’t mean colleges and universities. In my day, a college degree was practically a ticket to success. Not so anymore, and worse, a college degree is now outrageously expensive. But, you have the Internet! In my day, the Internet was just a science-fiction dream. That’s not so anymore. You can self-educate quite effectively using the Internet, determination, and a healthy skepticism. That education will more than repay your efforts in terms of understanding the world, increasing your income, and in managing your savings. I encourage you to read and think, stop wasting time on game sites, and minimize social media activities.
- Enjoy your life while you can. At 18, this probably makes no sense. But, you can work too hard, neglect your family, neglect your health, and eventually create a miserable, unhealthy, lonely world for yourself. Keep some perspective – your physical and emotional health, your family, and your financial health are important, and most of the rest just isn’t. That includes the size of your house, the model of car you drive, the latest fashions, the opinions of others, and the nightly news. Choose wisely what you define as truly important in your life, and your life will be far more rewarding.
- Save some money each month and invest it well. In today’s world, investments aren’t what they used to be, so be cautious. Certain mutual funds may be good, but don’t forget real money – yes, I’m talking about gold and silver. They are mentioned in the Constitution – which our spendthrift politicians have forgotten. So, trust in gold and silver as well as a few other things – you will have to figure those out for yourself.
- Forgive, forget, and move on. You will make mistakes. You will be hurt by others. You will be disappointed. Don’t cling to negative feelings; move on! A wise man once said to “forget the experience, remember the lesson.” I wish I had understood that simple concept years ago. Anyway, move on, and if you can’t move on, get help. Clinging to a past trauma, hatred, or bitterness worked out well for no one in the history of man. Or, as another person said, “build a bridge and get over it.”
- You are not only a physical being, but also a spiritual being. At 18, I doubt it is important to you, but the spiritual side of man is essential. Without the purpose that a spiritual understanding gives us, life is pretty barren. Come back to this idea in ten years, and it will seem more real.
- Things won’t stay the same – life will force change on everyone, so embrace change and use it to your advantage. I could go on, but you’ll understand this better as the years pass.
- See people for whom they are on the “inside.” By that I mean, look at the values and principles they cherish, look at their intent, look at their capabilities, and not their race, gender, popularity, wealth, or appearance.
And, finally, be realistic – expect miracles, stay positive, and have fun living and growing. I wish you well on your journey through life.
aka Deviant Investor
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