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The Best Personal Finance Advice I’ve Ever Received

As a teenager, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by adults that took an interest in my success. They would take me under the wing and mentor me in different ways. I can still remember many of the conversations I had with these individuals; however, I remember one conversation with a mentor quite vividly. That mentor was named Charles Smith.

Charlie was a neighbor of mine. He and his family still live down the street from my parents’ house. Charlie was not only a neighbor, but he was a member of my church’s congregation, so his family and mine interacted with each other a great deal. I always respected Charlie because he had created a very successful life for himself and his family. He not only had a successful career, he was an active leader in our church as well as the community.

Charlie and I worked together in our church visiting families that needed help. On our rides together to visit families, we had plenty of time to talk. One day, the topic of personal finance came up. Because I was getting ready to go to college, I mentioned how expensive it is now a days to attend and how I was saving up for it. Charlie nodded his head and simply said the following:

“Brett, here’s some financial advice that’s helped me get to where I am. If you pay 10% to Lord first, and 10% to yourself second, you won’t have too many money worries.”

For some reason, that bit of advice burned into my young mind. Ever since then, I’ve tried to put it in practice. Whenever I get paid, I take 10% and contribute it to my church. I take another 10% of my original pay, and put it in a savings account. I then distribute the rest for the other expenses. And you know what? Charlie was right. I haven’t had to worry too much about money by following this advice of paying a tithe and saving money. Sure, there have been times when money has been tight, but despite being a poor student, my wife and I haven’t had to worry about where we’re going to get the money to pay for food or bills.

How can you apply Charlie’s advice?

Saving a percentage of your income is personal finance 101. If you’re not paying yourself now, start doing it. Set up an automatic deposit with your bank so it takes a percentage of your income and puts into savings. 10% is the recommended amount; however, if you can handle saving more, do it! If 10% is too much, start off with 5%. The goal is to just start.

What about tithes?

If you don’t belong to a church, if you’re not religious, or don’t even believe in God, you can still tithe. Find a cause you’re passionate about and donate a percentage of your income to it. It can be anything! The environment, a political organization, or a charity. Donating your money to a cause or an organization is a reflection of your values. It’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is.

If you’d like to read about the benefits of donating your money, check out Charity: Why You Should Give Your Money Away by Trent at The Simple Dollar.

So, that’s the best personal financial advice I’ve ever received. It’s simple, but effective. Thanks, Charlie, for taking the time to share your wisdom with a sixteen year old kid.

Now it’s your turn. What’s the best financial advice you ever received and who gave it to you? Drop a comment, or if you have a blog, write a post, let me know, and I’ll link to it.

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