I was chatting with friends about the good old days. We recalled becoming independent adults and making our own decisions. We laughed as we reminisced about the wise decisions as well as the mistakes we’d made, consequences we’d survived and advice from parents that was usually right and sometimes ignored.
That experience, combined with reaching one of those significant birthdays, makes me feel as though I’ve shifted to the mid-stage of life where it might be appropriate to share some of this knowledge with younger folks. Here are some things we wish we’d known and things my friends and I have learned the hard way:
- Mentors are not just for work. Finding a mentor to walk alongside as you purchase a home or car, raise children, change jobs, deal with aging family members, or hit a bump in marriage or parenting, is a brilliant idea. Find someone a little older or a little further along in life and seek his or her wisdom and advice. Learning from another’s experience is a smart thing to do.
- Build good money habits. Know how much you earn and how much you spend, and track where it goes. Build some automatic savings into your plan. Understand the real cost of debt and the effects of compound interest. Ask lots of questions and learn about investments, loans, mortgages and retirement plans now. You may not need this information immediately, but it’s easier to make good decisions if you have all the information and understand your options.
- Good enough for now is a smart decision. If the budget is tight or your life is in transition, try to borrow, barter, buy used or rent. This is especially true if it might be a short-term need.
- Try living below your means. You may have heard the old adage, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t know.” Rather than automatically jumping on the consumption treadmill—and living at, or beyond, the edge of your wage—consider learning to be content with less. You will likely find you have more time, less stress, better work-life balance and less debt.
- Give generously of time, talents and money. Being generous reminds me that I have more than I need, even if I sometimes feel as though the budget is tight. Research charities, find your area of interest, then get involved and give both your money and yourself.
As a church community, we support one another through the good times and the bad. Sharing our knowledge and experience is one way we can express our love and care for each other. John 13:34 reminds us to “[l]ove one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Each of us has something to give and something to share with our brothers and sisters. What have you learned that might help someone else as we journey this path of life together? What pieces of wisdom could you share?
Sherri Grosz is a stewardship consultant at the Kitchener, Ont., office of Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC). For stewardship education and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest MFC office or visit Mennofoundation.ca.