Advice for a New 21 Year Old

Janet and I have the pleasure of knowing some great young people.  More than a few of them have either turned 21 within the last year or so, or they are going to be turning 21 this year.  One of them, Katie, is turning 21 today.  Our daughter, Jennifer, will turn 21 in September.  With this in mind, here’s some advice for these new 21 year olds:

First, some tips regarding alcohol consumption:

If you choose to drink alcohol…

  • Do NOT mix your colors…unless you have ONE Long Island Iced Tea (and never two in one night).
  • Skip Tequila, and don’t be fooled by the expensive stuff.  It will give you a headache just as much as the cheap stuff.
  • Avoid shots of Tequila, Jagermeister, Goldshlager, Peppermint Schnapps, Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort, etc., unless you are snow skiing, in which case an occasional sip of Peppermint Schnapps at the top of the mountain can be a good thing.
  • I highly recommend rum, and not the clear stuff they put in daiquiris.  Dark rum is the best, and Appleton Estate is the best of the dark rums.  Mix it with lots of ice and Sprite.  If spiced rum is your thing, make it Captain Morgan’s, and mix it with Dr. Pepper.
  • For each cocktail or beer you drink, chase it with 16 ounces of water…and then have at least 16 more ounces just before you go to bed.  You will thank yourself the next day.
  • The most important piece of advice in this section:  never drink to get drunk.  If that’s your goal, you shouldn’t be anywhere near it.  2-3 cocktails, or 3-4 beers should be the maximum consumption in any particular day (remember 16 ounces of water after each one).  You control what you consume, never forget it.

Some tips on gambling:

If you choose to gamble…

  • Determine what you can afford to lose before you enter the casino, and only take that much cash with you.
  • If you win, use the House’s money (what you won), and put away your own money.
  • The “free” drinks are nice, but remember the tips about alcohol consumption above.
  • If you play roulette, I recommend placing some chips on 32 Red.
  • If you play blackjack, don’t hit on anything over 11, if the dealer is showing a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6.  Let them bust.
  • For the tip above to be most effective, you need to be sitting in the “third-base” seat, which is the last one before the dealer gets his/her cards.  That way, some “amateur” won’t mess things up by ignoring this rule.
  • If you lose three hands in a row at blackjack, switch tables.
  • Always double-down on an 11 (you gotta live a little!).
  • In craps, never play Big 6 or Big 8…better to place the 6 and 8, instead.  While you’re at it, don’t be afraid to place the 5 and 9.
  • Ask the dealers about the proper odds on your “place” bets.  This will maximize your winnings in craps.
  • Don’t be afraid to throw out a “Yo” bet every now and then…sure, it’s a sucker bet, but it pays 15-to-1 odds, and 11 comes up more often than you think in craps.
  • The older I get, the more I appreciate the awesome shows in Vegas, instead of gambling.  Check them out, you may find the same thing.

Some tips on high finance:

  • Go to a trade school, or get a bachelor’s degree.  Hopefully, by age 21, you’re already halfway through this one.  Stick with it!
  • A corollary of the tip above…work in your area of study before you graduate.  This will help you learn more about your chosen field, make valuable connections, and give you a competitive advantage in the job market after graduation.  Do this, even if you have to work for free (you are investing in your future).
  • Find mentors.  Why is this a finance tip?  Because good mentors will help you realize your full potential, which should help you maximize your income.
  • Make time to stay connected to people you’ve worked with.  Build a strong personal network.  Be there for others, and don’t be afraid to ask others for help.
  • If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Don’t be fooled by any “deal” that has a gigantic upside, with little or no investment required from you.  It is most likely a scam.  Always be skeptical, and don’t be rushed into anything that involves investing your money.
  • If you don’t understand what you are investing in, don’t do it.  Do your research…again, never be rushed.
  • When it comes to spending your money, YOU are the customer!  Remember the “finance” version of the Golden Rule…he/she who has the gold gets to make the rules.  Be the one with the proverbial gold.
  • Save at least 10% of your income, every month.  Don’t be afraid to up that percentage.
  • Find a financial advisor you can trust…preferably one that is referred to you by someone you trust who has worked successfully with this advisor for many years.
  • Maximize your 401k and IRA savings accounts…start early.  Embrace the genius of compound interest…Einstein referred to it as the greatest invention of mankind.

Tips for good living:

  • Never fall into the trap of comparative happiness.  Your happiness is never dictated by how happy or successful someone else is.  There is almost always going to be someone who appears to be richer, taller, more beautiful, faster, stronger, more popular, smarter, or more successful than you.  Whether they are or not shouldn’t matter to you.
  • Your tombstone won’t say much about where you worked during your life.  Keep your priorities straight throughout your life.
  • If you are lucky enough to find the love of your life and marry this person, think about how you can serve your spouse, every day…and do it!
  • Life is a journey, not a destination.  Bring your family and friends along for the ride.  Enjoy it while it lasts!

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