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The Million Dollar Question
This book is about money - not my money, not your parents' money, but your money. Almost every one of you is going to earn more than $1,000,000 over the course of your life. That's right! More than one million dollars is going to pass through your hands during your career.
From the time you get your first full-time job until the day you retire, you will have to decide what to do with more than a million dollars.
Not possible? No way?
You do the math, and this is not that complicated new math they are teaching in schools these days. I'm talking about basic math - easy to do and simple to understand.
Most of you will go to work in your early twenties and then continue working until you retire in your early to mid-sixties. That's just a fact of life. Don't get me wrong; I hope you all retire much earlier than that, but even if you do, the same math applies.
If you get a job earning $30,000 per year when you are in your mid-twenties and then work until you are in your mid-sixties, that's 40 years of work. Even if you never get a raise and make the same $30,000 each year, over the course of your career, you will earn $1,200,000. That's 1.2 million dollars. That's a lot of money - a whole lot.
And just think what will happen if you do get a few raises during your career, like almost everybody does. What if you average $40,000 per year instead of $30,000? If you do that, then you will earn 1.6 million dollars during your career.
You see, even with basic math, the numbers don't lie. The chances are real good that, if you are reading this book, you are going to make more than a million dollars during your lifetime.
What will you do with your million dollars?
Have you ever sat at your desk at school and, right in the middle of class, thought to yourself, "What is this all about? Why do I need to learn all this stuff? What does this have to do with my future?" Those are fair questions, and every one of you has a right to ask them. Here's why.
When you walked into your school, you basically made a deal with all of the adults around you - all of the teachers, counselors, principals, and even business people like me. Every one of you pretty much put your future in our hands. You agreed to come to school, sit in class, do your homework, and take your tests. In return for that investment of time, energy and effort, you deserve more than just a piece of paper that you frame and hang on your wall. You deserve some kind of plan that tells you exactly what you will need to know in order to succeed in the world of work - since that is where you and all of your classmates will eventually end up. The world of work is where you will earn your million dollars.
If we send you out into the real world without the tools you need to succeed, then we have cheated you out of your end of the deal. And that's not fair because you are doing a great deal of work.
Most of you will spend between 10,000 and 15,000 hours in a classroom between first grade and the time you finish your education. That's way too many hours to sit in class and end up with less than all the knowledge and skills you need to succeed. We owe you all that knowledge and all those skills in return for the time you are investing in your education.
So what are we going do about it? Well, it seems pretty obvious to me that we owe you a good plan for success. That's not hard to see, but the real question now is, "What should that plan include?" What do you really need to know in order to succeed after you spend 15,000 hours in a classroom?
That's an interesting question because the answer to that question is going to change over time. For example, most of you would agree that in order to succeed in today's world it is very important to have computer skills - at least the basic ones. I totally agree with that statement, but guess what? When I was in school, nobody ever taught me anything about computers - nothing! Why not? Why didn't my teachers teach me how to use a computer, how to search the Internet, how to e-mail my friends, or how to use instant messenger?
The answer to those questions is very simple. There were no computers around when I was in school, so learning about computers was not relevant at that time. But today, everybody in school is taught something about computers because it is extremely relevant. It is unbelievably important that we teach every one of you how to operate and work with computers. That is one of the "tools" young people must have in order to succeed in the real world.
As you can see, the tools we need to succeed today might not be the same tools we needed 10 or 20 years ago or the same tools we will need 10 years from now. That's what makes educating young people like you such a challenge. We can't keep teaching the same old stuff class after class, day after day, month after month, and year after year. We can't stand up in front of you and try to convince you that something is relevant when it's not.
We owe you more than that. We owe you a toolbox that is full of tools that you will need in order to succeed during your lifetime, not tools that were needed 50 years ago. Sure, some of the tools needed to succeed 50 years ago will still be needed today, but there are many new skills and a lot of new knowledge that you will need for today's ever-changing world.
The bottom line is this. Everybody eventually finishes school, moves out on their own, gets a job, and makes money. Some people make a little bit of money. Some make a lot of money. Some people make more than they need. Some need a whole lot more than they make. But no matter which group you fall into, nobody wants to lose the money that they work so hard to earn.
What if there were a few things you could learn as teenagers that could prepare you to manage, protect, save, and multiply your hard-earned money? That would be nice, wouldn't it?
On the other hand, what if we let you go all the way through school and never taught you those things? What if we let you sit in a classroom for 15,000 hours and never gave you the tools you need to deal with money? That would be like throwing you out into the middle of the ocean without a life jacket before we taught you how to swim. You deserve better treatment than that.
The bad news is that a lot of people, including me, went all the way through school and never learned much about dealing with money or financial matters. We had to learn by trial and error, and there was usually a lot more error than we would have liked. When we were in school, they forgot to teach us what to do with our money after we earned it. That's the bad news.
The good news is that we aren't going to let that happen to your generation. We can't let that happen to your generation. That's not the deal you made when you walked into school and put your future in our hands.
This book is all about money - how to manage it, how to multiply it, how to protect it, and how to save it. If you are investing your time, energy, and effort into an education, you deserve to know this stuff.
This book doesn't have everything you need to know about money, but it's a good start. It won't bore you with a bunch of graphs and charts. The purpose of this book is to make sure that when you start earning money, and maybe you already have, you will understand what you need to know about handling and holding onto that money.
Remember, it's your money. I'll see you at the bank.
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