Clear Creek Financial Blog

Financial Advice for All Life's Creeks

The Rising Waters of Adulthood

It’s seemingly never long enough before the full weight and responsibility of adulthood hits you. Several years of student loans may have carried you through college and while (hopefully) it’s paid off with gainful employment after graduation, there’s still the ins and outs of managing your student loan debt. Or maybe you took a different path and the financial waters of your adult life starts with creating a business plan, securing a small business loan, finding an accountant, and choosing payroll software solutions.


The financial waters only rise more quickly after that. There’s financial planning for your wedding and the cost of a new baby. There’s saving for early retirement savings and a down payment on a house. There’s qualifying for and choosing a home mortgage. There’s life insurance and estate planning.


Finding and Refining Your Stroke

This is often a time in which, despite being at or near your peak earning potential, it still feels like you’re just trying to keep up. Now, if I can take the metaphor on to dry land, it’s a marathon not a sprint. You can’t save for an entire life in a single day, week, or month. Nevertheless, this is where you put your childhood beliefs and early adult practices into their greatest use. You learn how to plan for the future, while simultaneously remembering to appreciate the current moments for their fleeting, if immeasurable, value. When your finances are a clear creek, you can see more than just numbers in the water.

Teenagers, Youth, and Generational Swells

A generation ago, the big thing was to save for a car. Nowadays, owning your own car isn’t as necessary or as much of a status symbol as it used to be. Take that first paycheck or two and buy yourself a new phone, shoes, or TV. Even still, there are even bigger things teenagers will want. Still, saving strategies for teenagers don’t have to be entirely about planning for a responsible future. Maybe your last year of high school is turning out to be a real drag. Okay, so you decide to work more and save more than you would otherwise. That way, when you get to be a freshman in college, you’ll have some savings so that you don’t have to work as much then. Or, you know, you could end up borrowing a little less.


Tips for First-Time Job Seekers—Even before you graduate high school and are still only looking for a part-time job to save for a car, college, personal shopping habits, or just to help the family, there are things that you should look for, before you settle on the first job posting you find:


  • Can you find a job that pays a “livable wage?” A lot of jobs for teenagers only pay minimum wage with the knowledge that teenagers don’t have to worry about major household expenses. Other employers look to recruit and retain workers, even “unskilled workers,” by paying a livable wage. These employers may not advertise these postings to teenagers, but are willing to consider them. This can be the difference between $7-$10/hour and $15/hour. Wondering how a livable wage is defined where you live? Check out this calculator produced by researchers at MIT.


  • Finding a job you don’t hate, or at least a job where you’re likely to make friends to balance out the negative stuff. It’s never too early to set the expectation that your job should fit your personality and contribute to your life in some way beyond monetarily. Not the social type and have little interest in making friends, for example? Look for a work/study job in which you can pursue your academic goals—or even just read for part of the time.

Kids and Lemonade Stands on the Shore

When we’re very young, we’re still in our parent’s boat on the Clear Creek of the family’s financial life. Simply understanding the concept of money and that things have a cost is an important development stage for the young child. There are a number of ways you can do this as your kid grows up—whether it’s a minimal allowance and a cookie jar, a neighborhood lemonade stand, or physically paying for things with money. Our parents will create a safe environment for us to interact with money. It’s kind of like coming ashore so our parents can create a safe environment for us to interact with money and begin to develop our financial habits.


Tips for Young Parents—Eventually, you’ll want to start to teach them about more complex financial concepts—things like opportunity costs, cost-benefit analysis, coupons, and interest. Of course, these financial lessons need to be age-appropriate to be helpful and instructive. These guides from Dave Ramsey and can help explain what types of lessons should be taught to children at different ages. Before long, they’ll be swimming and paddling in their own creek with all the tools to navigate the clear, if uncertain, waters.

Create Your Own Clear Creek Financial Life

At any particular point in your life, you can probably think of your financial circumstances as a creek of moving water, sometimes getting caught up in swells and eddies, sometimes crashing against rocks, and sometimes rushing forward more quickly than is entirely safe. But we also like to think of a creek as a larger metaphor for our entire financial life. From the headwaters to the mouth of our creek, as we travel downstream, we can look to optimize our current position while also looking ahead to our future travels….


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