As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!

Giveaway: Cash, Cars & College by Janine Bolon

This article was written by in Fun and Contests. 50 comments.

Cash, Cars and College by Janine BolonEarlier this month, I read and reviewed Cash, Cars & College: A Young Person’s Guide to Money, by Janine Bolon, a neat little book touching on some of the important aspects of managing money for a teenager looking to someday become a functioning adult, moreso than the average citizen.

I now have the opportunity to give away two copies of this book, as well as additional surprise goodie or two. To participate in the contest in which I’ll choose the winners is simple. There is no purchase necessary, but I do ask you answer a question and leave a valid email address (so I can contact you if you win). Here is that one question:

What single piece of (financial) advice would you like to tell your thirteen-year-old self if technology afforded you the ability to travel in time and meet yourself without any adverse effects, such as destroying the time-space continuum, and why?

Extra “points” will be awarded for creativity, storytelling, humor, and sincerity. I’ll declare an instant winner if anyone can provide an Aaron Sorkin style script in response. Remember, I have two copies, so while the chances of winning depend on the number of comments, they’re twice as good as they would be if I had only one copy.

Updated September 28, 2007 and originally published June 27, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

Email Email Print Print
About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

Read related articles from Consumerism Commentary

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Dan

Don’t do anything different, except maybe buy google stock. You are who you are based on a cumulation of your successes AND FAILURES….just don’t make too many of them…you turn out ok. Decisions are made by those who show up.

Reply to this comment

avatar Jonathan

All my hypothetical advice sounds like the all-too-familiar method of Biff from “Back to the Future”. He did the whole Sports Almanac gig. Maybe I’d advise myself to “sell” it all at the top of the tech bubble in 2000, but I would probably forget the advice anyway, and even if I didn’t, at age 13 my net worth was “Dad”. What would I be selling? Lemonade? Oh I guess by the year 2000 I might have a couple of college loans to sell, or some used textbooks…

I wasn’t too good at accepting kindly advice at age 13, anyway.

Reply to this comment

avatar Brett McKay

I would tell my 13 year old self that baseball cards are not an investment. Sure, that Ken Griffey Jr. Fleer Ultra insert card is worth $40 in 1994, but in a few years it will be worth a dollar because a) the baseball card market will be oversaturated and b) Ken Griffey will be injured, traded to the Reds, and won’t be hitting very many homeruns.

Instead of forking over $4 for a pack of cards, take that money and put it in a savings account. You’re buying 3 packs a week, so you could be saving $12 a week or $48 a month. Take that money you’re saving by not buying Topps or Upper Deck and get mom and dad to put it in an index fund. By the time you’re 18 you’ll have a decent chunk of change.

I know right now it seems like baseball cards are a good investment. According to the Beckett baseball card guide your collection is worth over $1,000. But trust me, your cards will be worth less than the high gloss cardboard their printed on in a few years.

If you’re going to collect cards, just do it for fun. Quit trying to make it into a business. Stop tracking the values like you would a stock. When you make trades, don’t worry about whether it’s an even monetary trade. Just make trades that will help you get your favorite players.

Reply to this comment

avatar Archie

13 year-old? I would go back and tell myself to understand that what people around me are wearing/spending/eating is not everything. I mean – did I really need to wear CK jeans just because my much-more-financially-richer cousin was? I would tell my-13-year-self that spending hundreds on going out at night with not-so-friends is not worth it.

More importantly, I would tell her to listen closely to her parents – because now, 17 years later, I see just how right they were – about everything. My Mom passed away 4 years ago – and there are too many days to count when I look up heavenwards (that’s where she IS!!!) – and shake a fist, muttering angrily “Ok, ok, I get it. YOU were right, I was wrong”.

I would tell my 13-year old self to watch for spending uselessly on cards for my first boyfriend – because they would mean nothing in just 5 minutes after I gave them to him.

I would try to explain (because if i had sense to understand this at even 18, I wouldn’t be in as much trouble as I was 2 monthsago!!!) just how beautiful it is to buy your sister a $1000 wedding gift out of money that was completely earned by you – through literally your own sweat and blood!!! And how awesome it feels to make money through your hard work and live compeletely off money you’ve earned – and how amazing you feel with yourself when you resist temptation to buy something just because you saw it!!!

Reply to this comment

avatar Marcus

My story also involves baseball cards. Alas, it’s even sadder than Brett’s.

When I was 13, I decided I wanted to BUY BIG into baseball cards. However, at 13 I lacked the capital to go “big.” Or at least, I thought I did until saw a listing in the local paper:


And if I had gobs of anything, it was Star Wars toys. I had every stormtrooper known to man. The Falcon. The Tie Fighter. I even had the flippin’ Death Star.

Three weeks later, I had a few hundred bucks. Three weeks after that, I had a few thousand baseball cards. Three years after that, the baseball card market implodes.

Soon after that, somebody starts E-bay. Star Wars collectors worldwide rejoice.

And yes – I even had the Sears Snaggletooth, currently on E-bay for $150.

All that remains is boxes of old cardboard with pictures of dudes with bad mustaches.

Reply to this comment

avatar Nebraska Jess

I would tell my 13 year old self: “Keep control of your finances and know that not all adults in your life are worthy of your trust. Have your adult cousin open an account with you, and don’t let your father anywhere near that money, or he will steal it your senior year of high school right before you go to college, leaving you stuck to take out more student loans than you would have needed.”

Reply to this comment

avatar Fabulously Broke

I’d say..”Self, you’re only 13 right now. But in a couple of years when you get your first job, cherish it. Do the right thing, and save 10% of all that you make, start a small retirement account or else you’ll be kicking yourself in the bum when you’re 24.

Above all, Self, do NOT under ANY circumstances, waste it on your Current Boyfriend. Because you’ll meet Husband in about 3 more years. Save your money for him because he’s worth every penny.

Lastly, Self, learn about the power of compounding interest, and use it to your advantage, because when you finally move out, 6 years later, and start really living on your own with no help from your parents who gambled away your entire educational savings, you’re going to be thrilled to bits to have your savings see you through the very hard times that are coming your way.”

Reply to this comment

avatar Turtle64

As it happens, I have a 13 year old daughter so I know that just telling a 13 year old something doesn’t necessarily make it so! I do know that anything I tell her to do for her own good goes in one ear and out the other. So where I could, I would show the 13 year old me.

I would teach my previous 13 year old self about the stock market and step by step, how to start investing in things that I know about or see becoming a big deal. How to dollar cost average and use mutual funds to diversify. I’d show me examples of investing a small amount in the right stock or fund and the results over time. I would show me because no one ever showed me that.

I would tell me to join clubs at school and do community service things in order to get into a better college and maybe secure some financial aid. I would tell me to get over being a loner and the shy one because that will only hold me back. I would tell me because no one ever told me that when I needed to know.

I would tell me to travel each summer in college and experience life before I have to sit at a desk 9 hours a day. Work as you go and see things around the world. Because no one ever told me it was ok to do things like that when I needed to know.

Also, and most importantly recognized in this day and age, I would express the importance of a strong work ethic. So much is given to our children they may not grasp the importance of hard work. There is no free ride but work hard and perseverance will take you far. Don’t take everything that comes to you when you are 13 and carefree for granted. Learn to do without, and for God’s sake, read, read, read.

Because no one ever told me these things when I needed to know.

Reply to this comment

avatar C

First things first – I would tell my 13 year old self to not be afraid to talk to girls. Second – DO NOT START GAMBLING. It will save you a ton of money in the long run. Lastly, I would tell myself that I don’t really need all the toys and junk I used to buy; in a few months they’ll be of no value.

I would then punch me in the throat. I could have used one of them back then.

Reply to this comment

avatar Luke Landes

C: That’s a bit violent. Watch your 13 year old self won’t punch you back.

Reply to this comment

avatar Lakecha

If I were 13, I would take myself to the port of Los Angeles, the same place I’d always wanted to go with my Dad, and order for myself the biggest crab there is. I would tell myself, “You are not the sum of your parents estimations. You are valuable, intelligent, useful member of society and a contribution to all those around you. Look at your money the same way.”

At 13 I actually told myself this and I have only one thing show for it: the gift of never being a slave to money. It is the most valuable thing I could have ever done for myself.

Reply to this comment

avatar Dani @ Living Behind the Curve

I am currently in a career mini-crisis, where i want to leave my (“good”, well-paying) job to pursue something that would make me happy, but I’m constantly hearing my dad’s voice in my head telling me it’s all about the money. Here’s what I would tell me:

Your dad is a great guy (you’ll realize that in about 10 years), but his views on money aren’t. Focus on doing what makes you happy, and not on material things and wealth. When you’re tempted to buy things on credit so that you can appear to be financially successful, don’t. It’s not worth it. When you’re tempted to take a job, or stay in it, because the money is good, don’t do it. When you’re older and going gray, a silly man named Daniel Franco will tell the world, “Follow your bliss.” He’s right.

Reply to this comment

avatar Sara

Sensing that I am a good deal closer to 13 than many of the people leaving comments…

First, I’d remind myself that just because I could find a job paying $10 an hour now doesn’t mean I’ll have it forever. Saving 50% of what I earn is great, but if I could manage to save 80-90% instead of wasting it on Backstreet Boys cds, I’ll be much happier when I get to college.

Second, I’d encourage myself to become more proactive about my money. At 13, I had a steady income from babysitting and tutoring, and by the time I was 15 I was regularly earning several hundred dollars a month. Instead of just sticking money into a savings account at the local bank, I would encourage myself to check out CDs, the stock market, etc.

Third, I’d tell my 13 year old self just to trust herself and continue making good decisions. I have no regrets about how I got here, and while the two above tips would have had some positive benefits, nothing would be worth losing who I am now.

Reply to this comment

avatar cdiltz13

If technology afforded me the ability to travel in time and meet my 13-year-old self, I would tell myself to invest every penny I earned in the company that succeeded at time travel technology!

Reply to this comment

avatar My New Choice

mnc31: “Hey kid, how are you doing? You’re a handsome little guy aren’t you?”

mnc13: “Uhh..yeah. Sure, whatever.”

mnc31: “I know this is going to sound crazy but I have a few suggestions for you that will help you out financially as you get older.”

mnc13: “zzzz…”

mnc31: “Okay, I know you are making some good money right now with your lawn mowing business and selling candy to the kids at school. The problem is that you aren’t saving ANY of that money. The thing to do is set aside 30% of your money for long-term savings, 10% to give to those in need and then you can spend the rest.”

mnc13: “Dude, you’re old.”

mnc31: “Yes, I am getting up there in years and I probably feel as old as you think I am right now. But if you follow my advice of saving, charity and spending then you may be in a position to retire by the time you are my age. How does that sound?”

mnc13: “Hey, that sounds pretty cool. So that was save 30% of my money, give away 10% and I get to spend the rest?”

mnc31: “Right.”

mnc13: “Cool, I can do that.”

mnc31: “One more piece of advice that you will thank me for later. When it is time for you to go to college, give serious thought to the state college as opposed to that nice private school you are likely going to prefer. In the end, you will receive a very similar education but save yourself the $20,000 in student loans and the high cost to your parents. They will thank you and you will be happy. Plus, you’ll probably spend most of your time at that state school partying with your friends that go there anyways so give it some thought.”

mnc13: “Whatever man, I’ve got $60 that I need to go spend. Are you done?”

mnc31: “Yeah, best of luck to you kid and I’ll be seeing you around.”

Reply to this comment

avatar Bobby

I would tell my to SAVE some money, including when there is a 401k with company match (what a stupid non-move.)

Now as to why.

About 20 years ago I learned the real value of money by giving some away. I had been taught to give and was ok but not consistent.

I found myself with some extra cash at one point in time. While I was at church, one of the members mentioned she and her husband were having some significant financial troubles and asked for prayer. She was trusting that God would provide.

I realized I was in a position to do something REAL with what little I had rather than blow it.

I placed it in an envelope addressed to her and anonymously left it for her.

The following week she told us about what happened and what it meant to her and her family. The needs it met.

All I know is what it meant to me.

Reply to this comment

avatar Karen (mommy of three)

Please count me in! I would advise myself to ALWAYS set aside 10% of earnings for emergencies…and not to spend any of it unless it is an essential emergency!

Reply to this comment

avatar Brenna

At the age of 13, I was already saving but in the sock drawer. I would tell myself to start a savings account then and that way my brother wouldn’t be able to ask me for money when he needed it.

Reply to this comment

avatar DICK

As soon has you have the cash froom your 1st job (which was at 16)…however possible travel the world, have sex with foreign chicks visit the great structures, help those in need…so when your 35 you wont still thinking about it, knowing thats all you’ll ever be able to do is think about.Even if i did have the money to go now at 35 or when im 45..it wont be near as fun!

Reply to this comment

avatar GD

Young GD,

There will be 1,000 things that you can’t live without between 13 and 33, you will get most of them.

There will be 999 things collecting dust on the shelves or the landfills of the world that will pass through your hands.

Only one at a time can occupy the mantle of your affection. Please understand that there is nothing you can buy that will give you lasting satisfaction.

My advice to you:
To have power over your life you will have to separate your wants and needs, balancing the wants for today against the ones for tomorrow.

Older GD

Reply to this comment

avatar Futuralogic

Please count me in!

Reply to this comment

avatar Lauren

I would tell myself at thirteen…
1. Credit cards are evil when you are in college(why are you spending money you haven’t even made yet!)
2. That all those trendy clothes won’t be trendy forever(those I can’t believe I spent $90 dollars on those shoes)
3. Always have a emergency fund of some sort cause life is crazy and repairmen only take cash at 3 am!
4. Save that money! For something larger because you won’t remember the 100 small things you purchased and forgot about.
5. Remember your parents won’t always be there to bail you out money wise or should they have to. (It took me till 23 to figure that one out)
I am 27 years old and three months from being debt free and I think about the money I have wasted and actually the first thing I would have done is kicked myself for being so money stupid in the years following 13(like 18 to 23 are the really bad money has no meaning years)They need to give a class in college called don’t get in debt 101! Because thats when kids are first on their own and make the biggest mistakes

Reply to this comment

avatar Tricia

I thought I would have to think this one over, but it came to me pretty quickly…

Next year, when you are 14…do not even THINK about taking a puff of that cigarette. Save your future self some money and save your health!

Reply to this comment

avatar thomas

that’s simple – Don’t break up with my 7th grade girlfriend. She’s a supermodel now and makes a ton of cash. That’s the best financial advice I could give myself.

Reply to this comment

avatar Luke Landes

The contest is now closed, but feel free to leave any additional comments if you would like to add to the discussion.

Reply to this comment

Leave a Comment

Note: Use your name or a unique handle, not the name of a website or business. No deep links or business URLs are allowed. Spam, including promotional linking to a company website, will be deleted. By submitting your comment you are agreeing to these terms and conditions.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.