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Financial Lessons from Car Line

August 23, 2011

School started yesterday for my kids.  The first week is always the worst.  Parents are clueless, kids are excited, teachers are stressed…good times.  But, there’s nothing I relish more this time of year than spending quality time with myself in car line.  So today, while I was 53rd in line, moving 10 feet every 2 minutes, I had a chance to jot down a few financial lessons that can be learned from car line.

1.  Leave early – If you leave early, you’ll be one of the first ones in line.  But it also means you’ll have to give up some free time – because you’ll be sitting there for 30 minutes (on a good day.)  The same holds true with your long-term savings.  Those that start early and stay disciplined make some sacrifices on the front end, but they’re the first ones to retirement (or living their dream.)

2.  Be prepared – It happens everyday.  They’ve been sitting in line for 20 minutes, and they arrive at the pick-up location and realize they forgot to clear off the seats, or can’t find their car line pass, and all of us behind you just have to wait longer.  Know what’s coming.  Keep up with your budget.  Discuss expenses each month so you’re not scrambling when your kids are knocking on the door.

3.  Avoid distractions – Cell phones, kids, teachers, other cars, 5th grade safety patrols yelling at you – it can be war zone out there.  You have to stay focused.  There are always purchases vying for your attention – new clothes, technology, furniture, toys.  Make sure you avoid unnecessary distractions and spend within your means.  If you’re not careful, you might be buying someone a new bumper.

4.  It’s about the kids – At the end of the day, we endure the horrors of car line so our kids will get a quality education.  Be sure you’re taking time to teach your children about handling money in a responsible matter, where they understand it’s value, and how it can be used to change the world for good.

Here’s to a new school year, and to your most productive car line minutes (or hours) ever!

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