I teach two online classes, both of which are in the realm of personal financial management. The problem I face however is that everybody, regardless of age, is interested in personal financial management and therefore it is difficult to tailor these classes to such a wide audience as the specific advice or recommended course of financial action varies depending on you age. But if there is one thing I would like to convey to a particular age or group of people it would be to the 20 somethings and that advice would be;
Don't bother working hard until you're at least 35.
And the reason I say this is simple; nobody takes you seriously as an adult and therefore will not give you opportunities to excel and advance until you are 35 or so.
I will concede that this was more of an intuition and was not brought about to a fully crystalized thought until I heard Rush Limbaugh say, "You really can't make any money until you're in your 40's" and after he said that (and I had myself a 3 hour drive yet to complete) I started to think about why that was. Sadly, I figured out why.
Let us say you are a really intelligent, really smart, really hard working 20 something. The major problem and the most debilitating disability you face to your career is that the rest of your peers are more or less incompetent ef-offs and losers. They expect to have everything handed to them. They expect that majoring in a fluff major like sociology is going to get them $60,000 a year. And, worse still, if they're like most affluent preppy Ambercrombie and Fitch suburbanite children, they have the parents that can subsidize them at that standard of living until they find such employment (or such a spouse that will provide them a similar standard of living).
This is not attractive to employers as such an attitude does not behoove any level of loyalty, responsibility, honor, integrity or reliability. This is also not attractive to employers as most children coming out of college (and I mean that in an insulting and "mean" sense) can't even tell you that Canada is to our north and make great fodder for Jay Leno's "Jaywalking."
The whole point is for those of you young, budding, idealistic 20 somethings out there who are smart, who did study hard and are mature, responsible adults, you have to realize that you are the victim of your peers. The "eagle who cannot soar with the turkeys" of sorts. And the reason I bring this up (and am more passionate about this than most of my other financial advice) is that your 20's are technically your physical prime or "youth." And to waste it trying to pursue a career or make something of yourself is foolish. Nobody is going to take you seriously because you are a victim of your generation's general idiocy and spoiled-brat-rotteness. Nobody is going to give you any semblance of responsibility or commensurate compensation because they are just going to assume you're incompetent just like the rest of the 20 somethings and will therefore relegate you to some mundane mediocre task with no hope of advancement or promotion.
Ergo, this is the real economic rationale as to why you should just throw away your 20's in terms of career and just enjoy life while you have your health. Go climb mountains, go become a ski bum, go to Europe and stay at youth hostiles, smoke, drink, dance and makey with the bam bam. Simply because any attempt at establishing some sort of "career" or "profession" is simply going to be met and stymied by skeptical (and rightfully so) baby boomers who are cynical about your ability to do anything competently.
And then, and only then, after you've gotten your fill of life and travel and general tomfoolery, plus maybe you're sporting a couple gray hairs, it is a must you get your masters degree towards the later 20's or early 30's of your life. This then adds credibility to your non-existent credibility that nobody will give you, until you pass that precious 30 year old mark and become (as accordance with Jewish culture) a "mensch." It will also leap-frog you over your competitors as you enter not only the work force, but employers deem you a viable candidate in the work force, simply because you're over 30.
Understand I mean this as sincere and honest advice, meant to help those of you youth out there looking for direction. I do not mean to offend you youth somehow claiming because you're young, you therefore must be incompetent. I am merely trying to prevent other youth from making the same mistake I did, and give you a better life than I had. And take it from me (and I bet you'll get the same response from similarly aged folk as myself) goofing around in your 20's and not bothering to start a career until your 30 is arguably the best financial advice you're going to get.