Focus at a Young Age

Josh is 15 and homeschooled. He wants to go to college, get a car at age 16, and go on a mission trip to Africa. What suggestions does Dave have for Josh?

QUESTION: Josh in Tennessee is 15 and homeschooled. He wants to go to college, get a car at age 16, and go on a mission trip to Africa. His parents will pay for as much as they can. What suggestions does Dave have for Josh to pay off the rest?

ANSWER: You have three goals that all need money, so they are all competing with each other. The first thing you must do is prioritize these items and determine which one is the most important. Then you start looking at the versions of those three things that you might be able to afford.

A $9,000 car is going to keep you from going on the Africa trip, but a $900 car won't, assuming you've got some money coming in. It might be that you get the classic teenage beater car just to fulfill the first step of the car goal and that doesn't keep you from being able to do some of the other things. But if you only got a car and didn't go to college or Africa, that would be stupid.

Prioritize, then decide the version of each that you'll be able to do. Are you going to a state college, a community college, or Harvard? I'm thinking a starter car at your age might be one of the first things. The Africa trip might be a second and you choose a college that you can afford and your parents can help you on. You might say you don't want a car until college is taken care of. That's fine if you want to go that route.

Prioritize and price, and then your goals start to have a reality feel to them, rather than just the dream.