My Money

Advice for 16 year old with tough family life?

By Dave Ramsey

Question: Mr. Dave, I am a 16-year-old girl and my family is kind of messed up. Mainly, alcohol is involved. I make average grades and am sure there will be no money for college anyway.  I work after school and on weekends to pay for gas and insurance for my beat-up car. My question is: What is my plan? Is there one for me? I don’t want to end up like my parents.

Horrible trauma to have to go through…and horrible things to have to say out loud. The great news is that this can become like me going broke in my twenties—it could become your great advantage.

You know, Tony Robbins tells an old story and I have no idea if it’s true, but it’s a great story. Two twin brothers’ father goes to jail for robbing a bank, and one of them becomes highly successful in business. The other one ends up in jail for robbing a bank. And when they interviewed both of them, both of them said the exact thing…“With a dad like mine. How else could I have turned out?” And so you get to choose to be the brother that’s successful, not the one that emulates your parents. Sometimes your parents in horrible situations like this are the “anti” there, the ones showing you how not to go, what not to do. So find people in your community and tell them your story. People who are successful in their marriages, in their spiritual walk, in their careers, successful in their attaining of education, and let them teach you, mentor you and walk with you. It doesn’t have to be one person. You may find those in a really good church in your area. If you can find a thriving, breathing, not a dead church, but a thriving breathing church with a good pastor, maybe even a good youth pastor, that could be a good place to start to get some people in your life. It’s not to fix your present situation. It’s to show you how not to be that when you grow up, which was your question.

Yes, you can go to college debt free. You’re going to be eligible for a bazillion Pell grants and a bazillion different scholarships. You can go get those. Yes, you can work like a maniac and go to college. You can’t do it on minimum wage, you can babysit, and make $25 an hour in today’s world. And that will get you through college. Big time—nanny, big time, way to get through college right now, and just go to an in-state school, go to a local community college for your first two years. You can go through and get your four-year degree, but your four-year degree is not the magic sauce.

You’re the magic sauce.