Would you like to make things easier on yourself? Reduce some of the stress that life throws at us? Of course, you would. This is something everyone would love to do, but most people don’t know how. Well, that’s not quite right. It’s not that people don’t know how, but they just don’t take the time to do what they need to do. Honestly, it’s not complicated, but the task does take an hour or so to complete.

Now, before I get into what I’m talking about, let me explain that I, too, did not follow this advice. Because of that, it took me 20 years and enormous amounts of stress, anxiety, and depression to get to where I’m at. If I had done this early on, things would have turned out very differently for me.

What I’m talking about is creating a plan and following it.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Right now, you may have an idea of where you’d like to be in the future. Married? Kids? Big house, fast car, great job? All of this sounds great, and you may even have a general idea of how you can get what you want. But you need more than that.

I often ask my kids what they want to be when they grow up. My 7-year-old has decided he wants to do everything. Somehow, he plans on having several full-time jobs all at the same time. Apparently, like me, he thinks there are more than 24 hours in a day.

For a while now, my 13-year-old daughter has been hooked on the idea of being an animator. She watches a lot of animated shorts on Youtube by people like Odd1sOut and likes the idea of doing something like that for a living.

But things like that are not always going to work out. 

Understand this: What I’m about to explain is not meant to discourage anyone or tell you that you can’t do it. But this is something you need to know if your future is to become a successful Youtuber.

The chances of becoming a professional Youtuber are extremely small. In fact, 96.5% of people who try to live off of Youtube ad revenue don’t make enough money to make it above the poverty line. 

This means that only 3.5 people out of 100 will make a living on Youtube.

The primary reason for this is that many people either give up too soon, don’t make interesting content, or just try to copy what everyone else is doing. If you can avoid all of that, great, go for it! But as I’ve told my daughter, in life, you need to have a backup plan.

Working on a battle plan for your future

Tonight I sat down with my daughter to help her work on her backup plan and direction of her life. I think this is a hugely important thing to do because it will help you avoid a lot of the headaches I and many others have gone through. Seriously, you need to do this.

Now, don’t think this was a ton of fun for my kid. She was bored through a lot of it, but she became more interested as we got near the end. That’s because that was the part where you get to spend money.

Her backup plan was to become an elementary school teacher, so I told her that she needed to do these things:

  • Decide what kind of teacher you want to be.
  • Find out what you need to do to become a teacher, including any necessary degrees, certificates, licenses, etc.
  • Note down how much each of those costs and how long it takes to get them.
  • Find out how much the position would likely pay.

I helped her do the research, which is really just a bunch of Google searching. She took notes while I dug up information and read through it with her. 

In the end, we found out that in North Carolina, she can expect a salary of around $46,000. This was on the lower end of the estimates we found, while some sources said $56,000. For things like this, you want to expect the low amount, not the high or even the middle. The reason is that if you expect a lower amount, the worst-case scenario is that you make more money than you thought you would.

At the same time, when you’re calculating costs, you want to use the high end. For instance, a North Carolina teacher’s license is between $30-$100. We used the $100 price in our math because if we account for more and spend less, that’s a good thing.

We found out that she would need a Bachelor’s degree, a certificate recognized by the state, and a license to teach. We found an online school to get the price of the degree, added everything up, and came to a total of around $22,000.

Now the part that was more fun: spending money. When you have a job and take care of yourself or your family, you need to budget for things. When I was younger, we didn’t do that. I knew better, but that didn’t stop me from buying a $600 Playstation 3. That money could have gone toward paying off bills and moving out of the dumpy trailer we lived in.

Teachers only get paid once a month, and usually only for 10 months out of the year (because of summer vacation). There is an option to get paid for 12 months, but you make less each month. Still, being paid each month for 12 months is the better option.

I used a site called PayCheckCity to show my daughter what her paychecks would look like. The site shows you what your check looks like AFTER taxes. Showing her that was pretty eye-opening. She wasn’t quite like this kid, but like many people, she wasn’t a fan of the result.

We used a budget worksheet to see how much she would have coming in each month and how much would be going out. Where would she live? What kind of car would she drive? How much money for food would she need? These are all important things to know, and if you can work out a budget sheet, it will definitely help you avoid a lot of financial stress. 

And don’t think that it’s hard to figure out a budget. There are a lot of spreadsheet worksheets that make it easy. All you do is enter a few numbers, and it does the rest. You tell it how much you have coming in each month and how much your different bills are. I used one of these a few years ago to help us stop spending stupidly, dig out of debt, buy a new car and a new house. It’s incredible how things can change when you know where your money is going.

Check out this budget worksheet if you need one.

We knew she wasn’t going to be able to run out and buy a huge house and a brand new Mercedes-Benz on a teacher’s salary. Instead, she ended up with an Apartment in a nearby city, the same SUV I have (2019 Santa Fe), and what I consider to be a high food bill for one person. Again, it’s better to expect higher payments and a lower income when estimating budgets.

In the end, after estimating bills like electricity, car payments, insurance, phone service, and even putting money away, we found out that she would still have a good chunk of money left over.

We also now have a guide that shows what she’ll need to do with her life to financially take care of herself. And that is hugely important.

But what if you don’t know what you want to do with your future?

When I was in high school, I wanted to do a couple of different things. At one point, I wanted to be a priest. That didn’t last long, nor did my interest in being a mortician. I think I just had a thing for dressing in black. The career choice that stuck around the longest was when I wanted to be a turntable DJ on the radio. At the time, I went by the name DJ Bass, which is about as generic as it can get. Later, in the late 90s, I became DJ Sckizo and have stuck to that ever since.

But that’s not what I became. In fact, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life until I was in my mid-20s. Was that a factor in why my life went sideways so hard? Yes, it was, but that doesn’t mean it has to be for everyone.

Just because you don’t know what you want to do now, or because your idea changes, doesn’t mean you can’t plan for your future. Work out multiple plans if you have to, each one based off of your interests and skills. For the most part, the only thing you usually need to change is how you bring money in and how much it is. A priest and a mortician make different amounts of money from each other, as does a DJ and a store clerk. A web developer, which I eventually became, makes an entirely different amount of money depending on what type of developer you are.

So do not get discouraged if you don’t know what you want to do. It’s OK to not know, but you need to make sure that what you choose is not just realistic but that it pays your bills.

It’s OK to have dreams of being something exciting, but you need to have a backup plan in case that doesn’t work out. The more planning you have in place and the better off you are.

Over the years, I’ve put several things in place to make sure we have a backup in case I lose my job again. I’ve been there before, and it put me in one of the worst times of my life (listen to the song “Braddock” on Music for My Kids). I don’t intend on going back to that. And that’s where a lot of what I’m talking about came from. The hell I went through years ago forced this mindset upon me. I still tried the things I wanted to do, but I also made sure to do things I knew would keep me away from that horror show a job loss put us in. We almost lost everything, including our house, because we relied on only one income, with no backup plans.

We now have backup plans. We have multiple income streams. And we have a plan for our future. I hope you’ll do the same because I know it will absolutely help you keep from going through what we did.