Three things a teen must DO to stay out of poverty.

There is some research that I have heard about for years now around what teens can do to prevent themselves from living in poverty the rest of their lives.

This morning I took a deep dive to learn more about the research and the findings. Although this research and information came out in 2012, the topics it covers is still as relevant today as it was then. You could probably argue and say it is more relevant.

The Brookings Institute conducted the research and you can see some of the opinion around this data here.

I don’t want to discount the fact that bad things happen to good people and that there are catastrophic events that happen in peoples lives that could ruin them financially. Things such as a health related issue, an accident, or some other random event that could be devastating. However, these are rare.

Like most things in life, you are a product of your own decision making. Millions of people have had bad parents, attended bad schools, lived in bad neighborhoods, etc. And although those things can definitely impact how you are brought up, they are not the main reason a person doesn’t do well in life.

Parenting is important without a doubt. My parents were hardworking lower middle class people. They exposed me to some things in life. But mostly they wanted me to do well in school and not get in any trouble. Pretty simple really.

But my parents didn’t know anything about money, how to invest it, or make more of it, other than what they made on the job. If I would have been exposed to some of the things I know today, who knows where I would be today. That wasn’t the case and so luckily I was able to learn a long the way.

Back to the research and what it said.

It laid out three things a teen today needs to make sure they do based off research and data from Census Bureau data to prevent themselves from being poor.

Finish High School: Seems pretty simple to most of us reading this today. And maybe it was. I know it was for me. It wasn’t really an option. I had to go to school and I had to do somewhat well.

I personally believe that although finishing a high school curriculum is important, I don’t believe it is still relevant today to have 12 years to accomplish this curriculum. The speed of learning can be greatly accelerated due to technology and access to information. This is a different conversation for a different post, but wanted to make the point though.

Wait until age 21 to get married and have a child: On the surface this one makes a lot of sense. I can just look around anecdotally and see the people that I know who had children before they graduated high school tended not to do as well as others. I am not saying children are bad, but if you have them while you are still basically growing up, then it really puts you and ultimately that child at a disadvantage.

Get a full time job: I know this ones seems the most logical. But how many people do you know or have known that avoided full time work like it was cancer. I can remember a neighbor of ours growing up this guy never worked full time or would bounce from job to job.

I know some people are thinking what if I go to college first. Do I still need to get a full time job? And the answer is yes. After you graduate from college.

The research is just looking at the Census data and saying people that are living in poverty failed at one of the the three things above. And most likely if you fail at one of then it can lead to failing at all three.

For example: You have a baby while in high school. This alone diminishes the chances of the person finishing their high school education. A 21 year old with a child is different than a teenager with a child.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on all of the socioeconomic issues in the world. However, I do know that many of us don’t grow up in ideal situations. If we had a choice in the matter, I am sure many of us as adults would say we wish we would have had this or that as a kid or were taught this or that as a child or teenager.

But the three things I laid out here and supported by the research and data are things that an individual has control over 99.9% of the time. The choice is yours.

Please share with a teenager in your life and I highly encourage parents who have a high school Senior about to graduate in the next month to show them this data.

To your success and your future.

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