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Stick to a budget

Sumners said that he refuses to get a second job. “I do not want to hear the [old saying], ‘Pull yourself up from your bootstraps, work 90 hours a week,’” he yelled. “That’s not the goal, guys! That’s not! That should not be our standard!”

It’s understandable why Sumners doesn’t want to burn himself out by putting in overtime or finding a side hustle. But in order to stretch his income from his current job, it would be useful for Sumners to make a budget and stick to it.

The trick, though, is finding the right budget for your lifestyle, values and goals. Everyone’s budget is going to look a little different.

Not sure how to get started? Figure out how much money you take home every month, then compare it to your average monthly spending. Be sure to factor in any outstanding debts.

Create a spreadsheet that is broken down into “necessities” and “flexible spending.” Once you figure out how much you spend on necessities each month — such as rent and groceries — you can figure out where you can cut some things and save money.

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Pay down debt at a faster rate

Sumners mentioned in an interview with Fox News that he went straight from high school to working in the car industry.

“[I] didn’t go to college because the prices of student loans are ridiculous,” he said in the interview. “Even after college, I would still have to pay off those loans and be stuck in a hard spot, like every other American is right now.”

Sumners is correct that many Americans are in student loan debt. The Education Data Initiative reported that 43.2 million borrowers owe an average of $37,088 in federal student loan debt.

If you’re one of these people, paying off your student loans — or any other kind of debt — will eventually free up that money and allow you to breathe a little easier.

It can feel daunting when you don’t have a lot of spare cash but that’s why personal finance celebrity Dave Ramsey’s “snowball method” could be useful to you: simply start by paying off your smallest debt first.

Then, once you finish paying off the smallest debt (all while paying minimums on any other debt), you move on to the next smallest debt, until you’ve paid everything off.

Invest your spare change

Sumners mentioned how his parents and grandparents were able to buy homes decades ago, despite making significantly less than he does now. He added in the necessary caveat about inflation, but he’s still upset that many people can’t afford rent these days.

“Why are we allowing it?!” he asked.

One way that his parents and grandparents may have been able to buy their homes was by investing their money — even if they didn’t make a lot.

Sumners is only 20, so he has at least 45 more years until retirement. He has plenty of time to set his money aside and watch it grow, thanks to the magic of compound interest.

This doesn’t mean that you need to put away tons of money to be an investor. You can simply invest your spare change and watch it grow over time. For example, a New York University analysis of the stock market showed that, if you invested just $100 in 1928, you would have more than $700,000 today.

Granted, the likelihood that you’ll be investing for almost 100 years is slim to none, but if you invested for even half of that time period — which is roughly the time Sumner has remaining until he retires — you would still make more than $350,000.


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Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.


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