How do you afford building your theater? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 190 Old 04-02-2006, 05:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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?

I'm just gettng out of high school, and am wondering what most of you do to build these couple thousand dollar rooms. Basically, what is it that you do for a living? Post your yearly salary as well. (If you don't mind/if it doesnt offend you.)
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post #2 of 190 Old 04-02-2006, 05:22 PM
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I won't post my salary, but would have to say go to college or university and get a good job and focus on making and saving for retirement (ie. investments) and not a dedicated home theatre. A good investment is a home. I don't make a ton, but work hard and spend very little. I spend on what I really want, like a home with the room to have an HT.

BTW: They are not a couple of thousand, more like a couple of 10 thousands.

Here's my situation. I would say I'm part of the shrinking middle class:

I don't have a dedicated HT right now, but I will by x-mas. Right now, I rent a nice apt. and have 3 comfy chairs in my living room. I painted a wall and used fabric to frame the screen. This is a cheap enough first step. My second step, I bought a duplex (not side by side but up and down) to help with the mortgage. In my unit, I plan on doing changes that will be consistent to my long term plan of it being the bsmt/recroom (i.e.: HT/Pool Table and Bar).

The bottom line is: It's not how much you make (well some of it is), it's how much you spend.

PF



Now anything I buy has to be future proof (last at leat 5 years depending on the product and purpose).
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post #3 of 190 Old 04-02-2006, 06:17 PM
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A little at a time, for the blue collar fellas like me. My wife and I make pretty decent money (for around here), but not enough where we dont wait until payday to pay the bills. Around $65k. I just buy a little as I go along and there have been weeks that I am stumped until payday. Thats one of the reasons my HT will take a little longer.

As far as how much money to build a HT..... My theater will probally come in between $20k and $25k, but I am doing all of the construction and everything else by myself. This makes my $25k theater really worth $35k to $40k. IMO
That is a whole lot or money for me but it is a room that our family will get a bunch of enjoyment out of. If it came down to an option of in ground pool or dedicated HT...... well you see that I'm building the theater! lol

And yes the couple or thousand is a REALLY low number. As far as money spent, I am probally in the bottom tier of the dedicated builders, as far as actual cost. There are several, here on the AVS forum, that have reached multiples of 6 figures for their theaters. But as with everything in life, it is all relevant to income. $20,000 to me is the same as $200,000 to others.


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post #4 of 190 Old 04-02-2006, 06:21 PM
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I have to agree with PF - get a degree of some sort that will afford you a job with a future. It does not always have to be a 4 year univeristy or college. Learn a trade or become a engineer what ever suits you. But do not live outside of your means when you graduate. Don't go and bury yourself in debt just for a theater. Buy a house with potential and take your time.
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post #5 of 190 Old 04-02-2006, 07:24 PM
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I'll dissent here - yes, maybe get a degree. But getting a job should be only a temporary means until you can be your own business owner. No one ever got rich working for someone. Keep your creative thoughts flowing, find a need, and fill it.
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post #6 of 190 Old 04-02-2006, 07:37 PM
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Quote:


I'll dissent here - yes, maybe get a degree. But getting a job should be only a temporary means until you can be your own business owner. No one ever got rich working for someone. Keep your creative thoughts flowing, find a need, and fill it.

I agree. In fact as a landlord of the duplex (which will in 5-8 be my entire home) I can write off much of the stuff (e.g. I don't want my tenant to be bothered by the bass . And as a business owner myself, some items will be a write off for my home (T) office

Having a business has its perks. Having a trade or profession has its perks too. Having both is not a bad thing either.

PF
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post #7 of 190 Old 04-02-2006, 08:14 PM
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As most have said, and will say, first you need to get a decent job or start your own business. It will take a few years until you get on your feet and begin to have some extra cash after paying all the bills. That's when you start saving for what you want. I consider myself upper middle class and just bought a house. I had great plans to build a dedicated theatre in the basement, but I had to re-do the master bathroom. By re-do I mean complete gut down to the framing. So the theatre is going to have to wait a couple more years until the bathroom is paid for. Well mostly paid for. Unfortunately reading this forum and looking at everyone's construction projects (thanks everyone!) is making it real difficult on me. I'm printing pictures and ripping pages out of magazines and tacking them on the basement wall, so I can atleast think of a theatre. The other thing about having to wait is in a couple years new equipment will be cheaper.

Anyway, that's my story, and probably not much different than many other folks who post here.
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post #8 of 190 Old 04-02-2006, 09:38 PM
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I graduated with bachelors and masters in engineering and landed a job in the median of my class at the time. It was 3 years before I moved from a black and white to a color TV.

If you want to know the secret to $ I will share a few obervations:

JOB, there are three pathways:

1) pick a job that has a track to a really high salary, some examples are cardiovascular surgeon, Chief Pathologist etc.

2) If that's not for you, get a job with a GROWING COMPANY and do what ever it takes to position yourself to be promoted to the top. Study the really successful people in the organization you join. Figure out what skills they have and develop them. As an example, if you are not a good public speaker, take classes and practice until you are.

If you wait to be noticed among your peers to be promoted, forget it. Ask your boss to work with you on a game plan to position you for promotion. If he won't, get another job fast. Think about being a star in a small company. All of this is about getting equity in the company you work for. You should have a game plan that get's you to a VP title by the time you are 30. If peer group pressure keeps you from being a "brown noser" or an "over achiever" you'll be doomed to run with the pack rather than being the lead dog. Now if you are going down this track be aware that you might not have a whole lot of time for that theater.


3) Own your own company but make sure it's sucessful.

Some other food for thought. I didn't own anything larger than 27 inches or start my theater until I retired at 52.
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post #9 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 02:27 AM
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I wouldn't consider most of the stuff that I see on here out of reach for the average person, although my "average" is probably upper-middle class.

As with anything, it depends on your income and your priorities.

My tip is to watch your spending. The average American spends way too much of their income, and the amount of consumption in our society is being supported by foreign investment. That isn't going to last forever...

Point being, don't be one of the people who carries credit card debt, makes stupid buying decisions, and lives above their means.

Also, I wouldn't listen to the "start your own business and you're gonna be rich" trend that I see in this thread.

Are you going to college? What are you planning to do?
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post #10 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 05:02 AM
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I like the "watch your spending and keep the credit card debt to a minimum" comments.

I would add that, if you're going to work for someone else, make sure they offer a 401K plan and start contributing to it As Soon As Possible, month after month, rain or shine.

Contribute the maximum amount allowable or until it starts cutting too deeply into your food budget. While you're young (20s, early 30s), there is no reason to invest in lower return, safer instruments like bonds. Instead, go for the most broadly diversified US stock market fund they offer (S&P 500/Total Stock Market) and mix in a good bit of aggressive growth and international growth in there, too. As you get into middle age (late 40s), that is when going a little more conservative makes more sense.

When you see how your quarterly reports look in 15 or 20 years, you'll be wishing you had started contributing into that 401k when you were 2 years old!

As far as starting your own business goes, my observation has been that running your own business in a product or service that you have an absolute passion for is the way to go. There are an awful lot of business owners out there who got into it for the money first and now feel as though the business owns them and have almost no time to do anything else, not even settle down for a few hours on a weekend to enjoy a home theater.
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post #11 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 05:41 AM
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A lot of great advice on this thread.

Remember, a good education is the way to go as a foundation for your career; that being said, I have seen a lot of folks with multiple degrees that can't hold a job.

Don't get caught up in the "I want, therefore I must need this now" game or you'll be trapped in debt up to your eyeballs. To that end, don't charge anything unless you can pay it off as soon as you get the bill. We pay off our credit card every month.

Save the maximum for your 401K - we ate a lot of beans and weenies in the early years, yet we continued to put the maximum into our retirement. Don't assume you'll be taken care of in your later years!

My husband and I are in our late 40s/early 50s. We've been saving for a while. This HT thing is not a necessity, so wait until you have the cash on hand. Another way is to do it in stages - as the money comes in. That's a lot of fun as well (and how we were able to procure our equipment - one or two things at a time. Then we built the room)

One more thing - don't just go for a job that makes lots of money. You could end up the most miserable person in the world. Find your burning desire and find a compatable career to go with that. Good luck!

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post #12 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 06:58 AM
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H.T. and financial advise in one spot - be still my heart.

There are a million ways to skin the cat in places where free enterprise is possible. Get a good job, invest for the future, run your own business(es), etc. But income without savings/investment is meaningless. So live below your means, and prioritize your purchases. I have a friend who is a "starving artist" never made more than double the poverty line (I do his taxes) in his ~15 years of work. He owns a loft with a small mortgage (tons of equity), a suite of electronics (related to his work) that is in the tens of thousands, and has a pile of cash in the bank. He did this all himself by prioritizing his purchases.
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post #13 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 07:04 AM
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My wife and I have lived in our house now for almost 6 years and just started my HT in my basement last year. I did 90% of the construction to save on the costs and am building slowly. And with a new daughter it will take even longer.

How slowly, last year I finished the basement (that took 1 year to complete), I then bought my projector, screen, receiver sub and 2 towers for my fronts.; I use a pair of old speakers for my surrounds. For seating I use a chaise that we had upstairs, only one that my wife and I share and when company comes over I have some plastic lawn chairs for them to sit in. This year I will ge getting the rest of my speakers for a true 7.1 setup, accoustical treatment and my theater seats. I still have other things that I will be adding to my basement for it to be complete, but my wife and I only buy what we can afford when we can afford it, if not we wait so we can get what we want instead of settling.

as most people have suggested, get your degree, get your career started and go from there. If you can afford it, buy a house (the best investment there is) and build as you can.

As for how much I have spent, it doesn't seem as bad since it was spread across a few years, but none of it was charged and it is all completely paid for, this way we can enjoy it more.

Good luck
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post #14 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 07:54 AM
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I agree with the get a degree comments. Most good paying jobs/careers require a degree, even if it's not directly related to the job. It usually shows that you can be commited and follow through. Find a career. The jobs themselves will come and go, but as long you are in a career, that doesn't matter so much. My degree is in music eduction. I taught at a private boarding school for two years. I moved to Northen Virgina and couldn't find a job. At the time (early 80s), Faifax County schools used get about 100 resumes for every opening. So I decided to change careers. Let me tell you, retail is NOT the way to go! I scraped up enough money and loans to go to a six month computer school. Then the economy was pretty bad and by the time I got into the business, I was 30 and working for managers younger than me. For a while I was getting a new job programming about every 18 months. It's been 20 years and I'm finally feeling like I've caught up and passed them. I remember going to HS re-unions and thinking how others were making more, but I was at the bottom of the payscale and knew I would eventually catch up. There were times I had enough money to do something like this but not enough time, and there were more times when I had enough time but not enough money. Now I have a little of both.

I re-fied my house last year and took out a little cash for the biggest one-time purchases (dricore and sound clips, replacement basement windows, new water heater), but mostly I buy enough lumber for what I'm planning for the weekend (thanks for that tip to BIGmouthinDC!), so I go to HD on a Thursday and spend maybe $50+ on studs and I get a couple of walls built. Eventually it will get done.

I think Tom Peter's "The Peter Principle" should be required reading in ALL college degree programs. Read it now, you'll learn a lot. And in general, the financials are in your priorities. Do you want a new Mustang 5.0 that will cost a small fortune in insurance, or a HT? I've seen so many people complain about what the can't have, and then go on a cruise, or put in hot tub and then complain that they can't go out to dinner when they want to or to the movies or whatever. It's all in your priorities.

Good luck. You CAN make it happen if you really want to. It just may not happen tomorrow.

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post #15 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 07:55 AM
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Zeek, anyone can afford a $2000 home theater - some people's income limits their ability to buy it all at once. In my situation, I slowly built my home theater as I could afford it.

My advice to you is go to college and get a degree, start saving money for retirement at an early age, work on owning your own home by at least your late 20's, don't ever have a continued revolving balance on your credit card, and be frugal when buying a car.
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post #16 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 07:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dd2 View Post

I'll dissent here - yes, maybe get a degree. But getting a job should be only a temporary means until you can be your own business owner. No one ever got rich working for someone. Keep your creative thoughts flowing, find a need, and fill it.

BINGO !!!!

Ever heard of wall street firms ??

I have many many friends who do work at such firms (hence do work for someone else) and make various millions of dollars every year. I mean, dude !
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post #17 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 08:11 AM
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Wow, all excellent advice.

One thing I like to do for friends around your age is "work the money backwards". Go to your parents or anyone else living like you want to live and ask them what their life costs. Add up their mortgage, taxes, insurances, cars, food, utilities, etc. for a month and calculate what size salary you'll need just to cover these expenses. It's a real eye-opener! Working at McDonalds just won't cut it.

So, take all of the advice above to heart. Get some sort of marketable training. Save and invest where you can. And like you have done here, don't be afraid to ask for advice.

"You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong." William J.H. Boetcker
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post #18 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 08:28 AM
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I'm 28 and work at a growing pharmaceutical place in the IT dept. Solid middle class wage. Right now paying off our (me and wife) student loans / debt is killing us. I'm not in the same disposable income class as most here.

What saves us is that I am a hardcore DIY person, and my wife has a great eye for design / decor. I'm about finished with our basement HT / bar / fun room, and would estimate the cost around $2k for me to completely gut the room and redo everything - electrical, walls, floors, etc. This was spaced out over 8 months and counting. Granted I wasn't dropping huge change on green glue, etc.

The key for us was to buy in chunks... $200 on drywall sheets was one of the biggest chunks. Honestly, because I was the labor, money didn't become an issue because I couldn't work fast enough to get to the point where I needed to buy more materials.

My modest stereo setup will include DIY speakers - check out parts express / htguide.com. Screen will be DIY... only thing I worry about is the projector cost.

Oh, I'd like to add that our house went from $127k to $160k in two years because of the hard work of me and my wife. So I'd like to say determination is a key as well, not just money.
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post #19 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 08:54 AM
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Follow the one piece of advice my Daddy gave me, "Rich girls need love too."

But, I didn't follow that one. We scrapped by for years finishing school and getting started. Then worked my butt off for 20 years, saved and invested wisely, did OK in trading up houses, and most importantly, took full advantage when interest rates bottomed out.

If you're just getting out of high school (I have a daughter that's graduating this year, too), get your butt in college and find something you're really interested in, even passionate about. When you get out and start working, put together a starter theater, but don't spend too much. Then start planning and dreaming. Frankly, that's half the fun.

Good luck to you!

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post #20 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 09:14 AM
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Here's 3 other points:

1. Never buy a new car. Always get one that's about 2-3 years old. You'll save about 40% of the cars price that way, (depending on the type of car.) If you were going to buy a new Lincoln Navigator, but instead bought one that was three years old, with the money you saved you can build a Home Theater.

2. Pay the car off, and don't automatically buy another one as soon as you do. That $500 per month you save can get you a theater in fairly short order.

3. Go to law school and represent meth addicts and divorcees for a living. Make profit trading in other people's misery. Ok, that one was optional.
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post #21 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 10:10 AM
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I think putting purchases of any magnitude on hold until you are positioned to realistically afford them is the key. I know hanging around here isn't the way to feel good about putting things off till later but that would be my advice. More than a quarter century ago my father had a nice room with a six foot projection TV. I knew then I wanted a room that would be set up like a small theater as my club house/ escape room. It took a very very long time to get there for me.This included eleven years of studies beyond high school. I'm not recommending this path but just that that is the one I took. I had essentially nothing between the early 1970's and the early 1990's

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post #22 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 10:18 AM
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As my dad always says, "you can play now and pay later or pay now and play for the rest of your life". Whether that means studying for a profession or otherwise pursuing a career there is a great deal to be said about delayed gratification. IMO you shouldn't fail to develop diversified interests while young but an investment in yourself early on will pay big dividends.....
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post #23 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 02:20 PM
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Zeek, You're wise now to be considering the cost of toys you might want to have one day.. In my 37 years of learning from my MANY mistakes, I offer you this.. Pick a trade that will land you the cash! Period.. If you think it's something you might want to do, go talk to the people that are now doing it. If you want to be an entrepreneur/business owner.. Seek out the best and talk to them.. get to know what type of person is successful in business. Same thing goes for Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers, Brokers, Indian Chiefs (well I guess), etc etc. If there's any direction that interests you, learn about it BEFORE someone or parent tells you you "Should" do this or "Should" do that.

Get a grip on what's out there now and what might be out there 10.. 20 years from now. There will always be doctors, there will (unfortunately) always be lawyers.. and unless we pass HR 25 Fairtax bill, there will always be IRS agents .. just a plug.

But pick your path wisely, not just on a premise of something some parent wants you to be.

If you want the theater, choose a path that pays the big bucks that you can be passionate about doing. Doctors are indeed passionate about the work they do.. A knee surgeon must be happy when he sees young athletes running again.. and he gets PAID!

In short, find something you can pour your heart into that will make you the bucks.. Then you can hire one of these asteemed pro's here to build your theater turn-key and sooner rather than later in life, you'll have the money and the time (money+time= real weath) to enjoy the fruits of wise honest and dedicated work in the RIGHT field for you.

Good Luck! I'd give anything to be where you are now again.. As tough as it may seem, it's ALL infront of you to be consistent and diligent with your choice of career. Learn learn learn, even if you have to take a year off to just scout out different careers for majoring. Also, common sense (how many literature or humanities majors make millions after college? unless of course they're some top 1% novelist or journalist)

By the way.. Very few wealthy folks draw a W-2 (that means you gotta be your own man.. Working for someone else is just filling their pockets).. All just an opinion.

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post #24 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeek View Post

?

I'm just gettng out of high school, and am wondering what most of you do to build these couple thousand dollar rooms. Basically, what is it that you do for a living? Post your yearly salary as well. (If you don't mind/if it doesnt offend you.)


Zeek,

My first 'real' home theater was a spare bedroom. It was a perfect square. I purchased a used CRT projector for $500, a receiver for $200, a VCR for $150, speakers for around $250, and a used couch for free. I painted a section of the front wall white as my screen. My full home theater was about $1000, and it served me well for many years.

What you see on this forum is rarely what people had or used in their first theaters. You see projects here where people put their blood, sweat, and tears into theater builds that might takes years to finish, one paycheck at a time.

The scale of economy is very unique as well, a person making 100K in LA has nearly enough to live on, while that same salary somewhere in Ohio, for example, will allow for plenty of 'extras' such as a home theater.

Today, you can get a home-theater-in-a-box for around $500, and a pretty good used projector for around $500. Add a white bedsheet or paint on the wall, and you should be all set. For $1000 you can get a pretty nice setup (way better than my first setup), one that should last you for many years.

Give yourself realistic goals (but do make sure you give yourself goals), and there is nothing that is out of reach.

Every man dies. Not every man really lives.
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post #25 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 04:29 PM
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It took me many years and I finally have one. It's not what I originally envisioned, but even my budget theater is very enjoyable. This one only cost me a few thousand, and I already had almost all of the equipment by the time I bought it. You can start early by buying pieces that are a good value but useable later. That's what I did. But you're still real early on. Make sure you pick a career you like, or the money will not matter. I had to recently change careers because I hated my career and could not do it anymore. Now I am making so little per year I am embarrased to say. I will add to this advice to be careful of your college major choice. Taking a year off to check things out may be unorthodox, but is time well spent. I wasted my entire college career because now I do not use it. At least I can say I am educated. And do not knock jobs. There are a lot of people I know who are diligent workers who have no education who made a lot more money than I did with much less work and stress working a job at a company. It's all about due diligence. You don't have to be rich to enjoy some nice things. You have to be smart with what resources you have. I have a lot of regrets about my path, which has led to nowhere for me, and I wouldn't wish it upon anybody. Do what you love, do it well, and the money will come. But money won't make you happy. I can promise you that. It is tough to hang out here and see all the stuff you want but can't have. I know how it is. I used to hang out at rx8club.com but I can't anymore, there's no way I could afford that car that I love so much. I drive a crappy F150 that was paid for until I put a new engine in it this year. I can tell you something else from experience that some of the more sucessful people here may not know about because they don't have this problem. Be very mindful of your thoughts in your next 10-15 years. If you expend more brain cycles on the things you want to have than how you are going to get those things, you will never get them, and are in for big disappointment. You ever notice that people who have money many times don't know s*** about the electronics they own or the cars they drive? Think about it.

Shahram

Are you capable of independent thought, or do you need the government and mass media to do that for you?

Xbox Live Gamertag: Shahraminator
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post #26 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 07:27 PM
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One thing I like to do for friends around your age is "work the money backwards". Go to your parents or anyone else living like you want to live and ask them what their life costs. Add up their mortgage, taxes, insurances, cars, food, utilities, etc. for a month and calculate what size salary you'll need just to cover these expenses. It's a real eye-opener! Working at McDonalds just won't cut it.

Man, why didn't I come across this a decade ago? This is great advice. I was fortunate that I knew what I wanted to do outta high school. I did some undergrad, then got into dental school, and have been working for about 6yrs. Loans are so easy to come by. I had no idea how much it costs just to live until I was part of the work force. By then, I had racked up some lines of credit. Then I learned how long it takes to pay back debt and how much it can hold you back from the real important things in life (home, health, career you love, mate, savings). Travelling is not my thing, I drive an Accord, I don't take holidays, and I live within reason. That diligence is now affording me to build a house with a dedicated HT.

Don't work to pay off material, depreciable things. Don't yearn for $$$ toys and just pick the highest paying job to get paper. It's no way to live. Ask yourself what you are passionate about and pursue it. Then use your available money to buy gear. I assure you the happiness of a 35K theater will wear thin compared to the happiness of working a job you love. Stay at home if possible, but save the money you would otherwise pay to rent. Staying home doesn't mean you can drive a RSX Type-S or buy a DLP PJ.
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post #27 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 07:54 PM
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One more thing that I have not seen mentioned here as often as I thought it would be.

Get a job that you will like. I know several people that could have any theater they wanted (pretty much unlimited funds) but HATE their jobs. I'll admit that I'm lucky in the sense that I love my job and it does afford me that abilty to feed the kids, keep them healthy, live in a home that I am comfortable in, save for the future and last but not least have a dedicated room.
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post #28 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 08:18 PM
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Zeek....seriously consider grad school of some sort if you want money to be something you dont have to think about anymore.

Avg us salary is 42,000/year, you can double that with a PhD.


You can triple it with a PhD in some healthcare division or JD

You can 10x it with M.D.

Do something you love, but in all the fields out there, theres plenty you might love and get paid well.

Buy a run down tax sale house and learn to fix it up....i promise this will be the best learning and financial experience of your life.

Get your money into retirement funds RIGHT NOW, TODAY. Einstien is quoted as saying the most powerful force in the universe is "compounding interest" (if you start now, you will retire at 50 as a millionaire or 65 as a multimillionair)
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post #29 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 08:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow... This advice is stinking amazing! I have always looked around at what different things people do and how they got there...

Well I can explain my situation.

I don't have the best of grades, so I am bound to going to a Jr.College, (most likely CUESTA, www.cuesta.edu)

But this is what I like. My buddy got accepted to Cal Poly, and his parents are paying for his housing in San Luis Obispo, (the beach, yes!). I get to stay with him at a house on the beach, with his parents paying for our rent. I'll be going to CUESTA (and hopefully Cal Poly after two years).

I work at Starbucks, making about 200 bucks every two weeks, I don't really spend a dime. I dont need anything...I eat my parents' food and don't like eating out anyways because it makes me fat.

I have a truck. My sisters boyfriend sold it to me very cheap, he put a new tranmission and engine in it, got it all "pimped out" lowered, all that good stuff. it's really nice.

Now my only thing is...I don't know whatthe heck I want to do. I would love a degree in business, but I don't know what services to offer. I was thinking of owning a web site hosting server thingy in San Luis? I'm not sure. i can never think of any needs that need to be met.

I also have been told to look at a trade such as being an electrician. I don't mind going to school if it's going to make the rest of my life good.

I also thank you all very much for replying to this, most people give me the typical.."Go away, kid! Ya botha' me!"

Any ideas?
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post #30 of 190 Old 04-03-2006, 08:58 PM
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I disagree that you have to work for yourself if you want to do well financially. I agree that it can be really beneficial, but there are lots of people who own their own businesses that aren't rich. They are often whip-sawed by the economy even more than salaried employees.

If you look around any city you will see thousands of expensive houses that are being built and lived in by salaried people. The key: The husband and wife both make a good living as salaried employees because they have a good education. If you (and your wife) both have degrees in business, marketing, or some technical field, then you likely have close to (if not over) $125K combined income by the time you are 30. That's doing pretty darned well by any standard. Not rich, but good enough to put you in the top 5% of family incomes (at 30!!). If you each put $12K into a 401K and you're lucky enough to have a company that matches, that's almost $50K per year towards retirement.

Don't underestimate the importance of a good education. Yes, you can do well if you don't go to college, but it is harder -- especially in an increasingly hi-tech world. It's not easy to "find a niche and fill it", especially when you're trying to put bread on the table and survive paycheck to paycheck. A good college degree (in a good field) will all but ensure that you have a decent lifestyle. With that under your belt, use what you have learned to start your own company and try to get rich if you are so-inclined. Don't forget, Bill Gates and Michael Dell both had upper middle-class parents (Gates' dad was a doctor). If you start out trying to get rich without a solid foundation, then you will likely end up as yet another 45 year-old dreamer who is still trying to "strike it rich."

BTW, if you ask most savy financial planners the best way to get rich, they'll say don't get divorced. It can be financially devastating for both parties, so choose your spouse carefully.
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