For young adults and high school students especially, I’d want to drill into your consciousness the habit of “knowing how much your time is worth.”
Even though you may not yet have credit cards or financial assets, you own THE asset that can only be traded or optimized but never returned once you lose it: TIME.
Thus, focus on mastering how you use your time, how you prioritize tasks, how you make decisions that will either improve your reduce your effectiveness over time.
Truly understand what “productivity” means, and difference between working hard and working smart.
Successful people DO BOTH: they work HARD *and* they work SMART).
Understand that we work on “value traded per unit time.”
Education gives most of us an increase in value (skills, knowledge) we can trade in the same unit of time versus if we are un-educated or under-educated. If you can earn $100/hour, you are earning your life an extra hour you can use, than if you can earn $50/hour to create the same amount of fiscal value to your financial balance sheet — to make the same $100, you can spend either 1 hour at $100/hr or 2 hours at $50/hour.
However, something like an education takes TIME to vest, which means you can’t see the results right away, until you have invested significant time and resources (effort) acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to allow you to compete for jobs. This is why education is a long term investment: even though up front it looks like we are losing money (especially if we’re in debt), statistically over time we increase our earning power per unit time. However — pay attention to the prevailing job market as well — in some cases employers will justify hiring entry level degrees over masters or doctorate degrees if they feel they can save more money by training a person.
Understand that wealthy people leverage time to keep their resources and to build their resources. Money compounded over TIME builds wealth; at some point the capital is enough to remain untouched while interests build and compounds over time (then the investor lives off this dividend or interest, leaving the capital as their golden goose to keep laying dividend eggs).
Entrepreneurs outsource and delegate and hire, so that other people do certain tasks to free up entrepreneurs’ TIME for the most important priorities. One of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs like myself face, is our capacity to delegate and whether we have the capital to maximize usage of our time. If we don’t have the capital to hire or outsource, we end up doing everything ourselves, thereby burning ourselves out.
If you are an entrepreneur and you appear to be less and less time-effective (productive), usually this is a good indicator that you need to bite the bullet and outsource some tasks that do not absolutely require your insight and talent. Get a virtual assistant or hire someone else to administer your website or find a person to code while you work on building strategy and investment capital.
Understand that being smart means you know how to use time efficiently, and being wise means you know what is supposed to be the most important use of your time: the most important relationships in your life, and the time you invest in yourself / personal growth.