Tell me what the next step of my life should be.

Here’s some background information: I am 24 years old and I still live with my parents. They opened a business a few years ago that I help them with. I’m filling in until they can hire a real employee. Because of this, they are not charging me any rent. (I’ve been assured by my father that I have no need to feel like a leech because I’ve helped so much with the business that I earn my room and board. I still feel like a bit of a leech, though.)

My problem is this: I’m in almost the exact same position that I was in 6 years ago after I graduated high school. I have some money saved up, and I have more stuff, but other than that nothing has changed for me. I have not gone to college or taken any steps to really get my life started. I am stuck in a rut and I need to get out of it.

I see two vague paths that I can take and both have their appeal. The first path is the adventurous one. I’d love to travel around the country (America.) Just pack some camping equipment, buy a used car, and see what there is to see. The second path is more sensible. I would work to buy a house and become financially stable so that I retire or semi-retire by the time I’m 50. I saw what my parents went through opening their business and I don’t want to be in the same position they were in. I do not want to turn 40 and say to myself, “Boy, I really should have started planning 20 years ago.”

My question is, “What should I do?” My main goal, the goal before all others, is to be able to move out of my parents house by the time they don’t need me anymore. How do I realize this? The plan after high school was to take a year off and do absolutely nothing because I was burned out. (I wasn’t a fan of high school.) Then, I was to take advantage of my living situation which was, and still is, this: no room and board and plenty of free time during the day. This is great opportunity to get my life together with little of the financial struggle that so many others have to endure and so far I have wasted it.

For some reason I’m averse to college but I’m not sure why. I’m not dead set against it, but it doesn’t appeal to me. I was interested in photography in high school but I don’t know if I’d like to make a career out of it. I heard that it is a very competitive field and I don’t have the passion for it that would be necessary to struggle. I have been thinking about getting involved in real estate because I’ve heard that there is good money to be made, but the money is the only reason. I don’t even know specifically what kind of real estate I would work in.

So what do I do? Any advice would be appreciated.

I don’t know what you should do long term. Thinking about it puts you ahead of many. I do have a couple of suggestions for short term. Firstly, it might make you feel better if you had a more formal arrangement with your parents. Make it clear that you know they love you, etc, but you do want to stand on your own two feet. Ask to pay a fair rent and get a fair wage. It should make you feel more independant.

If you want to travel America, and think you have the money, I say do it. If you were just going to bum around, then sure, getting a career would be the immediate priority. But ask yourself, when you’re 40, will you regret a year (or a couple of months) spent like that? I bet not.

After that? College isn’t for everyone, but it is often a lot of fun and helps with a career. Don’t do it ‘just because’ but do look at the pros. Try to figure out why you don’t want to – it might be a good reason, or it might be a misaprehension. Careerwise? I don’t know. You’re thinking along the right lines, I hope you find something you want to do. Is there anything your experience with your parents would help with?

Travel for a couple of months.

It will be the best, eye opening experience of human nature and learning so much about yourself that working and job stuff can never teach you as easily.

You have the rest of your life to do the sensible thing with getting a great job, getting a house and all of that Why rush into the soul sucking world of reality. Delay it as much as possibly, I say.

Don’t worry about finding the job. It will find you, sometimes not at first, but down the road.

You are young and have no roots (children, responsibilities). Just make sure you have some kind of insurance (health and car) in case of the worst case scenario.

Go with the wind, my fine young friend. Feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair on your terms: free and unfettered. Not between 12:30 and 1:00 while rushing out to get a coffee.

Go, my young friend and live while you can.

Have fun.

Someone has to say it…

Stop mooching off your parents and enter the “real world”.

You’re 24. You have not gone to college. Your work experience is limited. And your goals are “to buy a house and become financially stable so that [you can] retire or semi-retire by the time [you are] 50”?

You better get movin’, and quick!

Decide what you want to do with your life. Pick a career path. Develop the skills necessary to enter the workforce. Then cross your fingers and pray. You will be competing for limited jobs with people who have 10x the experience you have.

Good luck!

I agree with Shade - talk to your parents about a wage and rent agreement. Save some money (a decent chunk, say $2000, if you can). Dump that savings into some kind of short term bond or CD and forget about it. Meanwhile, you’ve also set aside some travelin’ money, right? :dubious:

Then take the ‘travelin money’ you’ve saved up besides that nest egg and hit the road for a while. If possible, find a buddy to come along for the trip - you’ll feel safer and not quite so lonely on those late lonely nights in the middle of nowhere.

I recommend a van rather than a car, because when you can’t find a campsite and it’s late and raining it’s a hell of a lot more comfortable sleeping in a van…

But go out and do it - you’re at the only point in your life where it’s truly simple to get out there and just see the world and experience things outside your world. You’ll never again be able to get out there so simply and easily.

I concur with Shade and Shirley, as long as you are with the parents, formalize the agreement. The experience alone is worth it, the negotiation will be educational, and you will both come to learn how to set values upon yourself, which will be necessary for you later.

But, do both of you a favor: keep it in “credits” with only overages in “real money.” You’ll both save, tax-wise. That is, you work “X” hours for “Y” dollars per hour. Subtract “Z” for room and board, leaving you with any excess in cash, promised future cash credit, or whatever.

And, if you are going to travel, do it now! You are at the perfect age, and you can get to know other parts of the country, other types of people, etc. A year on the road is equal to three years of college, as far as I am concerned.

And, don’t look for a profession, find something to love. Experiment with things, photography, whatever, and find out what you love to do (maybe selling real estate is something you’ll love to do?) and put your heart and soul into it, when you find it, when you are ready. And don’t let other people discourage you because “it’s impractical” or whatever. Find a living you can love.

Good luck!

You have some good advice from the others, but I too vote for travel.

The reason is that you seem to have limited scope right now and travel of any kind will broaden your vision. You will see new things, meet new people and start to form some ideas about how others live and how you want to live. Maybe you will then go back home with a new enthusiasm for the family business - maybe you will find an amazing opportunity where you would least expect to find one.

That is the joy of travel - you never know what is around the bend.

Personally, I would take the extra leap and go travel in Europe. The culture shock is bone shattering, but really puts your current way of life into perspective. Travel through the USA can also be quite an adventure, but sadly, it can also turn into one Burger King after another, between trips from one Motel 6 to the next.

You are doing this at the right time…24 is a good age to get out and see what you might be missing. You don’t say what part of the country you are in, but you should at least head for someplace as different from home as possible.

You can always go back home, work and save and buy a house. But you won’t ever have another chance to up and go and see the world while you are young.

Do what Shirley Ujest said.


Thanks for the replies everyone!

If I was working full time and was making a lot of money I would do that, but right now I’m working part time and I’m not rolling in dough. I do pay for my own food, though.

I go back and forth about agreeing with this. Sometimes I feel like I am mooching but then other times I don’t. The thing is, while we are past the point of thinking we should call it quits, it’s not quite a success yet. My father needs an assistant and can’t really afford to hire a professional one full time. It’s difficult with the both of us working and would be too much work for him to do by himself. Also, while I don’t hate working there I don’t enjoy it. I’m making a sacrifice by working there. A small sacrifice, to be sure, but still… So I feel that I am pulling my weight. Then the pendulum swings and I feel like a leech again.

Not career-wise. I don’t want to be in this profession. Too stressful.
(I’m deliberately avoiding saying what the business is out of respect for my parents’ privacy. I don’t want to be blabbing private details on the internet and have it come back and bite me on the ass.)

This is my problem exactly. I can’t see what the next step is. That’s all I want. I don’t expect, or even desire, a life plan. I just need to get my ass in gear and do something. I’m terrified of turning thirty without having done anything. Trying and failing doesn’t scare me. Failing to get off of my butt does.

So, let’s say that it will be a year to before I’m ready to hit the road. I figure it will take that long to get a savings nest egg and a travel nest egg together (I do have about $4000 saved already). A year should be enough time for either the business to really get established or for me to say “Look guys, it’s time for me to move on.” What do I do in the meantime? Do I just save up some money and do nothing else or do I look into some college classes to prepare for after The Journey? Any basic job skills I should have before entering the workforce or are those the things one learns at an entry-level job? I feel so stupid not knowing that already. I bought a typing teacher program for the computer that should get my typing skills past fast hunting an pecking.

Since you don’t have a career in mind, I’d recommend you seek some sort of career counseling. You’re going to have to work for a living, so you might as well get some input into what suits you best. At 24, even if you’re helping your parents part time, you should still be working another job. You haven’t mentioned whether you are. And if you’re ready to leave the nest, your father can always hire a part-time employee to cover what you were doing. Right now you’re treading water. It’s time to start swimming.

My advice? Take a while to travel. With $4K you should be able to go quite a while on that if you live cheap, camp, etc. Be ready when you’re done to pick up the harness and go to work. You’re an adult - that means eventually supporting yourself. Find where your aptitude lies, find a part of the country you like (nothing says you have to settle back into your home town, although you can do that, too) and make your way in the world. Perhaps what you end up being interested in as a career will require extra education, perhaps it won’t. To my mind it doesn’t make sense to go to college without a plan, especially at your age. I’m not knocking being in your mid-20’s and in college, but since your fellow students will be a good bit younger for the most part, I don’t expect you’ll want to do the “get drunk every night and stagger into class” routine. You’re hopefully more mature than that.

You can’t reach your goals until you know what they are. Figure that out and you’ve made your first step.


Well, at 24, if you ask me, you are too late in deciding you are going to be a rock star/movie star/formula one driver or something of that ilk that will earn you million of dollars and assure a comfortable or etravagant lifestyle in the future. Hell, I don’t even know if that is within your “value system”.

All I will add is that being involved with a family business, from the ground up, is not at all a bad thing. Your parents are not going to live forever, and it would be a shame for all thier hard work to start a business go down the drain after they retire/die.

Why not embrace the opportunity they have have given you? Learn all you can, contribute and foster the business they have started? One day, you will find yourself working for yourself and that sure as hell beats working for anyone else.

Here is my story (shortend, thankfully):

Dad owned investemt, rental property. He was a master at buying/renting. Never really taught me shit about it (although, I was still kinda “green” and going to school during the prime). I got plenty of “real world” experiance in the day-to-day operations, but really wish I got schooled in the “real world” financial end. He is dead now, and although I reap huge rewards from his hard work, his knowledge is lost to the world. and continueing his legacy is a struggle and I worry that his “empire” will fade and disappear. I worry that his grandson may actually have to “find a job”! :eek: (over my corpse!)

In short- there is nothing wrong with the family business. Its made many a family successful. Think Rockefeller, DuPont, Morgan, Carnegie, Kennedy etc. At the age of 40, you could claim to have nearly 20 year experiance.

(but if I was you, I’d travel! :smiley: See what a slacker I really am?)