Obama: Personal Finances And The Nation's Finances Aren't So Different

Earlier today, President Obama popped into the White House Personal Finance Online Summit, where our own Meg Marco was in attendance. Speaking to the small group of writers, the president offered up his advice on personal finance.

“Don’t spend all your money,” he joked.

He did share some advice learned from his grandmother, who was one of the first female vice presidents at the Bank of Hawaii: “Save a little bit of whatever your earning and the magic of compounding interest applies.”

The president says he’s “sympathetic” to those coming out of school who are saddled with college loans and other debt. “Michelle and I graduated from law school and our combined debt was $120k,” though he adds, “we went to a good law school so we knew we could earn it.”

Between unemployment, school debt, the housing problem and — for a growing number of people — having to care for elderly parents, the economy can be a “quadruple whammy,” it’s more important than ever that people have “spending discipline.”

And that goes for both your personal finances and the nation as a whole.

“It remains smart to spend on things that will increase productivity and income in the long term,” he explained. “The economy has to get back to producing more and not just spending more.”

He relates the story of his family’s first starter home, a condo that, in spite of the high payments, was still a good investment. “[The] same goes for the nation,” he said, naming education and infrastructure as “sound investments” for the country.

Added Obama, “There is a distinction between spending on things that will increase your productivity and your wealth” and spending on things you merely want.