In April, J looked back on who he was at the age of 20 and wrote a list of financial advice he would give to that version of himself today. As I was reading his post, I immediately came up with a few things that would have been on my own list – this post has been sitting in my drafts, ever since.
I may only be 28, but looking back at 20-year-old me, I can hardly believe we’re the same person. I was so… unfocused. I cared about nothing but making money, partying and socializing. Good grades? Meh. Good enough was good for me. Today, I’m the girl who is up before 6am to start her crazy, workaholic routine. I’m a perfectionist – scared to submit any piece of work that isn’t up to my ridiculously high standards – and those are just the changes I’ve made in school/my career. As for my finances back then, I’m sure you can imagine what that looked like.
Here’s a list of 10 things I’d tell my 20-year-old self about money:
10. Your credit card is not a second bank account. I don’t know who taught you otherwise, but plastic isn’t a way to fill in the blanks of your budget – it’s a tool to help you build credit. End of discussion.
9. Also, pay off the balance each month! I don’t know why you think you can get away with only making the minimum payment, but one day it’ll catch up with you, and in the meantime you’re going to waste a ton of money on added interest charges.
8. It’s not a sale if you put it on credit and can’t pay it off. So wipe that smirk off your face, whenever you tell people you got something at 50% off the retail price. It’ll probably take you a year to pay for it, which will erase what you “saved” and potentially leave you paying more.
7. Save 10% of your net income – if not more. Dad has been drilling you with this since you got your first paycheque at the age of 15. He’s not just trying to control what you do with your money – he’s honestly trying to teach you how to save, which will help you in your future!
6. Stop taking money out of savings! Seriously, what are you doing!? You’re never going to save a dime, if you continue to take out that money and blow it on stupid things.
5. You don’t need to buy new books all the time. There is such a thing as going to the library, or at least waiting until you’re done reading all of the books you have before buying more.
4. You also don’t need brand new furniture. Sure, it’s nice to look at… but it’s a luxury. You don’t need to design and furnish your dream apartment. You’re 20 and you live in a dump and that’s ok right now.
3. You’re going to waste a ton of money on partying. I don’t think I can stop you from doing this, but I want you to be aware that paying to drink booze results in you literally pissing your money away.
2. Teach yourself how to budget! Please! Do it now, before it’s too late! It’s not a scary, restrictive or boring tool – it’s the best way to picture your financial future, set goals and go after them.
1. One day, you’re going to write a blog about your personal finances – and maybe even inspire a few people to pay closer attention to theirs. You’ll never believe me, but I promise it’s true. And each new post and comment will inspire you to get better and better at it.
What would you tell your 20-year-old self about money?