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Money Lessons I Would Tell My 20 Year Old Self

Money Lessons I Would Tell My 20 Year Old Self

November 09, 2022

Here I am, 34, in a relatively new career, and I feel good. I feel secure. When the "m" word is mentioned, I don't fret. I try my best to embrace the money talk when it comes to my own personal finances. I'm comfortable making decisions around money. I regularly look at my bank account. I know how to change things up in my investments if I need to.

...but this wasn't always the case.

The me from 10 years ago would panic at the thought of an upcoming expense. I had no concept of how a budget works. I cried (often) while trying to make my way through my taxes. Beyond everything else, I ALWAYS tried to do everything on my own and NEVER reached out for guidance. 

Oh, if the me now could talk to the me then...I'd have a lot to say, but here's what I think would've been most beneficial:

Dear 20 Year Old Me,

1.Learn as much as you can about how money works 

There is SO much going on in the world of money, both with personal and professional finance. I spent most of my 20's YOLO-ing my income; I came up  with my own strategies to make sure I could cover my expenses, but it was extremely stressful, and money was NOT a favorite topic of conversation! If I could do that over, I would try my best to learn as much as I could about finance basics - budgeting, how cash flow works, how investments should be chosen, and more. There are SO many available resources, thanks to the World Wide Web. Use them, Young Padawan. You'll thank me later.

2. Start planning for retirement NOW

It took me until my mid-20's to open an IRA for myself. The reason? I didn't know how it worked. In reality, I could've opened one about 8 years earlier than I did (which would put me in a little better position than where I am now). This one sort of ties into the "learn as much as you can" category, but it definitely deserves its own bullet point!

3. Find someone you trust and ask for help if you need it

There were SO many times in my younger years that I was incredibly uncertain of where my finances were. With the way I was raised, my father took care of all things financial in our household, and to this day, I don't think my mom really knows how it all works - she never had to. I relied on other people I was around to handle the "big stuff" until I was on my own, and because of that, I had no clue how to go about handling things for myself. On top of that, I'm INCREDIBLY stubborn, and often times will try to just figure it all out on my own. What I needed was someone who knew what they were doing to help me figure out my own way. 20 year old me - find a buddy you KNOW knows what they're doing. Hang on to said buddy. Ask them to help, NOT do. You can do it.