Hindsight is 2020, and if I’ve learned anything over the past few years of focusing on my finances it’s that there is always room to be doing more. One of my goals with this blog is to be as transparent as possible, and part of that includes sharing mistakes I’ve made and what I could have done better!
Today I’m going to share 4 lessons I would tell myself at age 20. Even though at that point I was still in college and money was pretty tight, there were definitely areas where I could have established best practices from the get-go, and I would have been seeing the results of them today.
So, if you’re a college student or new grad reading this- take notes!! And if you are in your 20s or 30s, always remember that it is never too late to get started with managing your money. Even if it feels like you’ll never make up for lost time, or never be able to undo the damage that’s been done, you can. And you will, as soon as you start taking action!
4 Money Lessons I’ve Learned
1. Open a high yield savings account
I don’t care who you are or how old you are; OPEN A HIGH YIELD SAVINGS ACCOUNT!! I have an entire blog post detailing high yield accounts, from what they are, how to choose one, and why I love them so much, so check that out here. Long story short, a high yield savings account is an online account where you can earn up to 100x more in interest than a traditional savings account. This basically means your savings are earning money for you behind the scenes, with no risk. The best part? It isn’t too good to be true. This is a great tool for emergency funds or any short-term savings that you don’t want to invest.
2. Be more aggressive contributing to my retirement accounts
I wish I had opened up an IRA when I turned 18, and sadly I didn’t. If you are in college and not working yet, this is your sign to open up an IRA and start contributing now. The reason why is because the earlier you start, the longer your money has to grow due to compound interest. I didn’t start saving for retirement until I started working my first corporate job, and even then I wasn’t maxing it out. It wasn’t until about a year had passed that I realized how necessary it was to contribute as much as possible now, while I could afford it, and while also maximizing the time invested for it to compound.
3. Care more about buying experiences, and less about buying things
I used to spend a lot of my money on stuff. Not even random things, but mostly on clothes or house decor or other items that gave me short-term gratification. Looking back, I wish I had used that money on experiences, like traveling or spending more time doing things with friends. In the past few years, I’ve purged a lot of my materialistic items and now I am focused on living a minimalist lifestyle. I also value quality time a lot more than material items, and that has come glaringly clear as I’ve gotten older. Short-term gratification from purchasing items doesn’t last, and it doesn’t provide any long-term gain in any area of your life.
4. Worry less about what people thought about my frugality
I always used to be so self-conscious of what people thought about how I spent my money. I hated spending money going out and on miscellaneous events that just didn’t serve me. I felt like my friends thought I was cheap, and it influenced how I spent my money with certain people. I regret this so much! It is not important what others think of how you spend your money, and your personal finance journey is personal. We all come from different backgrounds, different financial situations, and have different life goals! I wish I learned this sooner, because it would have saved me both money and anxiety.
Hindsight is everything, and there are so many things I would change about my finances if I had the perspective I have now, 5 years ago. At the end of the day, they are things I cannot change, and I have found peace with that. I know that I am taking all of the necessary steps today to maximize my money and build long-term, sustainable wealth. This gives me confidence going forward that I can make smart decisions on my journey to financial freedom!