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20 Things I’d Tell My 20 Year Old Self About Money

September 21, 2015

As I’m steadily approaching 30, it’s fun to look back at all of the financial knowledge I’ve gained over the past few years. If you threw out the words “compounding interest” and “capital gains tax” to me at age 20, my eyes would glaze over. If I could go back, here are 20 things I’d tell 20 year old me about money.

  1. Credit cards aren’t that scary, but debt is terrifying.
  2. I know you hate reading right now, but go read Your Money or Your Life.
  3. Those student loans are a much bigger deal than you think.
  4. The market is going to crash very soon. That’s ok.
  5. You don’t realize it, but you’re living paycheck to paycheck. Stop.
  6. Your girlfriend (now Mrs. Saver) knows what she’s talking about when it comes to money.
  7. You don’t have to wait until you’re 65 to retire.
  8. Ditch that spreadsheet. You Need a Budget.
  9. Those people your age buying new cars and gadgets are probably broke.
  10. Stop playing video games for 10 minutes and figure out how a 401K works.
  11. Yes, taxes are annoying and confusing. That doesn’t really change.
  12. You’ll be moving across the country one day. Here’s what you need to know.
  13. Index Fund. Look it up.
  14. Insurance is a bit confusing for you right now, but you need to get up to speed ASAP.
  15. You should probably start building up that emergency fund. Really. Those new tires aren’t going to pay for themselves.
  16. Speaking of tires, those frequent joyrides are destroying your crappy car.
  17. That electric drum set you have your eye on? Don’t do it!
  18. But don’t be afraid to make mistakes with your money.
  19. If you start saving money now, you’re going to make my life a lot easier 🙂
  20. Save your money, dammit!

What would you tell your 20 year old self about money?

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  • Neil Brooks

    My 20-year-old self needed to hear many of these, and also that it’s okay to spend money to meet needs, because that’s primarily what it’s for. I used to worry when I needed a car repair or health bill, even though I had the money.

    • Save Money, Dammit!

      That’s definitely an important lesson I had to learn. Early into building savings, I cringed when I had to make those necessary purchases, but like you say, it’s perfectly fine buying things in those cases! Being a great saver affords you the ability to not have to worry about having enough to meet your needs.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • DP @ Someday Extraordinary

    I like #2 the best. I really wish I had started reading – I mean, really reading – so much sooner. There’s so much we don’t know and we’ll never be able to experience it all by ourselves. Reading teaches you those lessons by learning from someone else’s mistakes.
    I also like the one about stop playing video games for 10 minutes to learn how a 401k works. I think this applies to everyone and everything – not just 401k’s and 20 year olds. Just turn off the tv for a half hour and research a stock or read some financial blogs, etc. You’d be amazed what you’d learn.

    • Save Money, Dammit!

      Definitely! I never was a huge reader until just the past few years. It’s amazing the amount of knowledge you can gain from just one good personal finance book. And that’s another thing — so many of these concepts just take maybe an hour of your time to really comprehend and take action on. Better late than never I suppose. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • Kurt

    To my 20-yr old self: Passive income is a beautiful thing! 🙂

    • Save Money, Dammit!

      Definitely! I’m pretty sure I had no concept of passive income around age 20. It’s a beautiful thing indeed. Thanks for stopping by and adding a great item to the list!

  • Heather @ Simply Save

    This is a great list! So many of these things I wish I’d known sooner…

    • Save Money, Dammit!

      Thanks! Same here for sure. It’d be great to be able to go back and have this conversation with myself.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Mahmudul Islam

    I would tell my younger self to save money like your ‘tomorrow’ depends on it 🙂

    • Save Money, Dammit!

      Exactly! You can’t go wrong with that advice 🙂