I have very few regrets in life. In fact, I believe the things that happen to us happen for a reason, and life just sort of works out according to God’s plan. However, there are a few things I’d tell my younger self:
- Life is short and fragile. Don’t hold back love. Have you ever missed the opportunity to show your appreciation to someone who has had a big impact in your life? I have and it devastated me when this person passed away. I never got a chance to repay this person’s kindness let alone say a proper ‘thank you’.
- Start investing in your 401k plan no matter how small the amount and no matter how much debt you have. A little goes a long way and compound interest will eventually kick in especially since time is on youth’s side. Unfortunately when I graduated college, the Great Recession hit a year later, which wiped out half of my 401k. It did eventually rebound 5 years later but left a very sour taste in my mouth.
- Build up an emergency savings account that can last a few months should a job loss happen. Ideally have a 6 month buffer. In my field, it was super hard getting a job during the Great Recession. No one was hiring and there were stories of people borrowing from their 401k to make ends meet.
- Don’t keep up with the Jones’. Forget FOMO. Forget ‘Treat yo self”. If I could do a few things over again, I wouldn’t spend $2,000 on a wedding dress because, at the time, I wanted to experience saying ‘yes to the dress’. I would tell my then boyfriend now husband to go with a modest diamond size because now I feel obnoxious when I wear my ring to work and realize I have the biggest diamond. Of course next to my friends I don’t, but that’s FOMO for you. Lastly, I would not have bought a timeshare. I mean I’m glad we have it. It’s paid off, but really, we could do without it.
- Don’t stay in a dead end job because you’re comfortable and think it’s stable. Get out. Passion, drive, and sheer motivation in what you want to do coupled with the right boss will propel you upwards. It may take awhile to find this combo, but with patience, it’s out there.
- You may feel poor now, but you won’t be later on. Life will get easier. In my college years and during my early twenties, I felt so poor in context to my friends. At the time, I felt hopeless because they had their parents pay for everything like a new car, vacations, and rent. Versus me, I had to pay for everything myself with a student loan burden, and a 10 year old car ready to croak. But with grit and determination I’m now debt free, and am at a point where I can start investing. Life really does get better after debt.
I hope some of you younger readers find this useful. Definitely take it into consideration when thinking about your own future and know that it does get better with the right financial choices.