A key feature of many of my blog posts is financial education. A lot of people’s interest in personal finance starts from making mistakes. Many want to stop others making the same mistakes they did and pass on the knowledge they have learnt to others. I’m sure lots of you have financial tips for your younger self you wish you’d benefitted from.
But, one good thing about finances, is it’s never too late to change your habits. Making changes, however big or small, at any age can offer you greater financial security and independence.
Knowing, there are so many people with unique and varied experiences, I have asked fellow bloggers to share lessons they have learnt on the theme of ‘financial tips for your younger self’. Everyone’s story is different, so it’s important to look at different perspectives and see how others manage their money and reach their own goals.
Hopefully, the financial tips for your younger self in this post will help you and you will benefit from the personal finance experts’ wisdom. Lots of these tips are really straight forward and easy to follow, but could significantly improve your financial affairs.
Look for the one or two big things in your life that will drastically improve your finances. Frugality is great, but it’s not going to move the needle long term. My strategy is to look for one big opportunity to really make your finances work for you.
In my case, I had an opportunity to turn one property I owned into two. By taking advantage of the property price uptrend, I sold our residential property to unlock liquidity and then purchased two properties together with my wife.
The second investment property was bought tenanted, so it paid for itself immediately. Over the course of the mortgage, we would have got a property using other people’s money to pay for it. It can then be used to fund our retirement.
I wish I knew the importance of tax-advantaged accounts. In the US these might be 401ks, HSAs or IRAs, while, in the UK, ISAs are very tax efficient.
So many people start with taxable accounts but they should be maxing out their tax-free accounts before they start investing outside of them. The tax benefits and tax-free growth is amazing.
In the US, using a 401k or Traditional IRA, you get the tax benefits now as you pay lower taxes today and get tax-free growth for the rest of your life until you need to take the money out upon retirement.
Since you have better control of your income, and because of our marginal tax rates, you may pay less in taxes than you saved in the beginning. If you think your taxes will be higher then a Roth IRA allows you to pay taxes now, get tax free growth and pay no taxes upon taking it out.
An HSA is even better as you get a tax benefit(along with paying less in FICA if taken out through your check), tax-free growth and you can take it out tax-free if used for health expenses.
For UK-based readers, ISAs work on a similar premise. You can save, or invest, up to £20,000 a year tax free.
The best part about this is you can mix and match these guys to tailor a tax-advantaged strategy. It’s really amazing and maxing out tax-advantaged accounts before investing in taxable makes so much sense.
The top financial tip I wish I knew when I was younger is to not research EVERY purchase decision, no matter the size of the savings.
Big savings are worth the price comparisons. Once you get into buying your first car insurance policy, or contents insurance while renting, it’s worth spending an hour (once a year!) to knock off hundreds potentially.
I was so excited to save money, that I would shop around for every little thing. As life raced by, I realised I’m better off using as much of that time as possible to generate income instead of saving 10p on a one-off purchase!
I still believe that frugality is a path to home ownership and financial freedom if that’s your goal. But, we should also be frugal with our time.
My ‘financial tip for your younger self’ is to be more aware of the power of investing when you’re young. Investing in your 20s has a greater long-term impact than investing in your 40s or 50s.
This is due to the power of compound interest. Described by Albert Einstein as the eighth wonder of the world, compound interest means that the first £1 you save will make you the most money.
For example: If you invested £100, growing by four percent each year you would have £480.10 after 40 years. However, if you only invested the £100 for 10 years, you would have just £148.02.
I wished I had realised that money is all about your habits rather than your financial knowledge. Most people struggle with money as they developed poor money habits as they were growing up, e.g. just spending all the money they received.
I wasn’t a saver growing up. Like so many others, I spent what I earned (no matter how much I earned). I was lucky that I did realize that I needed to change my habits and started to save at least 10 percent of all the money I received when I was in my late 20’s.
I just wished I had formed the habit of not spending all my money earlier. With the power of compound interest, I’d be a lot wealthier than I am today. This is why I now focus so much of my time trying to help parents teach their kids about money.
I want the next generation to form the habit of saving before they form the habit of spending all their money.
If you found this post interesting, please like it and share across social media or send it to your friends. I’d also love to hear your thoughts and experiences, so please leave a comment! Do you have any financial tips for your younger self you wish you’d benefitted from? Also, please get in touch if you’d like to be included in a future post. I’d love to hear from as many different points of view as possible!