Ever wish you could go back in time and give your younger self some advice? Not changes you could make from last week like not eating that entire cake yourself. But rather changes that if implemented at a considerably early stage in your adult life, would see you reaping benefits beyond your imagination? Areas of concern for some people would be to make better lifestyle choices; not succumbing to peer pressure or following a passion instead of pursuing a degree forced upon them being their parents. But what about wise financial choices? It is no a secret that many young people are struggling to get a handle on their finances. Student debt, credit card bills and unwise loans can leave us in a proverbial financial abyss before we even reach thirty. We’re sure that is not the kind of situation you would want to find yourself in but what steps can be taken to prevent or correct this? What choices can be made early on to ensure you have a life of fulfillment and success? Here are 20 financial tips to follow before it is too late.
1) Take bigger risks
I know you’re thinking….”wait, what? I’m trying to make better, safer choices, not the complete opposite.” And that may be true but now is the time to make your mistakes. Don’t play it safe when you are young. Don’t stress the small things, don’t be afraid of failure. The good news is is that even if things don’t work out the way you want them to, you have all the time now to come up with plan B, C, D and E. What’s the point in waiting until you are older when life comes at you full force (mortgage, kids, bills). Life isn’t going to go easy on you as you get older so now is the opportune time to try something new, travel the world, invent something, start a business. You don’t want to be old with a trunk full of “shoulda, coulda, woulda & quot;. There’s nothing worse than looking back on your life with regret. So take the plunge….you might surprise yourself.
2) Invest in yourself more
The single best investment you can make is in your own mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. The younger you begin to do this, the more benefits you will reap. If you can chart your career path at an early age, you have more time to benefit from it. This not only applies to formal education and degrees but investing in yourself includes anything that leads to your betterment. For example, reading, online courses, certifications and personal development programs. You are your best asset. You becomes more valuable the more youninvest in yourself. It is suggested that one should learn a skill before one needs a skill. This is invaluable advice. No one wants to be stuck on a lonely road with a flat tire and not know how to change it. Consider doing online courses in areas of interest. You should also keep an open mind and explore new avenues and useful skills.
3) Develop the habit of saving/investing
Get into the habit of saving or investing your money, even if it is just few dollars each week. The amount you save is not important but rather it is the habit of saving and investing that you are trying to develop. Having learned this skill early on, as you get older and earn more money, it will already be second nature to you. There are many apps on the market now that make it easier to save and even invest small amounts of money. Try these out and begin getting into new, positive habits. Remember, you don’t have to start out with a small fortune. Why not invest 10% of your income as a starting point.
4) Get money smart
There are countless people who would admit they don’t have a clue when it comes to managing their finances. People tend to struggle financially because they make uninformed choices. You don’t need an entire university degree in financial management to make good financial decisions but simply reading a book, listening to a podcast or audio book or taking a short course may lead you to success. Gaining financial knowledge and confidence will help you go a long way.
5) Do not take on debt for school
This may be a bit controversial as some experts encourage us to do whatever it takes to get a degree, including taking on large amounts of debt but there are smarter ways to achieve your academic goals. Consider attending a two-year college before going to a university. This can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in your lifetime and you will still graduate with a four-year degree. Part- time employment while studying is also a good option to consider. This will allow you to cover some of your expenses without taking out a loan. Persons who have successful implemented this option have found that they achieved better grades and were more focused and disciplined.
6) Move to opportunity
Moving to opportunity is different from moving for opportunity. The latter suggests that the individual already has a job or a position awaiting you. Moving towards opportunity, however, simply means being in the right place at the right time; being in a place where opportunity exists. We must admit that there are some geographical locations where opportunities are hard to come by. We wait and we struggle, hoping that something would open up that suits you perfectly. But it is advisable to be flexible; consider moving to a new city where ideas, jobs and opportunities flourish. Just because you’ve lived all your life in one place, doesn’t mean you have to stay there.
7) Keep your core expenses low
Despite that dream job or grand promotion, try to keep your fixed expenses low. We know that that shiny, new, expensive gadget or car may be beckoning to you but don’t even think about it. Living in your parents basement may not be ideal and you may be tempted to find your own apartment but try hanging in there for a little longer. Month to month expenses are better than fixed, long term commitments. You want to be as financially flexible as you can but let’s face it, that is almost impossible with car payments and an apartment lease. You may find yourself without the freedom to make career enhancing decisions such as taking an unpaid internship at a new company that better suits you. Instead you will be forced to continue at the job you quite possibly hate with no opportunities for upward mobility. Now is the time when you are young to be as flexible as possible. Don’t saddle yourself with too many responsibilities early on.
8) Be more thoughtful about your life goals
If you ask many young college aged people, some of them are clueless as to what they want to do with their life. Some of them have very few life goals and the ones that do, have no idea how to achieve them. We need to begin being less passive and reactionary but rather put deep thought into our future. What is it you want to accomplish? What do you want from your life? What steps must you take to get you there? Think about the tough questions and come up with answers. Chances are they will change as your life progresses. Take charge of your own life and do not settle to be a pawn in someone else’s.
9) Be obsessed with growth
Each new day is an opportunity for you to be a better version of yourself than the day before. Seize this opportunity, seize the day! Be relentless about learning, experiencing and improving yourself. Let go of passivity and leap into action. Set priorities for yourself, try new things, face your fears and put 100% of your effort towards your own personal growth.
10) Forget about balance
Another controversial notion is that of maintaining balance. In everyday life, this is ideal. Create a schedule where you allot time to important tasks, prioritizing as you go. But when you have a new idea or project you are about to undertake, balance is not the greatest idea. Instead, put all your time and energy into achieving significant headway into the task at hand. Sometimes this will require you to neglect other aspects of your life such as social engagements until your project is complete but you will be grateful you did so. You could inform your friends and family that you are about to take on an important project and as such your time will be limited. They will understand. Just make sure to make any time you do have with your love ones count. Remember, this is just a temporary period. Buckle down and get the task done. You will find that you are more effective in completing whatever you set out to do.
11) Always be creating
Creativity is one of the keys to success. Think about some of the most successful people in the world. How did they achieve that success? By creating something- a business, a product, art, a cause. Look at Mark Zuckerberg. He saw a need and created Facebook to meet that need. Now he is one of the richest men in the United States. You may not create the next Facebook (or maybe you will) but your idea has potential. Start a blog, a YouTube channel, create videos, get into painting, develop your passion for poetry and become a songwriter….there are endless possibilities. It doesn’t really matter what you create, just create something. Focusing on your passion will rejuvenate your life and give you a reason to get out of bed. In the end, this passion could quite possibly turn into the next big thing.
12) Use your other 8 hours wisely.
It is said that you work for eight hours, sleep for eight hours and you have eight hours left. Why not use the remaining eight hours to your benefit? After work and before you go to bed, focus your energy on growth, exercise, networking and improving your life. Invest this time wisely in things and in people that will aid you in achieving self-fulfilment. Learn a new skill or perhaps a new language. Don’t fall into the trap of creating a situation where you are forced to use your spare time rectifying that situation. For instance, don’t rush to purchase a new, more expensive car and be forced to take on a second job just to cover its payments. This time could be better used on improving yourself for the long term.
13) Upgrade your friends
You may be reading this one with a bit of caution and a slightly critical stare but hear us out. You need to add new energy to your circle of friends. We're not saying all of your current friends are problem-causing but it is often the case that some friends (bless their hearts) tend to suck your energy and your valuable time without adding anything positive to your self-improving efforts. You need people around you who will uplift you, feed you positive energy, support your goals and go beyond the call to ensure than you are the best version of yourself. Unfortunately, this can also apply to family members. We're not saying disown your family but ensure that you surround yourself with goal-oriented people, from whom you can literally feel the energy and momentum to be the best you can be.
14) Focus on your health and energy
There will come a time when you regret the poor health choices you made at younger age. Eating takeout every night, sitting on the couch playing video games for hours without any breaks for exercise, smoking cigarettes even though you have seen all the warnings. When you are young is the perfect time to develop good health habits. Develop an exercise regimen, play close attention to what you consume, including your alcohol intake. As you get older, health issues will inevitably arise and it is important to start taking good care of yourself when you have the energy to do so. Health scares in later life (and in young adult life too because let’s face it, too many young people are battling dire health problems) can put a wrench in any progress towards success that you may have. Give yourself a better chance of getting through life without any real major health concern.
15) Stand out at work
Try to give 100% at work at all times. Don’t blend in but in everything try to stand out. This may require you to make bold choices, volunteer when no one else wants to and give it your all. You may think the playing it safe is the less risky approach but rather, in the long term, it may result in your being overlooked. Make your voice heard even if you are shaking in your boots. Offer suggestions and act like you have a full grasp on things. Never be of the “this isn’t my company, I just work here" mentality. Instead develop an ownership mentality that will make you stand out from the crowd. Don’t worry if your current boss takes no notice and you don’t get the recognition you deserve immediately. Your reputation will precede you and you will reap the benefits with time.
16) Change the way you think about your age
Age insecurity is a real thing. You think you are to young or too old to make a difference. Don’t let insecurity hold you back from achieving. Many persons started successful companies in their college dorm rooms while others, like Oprah, went through a number of dead end jobs and rejections before seeing success. Don’t limit yourself because of your age.
17) Focus on your strengths
Try not to do to many things at once. If you try to be good at everything, there is an possibility you might succeed but often times success requires you to be exceptional, not just good. If you focus on too many things, it is unlike that you will perfect any one thing. First, identify the thing that your are remarkable at. What is it you do than is done effortlessly? Once you have identified this area, focus your energy on it. This doesn’t mean you should neglect your weaknesses. Rather continue to develop and improve them but it is that one thing where you already have an edge, in which you want to invest heavily.
18) Take responsibility for everything
This may be a hard pill to swallow but once you get a handle on this, you will be much better off. No one else is responsible for what happens to you. Don’t blame your parents, don’t blame your teachers, don’t blame the bad economy, don’t blame your boss! You are in charge of your life and once you shift your thinking, good things will begin to happen. Once you accept that you are responsible for your setbacks, you empower yourself to fix them. You don’t have to rely on anyone else or seek permission to make improvements. True acceptance will unleash a whole new world for you. No more blame. No more excuses. Just complete and utter acceptance and empowerment.
19) Become aware of what drives you
What is the one word that defines you? That may be a difficult question to answer but we all have that one thing that pushes us to achieve. Gaining a better understanding of who you are and what drives you will undoubtedly help you build the life and business that you desire. Take the time to look deep within and identify your core value; what is important to you? Don’t be distracted by the opinions of others nor by trying to attend to the wishes and demands. Focus on you and your inner drive.
20) Buy, invest, and create assets
Sadly, in our ignorance, we tend to believe that dollars earned through backbreaking work is the true sign of our wealth. We rush to the bank on payday to deposit each paycheck and pray that with time we can accumulate some kind of savings. We couldn’t be more wrong, however. If you were to talk to some of the most affluent men and women in society, you will realise that their wealth is generated by owning assets. Assets can be owned in many different ways. You can create them by starting a company, writing a song, producing a movie, or inventing a product. Don’t worry if you aren’t in a place to start something new right now. Even if you have a job you can get into asset ownership. This can be done by purchasing stocks, owning apartment buildings and municipal bonds. Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t making a whole lot of money. Whatever your income, you should get into the habit of converting it into assets. Bonus tip: Remember to have fun Life is too short to be consumed by financial exploits. Before you know it, your 20s, 30s and 40s will be gone. Don’t set yourself up to look back with regrets. Yes, it is important to work hard, save, invest and grow but make sure you are having fun too.