Ask the Readers: What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

By Ashley Jacobs on 20 September 2016 43 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Chris, Gina, and Karen for winning this week's contest!

You've probably gotten a lot of tips, suggestions, and guidance from other people throughout your life — but only you know what is best for you...or what would've been best for you if someone had given you the right advice (and you actually followed it).

What advice would you give your younger self, and at what age? Are there certain things that you wish you had done differently? Are there any "mistakes" that you're glad you made?

Tell us what advice you would give your younger self and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Jenny D

We bought our house when we were in our early 30's. I wish we would have known more about our rights as new homeowners. The previous owner not only failed to report serious issues in the disclosure, she also acted to cover up septic issues. We found out later that every time she had a showing she was calling one local company to empty the tank (she gave us the name of the other company for when we'd need service). She did more to cover up the issues and it took us time to discover what she'd done and fix it. We didn't know that we could have sued her for this until many years later.

Guest's picture

I would tell my younger self not to cash out retirement accounts in the hopes of paying off credit card debt. The debt never got paid off completely, and now I'm woefully behind in retirement savings. That money could have stayed put. It's my biggest financial regret.

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Karen Patterson

Always spend less than you earn.

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Mitchell Goldstein

Don't be in such a hurry to grow up. Take advantage of every opportunity while you have no commitments because there is rarely a later. Consider any mistakes that you make the cost of learning and do it while the risks are low.

Guest's picture

At junior high/high school age: you love math and there's something called an actuary that uses it. Check it out!

Guest's picture

Go to college !

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I would tell myself to save as much money as possible

Guest's picture

Can't enter the drawing because not US resident, but I'd like to share my advice: learn how to negotiate. The Camp negotiation system changed my life, alas, a bit late. I would have met Jim Camp in my 20s instead of my 40s.

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I would have told myself not to buy during the real estate market bubble.

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Julie Wood

I took out a high interest loan, and it took me years to pay it back. Never again!

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Monique Hubert

I would tell my younger self not to be afraid to try new things and take chances, even to fail multiple times. Youth is very forgiving and gives you many opportunities to start over and try again.

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Watch your spending and start saving for retirement now.

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I would tell my younger self to attend an in-state school. I would also tell myself to stay at a good paying job with benefits no matter how much I hated it and to never take withdrawals from retirement accounts.

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Wait to get married until your late 20's (at earliest)!

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Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

To my younger self: try harder to push your family to do the right thing earlier. Enabling an adult is not support, and the longer it goes on, the less likely it is you'll break free. If you succeed, and if you are willing to save yourself a little sooner than later, it's possible things might turn out better than they did.

Guest's picture

I would go back 25 years and teach myself how to avoid debt. I think that has been a huge downfall in our financial life. I'd go back 25 years because that's right before I got married. We'll have been married 25 years in November.

Guest's picture

Find something you're passionate about and figure out how to make a living doing it.

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Ernest S.

I wish I had told myself to focus on what I want to do in life rather than what everyone else wants me to do. I think I wasted years trying to make a career fulfilling. It's hard making the transition now that I have more expenses and commitments in my life.

Guest's picture

I would tell myself 2 things: DO NOT GO INTO DEBT and save for retirement earlier! If only I had not accumulated $35K in debt and not started retirement savings until I was 35, things might look a little rosier now. For sure, the debt caused a lot of worry and grief and sleepless nights and I would not wish that on anyone.

Guest's picture

I would have learned faster from my mistakes instead of being stubborn and thinking I knew all there was to know.

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Deb Coy

At age 13 we moved from the city to the country. I was devastated! But in the end, change was good for me. I would say take a chance don't do what you always do, be different and wait to see what happens.

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Michelle D.

Be more persistent! Don't give up on things!

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Don't let credit card debt pile up and save, save, save!

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Do not touch the money in your 401K accounts, not even to use a down payment on a house.

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I wish I'd asked for more financial advice and information from my parents when I was young and making mistakes with my credit that affected me for years. My mom was an accountant and assumed I knew better than I did. I didn't admit how little I understood and messed up big time!

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Donna D

Save for retirement as early as possible. Also cook at home more often, big savings with this one.

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Tasha S.

I would tell my younger self, be confident and read more books during summer and winter breaks!

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Mary W

I wish my younger self would have listened to older wiser people. I would have told younger me to practice patience. Learn to be calm and less impulsive. And stay away from all those boys! The right will find you - and did.

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Fritz @ The Retirement Manifesto

Spend Less Than You Earn, And Do It For A Long Time.

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start investing a lot sooner.

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Tracy Hirsch

I would tell myself not to sweat the small stuff, stop cleaning, and enjoy the time with my daughter more.

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Susan P.

I would tell my younger self to start saving earlier.

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Pam Ricks

I wish I had told my younger self to not lose contact with my old friends.

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I would say save the money you made from your after school jobs and summer jobs. You will need that money to start an independent adult life for yourself .

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Rebecca Ross

Put all your extra money towards paying off school loans!!!

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I would tell myself to take some different classes in college - or don't take out loans for the ones that were just for fun and not career.

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Start saving now!!! I mean there really is no early time to start building a savings account.

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To start investing early !

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I would tell myself to not rush. Looking back, I was in such a hurry that I didn't experience things fully. Now I try to be present and really take my time.

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C hui

I would have told myself not to waste so much money.

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When I was in my 20's, I would have told myself to lay off being so many tech items! I don't need a new iPod when my current one is still working just fine. I should have put the money aside!

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Don't buy the kids so many toys - save the money instead! Really, most of that stuff just cluttered the house and then was sold at yard sales. What a nice little investment account and cleaner house we would have now if I had only known how unimportant that junk was. Still dealing with the kiddie stuff and wishing I had started investing sooner.

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I would tell my younger self to stop impulse buying.

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amanda sakovitz

I would tell myself to avoid debt. If you can't afford to buy something with cash then you probably shouldn't be buying it at all.

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I would have told myself to travel more.

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Julie Lundstrom

I would tell myself to start putting some money now for retiring later.

Guest's picture

I would teach my younger self how to budget.

Things like 28% on housing or 4% of housing cost per year for household repairs are not concepts I was familiar with. These days I am playing catch up because I didn't realize banks will let you borrow way more than it is wise to.

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I would have told my younger self to have studied abroad.

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i would tell my younger self to stop saving money for the sake of saving money. enjoy life even if it means to save a little less

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I would remind my younger self to save money from every paycheck, do some research and learn to negotiate on big purchases.

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Ashley P.

I wish I had told my younger self not to put everything on my credit card!

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I'd tell my younger self to hang in there because it will get better. Oh, and to save as much money as possible because you're going to need it!

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Miss Kim

I would have told myself to have taken better care of my teeth. I wish I didn't have so many cavities and crowns because a little bit of prevention would have saved a lot of money and pain!

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Happy Love

You have more discretionary income than you realize. Spend and save it wisely.

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Michael K.

I wish that when I was younger I would have focused on one thing and became successful at it instead of being all over the place and not really becoming good at anything

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I would have told my younger self to not spend money on things that don't last like clothes. I wasted a lot of money on clothes

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Ana Lee

I would have told myself not to worry about what others think. In the long run most of those people whose opinions you worry about won't even be around you so who cares

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I would tell myself to travel as much as I could, but never going into debt to do it! Save money and don't buy it unless you can already pay for it. (Has worked wonders in our life, it's exactly what I tell my kids!)

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I wish I hadn't been in such a hurry to grow up.

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Thomas Murphy

do better in school.