Financial advice you wish you’d known younger

Hindsight is 20/20, and this is no more evident than in our money regrets and the ways we wish we’d planned differently when young.

Receiving investment advice from your future self isn’t yet a possibility (fingers crossed for the invention of that magic, Back To The Future moment any day now), but it is possible to learn from those who have been in your shoes before. We spoke to three professionals to find out what they’d tell their 20-something selves about money.

Susan, 43, Social Worker – “Take an interest in your super!”

“The main thing I wish I could tell my 20-year-old self is to take an interest in my super,” Susan says. “I know that young people hear this time and time again, but it really is never too soon. After taking some time off from my career to spend time at home with my children, I was out of the workforce for around five years, and worked part-time for a while after that. As a result, my super was kind of all over the place. Going through a divorce made me sit up and take notice of my super, and really get serious about making it work for me. I have it sorted now, but I would definitely be in a much better position if I’d just learned more about prioritising my savings for the future.”

Tony, 49, Account Manager – “Rent where you can afford, buy where you want to live.”

“I was never too interested in building my wealth until well into my 30s,” shares Tony. “Once I got serious about buying my own home, I realised just how much better off I would have been if I had made smarter choices, particularly about where I lived, when I was younger. I left home when I was 18 and moved straight into a trendy beachside suburb where rent (and everything else) was at a premium. As a result when I bought my first home, the only place I could afford to buy was on the outskirts of the city, away from the beach. In hindsight, I wish I could tell my younger self to suck it up for a few years and live in the sticks for a while so that when the time came to buy my own place I’d have enough saved to buy where I wanted to live, instead of where I could afford. Really, it’s about making sacrifices in the short- term to save for what you want in the future instead of living beyond your means.”

Maree, 37, Psychologist – “Don’t lose control of your credit cards.”

“I took a gap year as soon as I graduated from university, which was wonderful. While I was travelling and having a ball I racked up quite the bill on my credit card. When I got back and took a while to find work, the credit card was my only option, and of course I used it because to my 21-year-old self it seemed like free money. I didn’t realise how much interest I was paying until it was too late, and all I could manage was to pay off the minimum amount each month. I spent most of my 20s and early 30s (nearly 15 years) in a lot of debt, which restricted a lot of my plans including travel, putting down some financial security, and my desire to have a big wedding when I met the man of my dreams! I’m on track now, but it was an expensive lesson. There’s nothing wrong with credit cards, but you have to use them wisely.”


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