A Heartfelt Letter to Younger Me on Money and Life.
I know it’s physically impossible, unless someone invents some time traveling device. (How cool would that be?) But if you could write a letter and deliver it to your younger self, what would you say?
I know hindsight is 20-20, but just think of what you might tell yourself armed with the knowledge of the years.
Here’s my version of a letter to younger me. I addressed it to 21-year-old, just graduated from college, all the naïvety in the world, younger me.
Dear Younger Me,
Congrats on graduating from high school and college. Especially college. That mechanical engineering degree was hard, but you did it. Well done!! Don’t sweat the school you went to. Math is math, and if you know your stuff (which I know you do), you’ll get an opportunity. Just make sure you take advantage of the opportunity when it appears. You may not get another. As a matter of fact, take advantage of any opportunities that come your way. – Good advice for everyone
Once you land that job, that real job, you know, the one where you make grown-up money, don’t be a financial moron. There’s some things you should know about money and life.
Choose your Standard of Living Wisely.
You have this one chance to determine your standard of living, or you could call it your lifestyle. You see, as an engineer you’ll be entering the workforce at a good income. Your salary is high enough that you get to choose, to some extent, how lavish your life will be. But don’t get caught up in the allure of new gadgets like laptops or smartphones.
Sorry, I forgot. You don’t know what a smartphone is – yet. Don’t worry about it. It will only change your life, and not necessarily for the better. All the info you could ever want will be in your pocket accessible at the sound of your voice. I know, I know, it sounds very Star-trek-like. And in a way it is.
But even though information is readily available, relying too much on this device has consequences. So just be careful. You don’t need the newest phone to survive. Actually, just hold on to your flip phone as long as possible. It’ll be better that way.
Anyway, your lifestyle should be comfortable enough to keep you satisfied while still allowing you the flexibility of saving and investing. Because time is the most important factor when it comes to investing. So invest early and often in any retirement plans that are available.
If you can maintain a low enough standard of living, do it! Most don’t have the luxury of choice. Their salary determines their lifestyle. You have the choice to live on less, much less, than you make. Don’t waste the opportunity!!
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Hey, younger me: a few more tidbits of encouragement and wisdom.
Try not to get caught up in the day-to-day issues and problems. Life is long, and there are hopefully many years left. Those small problems, like kids egging your car on Halloween, or someone possibly taking credit for your idea at work, won’t matter much in a few years.
Sure they seem monumental at the time, but try not to let it get to you. It’s just not worth it. Keep your head down, and keep working. Those experiences can be great lessons. And know that everyone has “issues”, but how you handle yours can determine whether you succeed or fail.
And don’t waste your money buying things just to assuage your perceived stress and problems. If you shop to ease your “pain”, you’ll only regret it later. Better to keep your money invested and working for you.
Live, and Enjoy Life
You have a great opportunity that not many ever have. You have disposable income that you can use to invest, but also to have some fun. You’re only young once. Make sure you save some of your money for fun things. Go hiking, and travel. Spend time outside of the house/apartment. You’ll have years to stay home and watch Netflix. Get out, and enjoy life!!
Oh, and remember, kids are great, and they bring so much joy, but they really do limit your freedom. You won’t be able to do the same fun things when you have kids. Some of your money will be spoken for, because the kids will always need something. And when you do get married and have kids – love and enjoy them. And when they do need something, make sure you take care of them.
Take each phase of life, and enjoy it as it comes. Don’t be too quick to move to the next phase. Because you only get one life to live. Make the most of each day as it comes.You only get one life to live. Make the most of each day as it comes. Click To Tweet
I’ll wrap this up, because I know how much you dislike sentimentality. But remember, limit your lifestyle and invest your extra money. Try to strike a balance between saving and having fun. And don’t stress if you make a mistake or two. Everybody screws up at times. Just make sure you learn from it. And finally, live your life, just don’t rush it.
Your wiser, future self.
So what would your letter look like? Are there things you would want to change if you could? You know, most likely, you can change those things now. It’s not a lost cause! You can still turns things around! There’s always hope.
They say, “the best time to change was years ago, and the second best time is now”. So what are you waiting for?
What advice would you have for younger you? (If I get enough great tidbits and advice in the comments, I’ll devote another post to your comments. So . . . )
Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading and sharing.