I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year, and on the forums, there are age group message boards – for the 20-somethings, 30-somethings, 40-somethings, etc. I don’t frequent the 20’s forum because it’s often filled with very young college kids who I feel very distant from, but I popped in and there was a thread asking if anyone was 29. I’m 3 months from that mark, so I checked it out. It was fun to see everyone talking about how college seemed so long ago, and someone started talking about what they would tell their 20-year-old self.
That got me to thinking. What would you tell your ten-years-younger self? There are a whole lot of things I would tell myself during my freshman year of college, and of course, not all of them would relate to money. One of them would probably be “Hey, go talk to those loud girls on the other end of the hallway, because they’re going to be your best friends. Don’t wait til May to be their friend. Do it now. Oh, and ditch the boyfriend now. Trust me.”
But in terms of finances, I was pretty smart ten years ago. Well, I wasn’t dumb at least. I had a credit card, but I always paid it off. That was the smart part. The less smart part was that I wasn’t really saving money. I had a small on-campus job all through college, and for the most part, I spent what I made. That was my fun money. I had a savings account that my parents had set up for me as a child, where I put half of all my birthday and Christmas money, so I thought I was set. I certainly didn’t have any thoughts about retirement. I should have been saving, even just a tenth of what I earned. I would have ended up with a small cushion to get me started when I graduated. It wouldn’t have been much, but something is better than nothing.
What about you? What would you tell your ten-years-younger self? I was in college. Maybe you were in your first job, or well seated in your third job. Maybe you were in your 40’s and maybe you were 10. But what do you wish you knew ten years ago?
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.