We didn’t start to get our finances in order until we were 27 years old! Then, it took us eighteen more months to become debt-free.
Needless to say, I wish that I would’ve learned many, many smart money lessons in my teens and twenties to help my husband and I get out of debt sooner, leverage our biggest wealth building tool our income, and be smarter about managing our money.
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You guys know I am not a fan of debt, so the first money lesson I wish I knew sooner would be that debt is not a tool.
Much like the majority of Americans, I assumed when getting my first credit card at eighteen… I cringe just saying that… that debt was just a part of life.
But considering that personal finance is not taught in school (it wasn’t taught in my high school or college) and the simple fact that we are constantly bombarded with credit card offers and advertising that suggests we can’t live without debt, no wonder so many young people fall into the trap that is credit cards or student loans!
In the same bead of thought, when we start to accrue debt and interest, we are managing many monthly payments, and feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of our debt, we develop this mindset that debt is all there is.
But imagine a world where you take your hard earned money and your biggest wealth building tool, your income, and you leverage that by spending less than you make, budgeting, and saving for big purchases, emergencies, life events, etc.
Debt will keep you tied to lenders for the rest of your life if you let it, and it is not a tool, because by being in mass quantities of debt, you are ridding yourself of the opportunity to make the money you bring into the household work harder for you by way of budgeting, saving, investing, and the like.
Remember, debt is not a tool, and you can live a life without debt!
The second money lesson that I wish I learned in my twenties is that you don’t have to be clueless or stay clueless about money…
Personal finance, financial literacy, and money management is a skill just like many other things that can be developed and learned as long as you make the mindset shift that you are ready to learn about money and get your finances in order.
Again, I was clueless about money, I didn’t have anybody in my life that was speaking about being smart with money, teaching me how to handle money, and I never had questioned the fact that I had no money skills or financial literacy - it wasn’t until we were 27 that we started to challenge this idea.
So, if you are reading this right now, and you feel clueless about money - the first step is simply empowering yourself to learn!
Gain knowledge and insight about personal finance, such as watching the videos I drop right here on my channel, and know that where you are right now with money doesn’t have to be where you end up!
The third lesson I wish I understood in my twenties was that, and I mentioned this a little bit ago, your income is your biggest wealth building tool!
When you live on less than you make, you don’t take on debt, you learn how to budget (at least loosely), and you save for emergencies, big purchases, life event, and the like --- you actually make your income work harder for you than giving it away to lenders and creditors each month in the form of debt and interest.
Or to put it differently, you are taking the money you make each month and investing in yourself and your future by understanding how to use your money to work for you to build wealth, change your financial future, and develop a financial legacy.
The fourth money lesson I wish I would’ve picked up earlier in my life would be that the budget is your friend.
Much like with many, many people, I thought the budget was something complex, complicated, or difficult, but even the simplest budget can keep you on track with knowing where your money is going and how it’s working for you.
Without knowing where your money is going, you may be overexerting your budget leaving nothing left over at the end of the month, putting yourself further into debt, or causing more financial constraints.
In reality, the budget shows you how to leverage your income to make money work harder for you, see where you are overspending, cut back frivolous spending, dedicate towards savings, investing, paying off debt, and getting a broadview of your overall financial state.
No matter your age, income, or how much debt you have - the budget will always be your financial friend!
The fifth money lesson I wish that I would’ve understood earlier is the power of compound interest meaning the use of compound interest overtime when it comes to investing and saving for retirement.
The younger you are, the more earning years you have, right? And the more time you have to allow compound interest to work in your favor.
Here’s what I mean...
Say you are 20 years old and you have nothing in retirement.
But, you want to retire by age 60.
So, you set aside $50 per month for forty years with an average compound interest rate of 12%, meaning that when you get to retirement, you have more than $600,000 set aside for retirement simply for allocating $50 a month to a retirement fund.
Now, obviously you can invest more towards retirement you want! The general rule is 15% of your income is the standard, but this basic example shows how the more time and the earlier you can start investing a bit of your money towards retirement and savings, the more you’ll gain overtime.
This will help you to be able to retire earlier, pay off your house, travel, pay for your kid’s college, meet other financial goals, and the like. Pretty cool, right?
The last money lesson that I wish that I would’ve known earlier on is that you can start saving for your future at any age.
And I talked about this a little bit in terms of investing and compound interest a moment ago, but I also mean that even when you start working at say age sixteen, you can start thinking about saving up for a car, a house, college, retirement -- it’s never too early to set yourself or your family up for financial success!
By truly leveraging saving while living at home and getting out of college with no debt, you are, and I cannot state this enough, completely changing your financial future and trajectory unlike almost 80% of Americans.
So even if you only save a little bit each month, say $20, having money set aside for big purchases or life events will make a massive difference in your financial success in the long term.
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