Whether it’s hard-earned or inherited, money has the power to change the course of one’s life significantly. Hence, it is important that everyone starts inculcating healthy financial and spending habits from a young age. As an adult, we face the perpetual dilemma of using our money wisely daily, but most of us forget that what we’ve learned in our childhood or adolescence impacts our decisions significantly.

Remember when you were young and received your first pre-approved offer from a credit card company? The offer seemed too-good-to-let go and you instantly agreed to get a new card, even though you didn’t require one. While you may not have spent a lot using that card, but it surely left you with some pretty important lessons about debt. I say this from personal experience because not using my credit card carefully and accumulating avoidable debts are the two things that I deeply regret doing.

A healthy financial life begins with effective money management skills. Apart from creating a budget and sticking to it, many other financial practices can alter the course of your life drastically.

There are many strong pieces of financial advice that I wish my younger self knew before it was too late.

10 Financial Advice Tips To My Younger Self

  1. Contribute towards your retirement fund
  2. Get life insurance when you are still young
  3. Make an effort to learn about investments
  4. Don’t spend money on frivolous things
  5. Focus on your strengths
  6. Don’t use too many credit cards
  7. Spend money on experiences
  8. Save for rainy days
  9. Build your contacts and career network
  10. Learn about the stock market

If I had the chance to go back and tell my younger self about the nuances of finance management, here is what I would advice.

  1. Contribute towards your retirement fund

The first and foremost point is planning for retirement. The sooner you start a retirement plan, the more benefits you are likely to enjoy later. It is vital to contribute as much as possible towards your retirement plan and begin as soon as you start earning. This will help you build a big corpus for your golden years, and you’ll be able to live worry-free. Most of us start understanding and fretting about our retirement funds when we reach our mid-thirties or early forties; however, it is best to start investing in your retirement fund in your twenties due to the power of compounding. Look at this as a dependable way to remain financially independent for your entire life.

  1. Get life insurance when you are still young

Getting a good life insurance plan can help you deal with unexpected emergencies or losses financially. A survey found out that nearly 65% of 18 to 29-year-olds don’t have life insurance and almost 71% said that they didn’t need it because they were healthy and young.

As we grow older, we start understanding the need for an effective life insurance and medical plan; however, if we get life insurance when we are still in our twenties, the premiums will be much cheaper. Now in my late thirties, I have to pay much higher premiums towards my life insurance policy. What’s more, if you have a policy with a high value, you can use your life insurance policy to take a loan

  1. Make an effort to learn about investments

It is crucial to learn about investing your money in the most beneficial avenues in order to get good returns. To get started, you can keep money in your bank account and keep earning interest on it. However, to get higher returns, you need to learn about investing your wealth outside your bank account as well. It is essential to understand the various schemes available for investment, such as mutual funds, provident funds, taxable bonds, etc., and invest in one of them to gain benefits. The earlier you start investing, the higher the returns you will get.

  1. Don’t spend money on frivolous things

I started spending on avoidable goods and products almost as soon as I started earning money. At that time, my mindset was that contributing a small amount towards my PF and having some savings in my bank account could help me sail through my life comfortably.

But, as I got older, I realised that it is more important to focus on savings rather than spending. I realised that the expensive clothes, trendy shoes, and other such materialistic things were lying in my closet didn’t add any value to my financial situation and actually ended up becoming a reminder of my poor choices. If I had a chance to advise my younger self, I’d have encouraged myself to stop overspending on the things I didn’t want. I would instead have put my hard-earned money into an investment account and preferred to live a minimalist life

  1. Focus on your strengths

Understand your strengths and weaknesses and take a career path that you love; this is yet another vital piece of advice that I’d pass on to my younger self. From a very young age, we were told that if at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again. However, I would advise my younger self to focus on the strengths rather than trying at something I know I don’t like.

Typically, our parents decide a career path for us, one that they find economically most viable. As a result, we end up with a degree we don’t like or a job that gives us no satisfaction. We also tend to take high loans that take forever when it comes to paying back. So, it is essential to start focusing on your career goals from the beginning to enjoy work while earning money.

  1. Don’t use too many credit cards

Using a credit card or two is much fun until you get the bills! Credit cards, if not used sensibly, could land you in unnecessary debt really quickly. To my younger self, I would advise to stay away from credit cards as much as possible and rely more on your savings and earnings. While getting those free credit card offers, the banks and companies fail to mention the repercussions of missing even a single payment EMI.  

  1. Spend money on experiences

Memories and experiences are priceless, and I’d urge my younger self to spend more on unique experiences rather than on buying tangible things. It’s important to spend your hard-earned money on experiences as they delight your senses while enhancing your personality.

Years from now, the excitement of buying the latest model of your favourite tech product will wear off, but the solo trip you took to Europe will stay with you forever. Earning experiencing is an excellent way to enrich your life and a great way to truly invest the money on yourself.

  1. Save for rainy days

Emergencies, education, cars, homes, getting fired, of course, retirement – all of them require you to have enough funds in your account at all times. When I was younger, I wish someone had told me to save for rainy days.

If we start saving in our twenties, our money could grow exponentially due to the effect of compounding. Build a monthly savings goal and add any extra amount that you earn towards your savings or rainy-day fund. Start saving a little part of your income as you begin and increase the amount steadily over the years.

  1. Know that buying a home is not for everyone

All of us dream of buying a home with high ceilings, white picket fences, a lush garden, and other such amazing decors. While buying a house seems like an obvious idea for a bucket list, it is not the most feasible dream to achieve in today’s expensive economy.

Buying a home for yourself is one of the biggest financial decisions that you make, and it is important to understand that it carries a huge amount of debt as well as monthly EMIs, which last for several years. Buying a house is not always the wisest investment decision and could eat up a lot of your income and savings. Renting an apartment is usually much cheaper, especially in the early years of your life. It is best to save up money over time and then invest in a house. 

  1. Build your contacts and career network

Choosing to volunteer for a charity or a non-profit organisation, would have allowed me to build my network much earlier in my career. While volunteering, you meet several people who help you in your career growth. It’s like building an extra set of professional ‘friends’ who can give you advice or vouch for you, as well as give you additional job opportunities as they grow in their career.

It is hard to visualise this when you are just starting out; however, the potential benefits of volunteering are immense. Building a social network can have far-reaching financial and general benefits, even if they are not in terms of new career opportunities, etc. but also in the form of the right advice, which can help you grow.

  1. Learn about the stock market

I want to advise my younger self to invest in the stock market despite hating numbers and statistics. Investing in the stock market can get you handsome returns if done over a long period of time. Investing in a monthly SIP helps you build a financial portfolio and get good returns on investments as well. Systematic investments in the stock market can reap excellent returns, which are much higher than anywhere else. So, don’t be scared to learn about the stock market.

If you are still young and retirement is far, you must start practicing the tips mentioned above, and if you are someone who has just realised that they need to put their finances in order, you should know that there’s no age to start practicing financial prudence.

As a rule, everyone must start teaching their kids early to handle their finances. Teach them shopping etiquette in order to keep them from turning into impulse shoppers. Other than this, let them manage their finances, even if it means handling their pocket money, from a ripe age. Do not forget to lead by example and make purchases after thoroughly researching the product, analysing its need in your life. 

Handling finances by creating a budget, depositing money into savings, and reducing impulse purchases seem like a burden when we are young. When I was younger, I made many financial decisions without fully understanding the implications.

Over the years, I have learned so much on my financial journey. Each experience has been an important lesson that has led me to make better money decisions. From cutting back on luxury items to spending more on experiences and saving a big chunk from my income every month; I practice these financial mantras as much as I can. If you were to give your younger self financial advice and tips, what would you say?