What I wish I’d done about money – a short list for my younger selves
Age makes us time travellers in our own bodies. Propelled into the future, we see changes and miracles unfold, events we never could have predicted and circumstances develop that our younger selves couldn’t have anticipated.
The one problem is that we can’t go back in time and tell ourselves how it all worked out. This problem compels us to start dispensing advice to other people, which is a bad habit to fall into, because you’re really just wishing you could kick your own ass into gear. If you’re going to hand out advice anyway, try to remember those people in your own life who quietly shelled out the right words at the right time and changed things for the better. Do your best not to imitate those brash lecturers who thought volume made them sound smarter. Advice is a humble thing because the best stuff comes from our own mistakes.
Talking to my younger self then, what pointers do I have?
To my 7 year old self: just pick one really good candy. I always used to go to the dime store and agonize over which candy I could afford to buy with my allowance. I had a terrible time choosing. I wanted all the candy. That’s still my problem in life, actually. I still want all the candy. Not one at a time, either, but all at once. Here’s how it works kid: Pick one good one instead of 10 of the ones that you can afford but don’t taste that great. Go for quality over quantity and you’ll have something good to remember instead of a childhood full of sugar-jitters and vague dissatisfaction.
To my 13 year old self – learn to ask for more. I wanted to leave home quite young and knew that this was a financial disaster. I started to really think about money a lot then, always making plans of how I could live off weeds and garbage scraps, how to get by when I was homeless and cheap ways to do anything and everything. For some reason, my life tightened up a lot in response to uncertainty. I wish I’d gone big, demanded more, demanded better and not assumed that leaving the life I knew meant fading into oblivion. I wish I’d focused on learning how to be bold as and my boss for a raise, how to hustle and find work that paid well, how to move confidently and aggressively to carve out a place of my own in the world.
To my 20 year old self – remember when you got that scholarship? Remember those really high grades? That 99% percentile test scores? That International Baccalaurate exam where you really did get “E” for Excellent? They were trying to tell you something – you’re really quite smart. And you’re very good at this school thing. You can make a career out of this, you know. What are you waiting for – a freaking certificate? Oh wait, you got one already and you still don’t quite believe it. So, believe it already.
To my 25 year old self – don’t buy the damn house. You’re too young. Go to Europe and find someone who can curl your toes with hot sex by the ocean and write bad poetry that will embarrass you later in life. It’s much better, and much less safer, than the debt you’re saddling yourself with. Your best investment is freeing your mind. Your ex will take half of the house anyway. Oops, did I say too much?
To my 33 year old self – congrats on being self-employed. It’s a step in the right direction. But stop thinking that because writing is free that it’s worthless. Stop putting the things you enjoy on the back burner. You’re still waiting for the world’s approval, kid.
To my current self – I still can’t see the future. Heck, the waters get murky when you just try to see clearly into the present. I think I will print out my list from my past and read it over in bed tonight. Dream something big.