Personal Finance

Your Advice to Your Younger Self

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Last updated on July 23, 2019 Comments: 6

The two winners of the free copies of Cash, Cars, & College, by Janine Bolon were informed last night. If you entered the contest, check your email to see if you’ve won.

In order to enter the contest, I asked that commenters provide some financial advice they’d give their teenage self if they were able to travel back in time, a la Back to the Future. If only we really could travel through time and meet our younger selves. There were a number of great answers to the question, and here are a selected few.

Brett McKay has some baseball card advice. (I was a collector like millions in the late 1980s and I just handed off a large collection of excellent-condition Mets cards to my girlfriend, who is a big fan.) Here’s his advice:

I would tell my 13 year old self that baseball cards are not an investment. Sure, that Ken Griffey Jr. Fleer Ultra insert card is worth $40 in 1994, but in a few years it will be worth a dollar because a) the baseball card market will be oversaturated and b) Ken Griffey will be injured, traded to the Reds, and won’t be hitting very many homeruns. Instead of forking over $4 for a pack of cards, take that money and put it in a savings account… If you’re going to collect cards, just do it for fun.

Moms are always right. Archie shares:

I would tell her to listen closely to her parents about everything. My Mom passed away 4 years ago and there are too many days to count when I look up heavenwards and shake a fist, muttering angrily, “Ok, ok, I get it. YOU were right, I was wrong…” I would try to explain just how beautiful it is to buy your sister a $1,000 wedding gift out of money that was completely earned by you.

Fabulously Broke:

I’d say, “Self, you’re only 13 right now. But in a couple of years when you get your first job, cherish it. Do the right thing, and save 10% of all that you make, start a small retirement account or else you’ll be kicking yourself in the bum when you’re 24.

“Above all, Self, do NOT under ANY circumstances, waste it on your Current Boyfriend. Because you’ll meet Husband in about 3 more years. Save your money for him because he’s worth every penny.

“Lastly, Self, learn about the power of compounding interest, and use it to your advantage, because when you finally move out, 6 years later, and start really living on your own with no help from your parents who gambled away your entire educational savings, you’re going to be thrilled to bits to have your savings see you through the very hard times that are coming your way.”

There are so many good answers, and I really want to highlight as many as possible. Here’s Turtle64:

I would express the importance of a strong work ethic. So much is given to our children they may not grasp the importance of hard work. There is no free ride but work hard and perseverance will take you far. Don’t take everything that comes to you when you are 13 and carefree for granted. Learn to do without, and for God’s sake, read, read, read.

Dani from Living Behind the Curve:

Your dad is a great guy (you’ll realize that in about 10 years), but his views on money aren’t. Focus on doing what makes you happy, and not on material things and wealth.

Article comments

Anonymous says:

I would say to my 13-year old self:

“Billy, do the things, boy! Take action and achieve your goals. Your ideas are great, do not wait for someone else to make them true!”

Anonymous says:

I would say – have fun and do whatever the heck you want to do. Don’t try to please others so much.

Anonymous says:

Mine would be
“Study now and party later. You could party now, but then you won’t be able to enjoy life, while if you study now, you’ll be able to party like a king later in your life.”