1996. That was quite a year.
It was the year that Dolly the Sheep was born; my favourite Dr Who, Jon Pertwee left us (I prefer to think he regenerated); and the Spice Girls arrived like a force of nature.
Where did those 20 years go?
1996 was also the year that I began a new career in Financial Services and so, for me, 2016 is a reasonably large milestone in my life in the world of savings.
Having a few years under my belt, I was asked recently ‘what’s the best piece of advice you could give your younger self?’ It’s a great question and it really got me thinking, not least of all because I have a 14 year old son and I find myself imparting more and more dad-wisdom nowadays, everything from: ‘Always ask nicely’ to ‘Brush your teeth before you put on your tie’
When it comes to money though, there’s one piece of advice that I try to drum into him at every opportunity: Don’t buy things you don’t need, with money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t like. That’s certainly something I’ve lived by, and it’s led me to think about other money-related things I’d like to have known 20 or 30 years ago:
- When it comes to work, do something you love. Don’t worry about the money…that will follow. And if it doesn’t, at least you’re doing something you love.
- No matter how little, start saving and investing early, do it every month and don’t stop doing it. Ever.
- Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses...they’re trying to keep up with someone too (it may even be you!).
- Don’t miss out on the trip of a lifetime. It may seem expensive today but the memories will last forever.
- Impulse-buying can be an expensive habit. Break the habit. If you think you need something, wait 48 hours before buying it. You’ll be surprised how many times you don’t go back to make the purchase.
- If you do nothing else, have an emergency fund. Squirrel it away and don’t even think about it. One day you might be very glad you did. Hopefully though, you never will.
If you’re lucky enough to be in your 20s and think some of these can be useful to you, then great…why learn the hard way! Why not benefit from the mistakes of those who have a chronological head start on you. If you’re a little older and, like me, you’re able to look back 20 or 30 years, then don’t forget that you can’t change the past but you can take your combined experiences and learnings and apply them today, tomorrow and next week so that hopefully they can bring you a brighter future.