A Financial Letter to My Twenty-something Self

Dear Greg,

You are only in your early twenties, the perfect time to receive this letter from your future self. As with most twenty-somethings, you are being pulled in every direction and receiving advice that is difficult to assess and apply at that age because you don’t know the changes that lay ahead for you, and the dramatic turns your life will take. I’ll leave those out of this letter for you to discover on your own. I will however, try to make your life better from a financial standpoint. I hope that this letter across time can save you some financial headaches.

The first thing I want to say is congrats on knowing from an early age that you should participate in whatever retirement plan your employer offers. That will be one of your smart moves! That said, you should tighten the belt at a younger age and save more. By doing so, you will make your mid-life career change easier and more secure.

Your other smart move was paying for your college as you could afford it. Yes, it delayed you from earning your degree along with your peer group, but it freed you from the burden of student debt. Taking your time allowed you the luxury to fully appreciate the sense of accomplishment and pride when you earned first your Associate of Arts degree and later your Bachelor of Arts.

Now, a few warnings to make your financial life better.  Just because you can qualify for a lot of credit cards, doesn’t mean you need to qualify for a lot of credit cards. This is a lesson that you will learn the hard way but it will be invaluable. It seems fun buying all those baubles at first, but really, the newness fades and you’re left struggling to repay. This steals two resources from your future self – time and money.  Buying on credit because you can is just not worth it. Also, when every person, newspaper, magazine, and other media outlet is hyping the glories of real estate – wait! Don’t buy the hype and you’ll be much happier. You’ll learn the meaning of the term ‘bubble’ on a very personal and stressful level.

That’s about it. I want to leave everything else for you to discover along the way. You’ll be amazed at the talents you develop in language, culture, travel and eventually, finance! Yes, you!!!  These early financial faux pas will actually set you on your chosen career path. So remember, save more – lots more, like at minimum 15% (more if you can) of your income from EVERY job you ever have from the time you start working. Avoid credit for credit’s sake and remember to use consumer credit sparingly. Relax when it comes to your education, as you’ll discover that education is lifelong and you’ll be happy that you achieve your goals without all the student loan debt. Skip the real estate bubble; you’ll be wealthier in the long run and have much less stress.  Oh, and you’ll realize being married is the best decision you ever made!


What would your financial letter from your future self to your younger self contain? We may not be able to turn back time, but we can make wiser decisions every day. As an independent Certified Financial Planner™, I can help you create a new plan, work on a course correction and set a timeline and put that plan into action. #talktometuesday #budget #Hireaplanner #spendingmap #savings #cash #debt #retirement #invest