Things I Would Tell my Younger Self [5 Pieces of Advice]

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the millennial money woman blog post "5 things i would tell my younger self"

5 Things I would tell my Younger Self

Advice to my Younger Self:

  • Make sure you start the networking game early and be consistent
  • Time is something that any young investor (in theory) has on their side
  • To become smarter, learn from those who are more knowledgeable than you
  • If you are young then pursue your dreams without hesitation or second thought
the millennial money woman blog post "5 pieces of advice to my younger self"

The other day I was leafing through some old photo albums of mine. 

Yes, I was reminiscing about the old times, back when I was a young kid in middle school and high school with absolutely no worries other than trying to ace the next exam. 

Back then I didn’t worry about anything. And I didn’t worry about finances either.

"I wish I knew more back then so that I could have started earlier on my path toward financial freedom."

But let’s take a step back here: sometimes you don’t know what to ask. 

And that holds true for me back when I was in middle and high school. 

I didn’t know what to ask about money so I didn’t have the opportunity to learn about money. 

Had I known what to ask, such as:

  • How much should I be investing
  • Should I contribute to a Roth IRA
  • How much should I be saving on a regular basis
  • What’s the difference between Roth and Traditional
  • Should I apply for subsidized rather than unsubsidized student loans

Then I may have been much further ahead, financially speaking, than I am at present.

So, what advice would I give to my younger self?

Check it out below!


1. Network, Network, Network

Growing up, I was a kid who 
loved studying. 

I know – you must be shaking your head at this point, right? 

Who loves studying? You’re reading her blog article. It was me.

Even during my college years, all I did was: 

  • Stick my nose into the college books 
  • Score the highest grades possible
  • Study as much as possible

But, I missed out on one very important aspect that I wish I knew back when I was 20. 

I wish I took the time to connect with:

  • More people my age
  • More business owners or affiliates

And, I also wish I took the time to get to know my professors more.

"Had I known how important networking is, I think I would have been much, much further ahead of the game compared to where I am now."

That’s mainly because when you are at college, you literally are given networking opportunities each and every day.

Make sure you start the networking game early and be consistent. 

That means, email your network for: 

  • New Year’s day
  • Birthdays
  • Holidays
  • Etc. 

Stay in touch because you never know when you will need them.

If you’re looking to learn things you wouldn’t normally learn in the classroom then check out Mindvalley.

Mindvalley has thousands of courses from the world’s best teachers including mastering authentic networking.

invest early

2. Invest Every Cent – as Early as you can

I was a saver – I’ll give you that.

However, here’s the tricky part: I also was not an investor. 

I was simply a saver. 

So, I let inflation eat away at my money’s buying power every year that it was neatly tucked away in my wallet (or in this case, my bank account).

Just basically “set it and forget it.”

Although I did have the discipline to save money that I received for holidays or birthdays, I unfortunately did not have the discipline to invest my money straight away.

If you haven’t started your investing journey yet then it’s time to check out M1 Finance.

"The younger you are, the better off you will be when it comes to investing your money in the stock market."

The reasoning here is that if the stock market does crash, then you have time on your side to make up for any stock market losses. 

Time is something that any young investor (in theory) has on their side. 

That’s why it is typically advised for young investors to be more aggressive with their stock allocation.

(In other words, put more money toward stocks because you’ll likely see a higher return down the road). 

roth ira

3. Open up a Roth IRA ASAP

I started my first job when I was 18 years old. It was not a bad job – it was a paid internship at a venture capital firm right outside of Boston. 

It was a small company, but had some of the greatest minds working around me.

"Even though I didn’t earn much during those months, you guessed it, I saved every single cent I earned during the time I spent working at that venture capital firm."

Now, as I said before, I never spent a dime of what I earned (because I was still living with my parents and they decided they liked me so they allowed me to stay at their place for free before I headed off to college). 

However, I also never invested what I earned. 

So, if I could talk to my 18-year-old self in this case, I would say open a Roth IRA as soon as possible.

The benefit here is this, let’s say you: 

  • Opened up a Roth IRA (after-tax money)
  • Your Roth IRA contributions have grown to $1,500,000  

That means the $1,500,000 is all yours – nothing will be going toward taxes.

On the other hand, let’s say you had:

  • Opened up a Traditional IRA (pre-tax money)
  • Your Traditional IRA account has grown to $1,500,000

That means the $1,500,000 is NOT all yours – a part of it will go to Uncle Sam in the form of taxes.

If you’re interested in opening a Roth IRA then check out M1 Finance.

The investment platform with M1 Finance has a smart design that makes investing easier for all investors.

dont be afraid to be the dumbest person in the room

4. Don’t be Afraid to be the Dumbest Person in the Room

I always enjoyed being the person that others looked up to when in a group of people. 

I don’t know why, but I liked it. 

Then again, who wouldn’t want to be the expert in a topic or area?

Well, my world was revolutionized when I started my first paid internship at that venture capital firm.

"Many of the partners had founded major international companies or had sold previous ventures worth more than $500 million. I mean jaw-dropping."

I was uncomfortable being around these accomplished people because I thought they would think much less of me. 

And truth be told, I thought less of me. 

However, I soon learned that is NOT the case.

During another paid internship in Chicago, I learned a very valuable life lesson from a CEO who led a national company: Always be the dumbest person in the room.

"Listen to what your smarter and more knowledgeable peers say. Learn from them."

Although this CEO sat at the head of a multi-million-dollar American company, he considered himself to be the dumbest person in the room. 

And yet, he led the team of Harvard and Princeton graduates. 

That’s humility and that changed my world.

shoot for the moon

5. Shoot for the Moon, Even if you Miss, you’ll Land Among the Stars

One of the last things I wish I could change is the amount of risk I took (or didn’t take in this case) in my late teens and early twenties.

I realize now that you can afford to take more risk when you are younger because you have the time to recoup any mistakes. 

For example, if you decide to: 

  • Quit your job
  • Commit 100% to a new business
  • Live at your parents’ home until this business takes off 

Then you can likely have more success following this vision if you are younger than if you are older.

"The same goes for investing – the younger you are, the more aggressive you can afford to be and invest in stocks over other, more conservative investment vehicles (such as bonds)."

Similar reasoning goes for this: if you do see an economic collapse with your stocks, then you still have 40+ years to recover from any possible losses because you have time on your side.

Time is arguably the only limited resource on this earth. 

The younger you are, the more time you (in theory) have so make use of that time and don’t waste it.

Closing Thoughts

So let’s turn the tables and ask you the same question: 

What advice would you give your 20 year old self?

(This is assuming of course you are older than 20. If you are 20 or younger, then give your 12-year-old or 15-year-old some advice). 

List 4 or 5 pieces of advice you would give to your young self – just like I did.

Well, guess what?

"Now is the time to start with your pieces of advice! It’s never too late, and today is the best day to begin."

That’s right. That was the whole point of this blog post – starting now. 

Reflect back on your years and consider what you could have done to improve yourself. 

Now actually do those things.

Good luck!

If you could go back in time to your 20-year-old self, what advice would you give yourself?

Fiona Smith
Fiona Smith
Fiona Smith is the founder of The Millennial Money Woman. She holds her Master of Science Degree in Personal Financial Planning, has advised decamillionaires for 6 years in the corporate wealth management sector and has co-founded a local non-profit community teaching financial literacy. She is the author of the personal finance book How to Get Rich from Nothing and her work is featured on Forbes and FinCon.

2 thoughts on “Things I Would Tell my Younger Self [5 Pieces of Advice]”

  1. Absolutely agree that being the ‘dumbest’ in the room is a blessing. So much knowledge and experience to learn from others. We need to learn to not compare ourselves. These are the people you want to network with for sure 😉

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and feedback. It’s certainly difficult to stop comparing oneself with others – but in order to get ahead, the only person you should be comparing yourself against… is you. That’s a valuable life lesson I picked up.

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