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June 24, 2008


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Buy a house ASAP. I bought my place when I was 23 and I'm kicking myself for not buying 2 years earlier, when I was laboring under the false impression that I couldn't afford it because I didn't have a big enough down payment.

The 2 years of rent that I paid combined with the the 2 years of lost rental income that I could have had is downright depressing.

1) Avoid debt like the plague.
2) Save your money, you'll need it all someday. Every penny.
3) Be frugal! You don't need that TV...
4) "Here's how compounding interest works, this is how much money you'll have in 10,20,40 years if you start now."
5) If you want to be rich, educate yourself.

In this situation, I would have to go back to when I got my first job at the age of 11 in a five and dime (I'm probably dating myself with that). I made $20 per week and blew every penny of it. My advice to myself would be to stop blowing it and SAVE SAVE SAVE. I'm really having a difficult time saving even now, but I am getting better.

Join the military, maybe the Marines. Get your ass kicked and learn some discipline. THEN go to college with some mental toughness already on board instead of going to college before growing up.

Would've taken about the same amount of time, would've been in better shape physically, could've taken advantage of the GI Bill to pay for college, and could've gotten better grades and a better job coming out of college.

Me to the old me: Stay away from credit cards while you're in college. I know you think you "need" those new clothes or to go out every weekend with your friends, but starting your working life with that debt is going to set you back at least a few years while you work to pay those debts down when you could have been saving & investing. Oh, and don't take that first's not going to work out.

1. Make sure you get into the right career path - what you want to do may not be the best path for you.

2. Don't accept credit cards under any circumstances - pay cash for everything, and if you have to work extra to have "stuff" then do so.

3. Save, but don't just throw something into your bank's savings account and be satisfied with a few hundred dollars sitting there. Learn about the stock market, IRAs and mutual funds, and how compound interest can work for you. Work for, and save, enough money to provide for a comfortable retirement in your 60s or 70s.

4. DON'T trust that Social Security will provide for you when you are older!!!!

5. DON'T get into debt unless it's a mortgage on your house - and even then, pay it off as quickly as you can.

6. Put your trust in the Lord and ask Him to guide you.

I'd tell my younger self to spend more of my college earnings on travel and less on sitting around eating long lunches in the college canteen. I'd also tell her to open investment accounts in Ireland prior to moving overseas, as it would have been much less pain in the arse. Other than that, I think younger self did pretty well in balancing enjoyment and investment.

My younger self should have been more focused, even though he did graduate from college in 4.5 years, worked his way through and owed a total of $900 in student loans. Yes, that was a long time ago.

The younger me started an IRA with a bank CD in 1981. He put some in every year for about 5 years, then quit for a long time. In fact he didn't start up again until they created the Roth in the late 90s. He should have continued to save regularly, but he did have a good job with a 403b.

I would tell my younger self NOT to buy that house when he was 24. It tied him down and after expenses didn't even break even after 5 years. It was the worst "investment" of his life and cost him the opportunity to move elsewhere.

This is easy: Invest heavily in the tech sector but make sure to get out around early 2000. Then put all that money into Apple and some upstart called Google. :)

Seriously though, my advice would be the same as yours. Invest early, often, and then don't touch it. I actually got an inheritance of about $10,000 when I was 10. I was smart (for a while) and kept it in my savings account. Unfortunately, when I got to college I started spending this money on various things I don't remember and at the end of 4 years it was pretty much used up. If I only I had thought to invest it for the long-term -- I'd feel a whole lot better about retirement.

I've done pretty well so I've been more lucky than not actually.

But I'd tell a younger version of myself to take some profit off the table after a major windfall. I was 25 when I worked at a telecom start up in the late 90's... saved my money and bought into the company stock program and had a few options... the stock went up 10X from when I joined and my modest stock purchase and options increased to $300K. Not a fortune but a nice sum. What did I do? Rode it all the way back down to $20K. I never went into debt but I left the profit on the table. It was a great lesson. And I'm certain many more lessons are yet to come!


START INVESTING EARLIER!! I started at 25 but am kicking myself for not starting when I was in high school. As soon as my kids can start working for me I'm going to "strongly encourage" them to put at lease 50% of their earnings in a Roth IRA.

Sorry, guys, but I would say this to anyone who is young and staring out, including young myself way, way.. oh- way back.

Don't worry about earning and even saving much... (Not that I did any earning or saving at the time. Hey, I grew up in Russia. We didn't even have investing system as such.)

Now.. back to young people advice. Learn to enjoy every day, learn to find pleasures in simple things that don't require money if you don't have them. And most young people don't. Read, read different things, talk to people, experience things. The more your learn and experience, the more you have a chance to discover your true passion and joy in life. And, since I am old, I can tell you this. Life is dull and can be depressing without a passion. It doesn't make any difference if you have money or don't have money. But if you discover that passion, money will follow most likely...

Don't rush to a college if you are not sure what your passion is. Travel, talk to people, hold a string of random jobs and internships, spend time with people who are interesting to you.

Travel to poor counties or work in your own country with people in need. You will experience a value shift, it will make you more people oriented, less self-indulgent and less money dependent. You will learn to survive, thrive and be happy and content without money.

I was educated as a Medical Doctor in Russia and I love medicine and I am glad I did go to school for that.

But I currently earn money as a balloon artist, not as a doctor. And I have a number of other ways I can earn money if I get bored with being a balloon artist.

I do have a self-employed 401(k) and I do have IRAs. But even if I didn't, I wouldn't worry about my old age income. I know that I don't need a lot of money to be happy and the money I need I always can earn.

My happiness, my freedom to learn and to do anything I want at any given time come first, money earning and saving trail somewhat behind...

This is a great topic. I would congratulate myself for turning 18 and making my first Roth contribution and maxing it every year since. Now at 29 retirement savings of near 100k.

But I could change as I have a history of selling myself short with employment. Don't get too into your comfort zone with a job or place. Despite working my butt off at jobs and having a university degree in computer science I'm disappointed yet unmotivated to switch jobs for income increases. I just received a raise after literally demanding it from the boss and still know my income should and can be substantially higher at different organizations. I'm looking into other possibilities and will make a smart move rather than stay comfortable yet underpaid.

Good thing I'm one of the cheapest, err frugal, individuals on the planet!


This is just a wild comment that if you think about it it would be the greatest gift (besides education) that you can give to your kids.

What if you take the power of compounding interest and make it work for your kids even without they understand english. If you but 2,000 in a retirement fund, with a 6% return, and thinking that your kids would not touch that accout and will continue to put money when they start working, you will help them get about $1.3 million when they are 60 years old.

Of course, by them a million dollars would be two cents, but think about it, by the time they start thinking about saving and investing they would already have something to start with.

I would compliment myself on thrifty habits and encourage myself to save even more... and remind myself that I don't need to upgrade my lifestyle when I (a) start making "real" money and (b) get married. If I could have held myself (and my husband) back in those areas, we'd have no debt now other than our mortgage.

My advice whould be the same as yours, "Start saving and investing earlier".

Once in a lifetime opportunities may come your way. It is important to recognize and seize upon them. Doing what you enjoy and thinking you have a lifetime ahead of you, won't make up for missing them. Time goes by much faster than you think. Your career is not the place to be frugal.

I don't have any financial advice for the younger me. My dad stressed saving and investing when I was growing up. In college, I got a minor in business, and interned for two different corporations for the experience of the non-academic world. By the time I graduated college, I had been reading the for awhile, and was pretty financially savvy. I influenced a lot of my new hire peers to start investing in their 401k right away and get into the employee stock purchase plan.

So what would I tell my younger self? You're doing everything right financially. Keep it up. It will pay off way, way sooner than you realize.

Learn the importance of living below your means (i.e. start saving!) as soon as possible. If you can't do that forget all the investing stuff. I know so many people for whom that still hasn't clicked and it really didn't click for me until I got in my 20's.


Just go to college and get it over with. Start saving (and saving more) in a 401k earlier.

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