What I would tell my 25-year old self about life

General Finance

What if you were asked a question like this: “Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your 25-year old self about life?” How would you answer that question?

Be honest, now. This might be a more difficult question to answer than you might think.

I was asked that question, and my immediate answer involved the tried-and-true mundane advice about saving money, building a foundation for wealth, focus on retirement, yada yada yada.

That advice is all well and good, but here’s the thing: You’re talking to a 25-year-old. What mid-20s guy or gal wants to hear advice about saving money? Going further, how many do you think would actually care?

What I would tell my 25-year-old self about life

I took another stab at this question. About 10 years ago, I went through life as a mid-20s dude working in information technology and earning good money.

I know how I was like back then. If someone told me to save more money, I would have told them to shove it.

Here’s how I’d respond to that question…like, honestly.

“Get it out of your system while you’re young”

The more I think about the question that one of my readers asked, the more I come back to an answer very different than the one I immediately thought about.

Yes, saving a bunch of money early in your career is good. Of course, starting a 401k is essential.

Let’s be straight: I could tell myself to save money until I’m blue in the face, but it probably wouldn’t have stopped my 25-year old self from living exactly the way I did.

Heck, I just started to make some serious money. Finally, I’m an adult and capable of choosing my own direction in life. I’m the one going to work every day, and if I want to waste some money on stupid stuff, I’m damn well going to make it happen. And, I did.

Just let me have a little fun…while I’m still young. I bought a Corvette within months of scoring my first job. I went out to eat with my roommate for lunch and dinner every day. I spent money on the things I wanted to spend it on, just because I could. At the time, I thought that crap made me happy. And hey, I was 25-years old.

And so, screw it – maybe that’s the true answer to this question. We are going to make mistakes. And, the earlier in our lives that we make them, the more time we have to take corrective action and right the ship.

Live large, have fun, do stupid things. Then, revise your life.

The real answer to this question is simple: “Live like a king. Spend money. Eat crap. Do it, enjoy it and get it out of your system“. Then, start living like you won’t live forever.

My mistakes make me appreciate better choices

Let’s continue the honesty for a minute. I don’t know if I would be quite as undeniably happy with the choices that my wife and I are making in life if I hadn’t lived like a wasteful dude in a previous life.

After all, I know what going out to eat all the time is like – I felt the 50-pounds being added to my waistline (which I have taken back off!), too. I know what driving the fastest and loudest car in town feels like.

I remember dropping $225 for a pair of Oakley shades without blinking an eye. I’ve systematically cheated my budget so I could buy more things.

I know what being an irresponsible, resource-hogging putz is like. Been there, done that and have the t-shirt.

I know what I’m missing, and I don’t want it back. But, I’m glad I know. My previous mistakes never tempt me to make them again. Once is good, thanks.

With that experience, I can make better choices for my future. My mistakes have allowed me to recognize the things that no longer bring me happiness. I understand that sports cars, home ownership, and restaurant eating are expensive as hell. I realize that stealing from my budget ultimately hurts ME. I know these things because I’ve done them.

I’m thankful for those mistakes. If I didn’t make those mistakes then, I could be making them now. Then, early retirement would be nowhere in sight, and that’s a sad thought. Ultimately, we don’t learn from winning. We learn by losing.

And I’ve learned quite a bit.

Last modified: December 2, 2018

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