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What I Wish I Knew In My Early 20’s

The other day I was updating my dividend income spreadsheet (what else would I be doing on a beautiful sunny day!) . Since I started focusing more on the dividend being paid rather than the stock price, I find the experience of owning stocks a lot less stressful. Of course, I am still monitoring my individual stocks (yup still have my individual stocks, what can I say, I like to live dangerously!).  Looking at my numbers, I couldn’t help wonder how much better off I would be if I had known about dividend paying stocks in my early 20’s (or my 30’s!). And then I started thinking, what else did I wish I knew in my early 20’s?

What I Wish I Knew In My Early 20’s

Here is my list, in no particular order, of what I wish I knew in my early 20’s:

  1. Don’t procrastinate. You should never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Who knows what your tomorrow will be like!
  2. Set goals. “This one step – choosing a goal and sticking to it – changes everything.” – Scott Reed
  3. Don’t spend more than you make!
  4. Pay yourself first. No matter how small of an amount, start now and keep going.“Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.” – Warren Buffet
  5. Save for emergencies. S**t happens, just be ready.
  6. Bring your lunch to work. You could save thousands per year.
  7. Renting is not always wasting. Buying a house may not be the right decision for you, don’t assume it is. It is seldom a smart investment.
  8. Don’t compare yourself to others, they often only show you what they want you to see.
  9. Read a book about Money and Investing. I wish I knew about dividend paying stocks 30 years ago.
  10. Buy used car. New cars lose an average 15-18% (each year) of their value in the first four years!
  11. Invest in rental properties. I wish I started buying rentals in my 20’s, they would all be paid off by now.
  12. Credit cards are not an extension of you paycheck. If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it
  13. You can reach financial freedom in your 30’s. It’s true! Check how FIRECracker managed to retire at 31  http://www.millennial-revolution.com/about-us/
  14. Follow your dreams. What do you have to lose in your 20’s? If you don’t do it now you may never do it.“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
  15. Travel the world. It is much easier to travel when you don’t have to worry about your career, kids, aging parents or your own health. Do it now!
  16. Keep trying. There is nothing wrong with failure, just see it as an opportunity to get better.“Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” – Robert T. Kiyosaki
  17. Learn other languages. Understanding another language will allow you to learn more about different culture and ways of living, just by being able to communicate with more people
  18. Be happy and thankful for what you have.“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey.
  19. Spend more time with your loved ones now! (Parents, grandparents…). One day they will be gone and you will regret not spending more time with them. You can learn so much from their personal experience and about your family history. You may not care right now but one day, it will matter.
  20. Be kind, ALWAYS.”Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”- Leo Buscaglia

How about you? What do you wish you knew in your early 20’s?

12 thoughts on “What I Wish I Knew In My Early 20’s

  1. Great list! I think persistence is the most important characteristic to have in your early working years. Moving from college into working life is really difficult and can beat you down. Remain consistent and persistent to get through the tough times!

    1. I hear of so many people, old and young, who just give up. If they just stay persistent and try a little longer, they would get there. That is what sets us apart I guess.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I think the biggest thing is realizing that it is possible to retire early. It just takes work and planning. So many people get stuck thinking that they everyone goes through life is the only way!

  3. Good list for sure. 🙂 I wish I’d been more diligent on upping my 401(k) contributions, especially when I first started. I was used to making about $800 a month (in a good month) when I was in college. Suddenly I was bringing home 4x that and instead of putting it into my 401(k) I just did a little more than the match. I think about how much that’d have grown to now and it does make me kind of sad.

    Happy to be where I am, but I could be much farther along if I’d just done that.

  4. Great concept for a post, Caroline!

    I agree with pretty much all your points about what you wished you knew in your 20’s. And I love that pay yourself first quote by Warren Buffet. Personally, I wish I had’ve known about dividend investing when I was between 18 to 22. In all honesty, I probably would’ve avoided going to school altogether and just kept building experience at my employer. Although the job wasn’t all that great, I was already being offered opportunities to move up. Plus, I would have avoided the student loan. I probably would have already been FI if I avoided school and started dividend investing. I also could’ve avoided credit card debt and tried to surround myself with better influences. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. Hi Graham, yes it would have been nice to know all those things in our 20’s. I am not convinced I would have changed as much as I think. When we are young, we don’t always listen! I see it with my own kids now. Thanks for the feedback:)

  5. I really agree with the house observation. Houses are work+expensive liabilities and somedays I wish it was just us renting again without worrying about our aging roof.

    Oh also I’m always failing. Hope that means I’ll be successful..or else I’ll be ticked!

    1. Hi Lily, yes I wish I didn’t rush into buying a house because everybody expected us to. I am making sure not to put the same pressure on my kids (but I may be influencing them to buy rentals instead!).
      Oh and yes you will be successful (I don’t want you to get ticked yet), unless you keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result!:)

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