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Financial Advice to my 20’s self

I have been thinking about the wrong financial turns I have made and if it would have been different if I had had more knowledge.  I have a friend who when her student loan came through, she bought drinks for all her friends for at least a weekend, not thinking that she was spending borrowed money that she would have to pay back with interest. I wonder a couple of decades later, has she paid it off yet?

In college is when most people get their first credit card. I think that they think of it as free money; never about interest rates or how long it will take to pay back the frivolous item they had to have.

I didn’t get my first credit card until I was in my early 20’s, was working and definitely not using it to fund my life.  As I got older living in Manhattan and working in fashion, I started using my evil bit of plastic more and more, it was an accepted way of life. Everyone was doing it which is I guess why there are so many people in trouble now. Reflecting back, I wish someone would have explained the interest rate and illustrated it to me. If I bought something that would take me more than 30 days to pay off, how much it would cost in total.  I am sure if an item is going to take you a year to clear the debt, which means it cost 14%(arbitrary guess) on top of the original price, I would be put off.

Growing up in the 1980’s, we thought there would always be more money to come.  I used to do pretty well as a part time bartender, it seemed like the money just flowed into my hot little hands.  When I was in college, I used to put things on Layaway.  Even some fashion shops in NYC used to let you make a few payment to get those boots you were longing for, then you would work extra hours at your part time job to get them as soon as possible.  These days Layaway is not as prevalent but it is apparently making a comeback. Giving your child a credit card was not the thing in those times and if your folks did give you one it was understood it was only for emergencies.  Clothing was not an emergency.

Are people teaching their children about money in this recession? Should being financially responsible be taught in high school?  I am sure my financial life would have been very different if I had known about the implications of credit cards and borrowing.  What are your thoughts?

3 thoughts on “Financial Advice to my 20’s self”

  1. I think teaching financial planning in schools would be a great idea. It always struck me as odd that Home Economics classes focuses solely on food and never how to actually run a house or your home accounts!

    If I could give my twenties self one bit of advice it would be to save 10% of everything I earned – or even 5% when things were tight. By now I’d have enough to put a bigger deposit down on the next house! However, I’m not much on regrets so at least I’m doing it now!

  2. Thanks so much for commenting. I am hoping when they put Home Economics back in the curriculum in 2010 they will make it broader to encompass money matters. Everyone should learn about credit cards and budgeting for their future as well as their sanity.

  3. We were offered Consumers’ Ed in grade 10. I’m glad I took it, because we were explained to about credit cards, charge cards, interest etc.

    Real life invaded at some point and working as a team really affects what I can do about things in a practical sense.

    However, I can teach my kids the good stuff and hope our bumblings encourage them to be financially frugal!

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