We often hear the question “What would you tell your younger self if you had the chance?” It’s always followed up with a bit of knowledge gained from the learning experiences that time has given us.
For me, that would never have worked. I knew it all back then and what I didn’t know didn’t matter much to me. My teachers would say I was stubborn. My parents called it being hard-headed. Looking back I would say I had a hard time trusting things I didn’t learn through first-hand experience.
Example #1 – Getting a store credit card first thing out of boot camp. Then proceeding to spend every last bit of credit I had on it. Having too much credit and not knowing how to use it. Not the smartest thing to do I admit, but I did learn a valuable lesson. When credit is given, it must be repaid.
Example #2 – Leasing a truck without doing any research. I didn’t know the questions to ask when getting a lease and the salesperson didn’t feel like cluing me in either. From this, I learned to look deeper at anything I was signing. I also learned how to say “No” to things I didn’t want.
Example #3 – [Provided by Sara] Being obsessed with the thought of having a mutual fund. After moving to a new area, our new insurance agent tried to steer us to open up Roth accounts. I, however, was determined to open up a target date mutual fund. So that’s what we did. Afterward, Sara asked me if I just wanted to say I had a mutual fund. My answer was yes. Years later we ended up cashing out that mutual fund and eventually opening up Roth accounts. My lesson there was to understand what my money was doing. To reach that understanding takes dedication and a willingness to learn personal finance.
An older me sees how limiting that mindset was an how it lead to a harder path in life. An older me also knows that I am content with where that path has led. My life would have been different if I’d asked and taken advice from others. I might have made fewer mistakes. I value the choices I made because of how they have forced me to grow as an individual.
So, what would I tell my younger self if I had the chance? “Be true to yourself.” That advice is as timeless as it is true.