10 things I wish I could tell my 16-year old self about money

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There are very few things in my life that I regret and would change if I could, mostly because all the stupid things I’ve done have made me who I am today and have enabled me to learn the lessons that I have so far and I don’t think I’ve turned out too horribly, have I?

I turned 26 a few months ago. Eek. I think I can still say I’m mid-twenties right? One of my sisters sneered that I’m ‘almost 30’ that kind of scared the crap out of me and it got me thinking about the past few years. Some days I feel like a complete failure (not just financially) other days I feel like a WINNERRR. (heehee).  So here’s 10 things I would tell my 16-year old self now, if I could:

10 things I wish I could tell my 16-year old self about money

1. Stop paying those stupid monthly bank-fees and go set up a free bank account at another bank. It will save you hundreds of dollars over the next few years. Online banks that are CDIC insured are just as safe as any other brick & mortar out there.

2. While you’re doing that, start a savings account NOW and put away a tiny little bit of money every month, then never look at it. You will love it, trust me.

3. That $5,000 credit-card your main bank is going to send you when you’re 18? Cut it in HALF, or better: burn the sucker or ask for a limit of $500. It’s only going to get you in trouble.

4. Stuff doesn’t matter, experiences do. Don’t waste money on widgets like I know you want to, in ten years all those widgets will add up to one bigass awesome trip you could have taken already. (And you’ll be trying to sell some of those widgets to get rid of the clutter in your house)

5. Don’t buy a house at 22, you’re not ready financially or emotionally. Buy one when you’re ready.

6. You knew this then, I know this now but nonetheless: try to get through school with the least amount of debt possible. You will be MILES ahead of your peers when you do finally graduate, debt-free. It also doesn’t matter how long it takes, don’t listen to those ‘friends’ that gasp when you’re still not done and when you tell them you still have no idea what you want to be when you grow up. It doesn’t matter.

7. Learn something about investing, invest, stick with it, make compound interest slave for you.   I wish I had.

8. Give more, more often. Make it a habit.

9. The best time to get started with saving, investing and learning is now. Your family might not get it, your siblings might not get it, and your friends? Most of them won’t get it either. Ignore them and keep your goals in mind, make a plan and stick with it even if some people in your world don’t agree, which leads me to this:

Be unconventional

10. It’s okay to be unconventional. It’s okay to be different and want to make up your own mind about things. Go your own way, do what feels right. Stick to your guns. It’s okay to trust someone because they are older and wiser but make informed decisions. Never let anyone push you into doing anything you don’t want to, those are the things you will regret later.

What are some things you would tell yourself about money or otherwise if you could go back in time to do it?

PS: IMG source here and here.


Published by Renée

I write about my life, travel and my financial up and downs on my blog, Nickel By Nickel, while contradicting myself daily. ;)

25 thoughts on “10 things I wish I could tell my 16-year old self about money

  1. Great post! I would emphasize being unconventional, ignoring what friends and family think when it comes to saving young. That's something I'm trying to drill into my own kids so they don't have to look back as adults and wish they could go back in time 🙂


  2. Oh! I would lecture my 16-year-old self almost as much as my mother did.
    -GO TO STATE SCHOOL. Don't spend soooo much more on tuition because you have to escape the family and attend a school 14 miles over the border!
    -Save everything from your first after-school job. What the heck do you have to spend it on anyway?
    -Start an IRA. Now. If you wait until you're 27, you will kick yourself.
    -You tested out of that English 101 class. Don't take it anyway, even an honors section, because the entrance people advise you to. It's not worth it!!
    -You're lucky that your parents give you spending money for college. They're going into debt for you, you know. Figure out what you NEED to pay for as a student and save the rest.
    -Get an internship or something. Learn how to interview for a job. And sign up with a temp agency as soon as you graduate college.
    -Get a stupid credit card. Use it once a month; pay it off every single month. A credit-based economy IS stupid, but you're gonna need a credit history if you want to rent an apartment.


    1. Those are also GREAT points! You know, I was forced to take english 101 and did learn a few things from it. I'm not sure if it was the seasonal lecturer (she was simply FAB) or if it's because english wasn't my first language. I do think that english 101 shouldn't HAVE to be taught in university, kids should have those basic skills before they even get to university!

      Mom's do know a few things after all.


  3. Great list indeed. I definitely agree with stuff doesn' t matter but experiences do. This is the way I try to live my life. I could care less what I have but the memories I make mean the world to me. I think when we look back on our lives what we have are the memories not that favourite shirt we needed so bad.


    1. Yes! I had a friend ask about shopping on a trip and he mumbled something about… 'you know, women, shopping'. Honestly, screw that. 40 years from now I won't remember the t-shirt I bought but I will remember the trip, the travel or the experience.


  4. You are an early one to have this realization. This will make great going for you and I really hope you succeed in following the rules you have done for yourself. Knowing your weakness, you've already succeeded one battle in this war of yours. Keep going!


  5. At 16 I would tell myself to invest your work checks in a Roth IRA. I never needed the money and just spent it on dumb stuff that has not value to me now. Buying at house at 22 isn't bad if you're ready. I bought my place at 24 and it turned out ok. What happened with the home you bought at 22?


    1. I just know that I personally wasn't ready at the time. Others may be but like we discussed before on your blog, it depends on where you are in life. I think that if I wouldn't have bought the house I would probably be somewhere else entirely in my life, that may be a good thing… may be a bad thing I really can't say. Hindsight is 20/20 and I know now that at the time I was completely unprepared for the entire thing.


  6. I would tell myself to stop buying toys with all my money and save it. Possibly start a Roth IRA and sock away all my earning into that. I would tell me how much my future self would love that. Looking back, though, if I didn't spend all my money back then on wasteful things, I wouldn't be so wise today. So really, I would just say you have a lot to learn, young man.


    1. Hmmm yes, I tell myself that a lot too… If I hadn't made the mistakes I had, would I have ended up here? I'm not sure maybe it was all for the best the way things worked out.


  7. Pingback: 7 Good Reads This Weekend | Young, Cheap Living | Young Adult Personal Finance Blog on Saving Money, Getting Organized and Getting Ahead
  8. Great post Renée. Makes me want to hold off on rushing to try to buy a house. As much as I know I should wait, it's difficult to keep myself from wanting everything NOW.


  9. It’s really a great and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.


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