Keeping it Real: Reserving the Right to Get Smarter

by Marcy on March 19, 2009 · 0 comments

Last month I turned 31, and along with my birthday came the realization that I have been living on my own (ok…with my husband for part of that time) for an entire decade now. Because I do something related to this blog pretty much every day of my life, I have money and financial management on the brain a lot. And so my 31st birthday combined with my never ending desire to save a buck or two got me thinking about how much my spending habits have changed from when I was in my 20’s to now. Because surely 10 years is a long enough period of time to learn a thing or two, right? :-)

I then got to thinking about what I would say to myself as a 20 something, now that I am in my (early!!) 30’s. And while I can think of quite a few things that I would say, the biggest points I would make to myself are:

· You do not need a credit card in college (or at all really). You are doing a great job of living within the means of your part time job income, and material things are not important. Save yourself the extra debt and the living beyond your means mentality that a credit card will bring and just walk away.

· I know that you like to go to the mall and that you like nice clothes. But do you really need to shop so often? Save even half of the money you are spending on clothes now and you’ll be amazed what you will have in 10 years. (P.S. I hate to tell you this, but those clothes aren’t going to fit in a few short years anyway!)

· While living in a nice apartment is, well, nice, you are going to be able to afford to buy a house in the not so distant future. Why not rent a small and inexpensive place for even 3 years and save money toward a down payment? Some day (as in 2009 when the economy tanks) you’ll thank me.

I could go on and on about these conversations with myself. But I think you get the point. I made a few foolish decisions in my 20’s that have had an impact on me in my 30’s. It could have been worse and I could have been much more foolish, but I made mistakes all the same.

It has taken me some time to work through my feelings of anger for being so “dumb” about the way that I handled my nice income when I had it. Trust me, the last two years of being a stay at home mom have not been without some serious soul searching! But I have slowly come to the realization that making mistakes is actually a huge blessing. I have learned from those mistakes and I have moved beyond them. I take accountability for them, and I’m always striving to get better. Or I’m reserving the right to get smarter, as stated in the title of this post.

If you have made less than stellar financial decisions in the past, know that you don’t have to continue down that path. You too can strive for something better. Reserve the right to get smarter. Admit that you could have done things a little differently. Accept total accountability for your actions. And then forgive yourself and move on. We all deserve financial security, but it is up to us to make it for ourselves.

What about you? What financial tips would you give to your younger self if given the chance?

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