What money advice would you have followed?

40 thoughts on “What money advice would you have followed?”

  1. I really wish I learned about passive index funds.

    I wasted too much time and money trying to find the perfect stocks to build my portfolio. Between the amount of time researching, fees in buying and then watching picking stinky stocks (here’s looking at you Chipotle), I definitely wish someone had sat me down and said buy passive index funds and be done with it.

    1. Yes! I didn’t even know index funds were a thing until I read MMM, well out of college and well into my 20’s. Not sure why there was this shroud of secrecy around non-insane investing options (or, I guess I do, because expensive managed funds would rather people keep paying them), but I’m glad there are lots more voices adding to the chorus now!

  2. I wish I would never have sold my first house too. I bought when I was 23 and if I would have been smart and kept it as a rental (I did for a few years), I could have retired a few years ago! And yep – wow, was I clueless about investing. JL Collins “Simple Path to Wealth” would have saved me more than I could imagine in fees. We set my daughter up at Vanguard this week!

  3. I’m with Felicity. Think about your priorities. Look at your spending. Do they match? Then wtf are you doing?! Go make them match and live a happier life! It’s so simple, but so life-changing.

  4. I just honestly wish someone had told me that a 40-year career isn’t inevitable if you start saving right away. I think that would have been a strong enough incentive to get younger me to act very differently toward money!

  5. I am with Mustard Seed: passive index funds. I thought spending a lot of time trying to learn about stocks, and funds, beta values etc. meant that I was working hard towards retirement. Hand in hand with this, I always heard: save 10%. I wish someone had shown me that there are people that save 20%, 40%, 60% and more! It’s obvious that I didn’t need anyone to tell me that this was physically possible. Unfortunately, I was just shuffling along with the masses, and I needed a wake up call. I didn’t even dream that this was being done. I mean how could anyone get over 10% and still keep up with everyone else!

    1. Ha! Thanks Tepid Tamale. No doubt, the more passive your investments, the better. Don’t meddle. Just let your investments do what they do best…grow!

  6. That when you borrow money, you are actually borrowing from your future self.

    The cost of the fees and interest you commit to pay today is coming out of their pocket.

  7. Don’t listen to others and spend money on stupid things that don’t add to long term happiness- i.e. marriage, buying rounds of drinks for friends, treating others for dinner (I did that a lot when I became an attending and my wife and her friends were all students- big mistakes).

  8. That’s tough. I don’t know if I actually would have followed the good advice. I guess it depends who it came from. I wish I knew more about the Roth IRA at that point while I was making less money. Such a great vehicle I didn’t use until I was about 26.

  9. Oh, lawd so many regrets here. Knowing how I was just a few years ago, I’d say the advice I would have followed was “Spend less than you earn.” It’s simple and true all at once.

  10. Hmm… I like the question and I thinking back on my life as now as 33 year-old working as an attorney, I’m trying to think of advice that I would actually have followed. I had (am having?) a hard choosing a career. I think that if I knew I “only” had to work for 10 years instead of 40 I might have been more focused on getting a good paying job out of college (instead maybe not majoring in Philosophy :). Then using ER to explore, go to grad school, teach/ live overseas. Right now, ER will probably be at age 40, but it’s all good. Life is a process.

    BTW, I fucking love Bryce! SW Utah for the win!! Enjoy.

    1. ER at age 40 is a great achievement…far sooner than most! Life is a process, indeed. And yup, Southwest Utah is just amazing. Loved it!

  11. Not really money advice, but I wish I heard “Rome wasn’t built in one day, but it burned in one”.

    This quote taught me to slow down and spend less, because just like our finances, we have to build it up. And it can all go away, if we spend/burn it all away.

  12. There’s a couple that would have made a big difference in my life — “Never buy a new car. Used cars take more work, but you’ll be smarter and richer because of it.”

    “Learn to be happy with imperfection in your life.” — Which is so true. I could have saved myself a bundle not trying to find false perfection in life.

    1. Amen to that! Perfection is unattainable, so I don’t even try to get there. And I did buy a brand new car once, but that is a mistake that I definitely won’t make again. Man, the depreciation is killer!

  13. Oh my gosh, those are some good ones up there. Especially about not buying so many clothes! That would’ve been a good one for me.
    There’s so much advice I wish I’d taken, but one I wish I’d heard was “pay yourself first”. I thought I’d be happy buying everything I wanted on credit and putting whatever I could afford into savings afterwards. Now I’m investing & putting money directly into paychecks and I feel 1000x more comfortable financially!

    1. Ah, pay yourself first. Definitely a wise move that’ll set you up for some serious financial success. And it’s so damn easy, too!

  14. For a long-long time, I mean almost 3 years, I couldn’t understand the meaning of “pay yourself firs”. “What do you mean pay yourself first?”, – I was thinking, “How can I pay yourself first if I have obligatory expenses and they are eating almost every penny I get”. Really, I was so stupid I couldn’t understand this simple concept – PAY YOURSELF FIRST. After almost 3 years it hit me, “MAN!!!!! I have to pay MYSELF FIRST”
    – Traditional 401(k)
    – HSA
    – FSA

    Good, I not only payed myself first really good money, but saved on taxes. After paying myself first I have to take care for my family:
    – Food
    – Utilities
    – Rent/Mortgage
    – Transportation

    Nice job, Russian, you’ve already paid yourself twice. But you can do more.
    – After tax investment – invest as much as you can

    Good, but now you have a little bit of “enjoy it” money. So, please, enjoy it. Have a little bit of fun, but don’t forget to pay yourself first.
    Do you still have your R1? I always wanted to try it but was scared, I can’t control a small Valentino Rossi inside me. So I ended up with adventure motorcycles.

  15. I wish I would have learned about the power of compound interest. No sure if my teenage self would have taken the bait, but should would have liked the chance at the opportunity.

  16. The biggest one has to be maximize tax advantages accounts even over debt. I had a 4 percent student loan I paid extra on rather then capture a 4 percent match plus returns. Doh…

  17. I wish I had a time machine so the Frugalwoods could have written about buying their Cambridge rental property 10 years ago. If I had read that post then, and knew that was a possibility, I think I would have seriously tried to do everything I can to make that happen.

  18. I wish that I’d known that there were alternatives to a standard 40 year career. If someone had shown me that I could buy my freedom, I would have made it a priority from the start instead of spending my money on who-knows-what. All that money wasted on stuff I don’t even remember…..

  19. I’m on the same page as Financial Coach Brad with lifestyle inflation. When I was younger I had a pretty good student job that paid me a nice sum of money. All of it was spend on more expensive clothing or other nice items…

    I know now that I would have known sooner about investing in trackers of some sort, but I don’t believe my younger self would have followed that advice.

  20. Best advice I got was “You make your money when you buy.” When i was younger I wish I had focused more on asset prices (investments, house, car) and not paying too much.

  21. TSR –

    Similar to you – You don’t need all of those clothes haha; also – you don’t always need to go out to eat (the story of my life combined from age 14-20). Then… things definitely changed and I’ve been saving well over 60% of my income ever since; but damn – those were some lost years! Cost of lessons, maybe?


  22. I would have benefitted from “put your money in an index fund. don’t try to pick stocks”. Also, “automate your savings to take the emotions out of it”

  23. I see lifestyle inflation was mentioned. That is a huge one for I think most everyone. If you can live happily on your $40k salary then keep that same lifestyle when you later earn $80k because you’ll be FI very soon.

  24. As smart as I was with money, I didn’t have a plan. I saved because I was supposed to. I didn’t understand compound interest or the funds I was contributing to in my 401k (target date funds!). Had I paid any attention I would have been retired by now…oh, also provided I hadn’t taken 2 years off from contributing!

    As for real estate – it isn’t the end all and be all…well, until you lose it all! I wish someone had told me to stop at one investment property. Focus on paying it off before buying another. I probably could have survived the whole market had I known what enough was. Eh – at least I learned some valuable lessons!! πŸ˜‰

  25. Life is all about experience. No doubt, there’s bound to have mistakes. Gain valuable experience from these mistakes and becone a better person.


  26. So many regrets ehh…just ignorance really…
    1) Someone pointed out something similar earlier – I think my biggest regret is thinking investing in the stock market means buying individual stocks – and so out of fear letting money sit in a 0.01 interest checking account for years. And choosing to put in the bare minimum in the 401(k) – not understanding what the difference between a 401(k) and brokerage account was! Yes, now I max out my 401k with my employer. In my brokerage account I invest in index funds which I can’t necessarily do in my 401k though!
    2) Not having the big picture of finance and your life as a whole! Having the internal script that you have to be in one career forever and retirement happens after 65 (well, I guess this has been drilled into us since we’re babies probably). I’m on fire with the FIRE concept now; definitely targeting financial independence and early retirement. Never thought that you could have multiple sources of income (why???)!
    3) Focusing on how much you earn rather than your net worth!
    4) Not being aware of how I was wasting money; I’ve been able to make significant changes just by becoming aware and without necessarily sacrificing life style

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