I’m at an age now where anyone younger than 25 would consider me to be ancient and maybe past it, but as hard as it might be for them to believe I was once their age and like any young person I felt indestructible and believed that I was going to conquer the world too.
The world was my oyster and nothing could touch me, I’d live for the now and by the time I was in my 40s I would have it all sorted. A nice house, a fancy car and more money than I knew what to do with.
I didn’t think too long about the consequences of the decisions that I made, why would I? everything was going to just fall into place. I was going to start a business and take over the world
I was never a big drinker and never smoked, but just loved the buzz of getting ready for a night with the boys, whether that was in our home town or whether we would all plough into a car, drive to another miles to another city and see if we could get a hotel room when we arrived. Those memories still bring a smile to my face when I think of what we sometimes got up to and the laughs that we had.
Thinking about where I am in my life now, I can’t have any regrets as they are what have brought me to where I am now.
The thing is thinking back on my youth, there are some things that I might have thought twice about with hindsight
#1 Lending to friends/family
Even at a young age I was putting money into an emergency fund, easily done when you’re in your late teens and twenties, still living at home with only minimal board to pay, your washing done for you and your dinners made.
The trouble is not all everyone I knew had the same mind-set and as soon as they had it in their pocket it was gone. Maybe I would have been the same if I drunk more but I only have to take a whiff of a beer mat and I’m pissing like a trooper all night.
Knowing that I wasn’t probably going out as much there were occasions where I might I was a walking AMT machine, but it didn’t bother me, I was out and having a good time so handing over wasn’t an issue. The thing is friendships is fragile beasts and, the lender in almost all instances the bad guy when it comes to asking for their money back.
To be honest I never had any issues with money not coming back to me but it is only when circumstances in my life changed and I stopped lending money did I realise how fragile as relationships that I thought were quite solid fell like a house of cards. I know that money wasn’t the only reason but that is a post for another day.
#2 Coming out of a company pension
When I first started with my current employer, I was young and thought I’d only be there for a few months until something better came along or that multibillion pound idea came to me
I wasn’t going to be there long so for that reason I decided to come out of their pension scheme. The money that was being taken out of my wages at the end of the month could have been better used on a few extra drinks at the weekend.
Fast forward 10 – 12 years and I’ve still not had that multibillion pound idea and I’m still there. Opportunities are no longer abundant and it is probably time I moved on, I’m not paid what I’m worth. but in that time I’ve missed on the opportunity to have my employer make contributions towards my pension.
I won’t do the calculation but I can guarantee that I’ve probably missed out on thousands.
#3 Spending to impress
This probably started when I was at school when I would ask my mum for the latest trainers. Sometimes I would ask for a pair regardless whether I liked them just because they were expensive and I knew that no one else would have them.
This then carried onto my teens and twenties, where I wouldn’t think twice about going into designer stores and dropping £100+ on a shirt, looking back at some of them they were probably ugly as hell, but it didn’t matter they cost a lot.
I might not believe me but it was once fashionable to have a mobile phone that only made calls and sent texts and the smaller the phone was the more impressive it was. Guess what I had to have the latest phone too (it used to be considered the norm for a phone battery to last longer than a day – I’m starting to sound old now too)
This money could have been used for a number of different things that might have improved my chance in the workplace. Maybe putting some aside for uni or courses.
#4 Not taking more calculated risks
I started an online business when I was working in a utility company’s marketing department and took a bank loan out to finance it. As someone inexperienced in business I didn’t’ really consider my abilities and probably rushed into making the decision to start the business. I hadn’t carried out any market research so was unsure that there was a market for what I was offering, it turned out there wasn’t at that time and it decided to stop trading. I try to kid myself occasionally still to this day and tell myself the idea was to forward thinking and it was before it’s time.
Whilst this experience didn’t deter me from wanting to start a business it certainly make me a little more risk averse.
#5 Being to thrifty
If you consider what I’ve put as my four mistakes above it might seem strange to consider that I was I was too thrifty growing up but I honestly think that I was. Even to the point that if we had a lads night out I would sometimes count the beers that were being brought to the table and come out in cold sweats when someone who had drunk the restaurant dry suggest that we split the bill.
If I’d maybe said yes to more invitations I could have broadened my horizons and be able now to realise opportunities when they present themselves.
Being too thrifty back then has also affected my life today, to the point where I don’t think twice about checking my bank balance when I get a moment, even if I know that I haven’t’ spent anything that day, maybe this is something to do with security to or I try to cut corners where corners shouldn’t be cut potentially costing me more in the long run.
So what has my younger self-taught me now?
As predictable as it sounds, all my points above have taught me to try and relax about finance and enjoy my time with loved ones, having nice things is all well and good but when you have them, when does it stop. You have the nice car, you want a nicer car. You have the big house you want a bigger house.
Money can buy happiness, but you have to know how to use it wisely.