Most of us, if given the opportunity, would love to sit down with younger versions of ourselves to dispense some sage advice.
We would probably have warnings to avoid certain people, not to get that tattoo, and maybe even a few financial tips as well.
While we can’t change the past, we can definitely fix the mistakes we made in the past – except for that tattoo. Here are some ways to go about correcting those financial mistakes that can follow you for years.
1. Start Saving Now
You have probably heard that saving money early is important. With compound interest, savings can grow faster for every year they are invested.
As the old saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was yesterday. The second best time is today.”
You can’t go back in time to start saving for retirement but you can begin that process now and set yourself up for a better future.
2. Tackle High Interest Debt
If your younger self is like the younger self of many other people then you are probably still paying off the debt racked up in those blunder years.
Taking on your debt can feel like a daunting task but there is a very simple formula for managing debt. Focus your efforts on high interest debt while still maintaining payments on your other loans. This means credit card debt and payday loans should be at the top of your list for quick repayment.
Student loans can also add up as the interest rates rise after graduation. In some cases, refinancing high interest loans into more manageable loans is a good solution. The lower payments could allow you to dedicate more of your budget to paying down other debts or boosting your savings.
3. Build an Emergency Fund
When you were young you were invincible. Planning for an emergency wasn’t something you had on your radar.
While planning for emergencies isn’t fun, it can save you a lot of stress down the road. Start building an emergency fund now for unexpected expenses.
Car repairs, health care bills, and home maintenance costs can come when you least expect them and put a major financial strain on your bank account. In many cases, people simply opt to put the amount on their credit card.
How much of an emergency fund you need will depend a lot on your personal situation. A $1000 emergency fund is generally the minimum amount you would want to consider. If you have a lot of monthly expenses like a mortgage and car payment then you may want to consider setting aside more for your emergency fund.
Your Future Self Will Thank You
No one said consolidating debt or building emergency funds would be sexy. However, you have the opportunity to fix the mistakes of your past self and set up a solid foundation for your future self.
When you’re retired and enjoying life to its fullest, you will think back to this article and thank your younger self for making such good financial decisions.