Letter to my Younger Self

Dear Younger Me,

Hindsight really is 20/20.  Yeah, I know you know.  But think about it.  Wouldn't someone older than you be able to give some really good advice?  Dad would say, spend 50% on mortgage/property taxes/insurance, 25% in savings, 25% living expenses/entertainment.  He would say that a lot.

When I was 15 I wanted to go to work.  There were two ways to achieve that 1. make my own job (bake sale in the neighborhood?) or 2. get one of my parents to sign a document stating that they allowed me to get a job.

I went to my dad, typed letter in hand and ask him to sign it.  He asked, “Why do you want to work now?  You have a lifetime of working.  Why not enjoy this last summer and start working next year.”

I literally said, “I want to make money and pay for my own things.”

We went back and forth for a short while then he reluctantly signed the letter.  With letter in hand, I went and got my first job, playing with kids at a hotel kids center.

I think about that conversation every so often.  Wondering what I would have done had he not signed it.  One more year of not working.  I would have puttered it away, like all the other summers, being a kid, riding bikes through the neighborhood, sneaking into apartment bldg. pools, having ice cream at the park.  I don't regret it, at all.  Afterall, I still got to hang out with my friends, just not all day everyday.  It made my time with them that much more special.

What I do regret is not listening to my dads advice and putting 25% in a savings account.  I was a spender.  And not just any spender, the worst kind of spender.  For every dollar I earned, I spent twice as much.

It started out innocent enough.  I would deposit my paycheck in my savings account, spending on things here and there.  Until I worked up to spending my paycheck as soon as I cashed it.  On what, I couldn't even tell you.

Later on my BFF got a credit card and let me open my own under her name.  My parents would have NEVER allowed me to get one, but she co-signed for me.  The deal was I had to paid it off at the end of the month and I did.

I had enough credit history to get my own credit card AND applied to have my paychecks direct deposited.  If I had extra cash sitting around, I would get anxious and find things to spend it on.  I really believed, as long as I didn't go into debt I was in GREAT shape.

Grab Your Slice

Fast forward to my first job out of college.  I took my first vacation with friends.  We went to Costa Rica for 1 week.  I had no savings but really wanted to go.  I put the whole trip  on my credit card.  It took me a few months to pay it off (interest, fees and penalties for late payments kept bumping up the total due amount).  On the day I was able to pay off that trip. I shouted to my coworkers, “I am worth nothing!”  I was seriously proud.  They looked at me confused.  I explained (with a big smile on my face) that I just paid off my credit card and had no debt.  After all, isn't the American dream to break even?  In my early 20's, I sure thought so.

I think about that interaction with my coworkers from time to time and think, what an idiot I was!  So naive!!!  I am sure they were thinking the same thing but didn't have the heart to tell me because I was so genuinely proud.

I wonder had I ta Grab Your Slice ken my dads advice and stuck to the 50-25-25 rule how much further I could have been.  Then again maybe the divorce would have still wiped me out.

One thing is for certain, life is never what you think it is going to be.  Sure, make plans and have goals to work towards, but above all be flexible and always have a plan B, just in case.

 

What one piece of advice do you wish you could go back and take?  How would you have Grabbed Your Slice?