We’re in the Money: Advice I Would Give My Twenty-Year-Old Self


At some point, I think we all look back and think, “If only someone had given me this advice when I was twenty.” The items listed below are a partial list of advice I wish I had learned earlier in life, and it is advice I would give myself if I had a “Back to the Future” moment.

Always live on less money than you make. If you can do this, it will be a discipline that should last your entire life and allow you to save. Take those additional monies and hide them in your 401k plan, Roth IRA, or both. Even if the amount seems insignificant at the time, the amounts you save in your 20s and 30s are the building blocks of your future retirement.

Don’t be tempted to sign up for a credit card in college. One of the reasons I became a financial planner was due to my mishandling credit card debt in college. Credit cards can be tempting, but the young and financially strapped are often the most vulnerable to the temptation of deferred payments and “free” stuff promised for filing out a credit application. One of the biggest roadblocks to building wealth for retirement is the use of unsecured debt.

Find a Mentor. I have two mentors and they are invaluable to me. Looking back, I wish I had been willing to learn from the experience of others earlier in my life. So, I challenge you to look around and identify someone you want to learn from and go for it!

Never stop learning. Most young people I talk with today imply that once school is completed, their days of learning will be complete. This could not be farther from the truth. People of all ages should welcome knowledge and be motivated to learn. Your career and your personal life will both benefit from your growing ever-increasing knowledge and skills.

Freely give. One of the best things we can do is to share what we have with others. We can give monetarily or donate our time; my wife and I try to do both. But some of the best feelings we have experienced are when we helped someone in need, anonymously.

I hope you found something here you can use or share with others. I would love to hear from you, feel free to call me at my Gallatin office at 615.461.8653. There is no charge for our initial consultation to determine if our services are right for you.

Until next month,
Jonathan Walker, CFP
®, RICP®

*Advisory services offered through Paul Winkler, Inc. (“PWI”), a Registered Investment Advisor. PWI does not provide tax or legal advice; please consult your tax or legal advisor regarding your particular situation. This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed to be a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities. 


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