Start Early and Invest Your Dollars and Cents Wisely

Tom Handy

Four powerful lessons to 20-year-olds from a 40 something.

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As I get closer to 50, this gives me time to reflect and think as well as share some lessons with the younger generation. As I see my kids grow up, you try to share as much wisdom as you can with them. Some lessons they’ll remember and others they will fight with you and insist they know what’s right.

You were once there, too. You think you know it all. In reality, the more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know.

There is an endless supply of knowledge out there. You’ll never know everything. There is so much information and the world continues to rapidly evolve. Every day, you are always learning something new.

Just as the coronavirus forced governments, businesses, and people to change, you had to change as well. As things are slowly getting better, you should remember these four things.

  • Invest early
  • Enjoy your youth, time goes by very fast
  • Spend more time thinking and less time doing
  • Find a mentor

This does not cover everything you need to know but some valuable tips to help you in the future.

Invest early

With the rise of the Reddit group, WallStreetBets, more people are investing. You may be one of them and have no idea what you’re doing when it comes to investing.

I joined the Army right after college and my supervisor told me to start investing. Since I was single, I had a lot of free time available. I used my time to read anything I could to invest.

When my supervisor told me to invest, that one piece of advice helped more than any words anyone has ever given me.

First, it’s great you decided to invest. You can compare investing to going to school. You started out in kindergarten and continue to learn your math, reading, science, history, and other subjects.

Well, investing is very similar. You won’t know everything on day one, two, or day three. Each day you will learn a little more.

You’ll make mistakes, lose some money. The best part is you get to try again. Hopefully, you will take the lessons learned to try and not make the same mistake again.

If you do, don’t worry about it. The investing world forgives you. Just try not to make a bigger mistake than you initially did. It could get very expensive making mistakes as you invest.

The earlier you invest, it is more likely you’ll have more money later on. This is based on the compounding of your money. If two people invested with the same amount of money at the same time but there was a 5 year age difference, the younger person would have more money invested. This is based on the time it took for the investment to grow. The younger person’s investment had more time to grow.

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The earlier you begin investing, the more you’ll have later on. Don’t worry if you can’t max your retirement fund. If you can only start with $5, that is better than nothing. The hardest part is just getting started. You’ll thank yourself in the future when you do this.

Enjoy your youth, time goes by very fast

You have 24 hours in a day, seven days a week. Once you use your time, you never get it back.

Life goes by very fast.

Right now, it may not seem like it. After some time you’ll wonder, where did the time go?

You need to spend time doing things to help you in the future. Don’t waste your time partying, drinking, or doing drugs.

You can have fun, but you also need to spend your time wisely.

What you do today, you will think back a few years from now and think you were wasting time. In your 20s, you have so many opportunities available.

If you’re drowning in debt, get a second job. You can drive for Uber or DoorDash to make a little extra money. If you don’t have a car, you can rent a car through Uber. With Doordash, you can make deliveries on your bicycle, scooter, or motorcycle.

Maybe you took time off after high school. If you want a college degree, go to school now. When you have kids, your free time will be severely limited.

Make your time work for you and not against you. As I mentioned, once you use your time, it is gone forever and you can never get it back. Use your time as best as you can because it will pay off for you years later.

Spend more time thinking and less time doing

I won’t lie, I made some mistakes in my 20s. I partied, drank too much some days, wasted money on designer suits, and other things.

Basically, you want to have fun. Maybe you moved out of your parent’s house or you’re planning to. You don’t have to worry about your parents telling you to be home by midnight. Some days you might want to drink with your friends.

I’m not saying don’t have fun. Life is short but you also need to plan for your future.

You are now an adult. The days of asking for forgiveness are over. You can’t use the excuse that you didn’t know. Society, now, sees you as an adult and you’ll be treated like one.

You just finished school and it’s time to be an adult. Time goes by very fast. If you haven’t landed your dream job, try to focus on where you want to be in 10 to 20 years down the road.

Everything you do today can get you one step closer to your goals.

Ask yourself, are you doing today what you want to do 10 years in the future?

If the answer is no, plan what you need to do to get you where you want to go.

Anything you do will come back to help or hurt you. These days it’s easy to ruin your life because you overslept or you were drinking and driving. You easily can ruin life or the life of a complete stranger.

It’s time to act like a grown-up. The kid days are over.

Find a mentor

You may think you don’t need a mentor but you actually do if you have big goals for yourself. You may think you don’t need a mentor but a mentor can really help you out.

“A mentor is a seasoned professional who informally helps guide a lesser experienced person in their professional endeavors.”

Many famous people, even billionaires that you may have heard of, they had mentors in their career. Some mentor relationships you may not have heard of:

  • Bill Gates mentored Mark Zuckerberg
  • Warren Buffett mentored Bill Gates
  • Maya Angelou mentioned Oprah Winfrey
  • Steven Spielberg mentored J.J. Abrams
  • Socrates mentored Plato

The mentor-mentee relationship is a valuable bond between two people.

Before you ask someone to be their mentor, be prepared to offer your service to your mentor. They may or may not need your service but think about what you can do to help your future mentor. It helps if you already have a relationship with the person but that may not always be necessary.

Your mentor can help speed up your learning curve on your journey in life. Mentors have gone through the struggle to get to where they are today. They will be familiar with different situations to help take you further ahead.

The Takeaway

These are simple tips but they can have a life-changing effect on you. None of this will happen today, but gradually implement these changes in your life.

1. Invest early. The earlier you invest, the more money you will have in the future.

2. Enjoy your youth, time goes by very fast. Make wise decisions that you will not regret later on.

3. Spend more time thinking and less time doing. Use your time wisely and think about the secondary effects of your decisions.

4. Find a mentor. A mentor can speed up your journey in life.

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