The big decision years
4 min | 29 November 2021
If you could rewind the clock, what sort of money advice would you give your younger self? Are there certain things you’d do differently – or are you proud of your decisions?
We spoke to a range of people to get their insights into how to be financially fearless, from buying your first home and getting married to career choices and investing as a young adult.
“I wish I’d kept more records about who was contributing what when I bought a property with my ex-partner. It can be tricky when you're in the midst of the house-buying excitement, but it can be important to protect yourself if the investment isn't equal. If it doesn't work out (which it didn't for me), there’s a risk of coming away with less than you went in with. Thankfully, this didn't happen, but having more proof would have saved a lot of stress.
“I’d also like to feel more confident about pensions and investments. I opened a pension when I started working because my Dad told me to… I am nearly 40 and still ask him for advice!”
“I’d tell my younger self that you don't have to mortgage yourself to the hilt or stretch your budget. The mortgage should work for your needs; you're not working for the mortgage.”
“I chose my career based on my passions: I wanted to be a sports journalist, and for many years I was. But there is a danger of making your hobby your job. Watching Match of the Day felt like work on a Saturday evening, and you need a good work-life balance. So, I moved into the world of financial journalism. I've managed to build up decent pension and savings pots. I prioritised saving into a pension over buying a house. I felt that with the joy of compounding and the fact I wasn't sure where I would buy a house, as my job moves me around a lot, that a pension was the way to go. I do have a teeny regret not starting it earlier. My wage was low in my 20s, but even a little amount saved often would have put me in a more comfortable position.”
“My main passion was biochemistry, but I saw limited career opportunities in that. So, I went with another passion, which was aircraft, and became an engineer. I knew the pay wouldn't be great, but it's always been more important that I do something interesting and meaningful. I’ve never aspired to owning a fancy sports car. Sometimes, when frustrated by internal bureaucracy, I dream of the freedom of being self-employed, but I enjoy working in a team. Now I have children I'm appreciative of the stability from having a permanent job.
“Getting married wasn’t cheap, but I don’t have any regrets over what we spent on our big day. When we had our first child, we took shared parental leave: my wife did the first eight months, we did a month together, and I did the last three months. I loved spending time with my son – it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. It also made financial sense as I had a generous employer at the time and received full pay.”
“I wish I'd known about the power of compound interest a lot younger. Then at least some of the money earnt at my Saturday job could've been saved, and 15 years on I'd be (relatively) quids in. Instead, I spent it on booze and nights out – not a regret, but I wish I'd been more tight-fisted when it came to buying other people's drinks”
“I’d tell my younger self that nothing comes easy with investing, and don't be afraid of slow, steady returns. I was too hasty selling safe investments and chasing the promise of higher returns elsewhere, many of which never came to fruition. My other investments, in retrospect, would have gone from strength to strength.
“One of my biggest regrets is not investing in solid assets when I had the chance. If I could speak to my younger self I'd say ‘try and be more forward-thinking, fritter less and invest more.' A property purchase in my 20s, however modest, is something I should have done.”
“My advice is to make the most of ISAs due to the tax advantages they can offer.”
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and does not constitute financial advice