Starting out - what would you tell your younger self?
5 min | 15 November 2021
Most of us have made a few mistakes in life, especially when it comes to money. But what advice would people give when it comes to careers, money and love?
Life is full of potentially life-altering decisions when you're young. Whether you're chasing your first payslip, in your first long-term relationship or getting your first credit card, there's a whole lot of stuff going on. Making money moves can be daunting, especially if you didn't get taught much about it growing up.
They say hindsight is 20/20, so we've asked some of our friends what they'd tell their younger self. Why make your own mistakes when you can learn from other people's?
“I wish someone had encouraged me to ‘get going’ with my finances and made me understand that finance is something you have to work at – in the same way we put effort into our careers, fitness, relationships, etc. My starting point would be to save as much as possible. Because once you have substantial savings you have something to play with in terms of taking risks professionally (because you have a financial safety net) or buying a home (because you have the foundations of a deposit).
“I once had a job interview for a large computer system contract, which I won. Years later I met one of the men who’d interviewed me, who referred to it and said he was most impressed. I said I hadn’t been trying to impress them. He replied: ‘We knew that, that’s what impressed us.’ The lesson I take from that is not to tell people what you think they want to hear, but to be open and totally honest. I would also advise young people deciding their career path to identify something they really enjoy and not be driven solely by financial prospects. If you enjoy something you will probably be good at it – and financial success may well follow.”
“I wish I'd known you don't have to accept what you're offered, whether that's a job or a starting salary. It would have helped a lot if I'd got over my reticence to talk numbers and negotiate sooner. The other thing is unforgivable because people did tell me this and I ignored them: you should consider saving into a pension even when you're self-employed. Don't just think you'll catch up later; it can't easily be done.”
“I’ve always been nervous about borrowing money, it’s just the way I was brought up in the post-war generation. However, I’ve now realised it is possible to borrow sensibly. Make sure you look for a low-interest rate and carefully check and understand the terms of the credit card or loan.”
“Some people view borrowing as bad, but actually if you want a good credit rating, credit cards can be a good idea. Having an active credit card, which you pay off every month could improve your rating. Also, the protection you get from a credit card is so useful. I always use a credit card for big purchases – and I was able to claim back from my provider when my holiday to Greece was ruined due to Covid.”
“As a teacher, I’ve had the benefit of a steady income throughout my life and a decent final salary pension. In retrospect, I wish I had squirrelled away a little each month to buy a few extra years of pension so I could have retired earlier. I would certainly advise anyone to consider doing that as I don't think it's a job for the over-60s.”
“I’d tell my younger self to be more involved with the finances of the house. It seemed sensible to leave it all to my husband, being a mathematician, but I now realise if I’m left on my own I might need to employ an accountant to manage everything because I wouldn't have the expertise to do it. I also regret cashing in my NHS pension as a young mother – the pot of money came in useful, but now I just have the state pension. Consider the bigger picture and try and think long term when it comes to financial decisions.”
“The advice I wish I'd taken was to see a financial adviser after a break-up and the sale of our flat seven years ago. But I still haven't seen an adviser or made any money moves, which is a waste. You can get paralysis regarding what to do!”
“My advice is to marry for money. I'm being facetious – but your significant other's financial standing is important; it was important to me that my husband was solvent and sensible with how he approached his bank balance. I always knew we'd have separate bank accounts, so that's something I'm glad I stuck to.”
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and does not constitute financial advice