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What would you tell your 18-year-old self about money?

A man puts a comforting arm round the shoulders of another as he proffers him advice.

We all mistakes, but hopefully with age, comes wisdom. What if you could go back in time? What would you tell yourself about money that could have possibly put you in a better position than you are in currently?

Lauren Berger, author of “Welcome to the Real World: Finding Your Place, Perfecting Your Work and Turning Your Job into a Dream Career,” says that are things that she would love to tell her eighteen year old self but that screwing up is part of the process.

“We have to learn through trial and error unfortunately.  You hope that those mistakes aren’t going to get you into trouble for the rest of time, but that’s why some credit cards give young people a smaller credit limit. [It’s] so they can’t get in trouble that’s going to follow them throughout their lives.”

Two of the greatest financial lessons a young person can learn and put into practice are saving as much as you can and avoiding debt when at all possible. But when it comes to funding a college education, debt may be inevitable.

Berger says that if you have student loans, minimize the impact it has on your wallet.

“A lot of students graduate and look at their student loans scenario, and they say ‘I’m going to deal with this in 5 years [or] I’m going to deal with this once I’m making money.’ The reality is they may not be making good money for another 6 to 10 years. So it’s really important that you start as soon as you graduate and you start paying it back in small increments,” she says.

When it comes to saving, Berger says that it can be really hard on an entry-level salary, but the key is to save whatever you can, no matter how small.

“If you’re living in a big city and you have your rent, you have your bills, you have your car payment [and] it gets really tough and the numbers do get tight.  But, if you can get in the habit of putting aside $100 a month…it’s just a good habit to get into. And every year, you look at your finances and you raise that amount of money a little bit,” she says.  

We're asking listeners about what they could tell their 18-year-old selves about money if they had the opportunity to: 

Here's a few of your responses:

 

 

So what would you tell yourself if you had the chance? Let us know in the comments!

About the author

Candace Manriquez is a freelance producer for Marketplace.

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