12 People On The Money Truths They Wish They Learned Sooner

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Over the weekend, I stumbled across this R/Personalfinance thread about what the author’s fellow Redditors wish they’d known before they moved out on their own for the first time. Obviously, all of us make the big plunge into financial independence at different moments (and there is no right or wrong way to do it — everyone has to take their time when it comes to starting their life as an adult). But there are certain universal truths that are important to consider, whether you are totally on your own from the age of 18, or you aren’t fully out of your parents’ house, and their checkbook, until you’re closer to 30 than 20.

The author, heyimanna4211995, describes her personal situation thusly:

I have barely any money to my name but also not many expenses as my parents have so generously payed for a lot of my food/gas/some of my college/ect. The money I make I am pretty much free to spend how I want.

My plan is to move in with my boyfriend once I graduate college. I will graduate in May 2017, so I have roughly a year to save money up. I currently work 20 hours a week at a minimum wage job. This summer, I am getting certified in personal training and have an almost guaranteed part time job in that come August. I will be a fitness class instructor 3x per week and each class pays $85. I will work both jobs during my senior year.

I am well aware college is not needed for PT. unfortunately it wasn’t until recently I realized this was my true passion, and I’m not gonna drop out of school with less than 25 credits to go. I refuse to give up my happiness and passion just to work in my degree and make my debt somehow more “worth it”. So if you intended to comment that, please just leave this post now.

Anyway, it is my goal to save 80% of my paycheck to put towards rent/utilizes/security deposit. I hope to over the next year, save at least 6 months worth of rent.

The only sucky part of my situation is I will be graduating with about 60k in student loan debt (25k will be in my name, the rest will be in the form of a parent plus loan that my dad took out but I promised to pay it since he was generous enough to do it).

There’s more detail to her story — she has some help from family and more flexibility than many when it comes to her mounting student debts — but her predicament is a relatively common one. So she wanted to know what the PF community at large had in terms of sage advice for her upcoming transition into independence. What does one do with a regular paycheck? With debts we can barely afford to pay? With lifestyles we feel pressured to maintain? These are some of the fundamental questions of adulthood, when it comes to money, and everyone has a different lesson they had to learn the hard way.

Here are just a few of some of our favorite “I wish I knew”s from the Redditors. I encourage you to read the full thread for more detail on OP’s story, and more lessons, here.

1. “This probably goes against the conventional wisdom of /r/personalfinance, but spending money every once in a while to give yourself new life experiences (travel, travel, travel!) is something you will never regret doing. So save, scrimp, be frugal, pack a lunch for work, and maybe buy one less beer when you go out with friends, but don’t deprive yourself of living your life while you’re young.” chronos42

2. “The thing that took me the longest to learn was that just because I had money in my account doesn’t mean I should have been spending it. I would always end up over-extending myself and then scrambling to pay bills.” – eighty8keyes

3. “Financial responsibility is important, but so is actually experiencing life. I’ve never regretted spending money on travel or other experiences. Thinking about it now, there’s not a single trip I’ve taken where I’ve thought, ‘That money could have been put to better use’ after.” – –itcouldbesweet

4. “Saving money is like a gift to your future self.” – pzxc0

5. “Money isn’t yours until it’s in your account (and possibly not even then). Plan your budget on the absolute lowest amount of income you’ll have available. If you get lucky, any additional income can go towards the student loan. Make sure your budget is realistic and flexible.” AgnesXNitt

6. “Learn about the things that can positively and negatively impact your credit score. There are things you can do to improve your credit over a short time and having better credit will serve you well in your early years, especially when you start to think about buying a house or a new car in your twenties.

Frugality is a habit. Simple things like turning off lights, fixing a running toilet, and buying store brands will add up over time and build good habits. Many people learn to be frugal after they’ve gotten themselves into debt and need to scrimp to save money. Start building those good habits early and you won’t have to shift gears later to ‘rescue’ yourself.

Keep a budget for all of your spending. Something that lets you look back and analyze your recent spending habits. There are a host of free and cheap sites and apps for this. It’s easy and will quickly become one of the good habits you need to be successful in life.” – I_Kill_Zebras_atwork

7. “Let /r/personalfinance become your best friend. If you ignore the rest of my post, just do that and you’ll be ok. Read the FAQs and ask lots of questions. I’ve learned more about the “real world” here in one year here than I did in 7 years of college.

Having a $50k salary doesn’t mean you can spend like you have $50k. You still have debt and retirement to plan for! Just a mathematical truth, every dollar you don’t spend today can be $10 in retirement of you put it in a 401k or IRA.” posts_stupid_things

8. “Buy in bulk when you can (canned foods, frozen foods, toilet paper, dry goods, etc.). In the long run, it’s cheaper.

Learn to cook. I assume you might have this down already, if you want to be a personal trainer, but just sayin’. I wish I’d known how to do that before I graduated instead of spending way too much money on frozen pre-made dinners and going out to eat for years. Years. /r/eatcheapandhealthy is a great place to start; I also like budgetbytes.com.”PriscillaKim

9. “Understanding that little purchases add up quickly. A $5 coffee doesn’t seem like much, but when it is a daily treat, that quickly adds up and can affect your budget.” somethingprofoundish

10. “Credit cards are not evil if you use them correctly. However if used incorrectly, they can seriously damage your However health. Find a good rewards card and pay it off in full every month. Start building credit score you are young. It will do wonders for you in the future.” hibbert0604

11. “I wish I hadn’t spent money before I had it. This may seem like a dumb statement, but I made good money at my first job when I moved to NYC and had maybe a few thousand in CC debt at most, but also a lot of student loan debt. Since I knew I was making good money, and was at an hourly job where I could just work a little more/make overtime and make more some weeks, I’d put things on my credit cards. I left that job very suddenly and went to one that paid less for the first few years, and doesn’t have much in the way of benefits like retirement and cheap health insurance (but where I am much, much happier both in and out of work). Now, I’ve got a better handle on things, but I’m still paying for those mistakes I made 3-5 years ago.” rose_thorn_

12. “Don’t compare yourself to others. An online friend recently recommended a purse to me. Reviews were great, and it looked so perfect for what I ‘need.’ It was $350. In the end, I never bought it because we don’t have the money. Fast forward a few months, and this same friend is bragging about being debt-free and having no mortgage in her early 30’s. Wait, what?! Her $350 purse is a lot cheaper than my $350 purse. Don’t try to keep up with the Jones. They’re either in deep debt, or have a gold coin vault to swim in each night. Killing the comparisons will keep you on the right path for you.”StephBGreat

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