- Alan Crowhurst / Stringer / Getty Images
We don’t always make the right choices when we’re young.
It’s especially true with our money, since we probably don’t think about how our split-second decisions can impact our lives later on.
I am guilty of these kinds of mistakes myself – wasting money on things I had no use for, not taking advantage of all the “free” stuff my school offered, and ultimately not thinking about life after college – which led to some poor habits that kept me from building wealth in the year I’ve spent post-grad.
But, I’m not alone.
I reached out to my friends to see if they had any money mistakes they wanted to share, and what they would have done differently. Just like me, many of peers weren’t always as financially savvy as they wanted to be in the years after college, and have also made some poor money decisions.
Looking back, here’s some advice they would have given their younger selves about money before they entered the real world:
Be smarter with the college courses you choose
“I wish I took an intro to economics course or a class to familiarize myself with the money market instead of those easy A’s in sociology class. Learn about investments, especially retirement, so when you get your first job you know where/how to allocate your money when you’re offered a 403b or 401k. You’ll get a head start.” – Jenny Ha
- Miles Willis / Stringer / Getty Images
Don’t get ahead of yourself
“Don’t let material things, or the lavish lifestyle your peers seem to have, blind you from your ultimate goal.
“Your responsibility right now is to prepare yourself to find a job to make the money that will allow you to enjoy the kind of lifestyle that you want for yourself, not to live it while studying.” – Derek Wong
Steer clear of credit cards until you can handle them
“I REALLY wish I had told myself to stay away from credit cards. At the time I thought it was so great … four years later I still can’t get rid of the damn credit balance because I kept paying the minimum for so long.
“And then when I paid some down finally, I had to charge more on the card, so I was back to being super in debt.” – Krysten Massa
- University of Exeter/Flickr
Get the most out of student discounts while you still can
“Take advantage of all the things your college had to offer, like using your student ID to get discounts at small businesses and even at retailers like Topshop. There’s also occasional free food at student-hosted events.
“Also, invest in a suit because you never know when you need to go to an interview … to make more money.” – Gavin Li
Start saving immediately
“Start a savings account and contribute, even if it’s just a few bucks a month.” – Sheena Samu
- Flickr / THOR
Pay attention to your money
“Be more conscious about your spending. You should set yourself an allowance so you don’t overspend or spend it on things you don’t necessarily need.” – Javier Andres Lee
Put things in perspective
“$1,000 is not a lot of money.” – Calvin Ma
- Charlie Crowhurst / Stringer / Getty Images
Consider passive income
“Earning money and making money are two different things.
Think about investing, and how I can use money to make more money, rather than work for X amount of hours and earn a wage from that.” – Chowdhry Ahmed
It’s never too soon for a budget
“It is very easy to spend money you don’t actually have. Creating a budget for your expenses, and allocating properly for certain purchases will keep your balance in check.” – Henry Mei
- Flickr / Molly.Low
Don’t be ashamed of living with your parents
“It’s OK not to move out until you can find decent rent that will only take up about 30% of your paycheck.” – Sonaiya Kelley
Figure out where your money comes from, and where it goes
“Unless you get a handle on budgeting and understand the difference between active and passive income, you will be dependent on living paycheck to paycheck.” – Maggy Kilroy
- Jeff Hitchcock / Flickr
Play the long game
“Don’t think of temporary satisfactions. Think long term.” – Maggie Huang
- Flickr / Nattu
Don’t stress yourself out
“There’s always going to be more money to make and more overtime to work. Maintain a budget, stop worrying so much about money, and enjoy what life has to offer.” – Bryan Fong