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Hindsight is an incredible thing and what’s more, hindsight brings with it 20/20 vision. I’m sure we all have moments where we wish what we know now, we knew when we were younger and perhaps a course of action might have played out differently in our lives. When you think about it, of all the people to take advice from, the best person is really you. Or, the ‘older you’ specifically. You know you best. Even though we can’t turn back the clock and have a word with our younger selves, it’s still a good idea to reflect on what you would actually tell your younger self. You never know who might benefit from your learnings.
Invest in experiences, not things
A common assumption is that spending money on something physical will make us happier than spending money on a one-off experience, like a concert or holiday, simply because a physical object lasts longer than an experience. While a new iPhone, car or flat screen is exciting at first, over time we adapt to new possessions and eventually that initial happiness and satisfaction fades away. Experiences on the other hand form an integral part of who we are. Experiences are literally a part of us. They become ingrained in our identity. We are not our possessions, we are the accumulation of everything we’ve seen and done, the places we’ve been and the people we’ve shared those experiences with. So, when it comes to spending, spend more on experiences and less on material possessions.
Develop good financial habits
Whilst it is never too late to take control of your finances, it certainly gets harder and harder the longer you leave it. Start early. Save, pay down debt, invest and make sure you have an emergency fund. As you get into the habit of planning ahead, you’ll find it will become second nature and you will be able to face bigger goals (like retirement planning) and ultimately, you’ll have less financial worries later on in life and more time and headspace to focus on what’s most important to you. So, stop delaying, deferring and procrastinating – start building those positive habits today!
Invest in your health and your relationships
Yes, investing in your financial future is important (very important). But investing in your health and relationships is, in many respects, even more important. We often take our health and the people around us for granted, only remembering their importance after a wake-up call. So exercise, eat healthy, turn your phone off for a few hours and get in touch with your friends and family.
Hope for the best, plan for the worst
Be realistic about things outside of your control. The easy path is to ignore what could happen, the hard path is to prepare for what could happen which is why planning for unexpected events is often placed in the ‘too hard basket’. So set up that emergency fund and make sure you understand the nature and level of risk associated with each area of your life – your health, your income, your job. Be ready for whatever life throws your way because the reality is the future will always be uncertain but with proper planning, many of life’s challenges can be so much easier to deal with. This is one area where ignorance is definitely not bliss.
There is no greater feeling than helping someone in need. Philanthropy extends beyond the obvious benefits for the recipient(s). It has emotional, social, psychological and financial benefits for you, the donor, too. It also creates opportunities to meet new people who believe in the same causes that inspire you. So get out there, find a cause or two you are passionate about and give a little (cash, time and expertise) back.
Become a better investor
Take the time to understand how to invest wisely. There is no secret to this. Investment success takes a lot of experience, knowledge and patience. Absorb as much information as you can. Brush up on the investment basics. Don’t rush into decisions. Don’t panic. Be patient. Understand the value of compound returns. Know what you’re investing in. Diversify your portfolio. Investing is not a get-rich-quick trick. Be sure to understand the difference between investing, speculating and being an entrepreneur. Investing is a long-term game so remember to keep your eye on the long run.
Keep things simple
Confucius once said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Why? Keep it simple. Keep things in perspective. While this requires time and discipline, you’ll find yourself with fewer distractions and worries and more time and energy to focus on what’s important to you. In turn, this will extend beyond you to those around you.
Despite our inability to go back in time and do things differently, there’s no reason why you can’t start taking your own advice today. Now. It’s never too late to make the change you wished you’d made earlier on in life. What you decide to do today will shape where you want to be in the future. What advice would you tell your younger self? Share in the comments below – you never know who might benefit from your learnings.
Disclaimer: This article contains general information only and is not intended to constitute financial product advice. Any information provided or conclusions made, whether express or implied, do not take into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of an investor. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional advice.