Firstly, let’s not assume that I’m old and wise. Because I’m not. However, I am older and wiser than I was last week, last year and 15 years ago. Despite having no regrets in my life, there is still many things I wish I had known years sooner. Here is my life advice to my younger self.
I was very lucky that I began working as a teenager earning a decent wage. I assumed I would always earn a decent income and that no matter how much I spent, I’d always have money left over. That lasted until my early thirties (lucky me). At which point I was living beyond my means, was made redundant and literally ran out of money.
I had never had to live paycheck to paycheck or off a credit card before. I learned really fast the value of money, especially when I equated everything to how long I would have to work to pay it back. It took time and severe frugal living to get out of debt.
I began a savings account that I intend to not touch. Putting aside £20/ $20 every week into an investment account. I use the Australian Raiz app (get a free $2.50 using my invite link), but there’s the Moneybox app in the UK and certainly something similar in the US. Speak to a financial consultant at your bank about your options. Find what is right for you. That small amount of money you won’t miss each week, becomes £1040/ $1040 a year!
Additionally this earns compound interest on that account over time. I will have money for a rainy day, for that first house, children’s college or retirement. If I had started frugal living 10 years ago, Without thinking I would’ve saved £10,400 / $10,400 (not counting the interest!).
Expenses that may seem small and insignificant. A few dollars here and there, that’s where your money goes. Allocate your paycheck and stick to it.
It’s just a few dollars on a cup of coffee. That doesn’t make a difference right? Wrong. £20 /$20 per week, really adds up. If you’re spending $4 on your coffee once a day, that’s over $1000 a year. Make your coffee and your lunch at home. Planning ahead is key.
Say No so you can Say Yes
I have missed a few brunches and coffee dates. I’ve skipped over buying new shoes, bags and clothes. I have chosen nights in over nights out. This may sound boring but I’ve said no to these things, I’ve been frugal so that I can say Yes to the bigger things.
I may have said no a lot, but I’ve managed to save enough to do the things I want and love to do. Like travel! This year I’ve been able to attend not one, but two international weddings. I significantly prefer those memories over yet another bag, or an expensive night out.
Realize it is ok to say no to things so you can be present for, and do more of what you want in life. Prioritize family, friends and special occasions.
I honestly cannot remember the small insignificant things that I stressed about in my 20’s. The day to day stresses that got my heart racing and my mind telling me stories of worry. Looking back, why did I allow that to happen? Worry is a useless emotion.
So don’t stress! If you lose your job, you are young and you will get another. If you have been living frugally, this is the rainy day you’ve been saving for. Avoid self sabotage, you are your own worst enemy when it comes to taking chances. This is the time to travel, try that business venture, further your study and to live your life in a selfish way. When I say selfish, I don’t mean to disregard others or to be cruel, but to put yourself first, before you are responsible for children or a significant other.
Look after the Outside
Ladies, please take your makeup off after a night out or a day at work. Look after your face. Ensure you cleanse, tone and moisturize it each day. Be gentle with your skin. Moisturize your entire body each day too, your skin wants and needs nourishment.
I am a sun worshipper. There was a time I would lie out in the sun for four hours each day. With no sunscreen. To be fair, I wasn’t burning as I had a decent pigmentation built up. However, I would’ve still tanned wearing sun lotion. The difference is that the harmful UV rays would have been avoided.
Avoid sun beds, they are illegal in some countries. And for good reason. Ensure you take a vitamin D supplement in the Winter, like this one, and if you think you still need a sunbed then severely limit the time you spend on it.
Recently I developed melasma on my face and although in theory, this is caused by hormonal reasons. I can’t help but think I played a major part in its development by ignoring sun health.
Feed your Body
This is probably the biggest thing for me. Like a lot of women, I struggled with my body image in my 20’s and became obsessed with food and digestion. I incorrectly educated and diagnosed myself to explain the fact that I just ate too much crap!
Feed your body is the perfect title here. Avoid eating to lose weight or the ridiculous idea of dieting. Your diet is what you eat for life. Feed your body what it needs to maintain health and decrease your chances of disease.
There’s a few major no no’s for food for me personally, keeping in mind this is what I’ve learned works for my body and everyone is different. Cows milk in your coffee and on your cereal is a no. I love almond, soya or oat milk. Why are we drinking the same thing as baby cows?
Limit your intake of meat, I’m a flexitarian which is mainly a vegetable based diet and occasional meat. Taking the 5 servings of fruit and vegetable recommendation of the World Health Organization just may change your life. 5+ servings is a lot of food even before adding whole grains and protein sources.
Dieting is something that you need to stick with for life, ignore the fads and embrace what you already know. More fruits and vegetables.
Let’s not ignore exercise, again this is a lifelong commitment. Intense exercise once a month is not beneficial. It would be better to choose something simpler, a shorter gym session or yoga class a few times a week and make it more consistent and able to fit into your life long term.
Prioritize health, we only get one body.
Make a list and tick life boxes
Time goes so fast. it is very easy to get up, go to work, pay taxes and get through each day. Get through each day. What a depressing concept. There’s a famous quote by Benjamin Franklin:
‘Some people die at age 25 and aren’t buried until they are 75’
I love this because it applies to so many. Don’t be one of them. Make a list of goals for each year, to achieve before you’re 30 or 40 or 50. Essentially mini bucket lists. Anything from visiting a new country, running 10km, or reading 5 new books this year. The goals are yours.
Just by having the list, subconsciously your mind will assist you in ticking them off. Be sure to check in every few months on your progress though.
If we only life once. Do it well. Each day is a new start and is full of incredible possibilities.
We are never to old to go back to school. Adult learning keeps our brains in shape (yes they enjoy a workout too). It provides us new and exciting work opportunities and widens our scope on life and the world.
There are so many different types of learning. If this seems overwhelming, begin by reading more. Start duolingo and learning a new language. Study nutrition or finance to further benefit the other advice listed here. Big or small, personal development is important.
I had so much spare time in my 20’s, I wish I’d used it effectively to study. Our time is our most precious commodity. You will never get this moment or day again, use it well.
I hope you have enjoyed reading life advice to my younger self. Hopefully, you have gained some inspiration to live your own life in a more successful way. Imagine you are ten years older than you are now. What life advice do you think you would tell yourself? I would love to hear in the comments below. Write a life advice to my younger self letter of your own and see what insights present themselves.
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Love and Light