Money in My 20s: The No.1 Financial Advice for My 20-Year-Old Self
When in Manila, your 20s will whiz by in an instant. The busy career, vibrant parties and up-and-about lifestyle in this concrete jungle will make this decade of your life a whirlwind.
After this time is up, one naturally asks the question: “What do I have to show for it?” Having just personally celebrated my big 3-0, an age associated with starting a family, being more responsible (allegedly) and, this is a big one, FINANCIAL SECURITY (gulp!), I reminisced and remembered things that I wish I could tell my naive 20-year-old self to do: money-wise.
Instead of traveling back in time to talk to my 20-year-old self though, I chose the not-so-crazy option of talking to the 20-something YOU! So I asked some of the country’s most respected personal finance personalities and picked their brains on what’s the BEST advice they’d tell their 20-year-old self.
Discover how early romance kills financial security, why living with your parents is cool and why putting money as your first priority is the wrong way to go.
Heinz Bulos, President of Learning Curve (iluvelearning.com) and Editor-in-Chief of MoneySense Magazine (MoneySense.com.ph)
Bulos shares this insightful and humorous (one-way) conversation he would’ve had with his 20-year-old self.
Start investing early and more important do it regularly. You may not have a lot right now, but remember that time is on your side. Besides, you can afford to put in P1,000 or P2,000 a month. Hello! You’re still living with your parents! Your only expenses are for gas, lunch, chips, and deodorant.
It’s good that you actually made a lumpsum investment in a mutual fund as a young man, which you will be surprised has grown more than 10 times its value today. But you did not put in more or put in regularly. Big mistake. By now, you could have been sitting in a beach in the Bahamas sipping a piña colada instead of sitting in your office in Ortigas sipping coffee.
And one more thing: I know you had to go through your mid-quarter crisis. I get it. You needed to find yourself. But please don’t spend an entire decade. You already have a pretty good idea what you want to do and what you are good at. You should have trusted your gut and worked for yourself earlier than for other companies. If you started earlier in business, just like in investing, it would have been much, much bigger by now.
But then again, you are the sum total of your choices and experiences. And you will do well. By the way, you will make the right decision to marry your future wife. She’s pretty and she’s smart, and will help you succeed. So don’t waste your time with the bimbos you seem to be attracted to.
Maiki Oreta (@MaikiOreta), Business News Anchor for ANC and Founder of Kiddo-preneur
Oreta said, “Your 20s will pass you by before you even know it! Make sure you have something to show for it and by that I mean (ample savings and a lot of expertise career-wise).”
She adds, “Master the art of self-control. Really, identify your needs from your wants and resist the urge to splurge. By delaying gratification, you give yourself adequate time to assess whether or not a future purchase is indeed needed and even worth it.”
She continued, “Learn to invest so you can grow your money even while you sleep. Stocks and mutual funds are a great way to start. Create a portfolio and build on it regularly. Career-wise, get ahead of the game by investing your time and energy in a particular skill. Keep at it and these experiences will enrich you in more ways than one.”
“Oh and best of all, enjoy the ride!” Oreta quips.
Bo Sanchez (@BoSanchez), Founder of Truly Rich Club (www.bitly.com/JoinTRC)
“Don’t be afraid of money, as long as you always your mission is bigger than money.” Sanchez said.
Sanchez continued, “I was afraid of money, thinking it was evil. So I avoided learning about it, reading about it, talking about it, because I was worried I would forget about God and His mission for my life.
“I was wrong.” Sanchez said.
He adds, “All I had to do was to always make my mission bigger than my money.
It’s the mission of loving God and serving His people that drives my life today.”
Sanchez eagerly recounts this change in perspective, “Compared to this mission, money plays a small part in my life–yes, even if I’m a financial teacher and coach–and a successful entrepreneur and investor.
Ultimately, it’s my mission that gives my life meaning; and money is only one of the means of making my mission come true.”
Wilson Lee Flores (@willsoonflourish), founder of Red Apple Properties & Marketing, Inc. and new owner of 75-year-old Kamuning Bakery Corp.
Flores recounts a priceless lesson he learned from his mother, “My advice to my 20-year-old self is this advice I got from my late mother. Consistently save more than you spend. My late teacher mom advised based on an ancient Chinese proverb which says: ‘A small fortune comes via thrift and humility, big fortunes comes from the heavens.’ She said, and I believe her, that sheer frugality and perseverance are sufficient for us to accumulate a small fortune in our lifetime.
“My late father was an entrepreneur, but he died early. Our late mother was a teacher who had a modest income, but she supplemented that by tutoring rich kids after class hours. Through her simple lifestyle, I could see that we can be happy without extravagance. Her advice on frugality reminds me to not go for any “get-rich-quick” schemes, that we should not waste our earnings or resources in unnecessary expenses or mindless extravagance, just keep on saving and investing.” Flores said.
He paints a picture on how small (& regular) savings can snowball into something huge, “My late mother’s simple school teacher’s advice actually makes good financial sense. Let us think about the power of compound interest. Consider the idea that if you were to invest just P2,000 a year from ages 25 to 65, earning eight percent a year, a person would have accumulated over half a million pesos in the bank. If a person saves 10 percent to 15 percent of one’s monthly salary, then one can have so much more funds stashed away.”
John Mangun (@mangunonmarkets), Columnist at Business Mirror & founder of MangunOnMarkets.com
Mr. Mangun isn’t going to beat around the bush on this one. For all singles ready to get married, brace yourselves.
“The number one piece of advice I could give to a 20-year old man or woman is to NOT become seriously involved in a relationship until you have a pocket full of money that is constantly growing. In fact, your pockets should be so full that the money is falling out on the ground.” Mangun said.
“The old saying that ‘We can live on love’ is absolutely true if you do not have the desire to eat regularly or to sleep in a bed or to have a roof over your head. You want to start a relationship that has the potential of being a life-long experience without having to worry about money.” Mangun adds.
He explains, “All the other financial aspects of life like insurance and investments, mean little at the beginning. While important, these will never happen until you and your significant other can go to a five-star dinner with an expensive bottle of wine and the fanciest dessert on the menu and do it financially guilt-free. When you can do that, then you know you are ready to prepare for your future financial security.”
Mangun shares what it means to be financially secure and why having extra funds for pleasure is a must, “Providing for your future financial security means to be ready when the inevitable financial storms hit. But you need to have extra money for immediate pleasure when the sun shines otherwise the other things can become an unwelcome and unappreciated financial burden.”
He shares his experience when he got married, “When I first got married, it included a three-week honeymoon at five-star beach resorts, paid with cash. If you cannot do that, then you are not financially ready to be married. And if you are not financially ready and you do find someone to marry you, then you are both foolish and probably will spend the rest of your life just getting by.”
Chinkee Tan (@ChinkeeTan), Author of “Till Debt Do Us Part” (ChinkeeTan.com)
“I would have sought for a mentor who can help me to navigate and avoid the failures in my life. One lesson I learned is experience is a great teacher but isn’t the only nor the best way to go about it. Learning from other peoples’ mistakes and experiences is.” Tan said.
He adds, “There is no short cut to success, but you can sure cut down your learning curve.”
Marvin Germo (@marvingermo), RFP®, MarvinGermo.com
Germo said, “I should’ve invested in DMCI Holdings Inc. way back in 2003 when their share prices were at Php0.23 each. Had I invested Php46,000 then for 200,000 shares. It would have been Php15,600,000 when it reached Php78.” Germo adds, “ I would definitely invest early, even if I made a mistake, I could just have held my stock and not sell at a loss and I wouldn’t have lost money after all – I had time on my side, I wouldn’t have gone hungry also since I still stayed with my parents and wasn’t married at the time.”
He continues, “I would’ve spent the money I used to buy shoes or cellphones toward my financial education and started buying assets that would appreciate in value. This is my passion now as an adult – saving, investing and helping Filipinos reach financial freedom. It is something that energizes me every waking day of my life.
Fitz Gerard Villafuerte (@brodfitz), RFP®, author of “The Ready To Be Rich Guide To Investing” (FitzVillafuerte.com)
Villafuerte wrties this letter to his 20 year old self.
“First, don’t be in such a hurry to live independently from your parents. You’ve been away from home most of your college life, and they miss you. Spend a few more years with them, before you go to live in your own apartment.
Second, begin saving a part of your income every pay day. You should know that your first paycheck will come a few months from now; because yes, you’ll eventually accept that teaching job which the Math department offered you last week.
Third, start buying good, quality clothes that you can wear to the office as early as now. Stop buying walking shorts and t-shirts because you already have more than enough. You’ll thank me for this when you get your first corporate job two years from now.
Fourth, when you go home tomorrow, after you unpack your stuff in your room. Open your box of old high school textbooks and look for Napoleon Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich. You’ve read that once in high school for a book review, you should read it again and this time, apply what it says to your life.
And lastly, remember that learning doesn’t stop when you graduate from college – so continue studying. Learn about the stock market, I know you’ll enjoy that. Buy a book about entrepreneurship, because that will eventually become your passion.”
This is an excerpt from my blog post, A Letter To My 21 Year Old Self
Mark So (@monsterpips), Co-Founder of Businessmaker Academy (Businessmaker-Academy.com)
So advices us the way to attaining wealth is by… NOT prioritizing it.
Tell me if you can relate, you work 20 hours a day running after more money, dead tired every day and you haven’t moved any closer to your goal since 2002. Do you want to know why?
Because you are prioritizing the wrong thing.
There are 4 important life aspects for everyone, these are Money, Health, Relationships, and Time. But unlike what most people think, prioritizing making money first isn’t always the best way to start your wealth journey. In fact this is probably what is holding you back right now.
The key to financial freedom is proper “sequencing” of your life aspects
So if I was talking to my 20 year old self, with the benefit of looking back at my life and seeing the mistakes I made along the way. I would say that the optimal sequence would be to prioritize relationships then health, then money, then time.
Relationships – Everybody has something of value, I learned (and continue to learn) this from my wife. Prioritize keeping communication channels open and continue connecting and networking with people. Prioritize building relationships as they will be crucial in your pursuit of wealth.
Health – A fit body and mind equates to faster and better decisions when it comes to building wealth. The activities and tasks you can accomplish in a day increase exponentially if you are healthy and falls drastically when you are not in tip top shape. It is common to sacrifice your health when you start getting more involved in your career, business or investments, you start exercising less and sitting down more, your life becomes sedentary and before you know it you start moving and thinking as fast as molasses. If I had one regret, that I could fix, it would be to not sacrifice my health for the pursuit of wealth.
Money – When you do the first 2 aspects properly, money will inevitably find you as it comes from great health and relationships.
Time – Finally, True wealth gives you more time, and ultimate freedom. But it is an inevitable trade off between pursuing wealth and having to sacrifice a lot of it in the beginning.
When you start out in life, you have lots of time on your hands, when you get a little older and responsibilities pile up, you will have less and less of it. And as I said, most people sacrifice this valuable commodity (together with health) in the pursuit of more money in the beginning. But as you get wealthier, the more time you should keep for yourself and your family. If you find yourself always short on time, especially for yourself and your family then its time to prioritize this aspect now.